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.

Damn Fine Turkey Sammich – The Law of Attraction

I’m (slooowly) writing a fiction project as well, this is a bit from it on The Law of Attraction – perhaps the most detested and loved of New Age thoughts.

Damn Fine Turkey Sandwich

Olivia sat in the back of the conference room, trying not to listen.  Halcyon WIT was putting on a weekend of classes about the topics they cover with their clients individually.  Sometimes she caught herself getting swept up and nearly raising her hand to ask a question.  These guys were good.  She had to remind herself repeatedly that it was all a bunch of bullshit.  If it can’t be proven, it doesn’t exist.

Her ears perked up when someone in the audience brought up a popular book that sells the idea that you can attract the life you want with your thoughts.  Prime woo-woo bullshit.  The audience member asked what Wendy and Morgan thought about this theory, and the two exchanged a glance, whilst smirking.  Finally Morgan groaned, and started:

“The Law of Attraction is real, though incredibly misunderstood due to massive oversimplification.   We can only create situations in our lives that we are at the same vibrational frequency with.  Take the issue of self-worth.  If you feel shitty about yourself, you will attract situations that will reinforce this vibration.

Perhaps you are comfortable with money, you’ve had it your whole life—you expect it to be there.  It will probably stay there.  What will reflect your vibration of low self-worth is something that you are shakier about, perhaps love?  You will attract people who don’t get you, who reinforce this opinion of worthlessness.  And flippy-floppy if you’re secure on love but shaky on money—or it could manifest in other issues entirely.

But I think I’m awesome, and my life is crap, you say?  You might reply that you are the bee’s knees if asked – but then your dominant thoughts are worrying about what people think of you, or criticizing yourself, or comparing yourself to others; feeling unworthy of whatever it is in your life that you lack, on a deep deep level.

This is not a simple subject.  Changing your vibrational frequency is not a quick solution to your cash woes and people problems.  Changing your vibrational frequency is the process of enlightenment, it’s work, and it takes time.

The jist of the Law of Attraction is feel good – attract good.  The thing is though, can people really go from feeling crappy about themselves to feeling confident and loving just like that—because they now know it will help other situations?  And don’t we know that already?  Isn’t that why therapists have jobs?

Also, shit happens.  You could be vibrating on the highest levels possible and people you love will still die.  Natural disasters will still happen.  You will still grow out of, and therefore lose, situations you thought you wanted.  You will have a much easier time handling all of these things, for sure, but they will still happen.  If nothing ‘bad’ ever happened life wouldn’t ever change, and we would never grow.  Shit needs to happen, it’s actually a ‘good’ thing.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn to how to be satisfied with whatever situation you are in.  Appreciate the present for what it’s teaching you, be an active student of life.  When you engage life in this way, you’re in a state of allowing, and drawing your desires closer.  While you can’t always attract everything that you want, you can absolutely block things that you want from coming into your life.  Gratitude is the attitude.

I also recommend that you play with attracting small things!  I used to have a client with all kinds of money woes.  She grew up poor and had a financial lack mentality just burned into her psyche, and tied into her self-worth.  I could tell it was going to take a long while for her to work out all of the different areas that were affected by it.  I told her to try attracting small things in the mean time, things that she didn’t have such an attachment to—and she was great at it!  She’s got all kinds of great stories, but I think my favorite of hers was a story about going to a concert.

She really wanted to go to a Flaming Lips concert, but couldn’t afford it, as usual.  She was listening to the band as she worked the day before the concert and suddenly sent out a request, ‘Hey Universe, if it’s in my highest and best interest, I’d love it if you could send me to the Flaming Lips concert tomorrow.  Thank you!!’, she imagined being there for a few moments, and then she went on her merry way—that last bit is key.

That night she had an urge to go to a pub that she had never been to before, so she went, and met someone who knew someone that was desperate for posters from the concert.  She wound up being paid $200 to go to the concert, as well as being given tickets for herself and a friend!

So, long story short, it is real.  It is also not as simple as it is often presented.  Cultivate gratitude.  Release attachment to your desires.  Start small, it’s lots of fun.”

The woman looked disappointed, but also a bit bemused—like something had clicked for her.

Olivia thought to herself, “Fuck it.  Hey Universe, I’d really like a turkey sandwich.”

A couple hours later the seminar wrapped up.  Wendy came up and thanked her, then let her know that there was complimentary catering in the back for those who had rented spaces in the hall that day.

It was a damn fine turkey sandwich, but she still wasn’t sold…

Non-wimpy sensitives, and how to be one.

This was inspired by confronting someone, then being accused of sensitivity in response. I denied it a little too vehemently and then pointed out that that’s a shitty thing to call someone who’s trying express that you’ve upset them. I felt like they were saying my feelings and perspective were irrelevant, due to this alleged “sensitivity.”

I was upset due to greatly valuing this relationship, but also because having developed a much thicker skin is something that I’m proud of. I was 16 the day I decided to stop making excuses and to own my shit. A coach called me the weakest link, I cried and explained (excused), and she called me out right there in front of everyone.

I did listen that day, but I was 16. And not a super mature 16 either.

Luckily when we don’t get the message, life tends to repeat the lesson. (As many times as we insist.) Over the years, life just kept teaching me how to not take things so personally. I went to college and majored in fine art, where each piece was evaluated by a large group critique. I was in marketing for about a decade, a field where people really aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’m a writer, finally broken in from years of editors’ red pens. I temped for a couple years; so often playing “the new girl,” starting from scratch over and over. (Always learning. Always fucking up the new shit.)

For the most part, life’s taught me to take a critique effectively and I’m down with constructive criticism – which just looks like good advice, when done with style.

But I am (a) sensitive.

This topic is one of those that kinda have two meanings. There’s a science-based official definition, and there’s new-agey definition. The official definition: sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait, a high measure of which defines a highly sensitive person (HSP), has been described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity. But in the world of woo, it means being an empath; basically being very sensitive to others’ energy and having great intuition.

Sensitives feel extremely deeply, both the good stuff and the bad stuff. We care. Immensely. Doing all of this takes a lot of energy. I’ve learned to prioritize, to accept that spreading myself all over and being weaksauce with my boundaries makes me feel like poo. We’re highly affected by others. Though shielding helps worlds, I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m with people who make me feel understood.

Crowds can be miserable-making. Before, I couldn’t go anywhere crowded without feeling like I might have a panic attack. My hands would get all sweaty, and I would feel like I was getting pulled a million directions at once, and I would then find the bar as fast as possible, haha. Watching violence is unpleasant for sensitives. Recharging is very necessary. (Sensitivity shares a lot of traits with introversion.)

Sensitives can be easily charmed. When we aren’t centered in ourselves, we tend to follow around people who are. (Watch out for narcissists.) Since we can strongly sense the energy of the person whose comfortable in their skin – it’s comforting.

Then they leave, taking their self-assured juju home with them; and the sensitive is left bewildered by their totally unprocessed emotions, because they’ve been wandering around in someone else’s shit all day. (Or the opposite, and carrying around another’s negative stuff.) If you relate, shield up!

Like many sensitives, I’m not super great at dealing with negative emotions. I spend the vast majority of my time being pretty darn happy-go-lucky, feeling all sparkly, and when negative emos come in I’m like, WTF am I supposed to do with you?! Bleeeerrrrrrg. I’m getting much better though. (One explosion at a time.)

A couple strategies for sensitives: Take a minute and ask yourself what there really is to fear in that situation. Is it really so terrifying? If you ask yourself these questions, moving to the core of the issue, whilst focusing on your breath – you’ll probably find that the thing you’re afraid of really isn’t so horrible and find yourself much calmer. (And more rational.)

And while I pride myself on doing my best to not take things personally, staying solution-oriented, and owning my shit – I am sensitive.

And you can be both.

ar-asher

Meditation Classes

If you think about it, your mind is your home. And one you’re stuck with, too. Is yours a nice place to live?

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 6.23.04 PMOur minds are the constant in all of our lives, we can never leave them…they are basically our permanent homes. But most of us never really even consider them! Mindfulness is out to change this. My class will teach you how to integrate mindfulness into your life via meditation. (And we’ll go over several styles to help you find something that sticks.)

This fun hour applies mindfulness concepts to your real, actual, world. Meditation saved my life, I’ll also share the story of how it did so; and, of course, how it can wildly change yours for the better.

Thanks to those of you who have come to one of my Portland, Oregon classes! I’m now living in Southern California and hope to start classes ASAP, I’m starting to reach out as of mid-August. Keep yer ears peeled! And in the meantime, please contact me if you are interested in having a class for your group or company.

Homework: Blessings from the Loving-Kindness Meditation
Think or say these to yourself, then send it to someone you adore, and then to someone you’re having “a challenging time” with:
May I/you be blessed with abundance and health.
May I/you know that I am worthy of love, and of the things I desire.
May I/you have relationships that provide me with mutual acceptance and encouragement.
May I/you have meaning and purpose in life, may it be deeply satisfying.
May I/you laugh from the very core of the belly at least daily.

Tarot Trip

I bought my first deck of tarot cards in 2014, after having my first reading — which had stunned me with its accuracy. Before that experience I had always likened tarot cards to newspaper horoscopes; lots of general advice that could apply to anyone and therefore really didn’t apply to anyone.

But for me, it’s turned out to be a very different story.

To fill you in on the Tarot, it’s a deck of cards that have different meanings. The cards represent 78 different aspects of life, and each comes with guidance. The origin is debated, some saying they go back to ancient Egypt and others saying Italy in the 14th century, with many other guesses. Some play games with them, but my interest is in divination — using the cards for guidance in life.

Even after I bought the cards I was still a bit suspect. I thought that maybe the intuitive reader was just very skilled, and that I probably wouldn’t come up with much on my own. I tried anyways, and within a few days I was shocked at the frequency of certain cards. Over, and over, and over, and over; these same cards would pop up, cards that had serious meaning in regard to my present life.

And four years later, I’m still at it! I draw three cards every morning for guidance on the day, it feels like “flying blind” on the rare occasions that I don’t get my tarot in. I’ve occasionally had others read for me, they tend to expand on what I’ve picked up on my own — and have yet to contradict anything!

Tarot cards don’t predict the future, they won’t be like, “Yo Meg, your shit’s about to take off, your book’s gonna be published, and it’s going to be a cultural phenom.”  But they’ll be all, “A prosperous new time is coming”, or more often, “Work your ass off, honey.”

They don’t say it like that, of course, but most cards do come with books for explanations of the cards meanings; and it’s your job as the reader to feel into how they could apply to your life. I like to meditate while I shuffle for a few minutes, then I just choose the cards that feel right.

Sometimes I draw however many I like, in response to my own questions; like a dialogue with the cards and my guidance. Other times I use traditional card spreads with just one question in mind. I’ve noticed that they seem to respond to my mood — and I no longer draw cards when I’m feeling fearful or upset, it just makes me feel worse!

Tarot has become an insightful and entertaining tool for guidance and inner-exploration in my life. I quite fancy it, and recommend it to anyone who’s even remotely curious. The Rider-Waite deck is the most universal, and a great place to start.

No STDs here.

The experience 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.  

She’s one-part fuckfull to fuckless tale, one-part 30-meditation challenge, and the last bit is a series of 20 Fuckless Adventures that are totally as fun as they sound.

I hope you’ll join me. Stay tuned for the release of How I Lost All My F-cks!

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Forgiveness, heads and gross eyeballs attached.

When you have hard times — and you will — your relationships will be tested.  Whether it’s an internal angst or an external set of circumstances, at some point you will have a shitty time. And when this shitty time occurs there are those who will disparagingly judge you for it. We often call them fairweather friends.

One morning on Portland OR’s MAX train I found myself daydreaming about getting even with one of these people. I’m devout to my meditation practice, and I am generally keenly aware of my thoughts. Revenge fantasies are not normal for me.

Maybe it was because I was hungover that day (something I hadn’t experienced in months) or because I was due for my Depo-Provera hormone shot, but I found myself in a reverie about warning a fairweather person’s fiance of her nasty nature and then telling her to go fuck herself.

(Why suggesting someone go masturbate is so satisfying, I do not know. Perhaps because it’s saying someone isn’t worthy of another’s affection? Or because it’s something deemed shameful in our repressed society? Or perhaps the reason isn’t so deep, and it’s just the hard consonant ending with the flowing ‘fff’ sound? Go fuck yourself. It really is satisfying to say…almost as great as indubitably. I’ve only ever actually exclaimed it once, a jillion years ago, and I admit, it was wildly satisfying indeed. But, I digress.)

I snapped out of it, a bit shocked at where my mind had wandered, and recalled the only time my vengeful Scorpionic side had been truly revealed. It was over a decade ago, my junior year in college.  A dude had chased me for months, charming me, asking me out, pursuing me relentlessly.

Even in my shenanigan-filled college days, my intuition was pretty sharp and I didn’t trust him.  There was no reason for it, I just felt in my gut that he was up to no good. But he eventually wore me down. We spent an unsatisfying few minutes together, after which he never returned my call.

I was pissed. Back then I was totally hot hotty hot, I had stalkers for Christ’s sake, and this dude gets me, then doesn’t call me back?! It was the first time I felt really and truly burnnned. I stewed in my anger whilst watching the movie Grumpy Old Men on basic cable. I was judging the characters for wasting so much time spiting each other when judgment turned to inspiration.

I had been invited to a kegger at the dude’s house by his roommate, and suddenly decided I should attend...with Grumpy Old Men inspired supplies. I called a couple best buddies who went to the grocery store with me, where I purchased several fish. (Heads and gross eyeballs attached.) I remember my dear friend E saying, “Meg, this is a disturbing side of you, but damn if it isn’t entertaining”.

We went to the kegger, where I pretended like I wasn’t mad. After some friendly chitchat I excused myself to the restroom, which was just outside of the jerk’s room. Inside it I found a clothes hamper. I emptied out half of the clothes, placed the fish inside (heads and gross eyeballs attached), and replaced the clothes. I exited, signaled my accomplices, and we bailed the party, laughing all the way home.

The jerk moved away, and I wound up making good friends with his roommates. About a year after my revenge, one of the roomies told me a devastating story about how someone had ruined his best suit by placing several fish (heads and gross eyeballs attached) in his hamper.

My revenge had struck the wrong person!!

I turned beet red, cried a little, and apologized profusely.  He wouldn’t let me pay him back for the ruined duds, and he forgave me immediately. Ooooohwie, did that hurt! I remember wishing that he would have told me off like I deserved. I still feel awful about it, and haven’t attempted revenge since. I learned my lesson.

So, those few who dismissed me during some of the hardest times of my life (dark night of the soul), will not be the butt of a cruel prank parlayed clumsily by myself (heads and gross eyeballs attached), nor a diatribe of their perceived faults, nor any euphonious sneers. Of course, as I learned with my wayward fish prank, kindness really is the best revenge.

The compassionate act of forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be mistreated, but simply acknowledges the harmful actions, and releases emotional attachment to them. It’s wise to forgive, not so the transgressor heals, but so we heal. Holding on to resentment to hurt someone else is as useful as holding onto a grenade. It’s only going to hurt you.

It’s empowering to let go, and an apology isn’t necessary to move to forgiveness. We can release ourselves whenever we choose. Why not now?

Dethroning the Queen of Shitgibbers

Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, and gossip.

I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I’d like to say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not. Not even a little.

I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. It just was.

But then one day someone finally called me on my shit.

Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and another girl had gone a double date – their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up.” The next morning at school I spread the word in the usual fashion. (It didn’t take a lot of effort, I went to a very crowded high school of bored kids in a small Alaskan city. Word got around fast.)

Turns out, they did not “hook up” as it were. Things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. So everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “Yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!” When indeed, he had not.

He came up to me in the hallway that day and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.

I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty thing, and it was the first time I really realized it was a shitty thing to do.

I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit, but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.

Why was I posturing like that? Fucking fucks, I thought I lost you. (Clingy buggers.)

So the next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…but then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather or my lunch. (Burrito, B-, overnuked.) But behaving in a small-minded manner like this just isn’t worth the squeeze.

gossip

Lucid Dreaming is the Shit

Lucid dreaming is the experience of realizing that you are indeed, dreaming. Once you gain awareness of what’s happening, you’re able to control the dream. You can conjure up any experience that you want: from flying through the space, to fascinating conversations, to swimming with whales, telekinesis – whatever you can think of!

The big trick is simply remembering to question if you’re dreaming whilst doing so. Because once you do that…it’s on.

Here’s a few tricks to get there:

  1. Remember your dreams. Start a dream journal, either writing or babbling into the mic of your phone. The point is to train the mind to think about dreamtime, to create awareness of it and a relationship to it in your waking hours.
  2. Dream Checks. During your waking day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Do so every time you do something routine; like every time you check the clock or look out the window, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” The habit will carry over into dreamtime.
  3. Plan what you will do. Do you want to fly? Get laid? Chat with Albert Schweitzer? Daydream it as practice for the real thing.
  4. Watch the movie Waking Life. That’s how I had my first, after watching this amahhhzing flick, and without even trying!
  5. Think about lucid dreaming as you fall asleep. After you’re all cozied in, simply remind yourself that you are going to go lucid dream now. Focus on it, intend on doing it.

That should do ‘er! Don’t worry if it takes some time, all of the coolest things in life have a learning curve.