On Asshoolios.

Asshoolios. We all know ’em. Sometimes we even behave like ’em, don’t we? Most of us eventually see our err; and try to make good, hurt as it may. But there’s some that can never ever seem to see their own wrong doings…and these are the true asshoolios.

These guys don’t mean to be mean, it’s usually just their own unhealed wounds at the wheel, but they still hurt people and fuck up lives nonetheless. They need to be taught that this behavior isn’t effective, and, as a society, we really teach them the exact opposite.

When someone’s a dick (even to someone else, even while “joking,” even if they’re the boss) it’s tempting to shrink, to make yourself less noticeable so that heat’s not tempted to burn your way – but then they fucking win, man.

They dominate the exchange, and the heat’s rarely thrown back in their stupid faces; which is the whole point of their debacles, to deflect negative attention from their insecure asses.

Assholes often appear fuckless, but it’s a faux-fucklessness. It might scream “I do what I want!!,” but it’s actually just a precious security blankie, one they have no idea they’re clinging to. A warped mirror offered to the world instead of their authentic soul.

And that authentic soul would be cool AF someday, if only given the chance to play. To grow on purpose, to not only acknowledge their errs, but to make light of them, as they used to do at others’ expense.

They could make growth a shtick, or a company culture, industry standard, or cultural norm – because these fuckheads run this world. And it’s got to stop.

To this end, I vow to call these peeps on their shit more often, and to continuing to offer “yeahHhhhh!!’s” if someone braver starts first. And, more importantly, I vow to always be my weirdass self, even though she tends to take more of this ‘heat,’ it’s just worth it.

So, you with me?

Resilience and Compassion

I love this quote. After going through a difficult time, any semi-reflective person is likely to do some thinking on their weaknesses and faults; because how else does one avoid making the same mistakes?

But it’s easy to overdo ‘er. It’s common to not only own one’s errs, but to define ourselves by them, if only unconsciously. When you decide that you’ll never be good enough, things improving seems impossible. And the mental place of “why bother?” is no breeding ground for resilience.

Compassion for ourselves helps us get to a place of seeing ourselves as stronger and wiser for our mistakes, which makes trying again seem worth the effort and potential risks.

And compassion for others is how we become able to look at the world, and the people in it, as potentially trustworthy. This enables us to put ourselves “out there” again, one of many daunting-but-essential parts of getting to a place of resilience.

Becoming resilient is generally one that must be hard won, but the goods are mighty good indeed. Excited I stumbled onto the work of Sharon Salzberg today! All that just from reading one of her quotes, fun fun.

Fragile, Strong, Love.

OnPaste.20191215-154925Ah, vulnerability. In order to really love, we have to really trust, really allow ourselves to be seen. There’s no chance of telling yourself, “Well, they didn’t even really know the REAL ME if you’re vulnerable.”

Allowing yourself to be fully seen is indeed the only way to be fully rejected, but it’s also the only way to be really loved. Who cares if someone loves the facade of you that you’ve created for them? (Yet, the obviousness of the point doesn’t make it less tempting, does it? 🤣)

It’s scary to really put yourself out there with someone, to demonstrate your fragility – but it’s the only path to real connection.

The How’s and Why’s of Meditation

Meditation will change your life. Surely, you’ve heard this before, yes? And you probably thought in response, “How the eff will sitting there trying not to think change my life?” and this is a fair question. The answer: Meditation is able to change people’s lives because it changes the way we think, and our minds rule our lives

The power in meditation is all about awareness of your mind, and learning to use it as a tool that serves you; rather than the other way around.

When you start to view your mind from the perspective that it’s just one of the many tools at your disposal in your human body, like your hand or your nose, you begin to detach from your thought patterns like they are who you are. The problem with defining oneself by the thoughts streaming through your head, is that they aren’t all gems. Our thought patterns are often just conditioned responses to our environment, and many of them are not actually of service to the lives we’re working to create.

When we define ourselves by our thoughts, we feel a need to defend them. This makes change impossible. When you befriend your mind, thereby befriending your ego, you can start to work with it so it serves you better sans all that messy identity crisis stuff. Meditation starts off this process by cluing you into what the heck’s going on up there, crucial info.

And it’s highly likely that you’ll “suck at meditation” when you start, this is totally normal. You’ll probably think the whole time; but you’ll still be highly productive because you’re learning mindfulness, how to cultivate awareness of what your mind is doing. If you stick with it, it gets easier, more relaxing, and will lead to great (great!) insight and inspiration. Here’s the how’s:

  1. Get Comfy. There are people out there who will tell you that you must sit a certain way, and you should ignore them. Posture helps focus (imagining a line going from the base of your spine, pulling through the top of your head), and if you lie down you run a higher risk of falling asleep but I have fibromyalgia and often enjoy meditation curled up in a comfy ball. As always, do you.
  2. Focus on Your Breath. Breathe deeply, focusing on the sensation of air flowing out into your nose, the full feeling of your lungs, how the air feels as it passes back out, etc. As thoughts spring to mind, do as Mooji says and, “Let every thought come and hug you, but you don’t hug anything. Then, gradually, the noise will start to back off.” And when it does, things get mega-peaceful. It’s the shit.
  3. Don’t Get Judgy. You won’t be pleased at all of your thought patterns, there may even be content that you feel ashamed of. Well, knock it off! Your brain has been culturally conditioned by the world that we live in, which encourages all kinds of not-fun nonsense. Just let it go, and don’t be surprised if it takes awhile. The thought patterns (and neural pathways) will start to lose their mojo, and eventually peter out. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND. It is your tool, and you can learn to use it as you wish.
  4. Repeat. Start with a 5-minute session and work up from there. Challenge yourself to get up to 20 minutes, and to do it everyday for a month. (If you’re not hooked by then, you get a full refund for this article!) You can also take it out into the world, actively meditating, watching your mind and working to still it, while your waiting in line, doing dishes, or taking a stroll in the woods.
  5. Learn More. There are many more methods of meditation besides mindfulness. We just went over moving meditation, and I’ve recently fallen in love with transcendental meditation, which involves working with a mantra. What else can you uncover?

Welcome a New Future NOW

There are many quotes within the spiritual world that are so ubiquitous, no one knows where they originated. One of these is, “What you resist, persists.”

Welcome the Future NOWWhen we wish part of our life would change, and we wish it A LOT – this is called contrast.

Focusing on the contrasted experiences in our worlds pretty standard, we’ve been conditioned to feel that this is responsible; even when all we’re doing is “worrying,” which is perhaps the most wasteful thing one can do with their energy.

I prefer Buckminster Fuller’s take: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

When we’re trying to invite different experiences into our lives, new energies, we cannot focus on what we wish would fuck off. We must focus on building, on creation, which happens in this very moment. (Even if it’s pissing you off.)

What are you inviting in? New juju, or same ol’ shinola?

 

 

Thoughts on Authenticity

I love this quote. Authenticity sounds simple: “Just be yourself.” 

AUTHENTICITYBut in reality, presenting yourself without a safe facade can be tricky, it’s why I wrote my book! Being authentically yourself means being truly seen – something that requires vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.

And even though authenticity is a buzzword, it’s not actually what we expect from another in our culture… For instance, I write about cannabis for a living, which I LOVE; but being open about that means that some people think of a stoner stereotype and write me off at that. Poof! Done.

But that’s where integrity comes in. Do I want to be around people who don’t want me to be fully myself around them? That want me to skirt around my potential controversial aspects, or pretend they aren’t there? Is that how someone of character behaves?

It’s a grey area. Some could argue that it’s nicer to stay non-controversial. But I would argue that it’s a path to ignorance and crowd mentality. I think it’s our moral imperative to find and be the best, *most whole*, versions of ourselves; that it’s the whole fucking point of this “life” gig. 

#DoYou isn’t simple for most of us. Do it anyways.

 

Living: Spiritual-Style

I’m a spiritual person, which I also frequently describe as, “Spiritual, not religious” — so people don’t get confused. Here’s the difference: spirituality is your experience of the divine, and religion is learning about someone else’s experience. (Mysticism, paganism, and “witch,” one who manipulates energy, the unseen, are also terms I identify with; though I don’t usually introduce it as the latter, as it confuses people.) Spirituality brings depth and joy to the lives of millions, yet it’s not very well understood by our culture at large.

Spirituality can mean magical-feeling experiences that make you wonder if you somehow accidentally ate some ‘shrooms, or it can look like a daily ritual that helps you connect to deeper meaning, or a whole world of other experiences; the avenues to explore in spirituality are endless. While this makes it a never-ending and wildly satisfying path, it doesn’t make it the easiest to start down. Here’s some tips to get rolling.

  1. Meditate: Spirituality is all about connecting to a deeper wisdom that lies within, your intuition. And you’ll never ever learn how to do that if you don’t learn to get your mind to STFU! It’s really easy. All you need to do is sit or lie comfortably, and focus on your breath. When thoughts arise, let them go without judgement, and focus on your breath again. The more you do it, the better it will serve you.
  2. Read: You can start forming your philosophy on life by reading others’. Some of my recommendations for first picks are The Celestine Prophecy, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Conversations with God, and The Four Agreements. (Here’s more.) I also highly recommend the movies Waking Life and i heart huckabees.
  3. Divinate: Divination is essentially asking the divine for advice. Tarot and oracle cards are my favorite ways; tarot can be explored like learning another language, but oracle cards come with books that explain the cards. There’s also: runes, dowsing, the I-ching, and scrying, among others. They can help you make decisions and help predict the energy of what’s coming next in your life.
  4. Google Stuff: Here’s some topics to start checking out — astrology, numerology, ascension, lightworker, dark night of the soul, shadow work, chakra cleansing, law of attraction, conscious evolution, intuition, sacred geometry, and starseeds. That should give you 20-bazillion more wormholes to fall down!
  5. Buy Stuff: Contrary to popular opinon, his alone will do absolutely fucking nothing. But, when powered with intention and dedication, stuff can be a great aid to your spiritual practice. Go to a new age store and see what you’re drawn to, but a few basics are: sage and palo santo for energy cleansing, gemstones, and books books books! I know I said books already, but there is no one book for this stuff; just many teachers who help point to wisdom that must be located within. So read up!
  6. Practice Gratitude: Gratitude is the attitude, man. Practicing regular gratitude brings you into the present moment; little things like noticing the amazing taste of your coffee, appreciating the way your body feels after a workout, or the fact that your car started today can help bring perspective and shake of nonsense whiny thoughts. Focusing on stuff you want brings more stuff you want. And same-same for the opposite…
  7. Community: Finding other people who are into this stuff is key. Check out bulletin boards at health food stores, yoga centers, and other places of conscious living. There’s also non-religious churches! Nontheistic is what you’re seeking, Unitarian Universalist churches and Jain centers are two great examples. The internet is also awesome (and so quick!) — just checking out hashtags of topics is likely to introduce you to people. Talking (or typing) with others about these things really helps ground the ideas, helps bring them into your everyday life.

Best wishes on your spiritual journey!!

How to Start Freelance Writing

I’m not wearing a bra right now, even though I’m at work. Do I live in a future-society where women can free-boob it without stares or accusations of “unprofessionalism”? Nope. I’m a freelance writer, free to lance about my city (or the world) — the free life of working from wherever, whenever. And I get to write! And I’m paying the bills!

I started trying to become a working writer in my spare time nearly 7 years ago, and it hasn’t been an easy path. To be honest, it almost definitely won’t be for you either; I don’t say this to discourage you, but to manage expectations. People often look at writing like anyone can do it, because technically, yeah — but there’s more to it than folks think, and you’ll be up against people who know what they’re doing.

It’s wise to be prepared, and you might have to work towards your 10,000 hours before you really get rolling. But, it’s the challenging paths that are the most worth walking, I highly recommend this journey. And at least I can pave it a bit for you! Here’s 8 things I wish I knew when I got started:

  1. Not Everyone Pays Writers, But Lots Do: If you’re just getting started, it’s wise to publish for free so you can get some links and bylines — but if you’ve got a decent handle on writing, there’s many options out there who pay at least something. When starting out, look for smaller websites that look like they sell ad space, or who sell products from their website; they’re more likely to pay than creative sites or community sites (who can be better for audience-building).
  2. Know Your Objective: Besides enjoying writing — mandatory! — why do you want to become a writer? Do you want to pay rent or get a book deal? There’s lots of kinds of freelance writing, and the most-reliable-best-paying-kind often won’t have your name on it at the end. Content marketing writing is ghost writing that helps promote a business in some way, often using tools like SEO or copywriting for behind-the-scenes company needs.

    But if you’ve written a book and are looking to start freelancing, you probably care about building an audience so you’ll be attractive to agents and publishers. In this case, you’re going to want to get published; which is a hell of a lot easier than it was pre-internet. (Getting published in print is still highly-revered.) This means your writing will be on/in someone else’s product, which is usually a website or a magazine. Many do a mix of both types.

  3. What to Write About: Clichés become cliché because people say them so much, and we repeat them because they’re true — writing what you know is generally wise. This can mean writing personal essays about your actual life; but usually means the things you’re really into, and/or topics that you live daily. For instance, I’m a medical cannabis patient and advocate who largely writes about medical cannabis, which has given me a plethora of knowledge and credibility on the topic. What do you know everything about? That’s a great place to start, niches are a great place to get rolling.
  4. On Who to Pitch: Your biggest concerns are likely to be audience and rates. Who do you want to talk to, and how much money do you need to make? On the internet, the publishers with the biggest audience aren’t necessarily the biggest payers; so if audience is hugely important, be willing to compromise your rates for some. (But never be afraid to respectfully negotiate.) And, again, companies who sell stuff besides writing are likely to be the most reliable and better-paying work, but you probably won’t be credited. Look for websites that have articles similar to ones you’d like to write.
  5. On How to Pitch: A pitch is an email you’ll send to an editor that describes what you want to communicate with your article. It sells it! Even if you’ve already written the full article, you need to send a pitch — editors are very busy folks. Keep it less than a page. Be sure to include your experience with the topic and list/link your favorite bylines (don’t expect them to navigate to your website to see your portfolio). Try to avoid pitching the general email, seek out specific editors of the topic area that you’re pitching. Ie, “Entertainment Editor” for “Emma Stone and Gael Garcia New Supercouple.” (That just popped out of my head, but I could totally see that…)
  6. On Rejection: It happens. A. Lot. And it’s nothing to take personally. Publications are factoring all kinds of things that have nothing to do with you. Maybe they already published a similar story (wise to check pre-pitch), have an investor that doesn’t want to be behind a topic, or are just currently focusing on another topic. If an editor doesn’t respond after about a week, politely follow-up in a way that resummarizes your pitch. If they don’t respond after that, reformat your pitch for another publication and repeat until a match vibes.
  7. On the Editing Process: Before your article gets to an editor, you need to edit it to the max! Editors don’t want to work with people who give them extra work. Also make sure that your voice coordinates the rest of their writing. And if you do all this — you may still wind up with many edits, or even rewriting it. Breathe. Let go of your ideas in regard to its perfection and appreciate that others’ and their work are now involved too. It’s just how it works. That being said, you don’t have to work with editors again if you don’t like their editing style; and if you’re unhappy with how it’s turned out, it’s okay to pull it (but be respectful and aware of that it can affect the relationship with the publication).
  8. Website: Love it or hate it, marketing is part of freelance writing. A writer’s website to showcase your work is absolutely necessary (once you’ve got some work to showcase, of course). Choose a domain that’s easy to spell and remember, and build it yourself; there’s tons of easy DIY builders now (NOT WordPress, trust me 🙄), and asking someone else to update it every time you write something will be a costly hassle. Post blogs as often as you can — if you get busy you can shuffle them around so it looks new (shhh, they’ll be new now!), but SEO will know that they aren’t.
  9. Join Writers Groups: Other writers are a priceless resource. Look for groups in your area and/or all over the internet. (It, and “letters to home,” are all I use Facebook for anymore!) Be sure to follow the group’s rules about posting, especially in regard to self-promotion. If there’s a search option, use that before posting a new question on the same topic.

I hope that I’ve helped pave your road to writing, or at least pruned up some of the shrubbery. Sending the best of juju to your writerly missions!!

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!

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.