Why you can’t kill Ego.

I just came across a Twitter post by Alex Grey that included a pic of one of his gorgeous paintings.  It shows a man being enslaved by self-hatred—something only possible when ruled by ego.  Its caption says, “Hey Ego, your fears and limits are really getting in the way of my higher calling…”  Some guy commented, “that’s certainly rich for someone so active on social media.”

It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about ego.  It’s a highly misunderstood concept; people are always talking about smashing it, killing it, generally making it go away—which not only inadvisable, but totally impossible.

What would someone with absolutely no ego look like?  They would only have awareness of connection with others, and with the world around them.  They would be fully embraced in the truth of our Oneness.  They would see no separation between themselves and others, they would truly always see themselves in Other.

Sounds beautiful, eh?  Now ask them their name. Where they live. How they pay rent.  What they like to do with their time.  Etc.

We need ego! Ego serves us in this life, it defines our separateness, and separateness is what we came here to experience.

An unbalanced ego is the troublemaker.

An overgrown ego tells you that you are better than others. It constantly fuels the mind with reasons why others are inferior, why they aren’t as good as you. An overgrown ego is highly defensive, and ignites easily (though not always verbally). It is constantly threatened that someone will remove this sense of superiority, as it is “who I am.”

A diminished ego tells you that you are shit.  You aren’t as good as anyone else.  You don’t deserve the things that you want.  You don’t matter.  It is an Eeyore, but it’s not so cute in human form.  It is a victim mindset.  It will not stand up for itself when hurt, because being hurt has become “who I am.”

A healthy ego is a strong sense of who you are.  You like you!  (You might even promote your work on social media like Alex!)  You see the beauty in others, and appreciate them for just being them.  You see when you fuck up, you try to see the humor in it, and do your darnedest to correct it.

You understand that “bad” behavior doesn’t make you less than others, and that “good” behavior doesn’t make you superior to others. There aren’t even really ways to behave “good” or “bad”—there are only actions that are serving to yourself and others, and those that aren’t. You get to choose, and sometimes it’s hard to know which is which.

A healthy ego never feels imperiled because it is aware of “I AM”—it is centered and connected whilst maintaining an awareness of the current perspective and its separations.

There’s all kinds of middleground, of course, we rarely hang out in extremes. There will even be days where your ego shrinks and expands in reaction to who and what you encounter! It’s a versatile lil’ bugger, and not one to attempt to squash.

Certainly to keep yer eye on it though! Watch your reactions, that’s where ego really shines. Notice feelings of superiority and of unworthiness, that’s unbalanced ego showing off. Notice these things without judging yourself, and just jump off that there thought train! Eventually, the tracks themselves will change—your mental constructs will adjust.

Get it get it, friends!

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How to dissolve cheap beer hiccups with meditation.

I’m sure I learned what meditation was sometime before college, but I didn’t spend much time absorbing the concept until then. I had an Eastern Philosophy teacher that is still probably the most self-assured person I’ve ever met.

He genuinely did not give a shit about what anyone thought of him, as he said, “other people’s thoughts are none of my business”. I found him to be hilarious, and always unintentionally so. (The best kind of funny.)

He said the purpose of meditation was to widen the gaps between thoughts, allowing for observation of the peaceful quiet that exists behind them. And that we’d enjoy a more pleasant mindspace as a result. He shut off the lights, had us put our heads in our folded arms, and asked us to focus on our breathing. Whenever we had a thought we were supposed to acknowledge it without judgment, let it go, and return to our breathing.

Most of the time I thought about a guy, wondered if he liked me. Thought about how cute he was. Replayed our recent conversations. I kept returning back to my breath just to have my mind pipe up again, “He’s so cute.  He reminds me of Floyd from Dazed and Confused…”

But then it happened, I thought—“…………..”, for a few solid seconds.

“Oh! And that’s the same dude as in Out Cold!” — But it had happened, however briefly, I experienced my first sizeable gap between thoughts.  I wanted more of that peaceful feeling. And, apparently, whomever that dude was.

Though I enjoyed the peace I discovered in that philosophy class…I lacked focus. The first real application of meditation to my life was using it to get rid of the hiccups. I drank a lot of cheap beer quickly in those days, so I’d get them pretty frequently. At some point, I realized that all of the solutions offered up (swallow a spoonful of sugar, stare at the ceiling whilst hopping on one foot, BOO!) were all just various ways of *not thinking* about the hiccups.

So I tried using meditation to do so, and low and behold — it works like a charm! In those days most of my meditation was done in graffiti-covered bathroom stalls. Focusing on my breath, calming my mind, and dissolving those cheap beer hiccups.

 

Test of How I Lost All My F-cks: Take Two

Ten months ago, I started off on my first 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘓𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘔𝘺 𝘍-𝘤𝘬𝘴 experience; the testing-out of my beloved bookbaby and 1-month challenge. And I learned a whole lot, especially around the fucks that I still had to lose.

If you check out #fucklessadventures from last year on Instagram, you’ll see me dressing unusually for me (to blend in); singing my heart out (whilst cringing at my voice); and meditating in public (at a nearly-empty destination).

My review in early December, when I finished it, was that it “definitely infused an otherwise difficult month with joyful detours and mindful presence.” And it continued to do that as I integrated the wisdom from my experiences throughout the IMMENSELY challenging winter and spring that followed.

But after my testing, I also knew that in addition to having much *learning* to do before teaching, the project wasn’t done yet; not even the Fuckless Adventures section, which is the shortest (but most visible).

While the Fuckfull to Fuckless tale portion of the book still isn’t even close (at all) to being finished, I’ve decided it’s time for another public testing of the other two parts: the Fuckless Adventures and the meditation challenge.

I’ll be making rewrites a priority this month, while also testing out as many Adventures as I can think of. And I’ll be tweaking/testing the meditation section so there’s a challenging option for the already-converted. (The timing also serves to re-energize a historically bummer time of year for me.)

SO, please do check out my Instagram to help me test this baby out! These posts will be all over the place, but they’ll be focused on things that develop authenticity, vulnerability, and integrated mindfulness; the primary focus/objective of my book. (And also fun. I like fun.)

I have to do 20+ Adventures, but hope to brainstorm and test 30 – we’ll see what else life has planned for me this month!

Wish me luck, and, as always, thanks for listening. 😘

Weekly Fuckless Tarot

 Fuckless Tarot – September 2nd-8th, 2019

Hey there! This week we start out reconsidering our nostalgic ties, mending those that need love, letting release of ties that bind, or the cacophony of growing-up related issues the 4 of Cups (Reversed) symbolizes — stay true to you, now, and then.

Mid-week things are trying to get luxurious and full of independent freedom with the Nine of Pentacles (Reversed), but there’s a block. Blocks in wonderful energy just mean an imbalance of some sort, so examine these areas — are you craving or valuing your independent successes too much?

But things get good for the weekend. The Six of Wands is all about celebration and achievement, baby. Rejoice in the things in life that you’ve propelled forward, and enjoy every freakin’ second of jubilation. You already got this…now get it, get it. 😉

 Fuckless Tarot – August 25th-September 1st, 2019

This week starts of with a need to be proactive about finding balance in our lives. Look for ways to balance your behaviors, are you yin-ing for all your yang? Are you doing *too much* of this and *not enough* of that? Or, it could be that you need to mix it up – try adding an unusual element to your routine, or introduce friends who’ve never met. Finding balance often takes dancing in contrast, so don’t be afraid to test the waters.

Midweek we’ve got the Queen of Swords keeping it blunt, but lighthearted. She’s direct, she’s saucy, and she’s either going to help you learn some truth, or help you learn to deliver it. (It’s almost definitely the one that made you feel more nervous, sorry. 🤣❤) Be honest with others, be generous with humor, and don’t take things too personally; whilst also gleaning the wisdom of solid advice.

And this weekend’s got a head’s up to be on the lookout for sneaks. The Seven of Swords is all about using means to get what you want that may or may not justify the ends, and when it’s reversed it’s got an extra dose of warning. The sneak could be someone else, so don’t get dicked over, but it also could be *you* who’s considering acting without integrity – so ask yourself if you’re doing your best this weekend, and ask it often…while also expecting the same from others.

Have a wonderful week. 😘

 Fuckless Tarot – August 19th-25th, 2019

This week’s off to a luxurious beginning, with the luminous 9 of Pentacles. Monday through early Wednesday, look for opportunities to cherish some “me time,” a perfect time to treat yo’self.

Midweek through early Friday, maybe close that wallet again – the 4 of Pentacles hails a time of needing to balance expenditures, but it could also mean to watch out for being stingy-minded. (Are you feeling guilty about that treat yo’self??)

And for the weekend, we’ve got another busy one – the 2 of Pentacles (R) reminds us to prioritize. Write a list of your “fucking must get dones” and see to them first, this card is reversed so it does point to extra challenges in accomplishing everything you’d like. Back-up plans are good, and staying present really helps prevent fuck ups: Be. Here. Now.

Have a fabulous week!! 😘

Fuckless Tarot – August 12th-18th, 2019

Ooopsie daisies. I did remember to make you a weekly tarot video, but I also got great news; and when I get excited I also get bajiggity in my nervous system (#spoonieproblems) and do silly things like accidentally record timelapse video… D’oh!

So, in text:
Early Week = The emotional stability of the Queen of Cups, reflect, nurture, get spiritual.
Midweek = The conviviality of the Queen of Wands, get social and connect.
Weekend = Page of Swords (reversed), watch out for “foot in mouth,” a time for lessons in communication, youths may be sassy.

(Better half-assed tarot than no-assed?)

Fuckless Tarot – August 5th-11th, 2019

Energies are looking busy for our first reading, with much to manage and prioritize. Mercury just went direct a few days ago, and we’re still in the shadow; so this could be about unplanned projects/obstacles returning, or things you’ve been working on taking longer than planned. Don’t worry though, time is ripe for fresh beginnings. (Remember: Do the same thing, get the same results. Patterns are cages.)

I’m excited to be working on my YouTube again, which I attempted during my homelessness journey – but I couldn’t really commit, for obvious reasons. Honestly, the videos (mostly about chronic illness) make me feel pretty fucking proud of myself. I’m such a crazy lil’ trooper.

Have a fabulous week!

19 Months of H-E Double Hockey Sticks

In late 2015, I nearly died from B12 deficiency (because that’s a thing); which catapulted moderate undiagnosed fibromyalgia symptoms to completely debilitating. And they stayed that way. My world crumbled. I’m (relatively) okay now, but the lows were intensely low; like 20 months of near-complete isolation, repeat hospitalization, and homelessness, low, lows.

The following selection of Instagram posts is from this 32-month crisis, starting after 13 months of slowly peeling myself off my almost-deathbed (whilst trapped in my studio alone); and ending with blessed chronic-illness-friendly dispensary employment. I’ll let the posts fill you in:

My Words, Their Website: Published Fun

More articles under L-I-V-I-N, above!

Cannabis Writing

Leafly:
End-of-life Hospital Care in California Could Soon Include Cannabis
Endometriosis Is Painful as Hell. At Least There’s Cannabis
Cannabis Church Founder Runs for Indiana Governor
Are We Turning CBD Into Snake Oil?
Is the Cannabinoid CBN an Effective Sleep Aid?
What It’s Like to Be a Parent Who Medicates With Cannabis
Does Endocannabinoid Deficiency Play a Role in These Common Illnesses?
Do Anti-Drug Campaigns Actually Work?
Cannabis Can Make You More Creative—But It’s Complicated
How Cannabis Helps ‘Spoonies’ Soothe the Symptoms of Chronic Illness

Green Cross of Torrance (entire blog)


Personal Essays and Other Fun

SheKnows:
How a Vitamin Deficiency Nearly Killed Me
What I Learned from Months of Being So Sick I Couldn’t Leave My Studio Apartment Sans Help
My Weight Made Me Invisible and I Kinda Miss It
My Sex Life Needed Some Time Off: Lessons from Abstinence

Elephant Journal:
What I Learned During My Time in Prison

Offbeat:
6 Lessons for Introverts That Love People Time
How I Stopped Giving a Shit about My Size
Single Living vs. Couple Living: Game On
7 Tips for the Chronically Ill

LifeHack:
8 Quotes from “Say Anything” that Teach Us to Rock at Life
How Losing Someone’s Approval Can Set You Free

Tiny Buddha:
Do you constantly think about your relationships?
How to Live a Full Live and Smile Your Way Through It

Long Beach Post:
Being Homeless in Long Beach

Yogi Approved:
5  Tips to Support a Seriously Struggling Friend

The Mighty:
How I Learned There’s No Shame In Being Ill 

XoJane (R.I.P. Jane Magazine, you were beloved.):
How I Went Gluten and Dairy Free without Losing My Damn Mind
How to Throw a Fundraiser for a Cause You LOVE

The Experience/Book

UPDATE: I wrote what I thought was all of How I Lost All My F-cks in early 2016, even quickly getting myself an agent. It’s been a really crazy time, a lot has changed in the 3.5 years since. Actually, everything has changed. Now without an agent, I’m deep into rewrites of my own direction; transforming the memoir bit of my book (part 1’s “fuckfull to fuckless tale”) into much more than the brief tale I told nearly 4 years ago.

Life is funny.

Please stay tuned, and here’s a preview:

How I Lost All My Fucks is a one-month experience designed to have you losing all yours. I reveal my personal fuckfull to fuckless tale in all of its gory detail: shitfaced teen shenanigans, lessons from jail time, serendipitous magic, and very personal revelations – then I hand it over to you!
GAF defintionYou’ll be learning several meditation styles via a 30-day meditation challenge, teaching you to use your mind in a more beneficial way whilst making it a more enjoyable headspace. You’ll also be accomplishing a series of Fuckless Adventures, which are just as fun as they sound. (And it all can be done in 20 minutes a day, longer if you get creative with it!)

How I Lost All My Fucks aims to be a cathartic emotional rollercoaster after which you will never be the same.  Kind of like doing hallucinogens or having sex for the first time, but no one’s going to talk about how weird skin looks at great lengths, nor get an STD. Stay tuned for info on the release of How I Lost All My Fucks…

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How am I not myself?

 

When I first encountered the phrase “be yourself” I remember wondering, “What does that even mean? Isn’t that my only option, who else would I be?” The movie i heart huckabees illustrates the quandary via Jude Law losing all of the things he defines himself by: his job, his home, his relationship. He’s left pondering, “How am I not myself?”

In a time where authenticity is a buzzword, do we even know what we mean?

It seems to me that we are the most “ourselves” when we honor our honest desires and needs by expressing and acting to satisfy them. But what are your honest desires and needs? Sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds to pin down.

A list might pop into your mind like, I want a book deal, I need to get some sun, I want that hot guy, etc. It’s what’s behind them that holds the keys: why do you want what you want?

Do I want a book deal to appease someone else, or do I genuinely feel that I have a message that can help? Do I really want that hot guy or do I want to be seen with him? Do I want to get some sun for my health or to look tan for someone else?

Examine your motivations (without judgement!) and you might get some clarifying surprises. It often turns out that all too much time spent without regard to what you actually want and need. It’s normal in our society to fill one’s time with obligations, letting them replace our passions under the guise of adulting. Be yourself by getting clear what you truly want and why. Make a list.

A great way to not be yourself is to let your reactions rule you. How do you behave when you’re scared or anxious about something? Are you dick-ish without apology or explanation? That’s hiding, you know. So not you. (As is not trying so you can’t fail.)

In high school I had specific music for when friends were in the car, lots of top-of-charts songs I didn’t want to anyone to know annoyed me deeply. That wasn’t great self-ing. It’s pretty common to censor oneself like this, attempting to hide or delete the parts we feel might be rejected. It’s not great you-ing though, and isn’t it exhausting? Try dropping it.

“But then I’ll be rejected,” you might say. Yeah, that’s possible. But if you crack that nerdy joke or share that personal revelation – you might be rewarded with connection and empathy. Also known as “being truly understood.” And that’s the good shit.

 

 

An Argument for Giving Compliments/Kindnesses, Even When it’s Totally Random

I have a rule: If I think something nice about someone, I tell them.

Like so many, I dealt with a whole lot of insecurity when I was younger, and when these issues would really rear their heads, when I felt just pointlessly unworthy – I’d try to remember the nice things that people had said to me, or about me. These kind words were gold. Their expressed views of me made me hope that I could look at myself in a similar way. And eventually, I did.

So now when a nice thought arises about someone, I express it.

Lovely sentiment, eh? But the truth is that people often think it’s pretty weird, or they seem to anyways – that’s what I take from unanswered Facebook messages and awkward giggles. A lot of people probably think I want them, even though I’m not talking about those kind of compliments and I’ve never been shy about my crushes. If I want you, we most likely either hooked up or you rejected me. (Or, you are a fictional character. Here’s looking at you, Dale Cooper.)

I think it’s just the way we’re wired. It’s evolutionarily wise to think everyone wants you, misplaced confidence has led to many babies indeed. Plus, it’s not “normal” to reach out to someone from decades ago just to say something nice, or to send them something that made you think of them. People assume there must be another motivation, and I bet that’s a pretty easy one to jump to.

But I don’t care. It’s a weird fucking world we’ve got here, and I want to help make it kinder. More enjoyable. More honest. It shouldn’t be weird to say nice things to people, even when it’s random. That should be normal. It should be considered weird to think kind words but to keep them to yourself just because you feel kinda scared. (Of what, right? Thoughts?)

I once read about an African tribe that had a beautiful way of dealing with their criminals. When someone’s wronged another, the tribe circles around them and they share all of their beautiful thoughts about the mistake-maker. They share all the good they’ve done, point to their potential, all of their awesome, and tell them that’s who they really are.

And it works.

For a culture that is so incredibly centered on extrinsic motivation and approval – we’re pretty darn stingy with our compliments. But the good thing about constantly looking to one another for approval is: if it became normal to share all kind things, we’d be lifting each other up in no time.

Let’s make it normal. The next time you’re warmly reminded of someone, or see something that someone you know would love, or you randomly think something nice about an acquaintance – reach out.

Have you ever had a time so difficult that you wondered if you’d make it through? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? And it’s safe to bet that many in your life had no idea what you were going through. What if your kind words land on someone during a time like that? What if they help someone make it to the other side of their struggle?

I lost my mother to suicide when I was 14. The people on the outer circle of her life had no idea what kind of darkness was erupting within, she was probably laughing with co-workers about nonsense just days before it happened; but I know she debated it for years. No one knew about my dark times either, about scratching at my skin until it bled because the physical pain felt better than the emotional pain. I was voted “Most Friendly” earlier that year. No one had a clue.

My point is that we have no idea what battles the people we encounter in our lives are facing. No. Fucking. Clue. So if a kind sentence or action pops into your head, why not go with it? See where it takes you. I often get silence or awkwardness, but I also often get very sincere thank yous in return, and deeper connections with delightful folks.

So why not? 

Butterfly, or Man?

I’m a lover of lucid dreaming; when you realize that you’re dreaming, and gain the ability to control your dreams.  (Tips here.)  Though I’ve gotten pretty skilled at being lucid (experiencing what I want to in the dream), the actual becoming lucid often evades me for long periods.  I wrote this piece after one of those lulls had ended:

I had THE COOOOOLEST lucid dream this morning.  I hadn’t had one in months, I’ve been trying so hard, and nothing.  I was worried.  At around 4am my downstairs neighbor started rocking out to NPR super crazy loud (as one will do), and woke me up.  It took me forever to get back to sleep, perhaps putting me into extended Theta (deep brain wave, that in-between wake and sleep), and that’s why I finally became lucid?  Dunno.

It was so very fun, lots of flying!  I flew through clouds and they felt all misty, then I dove down into water and moved the sea floor, cruised through buildings, did gymnastics, lots of telekinesis, talked to some folks, man…oh!, and the men.  Good times, good times indeed.

I woke up to my alarm and was a bit upset.  Everything was so heavy in comparison.  I quickly got ready, my head still totally in the dream. (My outfit only sorta-kinda matches…)  The bike ride to work was very 80’s Nintendo Paperboy-like, with people and cars jumping out at me everywhere, cranky morning scowls abound.  What a friggin’ juxtaposition!  Ooofta.

Have you heard of Chuang Tzu?  He was a badass Chinese Taoist, up in the ranks with Lao Tzu (who wrote the book), way back in 360-ish BC.  One night he dreamt that he was a butterfly.  He flew about and enjoyed his butterfly life, wholly identifying as this butterfly.  Rockin’ them flowers, flitting about with his purty wings.  Just owning this life, he totally loved it.

He woke up confused by this other body.  Being a butterfly had felt so real.  He was that butterfly. He had had had no awareness of being this Chuang Tzu dude, and now he suddenly there he was – this wingless human thing with no apparatus with which to swill nectar!

Or was he a butterfly, now dreaming he was a man?

What was “real”?

I think it’s all real.  (Also it’s all an illusion and nothing is “real”.)  This heavy life where I’m a Meg is equally real as the lighter life of my lucid dream where I was an often body-less point of consciousness, conjuring up awesome on a whim.  And on a level deeper than that – I’m the observer of both of those lives.

Whoa, right?  Matrix and shit, yo.