My Smile – Part One and Part Two – The Evolution.

This is a writing from a few days ago, that can show you how quickly thoughts, emotions and a state of mind can change, modify, turn into something else.  This was something new for me.  Often times i tend to wallow in my own negative feelings, waiting for them to change or something to happen (externally) to make me feel or think differently.  I saw this as a pretty big stepping stone for me – to have this change of state of mind in a matter of less than 24 hours.

We all have issues we are working on and things we are trying to better for ourselves.  Understanding and controlling my multitude of emotions is one for me.  And not lingering so long in the bad, negative or hurtful ones.  Letting go in a sense, moving on and taking control of my own happiness, my own smile.

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My Smile – Part one (Gone) (7/7/15)

My smile is gone
I want it back.  I miss it.
I see pictures, older picture – this girl with the gigantic smile, happiness in her eyes. Heart free and open.
I want to be that girl again.
I find myself envying her.
My smile is gone.  I miss it
I want to figure out how to bring it back.
For myself.  I need to.
This smile i have now is often times forced. I put on a mask, go through the motions.
He tells me to smile.  But its just not there.
Only sometimes, and only for a short period of time.
Forcing is even hard.
My mind is full, heart heavy, stomach in knots, emotions raw.
Never be silent.  What about those times when anything you say only makes things worse… even when you thought it would help?
Thoughts jumbled.
Full of emotions, loss of logic.
Over reaction? I don’t think so…
Effort… gone.
Forgotten or neglected, when it’s needed the most.
Discouraged

Part one was written with tears streaming down my face, in the midst of raw emotions.  Some of my best, most honest writings come from that place.  While they are not always very positive, they are real and honest.  But they also help to maybe open my eyes, to see where change is needed, and how to make that possible.  This is where part two comes from… helping me to recognize I am responsible and have the power over my own happiness.

I often struggle with the thought of happiness, and the perspective that only you can make yourself happy and that you cannot rely on others to do so.  Yes, this is true.  You should never rely on another person for your happiness.  Yet they can greatly contribute to, or take away from it.

My Smile – Part Two (Must Find) (7/8/15)

My Smile

I thought it was gone.

But it was only hidden, from me, from others.

I have to look deep to find it again.  My smile – the true smile, not the forced one sometimes shown

It shouldn’t be about what someone else is doing, isn’t doing

It needs to be about me… Only ME.

Other things can make it bigger – but shouldn’t have the power to take it away.

A smile is more attractive than a frown

My smile… will come back

I will make sure of that.

My soul, my spirit, my nature… is emotion

Emotion that I must control

Sadness takes away from the happiness

Diminishing my smile

Get rid of the sadness

Hope. Confidence. Positive.

Remember the magic and just believe.

Just Love.

Hug.  Even if you don’t feel like you want to.  Do it anyway, you may feel different.

Hugs are like magic

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If You See An Animal In Danger – Please Read

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it – Albert Einstein

This quote has been in my mind all day. This morning while driving to work i saw several geese in the road. Thinking they were trying to cross the road, i slowed down. Then i saw that one of the geese had been hit by a car still alive and flapping his wings, and the other geese were flocking around him to protect him, it seemed. There was a lot of traffic flying by. No one slowing down or stopping. I quickly pulled off the road and called PETA’s emergency after hours number. If this poor being was hurt and suffering, i wanted to do anything i could to help. As i quickly walked to the goose, in the rain, dodging traffic which neither stopped or slowed down, another car hit him. By this time i am becoming very emotional and not thinking as logically as i typically would. The fieldworker on the other line of the phone instructed me to pick up a stick along the way, to safely determine if the goose was still alive or not. Once i got to the goose, he was now motionless, all of his flock that were there beside him a minute ago were gone. I lightly touched the inside corner of his eye to search for a reflex, twitch or any sign of life. I was too late. He was already gone. At least he was no longer suffering. With PETA still on the line she told me that i had done all i could, i did the right thing and that there was nothing else i could do at this point. She asked if i could get the poor dead soul to a median or off the road, as i was standing beside him, in the middle of the road, in the rain in busy traffic, another truck ran over him… while i stood right there beside him. At that time she instructed me to get out of the road because it wasn’t safe for me, and she didn’t want me to get hit. As i walked back to my car, in the rain, in a not so nice area of Norfolk, i cried and cried. I tried but i was too late. But all those other people, who sped by. Not slowing down, not stopping – but rather still continuing to run over him, while i stood right there. How can people be that way?

When i got to work i was so upset, so sad, so angry and so disappointed. I saw this in my mind all day long, on the verge of tears all day. For people to act like a life is so insignificant, so unimportant – it makes me ashamed to be a part of this human race… that is so callous, so uncaring, such a lack of empathy. Every life is significant, important, precious… human and animal.

If you see an animal along the side of the road, in distress, suffering, pleading for help, PLEASE do not be one of those people who drive by and look the other way, who ignore it and go along with your day. Be the exception. Stop and provide any assistance you are able to give. Help this poor suffering soul. You can call PETA’s emergency line, local or national, and they will walk you through what to do, help keep you calm, and send help if necessary.

If you happen to be in such a situation:

• Remain calm. Be sure to note your exact location, including mile marker if you are on a highway.
• Immediately and carefully pull over and put your hazards on. Please be extremely aware of the traffic around you and exercise caution. You won’t be saving any animals if you get hit yourself. Be careful and don’t take risks that you don’t need to take.
• Determine if the animal is dead or alive. Some ways to do so:
1. Is the animal stiff? This would mean that s/he’s been deceased for some time.
2. Is the animal breathing? With furry animals the wind can fool you so look carefully. Injured animals often labor to breathe or breathe rapidly – observe the chest and abdominal area for movement.
3. If an animal is still warm to the touch but you note no breathing or other signs of life, gently pinch a back toe to see if the animal pulls back. If safe and feasible, you may also gently position your finger against the animal’s eye to test for a blink reflex.
• Unless you are trained and have experience, do not attempt to move injured animals without assistance from a trained individual. Some animals, including foxes and raccoons, may be rabid and could pose a danger to you and/or your animal companion. Animals who have been hit/injured—including dogs and cats–are more likely to bite out of pain, fear and panic. So before you try to move anyone, call for help.
• Call your local animal control agency or police dispatch, or, if you can’t reach a live person, do not hesitate to call 911. Calmly state your emergency: “I am calling for an animal control officer. I have just found an injured animal who has been hit on highway 464, heading north, and the animal is still alive. This animal is suffering very badly and needs help. Can you please send an animal control officer right away? I am pulled over next to the animal, and we are between the 64/464 entrance ramp and exit 2/Military Highway. I am in the red pickup truck.” It’s never a bad idea to ask for the officer’s ETA. I also recommend checking back in with dispatch if an officer is not on-scene within a few minutes.
• Do not leave the scene. This is so important. Do not leave that animal. What if the officer cannot find her? What if the seemingly impossible happens and she crawls into the woods and can’t be found? You absolutely 100 percent cannot leave the scene until the safety of the animal is secured. Wait for that office to arrive please.

Of course, never ever hesitate to call PETA for advice and guidance. During the day, just call 757-622-PETA and have us paged. Afterhours, in Hampton Roads, call 844-441-9398, and for afterhours emergencies anywhere else, call 757-434-6285. Program these numbers into your cell phones please.

From working at PETA, i knew this information and had these numbers, but i wanted to share this so that anyone who reads this has these numbers and are equipped with the information and knowledge to be the rare compassionate souls who help, rather than one who turns a blind eye.

My Birthday Trip 2015, Away and Unplugged

***Note***  This was my birthday adventure last year 2015.  I started writing about it after our trip but evidently never finished or published it.  While looking for photos of the trip i found it still in my drafts.  So here i am, almost a year later, posting it.  On another note, we enjoyed this trip so much that we have decided to do it again for my birthday this year.  Only two nights rather than one and a different, smaller cabin!

 

This year, to celebrate the start of my 38th year in this life I decided that I wanted to get away from it all.  To unplug from all the screens that run our lives.  To reconnect with nature, and myself.  After some internet research I came across this rustic, primative cabin in the  Shenandoah National Park along the Appalachian Mountains.  To get to the cabin you had to hike in around two miles into the forest, which meant carrying in everything you needed for the two days in your backpack.

I loved the idea of this, and immediately booked the cabin for the night of April 26th.  We left Saturday afternoon and spend the night in Culpeper, VA – just exploring the new little town, having happy hour at a busy little bar along the main street and deciding on Thai for dinner, before heading back to the hotel to relax and get a good night sleep before our hike the next day  Saturday was rainy and cold, so when i awoke on Sunday morning and the sun was shining i was so excited!  It turned out to be a beautiful day for a hike and to spend the night in nature.

We drove the scenic road from Culpeper to Skyline Drive.  We had three hike options to get to the cabin of varying distances, however we were warned a couple days prior that due to flooding only one of the routes was passable.  We stopped at a little gift shop along the way to get a trail map and a bottle of wine (that i had been badly wanting to have to drink by the fire at the cabin that night, to toast my birthday).  When we parked to finish up the last minute packing of our packs, i dropped the bottle of wine and it shattered all over the ground.  I was so disappointed!  But i wasn’t going to let that ruin our time.

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This is us leaving the car behind and starting our journey!

We hiked 1.8 miles, mostly downhill, until we reached Corbin Cabin.  Coming upon the cabin from the back i started to get so excited, i couldn’t wait to open it up and explore!  The renters there prior to us did a great job of having wood all stocked to start a fire.

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Inside was just as exciting!

 

we explored a little, started a fire and read through the guest book and book on the property including the history of the cabin.  After getting a good fire going we decided to start some dinner.  The water took way too long to boil in the kitchen area stove so we ended up just heating it up over the fire in the fireplace.

We had plenty of wood to last the night and went to the little creek below the cabin for our water.  After getting settled in, exploring and having dinner we cleaned up and settled down to relax.  We lit some candles and played some cards and just enjoyed the whole experience, until we were ready to fall asleep.

Up early to chop some wood, have breakfast and head out.

I hated to say good bye. wishing we had another night here

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We cleaned up, packed up and headed out for our hike back to the car.

We stopped at one of the lodge restaurant/bars for some grub and drinks before we headed back home.  This was a most incredible adventure and a way of life that is so simple and carefree, one i would love to have!  I didn’t mind not having electricity and using fire and candles to warm, light and cook.  I didn’t mind not having a toilet and having to go outside.. but i think i would miss a shower/bath tub after a while 🙂

The Dangers Of The Screen

When the main sounds heard are the sounds of keystrokes and televisions, rather than the sound of each other’s voices, each other’s laughter.  It’s time to unplug.

Too many screens, not enough personal interaction.  Too much worrying about what everyone else is doing, what everyone else is thinking and what everyone else is posting… not enough time spent worrying about what each other is doing and what each other is thinking.  It’s time to unplug.

Who can I prove wrong, who can I argue with. Who can I let frustrate and irritate me, needlessly  – through the screen.  It’s time to unplug.

To sit on the same couch, laptops in hand, mouths closed, voices silent.  More conversations and interactions with people on the other side of the screen than together with each other.  Like, dislike, post, share, comment.   It’s time to unplug.

Doing your own thing, stuck in your own heads, staring at your own screens… has turned into the norm.  social media, research, games, work, writing.  Solitarily social.  Growing afraid to talk, to say, to ask.  Irritations increase, understanding and patience decreases.  Frustrations arise where they didn’t used to be.  It’s time to unplug.

Why has it become hard to turn off, to unplug.  How do you go back to how it was before, when you came home and talked about your days, planned your future days, talked, laughed and enjoyed each other more…. More than the screen.   The screen that has become a danger, to your relationship, to your interpersonal interactions.  The things that used to be so important just don’t seem as important anymore.  It’s time to unplug.

My Newest Artwork – AHIMSA

Ahimsa – Simply stated, Non Violence.  Non Violence in thought, Non Violence in action and Non Violence in speech.  This is a Hindu term which means the absence from violence either by thought, word or deed.  It implies compassion, respect and loving kindness to all living beings.

I knew I wanted my next tattoo to symbolize and embody this as this is how I strive to live my life.  It is imperative to develop a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love.  Compassion is such a major theme in my life and one word that describes me perfectly.

So when I was contemplating my newest piece of artwork, I did not have any difficulties in coming to a decision about this.  It is sanscrit for Ahimsa.  Each of my tattoos has immense meaning to me and represents a certain stage or turning point in my life.  Works of art that I am proud to permanently wear for the eternity of this body.

Here is the outline completed without the shading

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And the finished piece of art!

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This piece of art was completed by Lisa McLeod (click to view her facebook page and other works of art).  She is not only a tattoo artist, she is also an artist.  She specialized in custom work and has many other projects such as children’s books and art for surfboards.  Check out her stuff!  If you are looking for some tattoo art work done in the Hampton Roads area, she is working on her portfolio and has a lot of great good deals!

 

A Writer’s Heart

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A Writer’s Heart

The written words of a writer are all as important as her spoken words, if not more so. With each stroke of the keypad, or with each placement of ink on paper, a writer shares with you a piece of her heart and soul. Sometimes that comes with a tear or two, some laughter, joy, fear or anger. A mix of many emotions, feelings and thoughts encompass each letter, word, sentence and paragraph.

When her head is filled up with so many twisted and tangled thoughts and emotions, sometimes writing them down is the only way to untangle them, to make some sense out of them, and to express them. She sees writing as a therapeutic process, a way to process all the mess in her mind and make some sense of all the emotions that have the ability to confuse and torment her.

She sees her writings as a way to share her heart and soul with the reader, whether it be intended for one single individual or an open writing for all to read. Her wish is that when you read her words you are able to sense and feel her emotions, all the mix of feelings in her heart she was experiencing while she attempted to transfer it all to paper the best as she could.

Each word she writes is an expression of her love, her compassion and her passion for the things she writes about. Everything written is a confession of the heart. Maybe more honest and true than anything else. When she writes to you or about you it is a result of all the love inside that she may not be able to express otherwise.

Sometimes the things she writes are so personal and so intimate that it is scary to share, with anyone. Sometimes her darkest corners peer into the light and fight to be written about. A part of coming out of her shell, expressing who she truly is inside, and helping the world to understand a little bit of who she is and why she does some of the things that she does is the process of opening up and sharing those things.

Writing is a process. It is an emotion within itself. It is a release and a way to share, or attempt to share the thoughts in the deepest crevices of her mind and her heart.

 

A Different Kind of Celebration – Buddha Day

A Different Kind of Celebration – Buddha Day

Each year, I republish my blog on Buddha Day, with some updates and modifications. 

 

Today, Wednesday May 14th, 2014 is a very special day for those of the Buddhist faith.  Whether you are a Buddhist, or like me and just identify and believe in the loving compassion teachings of the Buddha, today is a day to acknowledge and celebrate.  Buddha Day, also known as Vesak, Vesakha or Wesak, is a celebration that encompasses the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment Nirvana and his passing away, all on the same day.  This day falls on the full moon of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, varying dates each year.  This year it falls on May 14th.   Many Buddhist celebrations occur during the full moon.   This day is one of the most important observances and celebrations for Buddhists across the world.  Vesak offers Buddhists an opportunity to reflect on the life and teachings of the Buddha and also highlights the potential for inner peace and happiness that lies within us all as well as a day for Buddhists to reaffirm their commitment to living a moral and compassionate lifestyle.  As Eric reminds me, it is not how he died but it is a day to reflect on how he lived and the magnitude of his teachings, and that is the reason we celebrate.


“The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind.”
~Venerable Mahinda

Most Buddhist countries declare this day a Buddhist Holiday and a day to remember the significant events in Buddha’s life.  Many Buddhists acknowledge this event by visiting the Vihara, or Buddhist Monistary.  This could also simply mean a secluded place in which to walk, reflect and meditate if there is no Monistary close to visit.  During this visit to the Vihara, Buddhists would be dressed in white and bring flowers and incense or candles to pay respect to the Buddha.  These symbolic offerings are to be a reminder that just as the beautiful flowers wither and die and the candles soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction.  Many devout Buddhists would spend the day in the Vihara, from morning to night, taking a retreat from their daily schedule, meditating, chanting and participating in Dharma Talk or teachings of the Buddha.  In many Buddhist countries selling and consuming of meat and alcohol is prohibited during the week of Vesak and the government will even closes down all liquor shops and slaughter houses.   Birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in a symbolic act of liberation, giving freedom to those in captivity and tortured against their will.  This is considered an act of generosity, symbolic of generating good karma. The act also symbolizes the Buddha’s compassion for all things.  While many sects of Buddhism typically calls for a vegetarian diet, there are also other sects which do not require this.  During this time Buddhists who are not vegetarian refrain from eating meat. Buddhists make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind and are encouraged to eat only vegetarian food for the day.

To celebrate this day and the life and teachings of the Great Buddha, it is not necessary to go to a temple and participate in rituals if you can’t, don’t have access or would rather not.  Many would prefer a day or even a moment of solitary reflection.  It is not about the specifics in how one celebrates this day or the rituals performed, it is the simple act of recognizing  and expressing gratitude to the Buddha for the teachings he has given.  It is really all about personal preference and what is best for you as an individual.  Maybe some would prefer a simple ceremony in front of a small shrine at home, or maybe a brief reflection on the qualities and teachings of the Buddha along with meditation.

I have always admired and appreciated the teachings of Buddhism.  When I met Eric and two of my most exciting surprises about him was that he loved wine and he was a Buddhist!  He and I begun to discuss some of our Buddhist ideals and rituals and he taught me about the different days of celebrations as well as sharing his own personal rituals and ways to celebrate and give respect to the teachings with me.  He is the one who taught me about Buddha Day and all other Buddhist holidays and from there i researched to find out more.

This will be our fifth year together  and this year, just as last year Eric will acknowledge and pay respect to this tradition and lifestyle by refraining from eating meat for the month prior, taking it a step further than just abstaining for the single day but also the day before and the day after.

We do not have the opportunity to live in a Buddhist country and have the day off so we will begin our evening by having a Buddhist feast consisting of Sushi (vegetarian Sushi for me) and miso soup, just as Eric and I  ritualistically do every year.  Then we will have our own ceremony of reading from our Buddhism books together and meditating  in front of our shrine.     I am thankful, grateful and appreciative that Eric has shared his religion, tradition and rituals with me and we have incorporated this as part of our lifestyle together.

Even if you are not Buddhist or have never studied any of Buddha’s teachings, everyone can learn a lot from the Great and Wise Buddha.  In today’s society we are killing each other, we are killing our planet in which we live.  In my opinion, there is a huge lack of compassion and consideration in everyday human life.    What can we learn from Buddha?  That non-violent living is the way to go.  That we need more peace, love and compassion to create the positive energy our society is lacking, and to help promote good Karma throughout our lives.  We need to expel hatred, greed and stupidity from our lifestyles.

“He who lives only for pleasures, and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle, and has not the power of virtue — such a man is moved by mara (evil one), is moved by selfish temptations, even as a weak tree is shaken by the wind.”  Buddha