Friday, April 30, 2010

The Value of a 360 Degree Perspective

A few days ago I placed a photo of my fifteen year old self on my desk in my office downstairs. I think I was fifteen, maybe sixteen when it was taken. I took it out of a photo album packed away in one of my closets because I think I wanted to be reminded of what I knew back then. It isn't always that easy to recall. Sometimes I need help remembering.

I'm not a big believer in living life looking through a rear view mirror. Still, we do need to glance at it once in awhile, in order to gain that 360 degree perspective we need to properly maneuver ourselves. When I do look back, I recognize that part of who I am now is comprised of what I looked up to and learned from during that time. That's not to say that it's all of me. Time has a way of making us realize that we're not simply who we thought we would become or sought out to be. We're a lot more than that. So much more.

At fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old, I sure in the hell didn't have the tenacity to stick up for myself like I do now. I have the experience of dancing with "The Devil" to thank for that, among a few other valuable treasures I've found. The difference, I think, is that the ability was there, but the decision to express it had to come from being able to recognize its importance.

Perspectives change as you evolve. It's one of the few things in life that's for certain. What you see through the front windshield while you're driving is completely different than what's seen through the side or rearview mirrors. Some things you might not see unless you turn your head a little to catch what those mirrors might not. Yet, all those mirrors and side glances are vital to the task of driving a car. You have to be able to see everything around you in order to navigate yourself on the road from point "A" to point "B."

Sometimes when I'm driving on Highway 66, making my way up to Lyons, I look at the same mountain range, the same lakes and rivers, the same fields full of horses, houses, cabins and "nick knack tourist" shops, but see something different each time. There are times I imagine what it was like when there weren't any roads and it was just Natives and Pioneers living their lives in the wilderness. Other times I see families, friends and groups setting up chairs and fishing poles in the middle of the afternoon sunshine, enjoying the dance of the sun's rays on top of the gray blue waves that eventually splash against the rocks. Sometimes I see the clouds reach down to touch the evergreen fir lined peaks of the foothills that everyone wants to catch a glimpse of. Even when I'm having a bad day and all I'm focused on is getting to my next stop and getting out of there, the scenery still provides inspiration to my spirit.

It's my real life version of the now cancelled television series "Everwood." And I get to step into its scenes three times a week. That's one thing the fifteen year old never would've tuned in for. But the thirty-three year old is sure glad and grateful that she has yet to change the channel. She's still recording the conversations, the people, the ambiance of a charming small town mountain life and its surrounding Nature. She knows that someday, long after the last scene has ended, she'll need to revisit those tapes or DVD's to remind herself of what she once knew and what she once learned.

Those lessons, those experiences, and most of all, that boxed-away, dust covered lens will be exactly what she needs in order to see whom she's meant to be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What A Five Dollar Fortune Could Buy

On Highway 34 there's a house that sits near the road. It resembles one of those white, picturesque, Southern front porch homes you see in the movies. Like in Steel Magnolias or one about a young girl who grew up living a sheltered, "down home" life and is embarking on a journey of self-discovery while learning how to fly away from her roots. Now, before you think of sipping jars of fresh squeezed lemonade while watching the sunset intermingle with dancing fireflies, I must mention that there is a huge homemade sign staked out in the front yard. That sign reads, "Psychic Readings....$5.00." There's even one of those neon light signs in the window that states the same. It's kind of cute, really.

Most of the time I just smile when I pass it. Other times I wonder if I should stop in. Just out of curiosity, I'd love to hear what five dollars could tell me about my past, present or future. Yes, I know as an HSP I really shouldn't make light about this topic, but for some reason this house and its signs amuses me. Five dollars doesn't seem like too much of a risk to get some clairvoyant advice that could potentially save you from making a wrong turn or two, right?? What's the harm?

Well, when a sensitive pays another to guide them it's kind of going beyond the whole "peer support" concept if you ask me. Especially at such a bargain basement price. But, for argument's sake, let's just say this "psychic" behind the sign is Sylvia Brown's cousin. She's good, real good. And today she's about to reveal more than you could ever reveal to yourself. Today she's about to show you just what a five dollar fortune can buy:

1. The only sure road you can follow is the one your heart sees.

2. Chances and opportunities that "fall into your lap" are meant to be taken, as long as they make sense and "feel right."

3. You already know who you are meant to become. The hard part is allowing yourself to take the journey.

4. If you didn't ace the lesson the first time, you'll get a second, third and fourth chance.

5. The only moment you truly can know is now. Find some way to enjoy and embrace it.

6. When in doubt, look at a picture of your former self and remember what you knew then.

7. The future can only be determined by a mixture of today's thoughts, today's actions and unspoken destiny. The unspoken begins to whisper when your ears become still enough to listen.

8. What we wish to have is often already within us.

9. Appreciation and abundance begin upon a foundation of bare invisibility.

10. A guide can only reveal what already is. You can choose to follow the directions or find a way to re-write the script.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Moving On

This afternoon I've just returned from an overdue shopping trip to Safeway. I couldn't help but notice as I was loading my groceries on the checkout's conveyer belt that my choice of purchases already make me look like I live in a place called Los Angeles. Tandoori flatbread, light organic soy milk, spicy red pepper hummus, blueberry green tea, fresh avocado, raspberries, protein bars and dried raspberry granola cereal "to go." Granted, I've been eating like this since my teens, but in a town like Greeley, Colorado it hasn't exactly been "mainstream" to be a health-oriented vegetarian. I was in heaven when I dated a boy from Saudi Arabia during undergrad who was in the States working on his Masters at CSU (Colorado State). We would always go to a little Indian place called the Taj Mahal where I could easily find plenty of spicy vegetarian dishes on the menu.

Eventually we broke up because as good looking, well-kept, well-mannered and nice to me as he was, I just lost interest. For me, there just weren't enough sparks. For him, I was probably just a little too independent and unwilling to submit to a compromise of what he thought a "girlfriend" should be. That one only took six months to dispose of.

Today's latest casualty has taken ten years. Ten years because both of us never thought it was time to let go. Even though I was 23 and he was 42 when it started. And he had four children and an ex that wanted to take him to the cleaners. Then came the granddaughter "M" that his 16 year old found herself giving birth to. Not to mention my move back to Colorado and the years of late night phone calls and cherished weeks spent by the Gulf Coast. I thought about getting a job as a flight attendant so we could see each other more often while I lived at home and paid off my bills. Then I kept getting promotions at work and my mom said I had to move out.

So I got an apartment, a second part-time job and kept working really hard at paying off all those bills. After four years they wanted to raise my rent too high, so I bought my house. By then I had already signed on with "The Devil," earning more money that I knew what to do with and thinking, somewhat naively, that like all other places I had worked, I would put forth my best and be able to move up and out of that "get me in the door" position. In the meantime, I got other jobs, but didn't accept them for one reason or another. One would've potentially taken me back to Florida. He and I talked about that several times. After all, how could he leave a business he'd built up for years, kids that were still in college or just starting their adult lives, and a granddaughter that needed him?

I loved him enough to compromise. Somewhere inside my heart, I still do. But the pull towards a destiny that I've felt since I was thirteen has resurfaced and the feeling is stronger then I've ever known it to be. So I have to try. I have to go chase it. I have to move on. That means for now, he and I are done. My best friend, probably forever. Anything more is only promised for a few more weeks.

For now it'll be one last week of white sands, yellow-pink sunsets, hand-in-hand walks along the white foam crashes of a teal green tide and two hearts that will somehow store the moments of connection that shouldn't have to end. But life takes you in directions you don't always anticipate. All you can do is follow your heart's dreams and hope that somehow the feeling of being free is worth more than the compromise of who your soul was born to become.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why Being an Empath is a Gift-Part Two

For a few months I've had an interesting exchange with an individual that I'll call "Butterfly." "Butterfly" or "B" for short and I seem to share quite a bit in common. I've known about "B" for some time, but I really didn't realize how similar we were until now. To be honest, when our interaction began, I didn't think anything of it. Nothing special, just another person saying "hi" and thanking me for my recent thoughtful and helpful contributions to the digital realm. Nonetheless, I enjoy mutual exchanges and getting to know those who wish to develop genuine relationships, even if it's just a virtual one. So, in my somewhat "too willing to trust at times" nature, I willingly reciprocated the connection. What I didn't know when the exchange began was that our common trait of sensitivity would help reveal that there was a little more going on then a simple "hi."

The thing about sensitivity is that it eventually senses what's really happening. This includes sensing right past facades and disguises. Sometimes that radar is instantly strong and at other times its signal is like a candle's flame. A small glow that keeps burning, enticing your attention away from the surrounding darkness. You could say that it has been like that between "B" and me. A slow and steady string of revelations with no real explanation.

Sensing what's behind the mask is something we should learn to trust. It certainly isn't easy since we often don't believe in ourselves enough to know that what we feel is more accurate than the chatter inside our minds. Besides, that non-HSP world is so willing to tell us that intuition and gut feelings aren't as credible or reliable as hard cold logic and its gazillion pages of researched facts and figures. Think of the time, money and resources spent to reveal to that eighty percent of the world what we sensitives simply "know."

Pretty amazing gift, I think. So amazing that when we learn to put our faith in what our heart feels as truth, we begin to validate the existence of what's kept hidden. The reasons for concealment are endless I'm sure, but without those who can see and focus on that small flicker in the darkness, the world would continue to operate in blindness. Facade and fabrication can only take you so far. The cover has to dissipate so that possibilities can be realized. The act of protecting and shielding simply deny what is. Privacy aside, acknowledging what's genuine is the difference between looking at an upside down map and an upright one.

As long as you can figure out where you are and where you want to go, you'll be able to see the numerous ways to get there. Kind of like "B" and me. An already solved mystery whose clues reveal their connection when the time is right.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What a Little Pixie Dust Can Do

Saturday was part of another typical weekend. I had spent the entire day writing the second half of my term project, putting the finishing touches together and submitting it to the "drop box" for my latest professor to grade. Twenty percent of my course grade is in limbo until she comes back with her final decision. Term projects are always a two-parter. A sigh of relief when you finally hit the "submit assignment" button, but with it comes the anticipation of whether or not you got "at least a B." That evening I also had a final to finish studying for, but after staring at a computer screen for the entire day, I decided to take a break, drink a few glasses of wine and watch a movie or two.

Yet, as my ruminating mind couldn't quite find a movie it liked amongst the available choices from "On Demand," it drifted to the company I did my term project on; Disney. More specifically, Disney's theme park operations. It made me realize how much I've missed it and that since I'll be in both L.A. and Tampa in the upcoming weeks, I might as well pay a little visit to my former employer and compare how Cali's version of magic now differs from Florida's. The last time I was at Disneyland was in 1997 and it has now expanded into its own version of WDW's Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney. It'll cost me (no more freebies since my Cast Member id card has now expired), but it'll be worth every penny.

After all, my spirit could use a little pixie dust. Revise spirit could use A LOT of pixie dust.

Granted, I still have a little packed away in a bottle carried within the piece of myself that is still creating those magical moments Disney is famous for. Sometimes it's hard to remember. Sometimes I can't believe it has been ten years since that part of my journey began.

I remember the day I was staring out the window of the plane that would take me back to Colorado forever, or so I thought. It was a January morning. Overcast. About to rain. Still warm and humid enough for a "Northerner" to wear shorts, but I opted for jeans. The palm trees on the ground became more distant as the wings of the plane lifted up, carrying me and my fellow passengers into that wide open space we think of as the sky.

I didn't want to leave that day and my heart felt like a weighted down knot about to unravel. I had experienced so much. I had finally left the place called home that I didn't want to exist in. I had made new friends, seen new places that I now loved, felt new joy, found new idols, bonded with co-workers, became a different side of myself. I had given back smiles, love, conversation, and a few sprinkles of those yellow stars we Cast Members called pixie dust.

I will always miss it. It was a demanding kind of fun. A happiness that made work seem like play. Almost as if it was another world, shielded by a bubble from its less than benevolent surroundings. Perhaps I'll return to that bubble someday. You never can really tell. Journeys have a way of making you think you're headed one way and then you suddenly find yourself back where your heart always knew it belonged.

Still, pixie dust has a special way of leaving behind its magic. Like all good things, it shows up again. Unexpectedly in the form of a fellow former Cast Member who's now one of your customers. It can show up in the spirit of a beloved fabrication who has somehow manifested herself in not one, but three souls you have encountered in this lifetime. It can be felt in the form of someone you once looked up to, whom you're now able to help in return.

Or in the way it can suddenly transform what you think you see into what you always knew you would.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Road to Awareness

"The nature of cultural influences is such that we are seldom aware of them" (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010).

A scary thought, if you think about it. It's almost as if our actions, our thoughts, our responses, and even our identities are controlled by some unseen force. A force that doesn't really have a name, physicality, or even a separate presence from those it rules over. But how does it begin? Where does it originate from? And what does it take to change it?

Cultural ideals and norms begin with those in charge. Not necessarily just leaders, but those who, at some point in time, have had some form of dominance over another group often opposite from themselves. Male vs female. Caucasian vs all other ethnicities. Heterosexual vs same-sex unions. Able-bodied vs disabled. Extraverted vs introverted. Non-HSP vs HSP, and so on.

Cultural norms are a subtle way of controlling another group to be subservient, even invisible. Institutions, such as marriage, are a way of enforcing those norms. We don't know why we find it more acceptable for a female to be the one cooking, cleaning and happy to be tending to the needs of her children than a male. Or why it's only acceptable to think of romantic love as existing just between a male and a female. Most of us just do. We don't question. We don't think. We just follow the lead of our peers. At least what they openly express as being the "acceptable" way to be.

On the flip side, there are those that seem to automatically question what is. We say "why?" and "but that's not what I think" or "why not do it this way instead." We're the rebels. The worst nightmare of those pesky little up-tights I like to call "vanillas." Those who simply read the book, accept it as truth and follow it to the "t," making sure that all the "i's" are dotted as well. They operate in a sort of robotic darkness, unaware of what and why. Their actions and responses are automatic. They don't dig beneath the surface to find out what's real. They've never stopped to figure out who they are as an individual and that the possibilities of different truths and perspectives exists.

"Enlightenment" or "awareness" begins with questions. Those who dare to say there might be a different way to accomplish the same thing. Or that what we're accomplishing isn't what we should be. That validity is present in a seemingly opposite reality and while the two don't necessarily mix, their outer fringes fit together the same way two puzzle pieces connect. Those who are often different in some way to begin with. Not different in the sense of odd, quirky or beyond eccentric. Different in the sense of distinguished. Not snobby or elitist, but those who have a genuine desire to come to the aid of humanity and help the world evolve into a collective, nourishing existence.

Awareness can bring about change. It can validate the reason for keeping a portion of the status quo in place, while modifying the harmful portions into a more accommodating form. Awareness is often met with adversity, avoidance and a struggle to extinguish its voice. Those who choose to examine what is, pick apart its pieces and reveal the true motives behind them eventually find solutions that bring freedom. They bring freedom to the souls indentured to those who are unable to be who they are without intimidating dominance.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loss, Shadows and What Remains

When we lose something we cherish, it can feel as though a piece of our own essence has been carried away with the wind. We try to run after those pieces, hoping that we might catch them, but suddenly realize that the wind will take them far away from our grasp. It's a tough lesson to learn. No matter how hard you try, how far you run, or how many times you think you've got a chance to grab a hold of that "something" again, it's not coming back.

Or so we think. We may go on for years missing what or who we think we've lost because we're looking for the form we used to know. We even do this with our own selves, I think. At times we're wistful for who we used to be. We do this because we haven't fully embraced who we are now. Somewhere inside what we've become doesn't quite fit the ideal of what we would like to be. Problem is back then it was the same story, just a different detail or two. The other half of the problem is we fail to recognize that what we think of our former self is still within us. It's not gone completely, but rather remains as a smaller piece to the more evolved person we've become.

A loss of something or someone is not one of life's details we can usually control. We try to anyway, through denial or hope that it somehow isn't true. Or we try to do what we can to save them, but then realize that there are some things that can't be saved. Like cancer. Sickness. HIV. An accident. Or the passages of life. Growing up. Moving away. Change.

If we could somehow freeze time, would it really make a difference? Would we even really want to? I'm not sure I would. When I look back at people I've lost or at who I used to be, I realize that without what appears to be loss and my former self dissipating into the shadows, I wouldn't have grown into who I am now. And there's lots of times that I like and appreciate my current existence. I think about who I am now and how I somehow got here. Then I realize that it's because of all those experiences I had and the people whom I crossed paths with.

Not everyone is meant to stay with us as we currently know them forever. I no longer see either one of my fathers with my eyes during the day. The first one I've never seen again, but I think there's a reason for that. The second one I do see again, from time to time, at night. He's in my dreams, still here. Still speaking. Sometimes I feel his presence in the room or one of my "guides" tells me what he wants to say. He tells me he's sorry. I tell him I know. I tell him I forgive him and that I meant those three words I said as we hugged for the last time on that summer day in '03. He could barely breathe, eat, walk or stand. But that's not how I remember him. And that's certainly not how he reappears.

You see, loss is never what it appears to be. Shadows are things that we'd rather forget or a reflection of an unacknowledged truth. But do we? No, they always find a way back into our minds and into our souls. We can't escape who we were because a piece of us is still that person. A piece of us is still living in those moments. Those moments are what gave us our Self. No regrets. No looking back. At least not in disappointment or wallowed nostalgia.

Those that we've lost in this realm we'll see again, someday. We may not remember each other at first, but the pull will be too strong to deny. The unexplained recognition will be within our eyes and in our hearts. Until then, we'll have to listen to their whispers and remember their images when we awake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embracing What's Truly Important

As this week comes to a close, I realize that I've reached a crossroads in my current "assignment." I can choose to fight and stand up for what I believe is right, I can walk away, or I can do both. When I was twenty I chose to simply walk away from a large organization that didn't really value its employees over the bottom line. The stress of having to fight false accusations and intimidation tactics was too much for me. I didn't think it was worth it. I ended up getting a better job that I enjoyed a lot more. In my thought process and in my decision, I was only really thinking about what was best for myself. 1997, I didn't think you'd come back to haunt me. But you have. Only this time, the stakes involved are much higher.

2010. Another large organization that portrays an image that is so opposite from its truth that it doesn't even know where the line is between what is real and what is fabrication. This time I have to not only look out for myself, but for my fellow co-workers as well. This includes those who are no longer there, who were forced out because they decided their integrity and the needs of their customers were more important. I have to stand up for injustice against those who give their best, who try to play by the rules, but then have the rules changed on them behind their backs so that the interests of the incompetent and negligent can be protected. This is not just my battle this time. Yes, I'm even fighting for "Doublemint Twin #1," who actually sincerely said "hi" to me this week. No political facade this time, but the tone in her voice said she's concerned about the challenges I'm about to face. We both know she's compromised who she really is in order to survive, because she has nowhere else financially attractive to go. Despite everything that happened between us, I know deep down she's a good person. Deep down, we're a lot more alike than different. The truth is, she was one of my karmic soulmates, if you believe in such a thing. Someone you're inexplicably drawn to, whom perhaps you've known before in another time and another place. A mirror. A guide. Someone you has something to teach you about yourself and whom you have to teach in return. The only difference between us is that I won't compromise who I am in order to get a piece of what the world says I should have.

I'm an HSP. I'm a little "Don Quixote." It's what we do. It's why we're here. To bring about change when we see dehumanizing and immoral behavior so that others can experience a better world. Life shouldn't have to be lived in fear, regret, or in compromise of collaboration. Achieving what's best for everyone means that no one is on top. No one can claim #1 over someone else. No one can hurt and defame others so that they come out smelling like roses. People need to be treated, valued and respected as human souls. Each one of us should be cherished as such, with the opportunity to contribute our talents openly and be revered when we choose to do so. We're not numbers. We're not here just to produce them at all costs. We're not to be treated as though the value of our lives doesn't exist. We can accomplish so much more when we learn to stop competing and start finding out what we can do to help those around us. Even if that "something" is just a smile, a nod or a simple "thank you."

Sometimes being a change agent means you face consequences. And they're ugly, harmful and at times, self-deprecating. This wasn't a battle I chose to fight. It chose me. What's truly important here is not what happens to only me. I'm smart. I'm resourceful. I'm fiercely determined when I have to be. I have options. Whatever happens, I'll be ok. What's truly important is the type of world that those who come after me have to live in. I don't want them to have to spend the hours crying, worrying, wondering what they did wrong, questioning their work ethic and most of all questioning their value as I did these past four years.

My "assignment" here is almost finished. But not before I make up for what I could've done 13 years ago. This time I can't only save myself. A solid foundation that others can be proud and willing to stand on, without the fear of unforeseen cracks swallowing pieces of their soul, must be laid.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Boomeranged Lessons Can Teach Us

There are many types of lessons that we encounter and have to master in life. There's certainly the formal ones we get graded on in school and later, if we're lucky, in the workplace. The kind of lessons that are typically structured, easy to decipher, and take immediate action on. These are the kind of lessons that hopefully build upon each other, expand our knowledge, abilities, perspectives, and prepare us for what we'll need to be able to survive on a daily basis. These are the kind of lessons that I've typically had no problem with. I speculate that most sensitives also find themselves able to simply observe, absorb and then meticulously go about cranking out the results, without second thought.

Now if those formal lessons were the only things we had to learn, life might be a whole lot simpler. Yet, as most of us find out sooner or later, life is a lot more complicated than a+b=c or whether or not your boss can check off all the boxes on a sheet of performance standards that someone sitting in a shiny office has concoted for others they'll never see. Informal lessons, like the retribution an employee might face for speaking out against a company's gross negligence or standing up for the mistreatment of its employees as people, can hit us hard. Probably more so than others. Especially when we know what's being said about us and the accusations being thrown in our faces are far from the truth. Especially when others who aren't trying to intimidate us into compliance (i.e. silence) tell us otherwise. Perhaps one day I'll write a sort of sequel to Leigh Branham's "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave" based upon the culture of my current employer alone. But, I think I've given them enough of my time, my energy and certainly enough of my esteem, integrity and respect to compromise any further. Besides, I already got an "A" on the first chapter, employer "subsidized therapy" while conducting my research and that wasn't quite the lesson that I had to relearn today.

Today I had to relearn an informal lesson. One that I've seen a preview of before when I was twenty. Back then the problem was that I was a female, an independent thinker, furthering my education, far from a politicking ass-kisser, too adept at my job and probably just a little too good at acknowledging the actuality behind the facade everyone wants to portray to save face. "Sound familiar?," I asked myself as I reflected on my past. I guess I didn't truly learn my lesson the first time. Back then I almost gave myself an ulcer or two with the anxiety that I would continue to get falsely accused and punished. Now, after spending a few hours crying and realizing that this experience has literally torn away at the core of who I am, I've gotten the message.

The only person who can help you is you. Sometimes people will play games to either punish you or get you to do what they want. It isn't fair and it isn't right. Picking yourself back up might take time, but worrying about how much farther you might fall before it's over or internalizing their facade isn't worth it. The only thing you can do is continue to do your best. Do what you know is right and stand up for it. The most important thing is to not stop trying because someone else wants you to.

Change can only happen when someone says that the way we're doing things is costing us from having them be the way they ought to.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When Some Things Never Change.....Learn to Fly

It's Easter Sunday. It's one of my mom's sacred holidays where the family absolutely has to get together. No ifs, ands or buts. That is unless you live farther than walking or a few hours driving distance. Seeing as how that doesn't currently apply to me, her oldest, yet scarce daughter, I found myself at her house for two hours on Sunday. We exchanged the routine hugs, how are you's and I got a tour of the new renovations she's done to the place since I last visited. I got my younger brother's senior picture and a copy of the invitation to his high school graduation in May. Wasn't it was just yesterday that I was still fifteen and he was being born at Northern Colorado Medical Center? Well, sorry to burst your bubble sweetheart, but he's now three years past fifteen and you are soon headed towards Cougarville.

My sister arrived with my four year old nephew and her latest boyfriend. With the best of intentions, we tried to all sit down to a "nice, civil" dinner together. Maybe it's just me, but we really shouldn't try to have family time. We always end up starring in one of those bad scenes between the members of the Quartermaine family on General Hospital. You see, it starts out with "could you please pass the butter" and somehow digresses to "why couldn't you come to church this morning," "your eyebrows are getting too bushy," "I can't believe your plane is landing in Denver at 9:30 in the morning on the day of your brother's graduation," "I work full time and raise my son, so your life of 60 hour work weeks and grad school isn't that hard," and "why don't you get your teaching certificate and then you can write on the side."

You see, as hard as people try to change, somewhere inside they really don't. My mom still thinks I should force myself to attend church services because it's what she believes even though I don't. She still asks me how I'm going to support myself somewhere other than Colorado, even though I've done this before. The difference is I've learned from my mistakes. I know how to do it better this time. And most of all, she still doesn't view writing as a practical career choice, even though it's my passion and what I want to pursue more than ever. My sister, the one who never even went through undergrad, doesn't have a clue how hard college and grad school are; especially when you're juggling the intense workload "on the side." She doesn't know how hard I've worked to keep my 4.0 and how much effort and time go into having to get no less than a "B."

Her boyfriend, "D" stays silent through most of this. He's the only one I think who understands. Older men have a way of being wise, insightful observers at times. They also have a way of keeping themselves out of the fire. I'm glad that my sister finally has that kind of stability in her life. It reminds me of the stability that my soon to be ex has given me over the years.

Sometimes the difference between being an adult and a child is the willingness to not waver from what you truly want if you believe in it strongly enough. The opinions of others, even those of your close family, don't sway you in the opposite direction because you know better. As painful as it may be for them, you not only have wings, but you know how to use them. You know that there's no other choice but to use them. It's your purpose, your calling, your destiny. You wouldn't have them if it wasn't. They'll just have to watch you soar above their heads and maybe, just maybe, be inspired to grow some wings of their own.

Hopefully those wings won't be broken after seeing my long lost grandmother from California for the third time on my brother's graduation day. I guess she figured the oldest and the youngest were the only two she needed to see walk the stage. Regardless, it's sure to be quite the fireworks show the week she's in town. A sort of Fourth of July preview, but scarier.

Perhaps I'll think about taking a practice flight or two while she's here. You never can tell when the wind's going to pick up enough to carry you to your next destination.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Intimacy-The Reality

Relationships are difficult, at best. This is especially true if their origin comes from a history of dysfunction. Take my mom and me, for example. I never really knew my grandparents because she became estranged from them shortly after I was born. I've seen her mom twice. The first time I don't remember because it was at my baptism and the second time was when I was 17 and she flew out from California to attend my high school graduation. I haven't seen or spoken to her since. I know her name, I know we're related, but I don't know her as a person. To hear my mom talk, I'm lucky that I don't. Perhaps, but a part of me still wonders. A part of me that realizes I'm too independent because I've never truly known anyone except myself, and even that is at times questionable.

My mom and I don't really know each other either. Not like we should. She's clothed and fed me, helped pay half my rent through college, paid for a lot of the basic stuff I needed for my first apartment in Florida, offered advice, stood up for me, and let me move back in and live with her for a year when I was twenty-six and broke. She's even done a complete 180 now that I've told her I still want to follow the dreams of my 17 year old heart. That's the good side. The bad side involves a lot of screaming, misunderstanding, passive-aggressive tactics, physical confrontations, shame, blame and a "I won't support that" when I told her I wanted to write.

There's a lot of anger there for me. Still, at 33. Maybe that's why in my dreams I return a lot to the house we used to live in when I was in high school. It's a little different each time and not quite like I remember it, but there are a lot of unresolved issues still present in that house. Yet, it's also the place where I discovered a lot about myself. Maybe that's another reason why I return a lot. To be reminded of what I really wanted out of life. How simple it all seems when you're only thirteen and possibilities are completely magical and unaware of the cold practicality that actually exists.

True intimacy is tricky because it means you have to let go. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is human. Anyone can change. Yes, even your parents. Creating a real bond involves opening yourself up to the possibility of pain, abandonment and emptiness. When that's all you've known from the get go, you don't know how to attach. You don't even consider it to be real, with a sort of automatic fortress that's always present around your heart. Either that or you involve yourself with those who won't fully attach themselves to you. It’ll be better that way, you tell yourself. That way you can get a little piece of what you really want without all the baggage. Then you realize that the baggage is what you actually wanted all along. Everyone deserves it. Everyone needs it.

The problem is convincing yourself that it's okay if you have it. Independence can give you strength, perseverance, freedom, space, flexibility and the ability to not have to compromise. What it can't give you is support, a hug, a smile, a sympathetic ear or the validation that you mean something in someone else's world.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why Being an Empath is a Gift-Part One

At one of my accounts, I have a store manager who's a fellow empath. Unbeknownst to her, she's known as "Psychic Sprite" in my weekly FB recap of the drama that occurs in my sales territory, which I've affectionately dubbed as "All My Salty Snacks." We liked each other almost instantly. Conversation between us has always been effortless. Part of the unseen "empath code," I suppose. Even though she didn't confirm it until recently, I figured out she was "one of us" a long time ago. I've watched her get frazzled easily, be continuously absent-minded, enjoyed her frank and witty sense of humor, heard her eerily insightful comments about my life and, of course, conversed about spirituality topics with her. No, I'm not talking about getting saved from damnation or speaking with the angels. I'm talking astrology, numerology, how the spirits of children choose their parents, intuition, and telepathic experiences.

To me it seems that being an empath sometimes means that others open up to you almost without a second thought. I was one of the few, if not the first, to know that my current boss would rather move back to Denver. Not because I snooped or asked, but because he told me several times during a few of our conversations. I've gotten to hear more than I will ever want to know about one of my store manager's romantic escapades. Today I had a manager open up to me about her man trouble after a simple "how are you doing?" The Area Manager of my Valero chain loves to dish about how the company is working her to death, how she's working on leaving and who she wrote up this week. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg because I really do feel like I'm my customers' new Oprah. My FB friends get the joy of staying tuned for the next set of "scenes." There's always been something about Boulder County, Colorado that brings out the eccentric in everybody. When my time is done at this adventure, I'm sure I'll have enough stories for a new writing project or two. Not to mention many fond memories of laughter, shock, disbelief and most of all, treasured souls I wouldn't have encountered otherwise. Yes, there's even a singing bartender involved.

Eccentricity aside, the ability to make others feel comfortable and be naturally honest is one of the true gifts of being an empath. True honesty is not something a lot of people do in everyday conversation. Maybe I've worked a little of my former "Disney Magic Persona" on these people, but truth be told I'm not that perky or eye-glowing when I'm pushing chips. The reality is that we'll listen. We're not self-absorbed. We genuinely want to help others. We're compassionate and understanding. We want others to speak the truth because we already sense and feel it, even if we can't quite put it into words ourselves just yet.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather make a genuine connection than a false one. Hearing the words of what actually lies inside another's heart makes it possible to heal and initiate change. Having others be real means that you don't waste time playing games. The true eye-glowing smiles shine their rays outward; warm energy that brightens and ignites life. Without truth, life becomes extinguished. Without compassion, it never gets revealed.

Being able to truly know a piece of another's soul without trying is priceless. That's where the revolution starts. Even if it's just a release, negativity and suffering run from the truth. Nothing can be accomplished without the acknowledgement and affirmation of what exists.

The real story can often be more inviting than the image. It's when you see the performer behind the character that you can begin to know how to rewrite the lines. Better yet, you find that you no longer need them. A passing encounter stands the chance of turning into a moment of cherished significance.