Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seeing Your Rainbow

We're kind of moody. We're perfectionists. Easily irritated. Easily exhausted. We notice the good in everything but get weighed down by the everyday disconnect between what we actually see and what we think we should see. Yes "World," we're the ones who are telling you how it should be done and raising hell either in front of or behind your backs when you tell us you don't want to do it. My nickname at one of my former jobs was "Super B," and they weren't kidding. I'm sure if I could've gotten away with bringing a whip to the office each day, I would have.

Seeing the rainbow in life isn't something that comes naturally. If a car cuts us off on the Interstate, we're likely to get upset, maybe even flip the bird a few times. If someone doesn't reply back to us or call back right away, we worry that we did something to upset them or that they no longer like us. If someone is short in conversation, we automatically think we're not interesting. And if someone gives us the slightest little suggestion on how to do something better, we may become suicidal. Ok, maybe not to that extreme, but we'll beat ourselves up over and over again in our minds.

In order to see the rainbow in life you have to start within yourself. This means finding out why you're putting so much pressure on your shoulders. Yes, it's mostly you. Take a look at your expectations. Are they realistic? Are they more than what anyone would reasonably ask of you? What's the gap between who you currently are and who you want to be, and why is it so important? When I was twenty-three, fresh out of undergrad and working as an assistant for a commercial property management company, I was so focused on getting a job with a "real" title that I missed the opportunity to really dig in and learn a new side of the real estate business. I was worried enough about losing the other half of my budding relationship and our "status" that I forgot to truly enjoy the moments we spent together. And of course, I was worried about how all the ways living in Florida were so different from those in Colorado that I didn't truly explore all the Sunshine State had to offer until I moved away and returned there on vacations.

The Universe knew I was in need of a good lesson or two. Someone upstairs had a lot of fun and is probably still laughing everyday when they drew me into my current everyday life. I even laughed about it myself today. Over the course of the past four years, I've learned to (almost) let go of the "Super B" complex. My best is going to have to be good enough, because it's all I've got to give. It doesn't really matter whether or not I have "Manager" or "Leader" or some other fancy, important sounding title behind my name. The stress and politics involved in those types of positions doesn't suit me anyway. Besides, regardless of your role in an organization, you have the opportunity to make a difference, lead and develop yourself. And those titles aren't following you to the other side. Mistakes are bound to happen whether you're learning or a pro. Mistakes are often how you learn in the first place and discover a better process. Laugh at them. Laugh at yourself. The world isn't going to fall apart because you've shown that you're human. Finally, learn to have compassion and understanding for the mistakes and misgivings of others. Learn to help them do it better, guide them, show them. Dig deeper to see it from their perspective rather than assuming that they're incompetent.

Everyday life isn't a picture perfect postcard. Nor should we expect it to be. There's something beautiful and moving about a thunderstorm. The sound of the rain can calm and soothe your soul, bringing a much needed spiritual cleanse. Flashes of lightning, while sometimes scary, can be more thrilling than a Fourth of July fireworks show. If you listen hard enough, you can almost decipher a code in the boom of the thunder. You have to remember that the dark clouds are really just an illusion. Within them is what brings life to what exists below. Within them is the possibility of a rainbow or two.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Magic, Miracles and the Inexplicable

Magic is a mystery to a lot of people. A lot of people who make up the rest of the world that doesn't believe in the unseen and the unspoken. Of course, we know different. We, being the 15-20 percent of the world that knows that magic is simply the manifestation of what our imaginations have already known to be real. Most would have us believe that imagination is simply make-believe. That's it. End of the story. Nothing more than wishes and fantasy contained within the untouchable clouds that somehow suspend themselves in the air above us.

A part of me still believes in the idea of angels. Those unseen spirits that come around to guide, comfort, help, inspire, and at times even rescue us. The other part of me realizes that angels are both seen and unseen. They can be whispers of our own selves, not bound by the continuum of space and time. They can be a fictional being that exists in our hearts and our minds, and yes, perhaps in other realms we have yet to understand or discover. They can be someone we come across in this realm, that we see every week or that we only know exists, but somehow feel as though we've always really known them. We don't see them yet, we don't actually know them. But we feel their energy, we hear some of their thoughts, we feel what they need to share with us in a sort of telepathic exchange that we learn not to question.

Sometimes we suddenly realize that we might be someone else's angel. We've crossed paths unknowingly and the connection may seem insignificant until we have a true conversation. The kind of conversation that happens when the stars are aligned just right, I suppose. The kind of conversation I had yesterday. "Mr. Lemon-Lime," I'll call him. A kind man in his 40's who always takes the time to say hello, swap vendor horror stories and supply me with more free energy drinks, tea and expensive spring water than I can fit in my one car garage. I offer him chips, cookies and crackers in return, but he always refuses.

After the brief bitching about the industry we're in and his comments on how I'm open, honest and just "tell it like it is," he said that he would like to run into me in ten years. He tells me about how I'm further along at 33 than he ever was, that he'll probably ever be. He tells me how he thinks I'm really smart, have my life together, about his gambling problem and how he finds inspiration in the fact that I once had $30,000 racked up on credit cards and managed to pay it all off. He admires my ambition and drive and is in awe that I can work 10-14 hours a day and attempt to complete a degree at the same time. I tell him about my writing, my plans to break up with the boyfriend and finally head west. He says I won't have any problems finding someone new and that he has faith that I'll "do good." He says he's about to cry and that sometimes he feels insignificant in comparison when he talks to me. I tell him I don't think I'm that much smarter than anyone else and that I'm actually a lot further behind at 33 than I had originally planned. He says it's probably because I put too much pressure on myself, my standards for myself are higher than most and that I should take the time to have fun. Inside I smile because I know he's right.

That conversation took twenty-five minutes on a Friday morning in the midst of our busy schedules. Unplanned. Unrehearsed. Certainly unexpected. Words filled with a little bit of everyday magic, miracles and the inexplicable.

Perhaps ten years from now when I'm looking at the sun set over the Pacific and I look at my finished novels, screenplays or whatever forms of writing my ambitions lead me into, I'll fondly remember those twenty-five minutes on a Friday morning. At least, I hope so.

Walt Disney said "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing-that it was all started by a mouse." When we finally start living what we hoped would someday be true, we should remember that it all started within our imaginations.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Really Dance With Life

I was driving home yesterday on I-25 in the late afternoon, watching the snowflakes fall down from the sky. At first I was worried about how big they were, how fast they were falling, and how I might skid off the road in my less than "Colorado winter-proof" Honda Civic. I love my new car, but it's a little lacking in the traction department. The gas mileage, however, is awesome. But anyhow, I began to think about how it was pretty crappy that we were in the midst of yet another winter storm warning at the end of March. It should be spring for god's sake and now I was going to get home later and have to start work earlier tomorrow than I had originally planned.

I started thinking about how it's so different now, when it snows. Snow makes me sigh in a sort of defeated disgust. I don't like it anymore and it's not just because I got spoiled during my Floridian years. It's because I have obligations, places to go, things to get done, a life to keep afloat. Inclement weather interrupts those things, prevents them from happening and keeps me from accomplishing them as fast as I feel I should. I don't have time to slow down and experience the snow's magic. The last time I did that I was a child.

A child. A child who used to sneak out at 3 am when it did snow because she loved its beauty so much. A child who used to play and watch the flakes fall from the sky until the cold air turned her cheeks red and she had to go inside to warm them back up. My eyes used to transfix themselves on the reflection of flakes swirling beneath the street lights at night. The delicate blanket that it would form excited me, deep down in that place that some refer to as their heart. A picture postcard of Christmas or Winter or one of nature's more breathtaking scenes of calm beauty.

Suddenly yesterday, as I was driving, still on the Interstate, I got it. For a moment my eyes reverted back to the way they used to be. I was eleven years old again. It's 1987 or '88. Time doesn't exist. I'm watching the big flakes fall down from the sky, one by one, through the holes in the ceiling of the gazebo in our backyard. The house on 39th avenue, the haunted one. The beautiful backyard full of trees where I would sometimes escape to contemplate life, my soul, and how I was going to become something larger than what I knew. Innocence, I suppose. As full of innocence as I could be. The point is that back then I allowed myself to enjoy the small experiences in life because there was nothing else standing in my way. Back then I allowed myself to feel the moment and nothing else.

I believe that's what you have to do if you truly want to, as they say, "dance with life." Dancing is an art because it requires that you surrender yourself to emotion. You can't absorb yourself in thoughts, only what you feel. Control can't exist here, if you want to truly become something bigger than your own essence. If you want to feel, to live, you have to take more than just steps. You have to see what exists within them.

There are many ways to really dance. Many ways to feel alive. Many ways to live. This time around, in this lifetime, I think that's one of my lessons. To learn to trust my heart so that I can stop working and start living. To stop thinking so that I can feel and let my spirit become part of something larger and more mystical than just the steps themselves.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sensitivity and the Enablement of Abuse in Relationships

I'm far from an expert on this topic. I can only offer a snippet of my experiences and my perspective on how being highly sensitive affects the way we develop (or avoid) intimacy and relationships. The one thing that I do know is that we tend to want to see the good in everyone and believe that only the good side exists. Even when our instincts are telling us otherwise, we push those uneasy feelings aside because somewhere deep down we believe that we are on this planet to make everyone else happy at the expense of our own self-respect. To put it quite simply, we don't do conflict, direct confrontation or face to face acknowledgement of the blatant truth.

I know. I still avoid it at times. I still pretend that everything is fine when it really isn't. I deny my feelings and my needs so someone else can have what they want from me. I still witness someone's good qualities and think that they somehow outweigh all the negative ways they made me feel, or their condescending remarks, their excuses for not fulfilling their half of the bargain, or their outright inconsideration for me as a person.

To be blunt, having a history of sexual abuse or violence only compounds these factors. When you're in that horror, you have no boundaries, no rights, no feelings, no voice, no choice, no soul. You're no longer a person. And afterwards, you no longer trust who you are or what you think or what you might want. You become robotic, on "auto-pilot," a machine. Sometimes you pretend that you, the one who was abused, doesn't exist. The anger, the pain, the suffering, the shame, the fear.....it's in a box that is never to be opened. Or so you think. Until you start getting asked out or approached and feel frozen. Until you realize that you don't feel anything or that the person you're with may not be blatantly violent, but they are emotionally and mentally abusive. Or that they really only wanted one thing to begin with. There is no self-value, no sense of self-worth or self-respect because those things were taken away a long time ago. Saying no wasn't an option then, so why would it be now. You'll take whatever good feelings you can get because you don't believe that you're capable of being loved. Deep down you feel flawed, damaged, defective and empty. Yes, I know. Firsthand. I live with the aftermath that can't possibly be contained in the words of this paragraph every single day.

The way I see it, I do one of two things. I either avoid/push away or dive in head first too fast, too soon. I avoid or push away because a relationship means I'll have to open that box and not just so I can see what's in it. It's too difficult to try and feel. It's too hard to think that I might be a disappointment and be abandoned again. Better to not risk it at all and remain a mystery. I dive in head first too fast, too soon so that I won't have to open that box at all. I can pretend that I'm someone else and be whatever the other person wants. The true me ceases to exist amongst the temporary high and rush of the feelings that can make it seem as if the emptiness isn't there. An emptiness that gets bigger once the feelings fade.

Tonight I'm a little angry that we get taken advantage of. Our willingness to forgive so easily gets thrown aside by those who wish to use us as a doormat for their needs. Our need to make everything "ok" at the expense of our spirits is something that we need to learn to recognize and stop. We can't possibly be what someone else wants us to be. We have the right to say "no" and be listened to. We have the right to not compromise one hundred percent of the time. We have the right to acknowledge the truth and not be made to feel as though we are "crazy" or "emotional" for doing so. We deserve honesty, appreciation, respect, genuine affection and to have our needs heard and reciprocated.

We have the right to be our true selves, without the intimidation of abandonment and abuse in the background. We are the ones that have to start believing and saying that we are worth it. Acceptance and knowing what you want begins within. Making the decision to be strong and not settle for anything less comes from a willingness to recognize that you're just as valuable as those around you. Without it, your soul slowly evaporates into the pool of reflections that others will so readily drown you in.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Today I was going to finish writing a post I started yesterday about discovering how to truly dance with life. Yesterday I was watching "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" on Lifetime and reminiscing about youth, innocence, self-discovery, soul lessons and how the good things in life always come back to be one after they separate. That was yesterday (and a post that will have to wait). I acknowledge that I’m a little dark this week, but moodiness accompanies a lot of writers (and sensitives). The cotton candy side will re-emerge, I promise.

Right now, today's a little different. My body feels like crap from the cold that is running through my veins and that post suddenly doesn't fit how I feel because of something else I just read. Strange how a piece of writing can affect you so deeply that you need to explore a different piece of your psyche. Strange how you identify with it so much and see its truth that you have to write about how you've experienced it yourself. Being highly sensitive, according to Elaine Aron's research, means we're more cautious. Slower to "open up," to trust. Yet it also means we're more adept at seeing through illusions, facades, or as some would say "lies." For me, my life was built around them. Trust is not something I do easily and not just because of my sensitivity.

My parents lied to me when I very young. At least my Mom did. She had me believe that my younger sister was truly my sister, instead of just my half-sister. I know I was only four and how do you explain that you've been having an affair with the neighbor because you've fallen out of love with your abusive husband to a child that young. She lied to my biological father about it too, as well as the world. My sister was born with his last name and he was listed as her father on the birth certificate. She still does. She always says to others that her girls are from her first marriage. The truth is, I'm the only child she decided to give birth to from that marriage. I guess one reminder was enough.

I suppose my biological father lied to himself. I didn't get to know him very well. I threw away the last letter he sent after we'd moved to Colorado. My Mom says I mutilated the last gift he gave to me, an Annie doll, but I don't remember. I suppose she's right because I no longer have her. All I have is a montage of bits and pieces of very early memories and my Mom's reflection on who he was and wasn't. Perhaps that reflection is a lie too. One of his brothers, my Uncle John, might be able to provide more answers. But his family only calls once every five years to try to say hello to me. I suppose this is their attempt to deceive themselves into thinking we're still family. We used to get together on weekends and holidays and my Aunt Ann would make "hamburger pie" at their home in Naperville. After the divorce, it was nothing but a sporadic birthday card or a phone call to ask how old I was now. The last time they called was when I was still living in Florida full time and they had just moved there. I was leaving. Our DNA matches, but the truth is we're strangers.

My adoptive father's family tried, but they knew I didn't belong with them. My sister had his genetic traits, and I had my father's. It was obvious. Beneath the outward appearances of acceptance, I knew they really didn't regard me as being a part of the family. I was different, an outsider. I wasn't supposed to be there. Of course, neither was my Mother. When your step children are older than you, it makes it kind of difficult to have a comfortable, open relationship. When my brother was born, he was the lie that outwardly said their marriage was still ok. There was nothing wrong, really. The truth is, there had been for years, and I was just another casualty of my Mom's bad choices. And she wonders why I'm not married.

Truth is I'm not married because I like men, but I never allow myself to truly love them. Or anybody really. I don't feel. I don't attach. I learned very early not to. Truth is, when I date someone I get claustrophobic, sometimes even before the first cup of coffee. I don't like to compromise and I'm about to break off a ten year relationship because I'd rather create my own world than settle into his. The truth is that I'm no longer the twenty-something year old that is in love with him. I still love and care for him, but I'm ready to move on.

My sensitivity allows me to see past the words that people say. The fake expressions. The "show," so to speak. The culture that everyone goes along with because they don't want to be ostracized from the group, but then bitch about when no one important is listening. My former boss in the beginning never stated "we really don't think you can do this job because you're female," but rather said "we doubt that you want to do this job." This, even after I had gone through the entire drawn out process of resume submission, tests, un-paid shadowing, two interviews, sending a follow-up letter and was now back for a third. When I stated the truth, when I revealed what I thought was really going on, she got mad. Really mad. Maybe this is why we had a love-hate relationship. She knew from the beginning that she couldn't pull her political facade with me. When someone states the truth, the facade dissipates and the reality is that all the laws in the world can't erase the misperceptions or inequities that are woven so deep within our culture.

Life experience. Sensitivity. Is there a difference, a distinct line? Does experience heighten a genetic trait and the way you respond, making it even more difficult for one to stop building walls? Walls that are often invisible even to their creator. Walls that become part of the deception, the illusion that everything is "ok." Truth is, life can be ugly. Really ugly. Truth is, I still don't trust myself fully because I don't know how. Truth is, we lie because it's too painful to be authentic and we want others to believe that we're what they want us to be.

Sometimes we lie because we don't really know ourselves. We've never taken the time to discover what lies beneath the hairstyles, the make-up, the clothes, the degrees, the titles, the house, the car, the job or who we associate with. Deception exists to conceal what's undesirable, what's missing, and what's destructive.

We don't want to acknowledge that reality is a two-part deal. Without a hell, there can't be a heaven.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Emotional Life

I've been a little emotional this week. The pendulum has been swinging back between a dark emptiness and an almost nervous breakdown, waterworks and all. Maybe it's because my hormones are all jacked up, or the fact that I've had a pounding headache every single day that won't go away without two extra strength Tylenols. Or maybe it's just because I'm exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy; especially when I'm standing in the check-out room at work and am frantically searching for a time card that I know I placed in my route book, but now has seemed to disappeared. I start crying because it's not the only thing I can't seem to find lately. The tears won't stop, despite the fact that someone could walk in at any moment and see the mascara-streaked evidence on my face. I'm on edge from all the pressure that everyone around me seems to be able to handle with ease. They don't break down. They may be a little tired, but they're not exhausted. They're still able to function. Me, I feel like there are weights chained to my legs and my arms, and most of all, my heart. I can barely muster up the energy to move and each time I do the sheer effort feels like it will have to be the last. I lay down for an hour nap and wake up five later.

I wonder how people that I care about are doing, but I let their calls go to voicemail because I don't have time to call them back right now. I have appointments left unconfirmed, about 300 e-mails to go through, more case studies, projects, dry text book reading, graded discussion threads, writing samples, recommendation letters, an upcoming GRE test, and life's errands to worry about squeezing in. This week my boss tells me I'm getting another account. Great. More money. But I have to stop in and see what type of equipment they'll need and get that scheduled for delivery. I have to find the energy to put on a cheerful face when I make contact. Energy I just don't have right now. It'll have to wait until next week.

I've been like this before; in this dark whirlwind of nothingness and despair. There's too much pressure, too much to think about, too much to get done and I can't do it all. I'd rather stay in my pajamas, watch movies or TV and sleep. I wish the headaches would go away. I don't know if it's post-concussion syndrome or PMS. I'm too scared to ask if I can go back to the workmen's comp doctor to have it checked out. I don't want to go to my own doctor. He'll ask questions and want to run more tests and I don't want to know the results. Besides, the accident happened three months ago. There's nothing they can do now. The damage to my brain has already been done.

I think about drinking, but I don't buy the wine, the coke and rum, the mixers or the Kaluhua. I laugh because I once took a final exam in college early in the morning after downing nothing but a Kaluhua mudslide and ended up getting an A on it. I hadn't studied for it because I didn't have the time. I guess the buzz took the edge off. Alcohol promises freedom and fun, if only for just a little while. Freedom and fun are just illusions that I've never seemed to have had. Maybe that's why I always escape to a tropical beach on my vacations now that I have money. Money that I'm about to give away in pursuit of uncertainty. But, tropical postcards don't last forever either.

Maybe I really am too sensitive, like one of the Doublemint Twins said. “Doublemint Twin #1” is my former boss at my current job, whom I quickly developed a kind of love-hate relationship with. I really should find the time to thank her, really. If it wasn't for her bickering, I wouldn't have discovered my true self. If it wasn't for her reflection of who I was becoming, I wouldn't have made a much needed detour.

But, today is a different day from yesterday, when I began composing this somewhat dreary post. Today could've been another bad day. It's March and it's snowing in true Colorado fashion. Today, my customers lifted my spirits, as they always do. They found the time to tell me that they appreciate me. The thoughts about everything I have to do fade. It'll get done, eventually. A tag sped past me this morning that said "Be Now."

It’s funny how the Universe gives you those unspoken messages that you need, every single time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Insight: Where Does It Come From?

The term "insightful" is defined, according to The Free Dictionary (2010), as having the ability to perceive or understand. A list of possible synonyms include perceptive, shrewd, discerning, understanding, wise, astute, and to rival Bill O'Reily, perspicacious. Insight, to me, works a little like empathy. Like empathy, you are not actually in the experience per se, but you have the ability to duplicate and know it as if you were.

I've been told I'm an "old soul," "thought-provoking,” “so experienced for being in-experienced," and yes, "insightful." I'm a little curious about it. How can someone who has no direct knowledge or experience with something know exactly what's going on beneath the surface? How can someone who is not someone else, understand their feelings, motivations and intricate delicacies.

Actors know the potential answers to these questions very well. There's character research, memory/emotion association, observation, interviewing those who have gone through a similar experience, the use of a little imagination, and the study of others in that same experience (whether vicariously or otherwise). Then again, one of my theatre profs, whom I remember fondly as a solid source of understanding, did say that performers are cast to play certain characters because their own personalities and essence are already half of that fictional being. They only really have to step up to create the second half of the illusion.

Those who have gone through any kind of major hardship or suffering in their lives know the answers to these questions as well. Anyone who has experienced poverty, abuse, abandonment, violence, extreme loss or extreme hardship seems to have a little more depth and perception than those who have not. One only has to watch a documentary film, such as Born into Brothels, to witness the incredible insight of those pre-pubescent children raised in India's red light district. You quickly realize that they have that insight as a result of the injustice, terror, and uncertainty that make up their lives.

Acquiring knowledge through reading, films, experiences, the traditional classroom or life's non-traditional lessons can, for some, result in gaining additional insight. Being born with the genetic traits of introversion, sensitivity or both, I suspect, means that you come into this world with the ability to either observe and interpret shrewdly or automatically feel and see other perspectives by transcending. Being in a minority or an oppressed demographic/psychographic category, whether by personality, sexual orientation, race, gender, disability, gender identity, religious/spiritual beliefs, or culture, also can lead to an ability to seek understanding of others. Ironically, I believe it is the injustice of being bullied and misunderstood, that you first begin to understand yourself and develop an unspoken code for coming to the aid of the underdog. That compassion spreads to being able to understand all of humanity, for we waste too much time noticing the visible differences that we ourselves have constructed that really only distract from the invisible commonalities that lie within all of us.

Insight. Where it truly comes from may be a mystery that never gets solved. I've dabbled in acting, I've experienced major trauma and suffering, lord knows I've read a lot of books, taken a lot of classes, seen a lot of films, met and talked to an eclectic mix of people, and was born with both introversion and high sensitivity. Still, anyone who has seen the picture taken of me shortly after my birth knows that the eyes of an "old soul" were already present on that very early Fall morning. Perhaps insight is another one of those innate talents, inherited from who we once were, so that who we are now can prepare others for who they will become.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Voices of Silence

Within stillness is the whisper of validation.

Within the unspoken are the loudest voices you will ever need to listen to.

When you silence your own voice, you give validation to those who would gladly do it for you.

The voices of spirituality, intuition, and those of our own thoughts and feelings that we choose not to vocalize all reside within silence. These voices are beneath an audible range, but they still speak. The ability to hear them, I believe, comes naturally. Some say it can be learned. Some say it comes from a combination of innate characteristics and the study of technique. Disagree, if you must, but in the end all the technique in the world won't make up for the lack of passion and authenticity that comes from one's true character.

Spiritual voices are those that come in whispers. Most of the time, we don't intentionally seek them. They come to us in a sudden flash, overtaking us for a brief second or two. They tell us what we need to know. They tell us what we've already known in another realm, in another life, or at another point along our current journey. With their guidance, we learn that our existence has reason. They are the voices from who we always were and from those we've always known. They speak in silence so that we'll recognize their truth.

The voice of intuition is the one that speaks to us through feeling. Words don't always accompany its music at first. There are times when intuition introduces itself as a bunch of notes, eventually co-mingling with the lyrics that get more profound if we stop listening. Intuition is the voice that is always present, whether or not you validate its existence. It is the voice that reveals what you should know, but don't quite want to acknowledge yet. Intuition tells you what is real, but is often hidden. Its secrets are meant to help you reveal the truth to yourself. Intuition speaks in silence because it comes from within.

There are many things that we would like to say, but don't. There are things that we say, but then take back, in an attempt to say that those words never existed. We censor what we really think, what we really feel, because we are afraid that someone else will think less of us. We don't speak up because we are afraid of how our words might cause someone in a position of authority to retaliate against us. Sometimes we attempt to erase or hide our internal truths because we don't want a negative reaction. We'd rather go on living in an illusion because something in its fabric is more important than the aftermath of honesty. Funny thing is, honesty always reveals itself eventually, so why wait.

These are the voices that we don't express publicly, sometimes not even privately. These are the voices that continue to speak in subtle manifestations because we've let someone else's opinion determine what should be the truth. These are the voices that go unheard because we allow them to. These are the voices that remain in silence because someone is unwilling to say that the illusion is nothing more than what it appears to be.

An illusion speaks to silence out what is real. What is real becomes so buried that it doesn't even recognize its own existence. The line between the two becomes so blurred that we begin to believe that the fabrication is indeed the truth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why We Need More HSPs in Business

I'll be the first to admit as an HSP who has not only studied business (twice), but has worked in it for some time, that I feel out of place. It's not the natural place for a sensitive, since its demands and rewards structure work against many of the innate characteristics we possess and exhibit. That said, those same innate characteristics are exactly what's needed to transform that world from its "bottom-line only" mentality.

A few days ago I read a post from Seth Godin's blog entitled "Losing Andrew Carnegie" that really struck me. In a nutshell it talks about how the people of an organization are more valuable than its tangible assets. The people of an organization are more valuable because tangible assets, processes, rules, regulations, and the bottom line are replaceable. An organization's human capital, on the other hand, is irreplaceable and is what actually drives an organization to new heights.

This post really hit home for me, not only as an HSP, but as someone who could have literally lost her life due to an organization's gross negligence. This gross negligence occurred because they were worried and focused on the bottom line rather than the safety and lives of their people. This organization decided that saving money was worth more than the voices of its employees who brought a safety concern to their attention several months prior to one of their employees getting severely injured. It was only after the injury that they decided to take some sort of action, in the form of a cheaper "band-aid" type of alternative, rather than perform the expensive "surgery" that was needed in the first place.

As HSPs, we are the ones that naturally look past what most consider to be a priority in business. While we're no different from our non-HSP counterparts in the sense that we still wish to meet or exceed performance standards, adhere to the processes when they make sense, and respect the tangible for what it can give us, we tend to place a higher value on the people behind them. The human factor is what we see first, what we understand best, what we base our decisions on, and what we shape our process designs around.

Now, some in the business world may view that perspective as being "unprofitable," "inefficient," "wishy-washy," "too nice," and so on. However, as someone who has worked for a variety of organizations, I'd rather spend my time contributing to the success of one where I felt appreciated and valued as an individual person, rather than just another number helping them make more money at my expense.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Religion, Spirituality, and Somewhere In-Between

My biological father's family came from one hundred percent German ancestry, while my mother's came from a combination of German and Irish, so as a result, I was born into the religious world of Catholicism. I thank the stars above that they divorced when I was only four. Otherwise, my parochial years might have eventually turned into a bad Britney Spears video. I am, after all, the girl who got into trouble for kissing her first boy and mooning the neighbors in the heart of Chicago's NW suburbs before the age of six. Yes, inside I'm really a wild and carefree spirit that when left to her own devices, takes unpredictable, sometimes shocking risks. That's part of the rebel in me that's always been there and isn't looking to leave anytime soon.

Unfortunately, fate has a funny way of coming back to bite you in the behind. When my Mom married by adoptive father and moved us out to Colorado, through trial and error we eventually became Lutheran. On the Protestant side of Christianity, the Lutheran denomination is the closest to being a Catholic as you can get. After a brief stint in the local public elementary schools, my parents decided that we should attend our church's on-site school. My adoptive father, being of the World War One generation, was a deeply religious person. Our entire social life revolved around the church. Between my home and school life there were the nightly prayers before dinner, the soup suppers for Lent, the Catechism and Confirmation classes, Youth Group, Advent and Holy Week services, Sunday services, Sunday school, Vacation Bible school...you get the picture.

Growing up, I didn't really question all of the doctrine and activity my younger sister and I were spoon-fed. It was normal. And it provided some sense of comfort and answers to some of the more paranormal experiences I had. That is until my parents thought the Janet Jackson tape I had bought and was listening to had to be thrown out, or that I could no longer watch daytime dramas because they were "satanic," or that I needed a lecture on how the peace sign necklace I had borrowed from a friend was really an upside down, broken cross that refuted Jesus’ death and resurrection, or that I needed to be home before dark. It's no wonder I started smoking behind their backs, among other things.

Fast forwarding through the high school years, where I embraced the inner artsy, liberal writer/thespian, through the college years, where I decided to eventually disguise myself as a conservative, business person with a touch of individuality, to today, where I find myself yet once again exploring the realm of spirituality. Granted, I think that realm has always been with me, but it's liberating in a sense to allow yourself to return to what truly feels right. To me spirituality in a nutshell is acknowledging the existence and validity of the unseen, without passing judgment and automatic damnation on the differences within humanity's fabric. When I think of spirituality vs. religion, the spiritual realm comes down to an inner, individual journey that connects the physical with the mystically undefined. It is a realm in which we all are connected, time is not linear, where answers come from collective consciousness, soul guides, an inner voice, and our thoughts create the reality we see.

Like most empaths that I've talked to or read about, I'm attracted to and see validity in Buddhism, other Eastern religions, Astrology, and Numerology. Like a lot of empaths, I've had too many personal experiences with the psychic/intuitive and paranormal to know that an unseen reality exists. But, on the other hand, I still believe in a Higher Power. To me, the evidence of this is as plain as day. Nature is as simply complicated and structured as the inventions that we have created for ourselves and our planet. Only a powerful, intelligent source beyond our imagination could have put this all in motion. I just don't think that we are the ones to interpret what this Higher Power views as the correct course of action for humanity; we are not here to judge each other.

True to my Libra-like nature, I struggle with seeking balance between what I was brought up to believe and what I've been drawn to embrace. I suppose that's what true spirituality is all about. Somewhere between what's preached from a pulpit and what's actually felt as truth, one finds the right mix that makes sense to you, and only you.

Let's just hope that I don't have to start smoking again once my Mom discovers that I meditate and no longer feel the need to take communion. Perhaps I can get my Dad to break it to her from the other side. She always listened to him better anyway.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Stress and Anxiety Factor

All of humanity experiences stress and anxiety. There is no question. All one has to do is look around to see the proliferation of "energy boosting" products, "road rage" possessed drivers, and the amount of people walking around who could win an award for impersonating "Grumpy." One of my hypotheses behind this, as my mom calls it, is the "Instant Society" phenomenon. We're all under more pressure to have it done yesterday. As a consequence, we've lost the ability to slow down and truly savor; to be aware of what's happening now rather than worrying about what will happen later.

We sensitives, however, seem to be drawn to a fairly constant state of worrying. My recent experiences have taught me to be more carefree and release a lot of the expectations that I usually place on myself. Very, very recently, I've learned that all the negative energy that I allowed to build up inside me had to release itself somehow. That release usually comes in the form of powerful, engulfing emotional reactions that aren't going to take me anywhere. This isn't to say that having a powerful emotional reaction is wrong. A powerful emotional reaction can mean the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one in many instances. It's when you assign yourself and your identity to those emotional reactions that you create the potential for destruction, self or otherwise.

I look back on situations and relationships in my life, realizing that I spent a lot of time crying, being nervous, worrying about what might happen, worrying about losing a relationship, about looking bad, about losing my position or status and countless other things. There were times where all that worrying literally made me physically sick or so emotionally drained and caught up in its negative whirlwind that I became unproductive and even a threat to myself.

It wasn't long ago that I let nervous anticipation consume me when it came time for anything having to do with potential criticism, a review of who I was and how I was doing in someone else's eyes, or what might happen "if" so and so was no longer in the picture. If I received criticism I wasn't able to let it roll off my back like others seemed to be able to. I felt it seep into me, consume me, bother me. I felt intense shame, I think, sometimes to the point where I would become so frustrated and want to inflict harm upon myself. Because after all, criticism is external harm inflicted upon someone else. The difference for sensitives, I think, is that the energy becomes internalized and then it seems as if that negativity is coming from within rather than from someone else's perspective.

Of course I'd be lying if I said that I still didn't struggle with these issues. It was only yesterday that I had the thought that I should allow myself to feel and work through the emotion(s), but not assign or identify myself with them. When I reflect on the difference between how I reacted on the inside a year ago, compared to how I react now, I realize that I've begun to distance my identity from not only the emotions, but also from the outside perspectives.

As for the anxiety over being what I'm supposed to be to someone else in a relationship or the possibility of loss, that's another ballgame that I'm not sure I'll ever master the rules of. However, one can always try. The first step might be to realize that the other person wouldn't invest their time if they didn't like something about you. You don't have to place yourself up on a pedestal to be interesting or lovable. And loss, it's bound to happen. But if you're worried about avoiding it all the time then you lose out on truly living. And that, the act of breathing in life, is one loss that you'll never really get the chance to gain back.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Illusion of Time

I've been inspired this evening to write about my thoughts on time and the illusion it often gives us. That illusion, of course, is that we have a linear past, present and future. What and who inspired me this evening was not intentional, but they've yet again brought me several revelations about myself, themselves, our spiritual connection, and validation of some of the Universe's intangible mysteries. It's amazing how a few words that the almost fifteen year old heard eighteen years ago, but the thirty-three year old doesn't recall can accidently be rediscovered with a whole new meaning, while providing additional proof to a twenty year old gut feeling that has never gone away. It is wonderful how a few words can reveal that there really is no distinction between what was, what is, and what has yet to be.

I know that many of us question how we instinctively like someone, perhaps even love someone, when we've only known them for a few moments or even when we only know of their existence, but have yet to meet face to face. Sometimes we question that sudden feeling of familiarity and recognition we get in the present moment that we're not quite sure we can explain. We can question our pull towards someone for years and then suddenly realize that the knowledge that we shared with them in what we think of as today was actually used by them in what we think was the past. Or perhaps it was shown to us in what we thought was the past as a guide to a piece of who we would become. Karmic soulmates, I like to think, have that kind of connection, that kind of relationship with each other. Although, I'm no longer just thinking, I'm beginning to see that.

When we look back on something or someone who influenced us, as I did for a moment this evening, we can see that what we've needed to know was already there. Tonight there is no distinction between 1992 and 2010. Tonight there is little, if any, distinction between reality and illusion. Tonight the almost fifteen year old shows her thirty-three year old self that the revelation of who she is was returned to her through that spiritual connection a long time ago. Tonight she begins to wonder who is the illusion and who is the reality and perhaps whether or not herself and the other person in question are not a little bit of both.

I suppose souls who have known each other through other lifetimes will always question that distinction in their present incarnations. Or perhaps the future self speaks through its past manifestation in ways that can't be seen, heard or explained. Perhaps we always are who we become, blindly revealing the pieces only when they are needed by others. It's only when we think we are looking back in reflection do we fully get to realize the purpose of those pieces. Only when we look back in reflection do they begin to fit together until we are finally ready to have the entire picture revealed to us.

Four words that didn't have much meaning in what I thought was 1992 have more than struck me in what I think is 2010. But they exist simultaneously. "That means you're sensitive" shouldn't have been used in the context of describing someone's ability to pick up on the unspoken in 1992. The research on high sensitivity hadn't been formally organized yet. The words "sensitivity" and "sensitive" hadn't been coined yet as the mainstream description for those like us. Those who can sense the unspoken, among many other things. But, tonight there it is, embedded in an eighteen year old illusion. Perhaps part of the script. Perhaps an ad-lib. That last detail, of course, doesn't matter.

What matters is the question of what exactly time is. Is it merely an illusion designed to slowly unravel, that only our physical shells experience and endure? Does it have a purpose in presenting itself as linear? Is time a barrier that our minds cross while dreaming or while conscious in the non-physical realm? Questions I'd love to have the answers to. But of course, that would mean the entire picture might get revealed before I'm ready. Tonight those details don't matter, because I have another piece to a puzzle I've been trying to solve for twenty years.

Tonight I can't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes and my heart from smiling in recognition at a gift that has come full circle. A gift that never really had a distinction between who was sending and who was receiving.