A Love Letter into 2016

Italy PathOne of my favorite New Year’s Eve traditions is to write myself a “love letter” that I open on the following New Year’s Eve. Last year I was traveling and never took the time to do this, and I was a little bummed today and not having left that little surprise for myself. So today, I made some coffee, lit some candles, and spent some time getting my reflections onto paper.

By any measure, 2015 was an incredible year for me. Personally and professionally, it seemed like great things happened at every turn. And you know what I found out? When things are going good, it’s hard for me to believe that I haven’t “used it all up.” I find myself thinking that I better enjoy it while it lasts, because this is as good as it gets. [Really?]

I spent a lot of years as a pretty unhappy being. I felt like everyone had it better than me. I drifted from situation to situation (relationships, jobs, friendships, whatever) with no real sense of purpose or direction. There was a constant pit of resentment hanging in my gut all of the time. And while my life wasn’t exactly what one would call despairing, it wasn’t that great either. Even “good things” didn’t feel that good. I could never be truly happy for anyone else because I was always just thinking about everything that was wrong with me, and why it would never improve. As you can imagine, this was not a happy existence.

When things changed for me and I began to work on spiritual healing, my eyes were opened to a whole new way of being. Good things were happening for me all the time! In truth, they always had been, or could’ve been, but I would just drive them away. And you know what? Those old habits and ways of thinking are hard to break. So one of the things I’ll be working on in the coming year is affirming that the universe provides an endless flow of good, and it was only by opening the channels for it to happen that it finally started coming into my life. I’ve seen it for real in my life – what we believe on the inside comes true for us on the outside.

In my letter, I wrote out some goal for spiritual growth in 2016:

  • Don’t believe that the flow of good is limited and that you’ve received all you can get. Affirm the positive, be grateful for what you’ve received, and keep the channels open for the positive flow.
  • Those people who trigger you – the ones you resent – kick them out of your head as soon as they appear. Out of love for yourself, value your own serenity enough to keep those negative thoughts out.
  • Think only in terms of what it means to you in choosing your thoughts, actions, and words. These are not dependent on what someone else might think or say about them.
  • Be at peace with the people who’ve left your life, regardless of the circumstance, choice (yours or theirs), or even the manner (or absence) of a goodbye. Stop the guilty feelings around eliminating negative presences in your life.
  • Be gentle with yourself and treat yourself in a loving manner always. By extension, remember that everyone around you is also human and only reflecting outwardly the spirit that dwells inside of them.
  • By the same token, detach from people when necessary. Your job is not to fix someone else’s spiritual wounds. Subjecting yourself to attacks or abuse, or diminishing yourself as an attempt to help someone feel more comfortable, is not loving yourself, nor living to the potential of your divine greatness.
  • Spend every day this year doing some form of creating, learning, and exploring. Never stop offering gratitude. Value your serenity above all. Always choose love over fear.

I wish all of you a peaceful, serene, and prosperous 2016!!

Everyday Gratitude

Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite holiday. There’s cooking and feasting, two of my favorite activities. But there is also togetherness. I hope all of you are with people you love today – family of origin or family of choice.

I decided to kick off my day with a gratitude list; written by hand and copied below:

Today I am grateful.

Grateful I have a safe home in a place where I enjoy living.

Grateful I have a Higher Power (HP) who loves me and guides me.

Grateful I have two sweet kitties that I love very much.

Grateful to be in a loving relationship that is helping me to grow.

Grateful I have a job I enjoy with good pay and a fantastic boss.

Grateful for the travel that has taken me to see the world.

Grateful for my intelligence and creativity.

Grateful that I see my value as a whole person – not just in “good qualities.”

Grateful for clean, hot, running water, reliable power, and an internet connection.

Grateful for my strong, healthy body and the willingness to take care of it.

Grateful for the bravery of those who are willing to live with emotional courage.

Grateful for what has been given, what has been taken away, and what has been left behind.

Grateful for the willingness to take down my own walls.

Grateful for my friendships and the dear people I’ll see this weekend.

Grateful for the time to write this.

Grateful for a long break from work and routine.

Grateful for the life I’ve created for myself, free from the self-induced pain and misery that I used to always carry.

Grateful for the knowledge that pain is temporary and suffering is a choice.

Grateful for a desire to live in acceptance and love vs. the self-hatred of “should.”

Grateful to know there is nothing I can’t handle with HP by my side.

Grateful to feel love growing and emerging within me.

Grateful that our travel was safe and we are home.

Grateful for my big American coffee maker and hair dryerūüôā

Grateful for the willingness to grow and change.

Grateful for the ability to steer clear of toxic people and situations.

Grateful that I can now allow others to feel their own pain and knowing I don’t have to take it on for myself.

Grateful that I can allow others their joy without envy or comparison.

Grateful for the willingness to listen for HP’s loving guidance.

Grateful for a life free from fear and free from want.

Grateful that I am exactly where I am intended to be.

Bless Them. Change Me.

LiveAGreatStoryToday I found myself annoyed. That’s not surprising; I’m a professional.

I was annoyed with everyone’s favorite online punching bag: Facebook. More specifically, I was annoyed with the political bantering (especially that with which I did not agree), particularly from people who’ve shown¬†a tendency to habitually post things intolerant¬†toward¬†certain groups of people – groups that, in my self-righteous opinion, these online vocalizers do not know on a personal level. My opinion is that these people watch too much TV and listen too much to people who look and think and act like them. The vocalizers never leave their own cultural shell, my belief says. They are ignorant, fearful, and therefore … hateful.

Whoa.

First of all, it’s Facebook. I’ve loved Facebook for the fact it’s kept me connected to¬†people with whom I otherwise would’ve lost touch long ago. There are things that make me laugh. People share positive news and photos of their kids and reminders of things from years back. And yet … instead, I’m focused on a minority of people who express opinions I find disagreeable.

Really?

I am solely responsible for my state of mind and the emotions I feel. Nobody controls that but me, though I’ve had a long habit of giving up that control to other people – and there’s nobody else to blame for that. Outwardly, we are reflections of our inside selves. So if I find someone else’s opinion inferior to my own … if I have to dwell on how much better I am than someone else … if I have to put someone down to feel better about myself … what’s that saying about my inner spiritual condition?

Just for today I’m making a pledge to enjoy the POSITIVE parts of Facebook (cat photos, long-lost connections), and put aside the things I don’t like.

And if you find yourself struggling with the same, might I make a suggestion? Two of Facebook’s greatest features, IMO: “Unfollow.” “Restricted List.” (I might be working on setting emotional boundaries, but I don’t have to put myself out there to be bombarded with negativity either.)

And of course, when I find myself not in agreement with someone’s opinions or actions, I’ll remember this simple prayer: “Bless them. Change me.”

Dear Stranger at the Park …

I’m sorry if I came off as rude.shades and rocks

No. I’m really not sorry at all. The only thing I’m sorry about is that my first instinct is to still say “I’m sorry” when I don’t do what someone else wants or expects me to do.

I had stopped to get some food, eat and read for a few minutes, then get on with my errands and my evening. Striking up conversation wasn’t part of that plan, certainly not with strangers who imposed themselves into my space and ignored every physical cue I was giving that I really wanted to be left alone.

I was fine with telling you where I got the food, but when you kept asking questions I just gave you a nod and looked away. Thankfully you got it and left.

You likely¬†walked away with an unfavorable impression of me, but really I don’t care. I know who I am, and I am comfortable with that, even the areas that could use work. I can’t control what other people think of me, and it’s none of my business anyway. I like myself a whole lot.¬†No other opinion merits much value, if any. I’ve worked very hard to get here.

There are a whole lot of boundary-less people out there, and I used to be one of them. I did things I did not want to do for people who were not always nice or respectful to me, sometimes for people I really didn’t even like at all. But, I felt like I had to do this thing, these things they were requesting of me. To refuse would mean I wasn’t nice. I really wanted you – ALL OF YOU – to think I was nice. If you didn’t, it was just confirming some of the bad things I was already thinking about myself.

But I’d do these things I didn’t want to do, and I’d get resentful. Sometimes it would make me not very nice to be around. I could complain that I was coerced, but that wasn’t true. I had said yes, and sometimes I had even volunteered without being asked. It was nobody’s fault but mine.

Back in those days it seems like I had a lot of unhappy people around me … people who tried to prove their problems were the worst or their achievements were the greatest or whatever. They aren’t bad people, but they are wounded, and they were looking to other people and other factors outside of themselves to heal those wounds. One day, I decided I couldn’t be in the healing business anymore. I found out it was a bottomless pit and a never ending battle. So I gave up and focused on healing my own wounds instead.

And what do you know! Now I’m mostly surrounded by positive and happy people. Respectful and kind people. Once I stopped acting like a victim, I stopped attracting people to prey on me.

And so, stranger at the park, I guess that brings us to our encounter. My intuition told me you were the kind of person who did not easily take no for an answer, and I knew if I gave you any sort of entry point, that would be my own fault. I’d be pressed to answer questions I did not want to answer, desperately searching for an escape from something I allowed. So instead, I didn’t even let the cycle start. That’s why there was no smile or air of welcome from me.

I’m not sorry about seeming rude or unfriendly. But I am thankful to you. Today you showed me how much I have grown.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Typically when someone doesn’t post on their blog for almost two months, this is the point where they come back, hat in hand, with a litany of apologies and some reasons/excuses for the absence. This won’t be that kind of post. Well, kind of.

For a while I thought maybe I’d said all I had to say here, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true. For one, I’ve been writing since I was 5 – it’s like breathing for me! Also, my spiritual and emotional growth is something I’ll keep working on for life. But I did spend a lot of the spring on the road and out of my routine – and consequently up in my head. It wasn’t always a good place to be – in fact, that’s a pretty dangerous place for me to be a lot of the time – but it’s where I was.

So this post is about acceptance – of wherever you are. It doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t change things, but accepting what IS can go a very long way to bringing out peace, sanity, serenity.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately considering my future – where I want to go, what I want to achieve, who I want to be. I guess to some degree I’ve always done that but I didn’t always believe that I could have what I wanted. Therefore, I never got it. I’ve worked to change those beliefs. I do think the universe brings us whatever we set as our intent – positive or negative.

But after all of the hard work going into planning, strategizing, list-making, analyzing, and so on, do you know what the hardest part actually is? Letting it all go.

I don’t mean giving up on it, sweeping it under the rug never to be seen again. I mean being OK with outcomes. Accepting them, releasing attachment to them.¬†

Anyway, I’m still here, still working, and glad to share these moments with you. Namaste!

 

Andrew Hines

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