“Peace is Unity”

(Click quote block to watch the TED Talk by Boyd, honoring Nelson Mandela.)

This philosophy creates balance to the world, to society, and to the individual. In all that you do, ask if it is part of an effort promoting harmony, care, and connection. This is also the potential power and beauty of blogging. ~Yazminh

0

Beyond the Grain: Lessons From Board-Breaking

BeyondTheGrainMcCroskeyR

(Photo Credit: McCroskeyR)

When I was about 15, I had a boyfriend-ish (a guy who liked me and wanted me to be his girlfriend, and who had to see me by having his whole family come over when he visited, but with whom I couldn’t go out or do anything).  James was two years older, probably been around the block a few good rounds, but was much more immature than I was in other ways, usually in the thinking arena.

On one of his few visits, I remember us going outside with his sister, Gwen, and him seeing some lumber pieces laying around (my father was a contractor).  James was explaining something to me about breaking boards, and told either me or his sister (I forget which) to hold one of the wooden board pieces while he punched it to break it.  He revved up, and hit the piece of wood, but his hand bounced back, with the wood, unflinching.

I think he did this one or two more times, when I offered to try.  He held it for me, and I punched through it.  James was 5’11, about 160 lbs.; I was 5’3, about 100 lbs.  He picked up another piece of wood, just to be sure he didn’t weaken the first one for me, and again, my little fist punched through.  I explained that he had to aim behind the wood.

This memory clip came to me as I was thinking about how short-sighted we can get when it comes to achieving our goals.  We know what we want to see happen, but we focus on the wrong thing, so our projected destination may short us of the desired outcome.

For example, it is almost New Year’s Resolution time, and, for those who like a proverbial starting point, many will use the 1st of the year as their declaration to lose weight.  It is a very short-sighted, yet understandable target, but the problem is that focusing on the size or scale—the obvious, superficial issues—is often a goal with a reach too short to be truly successful.  It is like James’ focusing on aiming at the board to break it – it’s solid, easy to see, and so seems the right focal point.  But this effort actually focuses on the obstacle, not the solution.

Often times, weight issues (as are many health issues) are symptomatic of imbalances elsewhere, whether it be physical, hormonal, biological, psychological, etc., and focusing on restoring balance as needed is the best solution.

Instead of doing this, however, many start punching at the board (“Crap. I’ve gained weight again. I need to start dieting.”),  instead of punching through the board (“Hmm, what’s causing this weight gain?  How have I been feeling?  How is my lifestyle?  What have I been doing differently, or need to do differently? What should I get checked out?”).

This simple lesson can be applied across the board – relationships, work, finances – any area where an obstacle must be overcome.  Every circumstance is different, of course, and sometimes the issue isn’t so simply solved by merely identifying the problem and end point accurately, but it is necessary for the most concise route.

In short: Aim beyond the superficial plane to get the breakthrough you want.

4

Life Code: Lessons from “Dexter”

Dexter

“Dexter: Harry’s Code” Scene (Photo credit: http://swishost.com/dexter-widescreen.html)

From the beginning, I loved the idea of Dexter’s character: A serial killer of serial killers.  Perhaps I am too elementary spiritually, not transcended above the idea of such a system of justice.  I’m not sure what it is within me that makes it gratifying, not horrifying, to think of someone killing those who kill innocent people, like my twisted sense of relief to know that child rapists often get killed in prison when their inmates discover the nature of the predator’s crimes.  I feel that somehow I am wrong to think this way, and I am partly ashamed to admit having a side comfortable with such brutality.  The fact that I am not entirely convinced that it is wrong to think this way, however, brings me to believe that my sense of shame is more a learned one rather than an instinctive one.  So, for now at least, Dexterity, it is.

I feel, though, that I am not alone, as “Dexter” was quite a popular show, and not just for his sexy love interest, Hannah McKay (played by Yvonne Strahovsky) in the latter half of the series.  I remember going into a department store and talking to a sales associate about the show when it was at the height of its popularity, and was told that the Henley shirts Dexter sported always sold out quickly.  It made me wonder if the general population was as dark as I was, or if Dexter was, in fact, not really a bad guy, despite the general acceptance that killing is a bad, bad thing.

What made Dexter’s “dark passenger” a welcomed one, I believe, was “The Code,” a set of rules that was taught to Dexter by his father before he passed away:

  1. Never get caught.
  2. Never kill an innocent.

This code serves Dexter well throughout the series, both for his objectives within the context of the show as well as for his likeability as a character from the perspective of the show’s fans.  His code perpetuates his survival and ability to carry justice in the most primal and efficient way.  Without it, his character and story unravel.

In real life, we all must live by codes.  The law has a set of codes, religions have their codes, and general society has its own code of conduct.  People teeter-totter, pick and choose among these different sets of codes to create a basket of their own, some with very full baskets, adhering to every code they know, others, with fairly empty ones.  The exercise of identifying one’s own personal code is important, I believe, because it forces one to examine one’s self, both internally as well as in relation to one’s world, with all the people and triggers in it.  This connects us with our sense of control and, more importantly, accountability, which is a necessary moderator for the sense of power that comes with control.  If there’s any ethical standard or quality control to be found, accountability is the sleuth for it.

I’ve always thought about this theory of a code of conduct, although I’d not labeled it, but I recognized its existence immediately whenever one of my unspoken codes was being violated – the protest rose in full form, from my thoughts to emotions, to the heat rising to head and my neck hairs standing up.  For whatever reasons, I was made to feel and think (and when I was younger, be physical) intensely, and people would see just a facet of me, usually the peaceable side, the side I give freely to everyone in my path; the other side, the one that says Dexter can be my best friend, must be earned.

So my code consists of a justice unfazed by whatever gruesome fate must be met by an individual who gleefully causes comparable pain and destruction of an innocent life.  Understanding this helps me come to terms with who I am, as Dexter had to come to terms with who he was, and to best focus my life in light of this.

My own personal code, in no particular order of importance:

  1. Seek truth.  Every good thing needs strong roots in truth.  Seek it within yourself first, so you can help others find it.
  2. Seek balance.  This is not about becoming homogeneous; this is about living life in such a way that you are truly happy and at peace inside.
  3. Seek joy.  “Face the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”  Walk towards and amongst the positive; shine so brightly that your light is contagious.
  4. Seek to grow.  Read, listen, learn, connect, record, reflect, venture, and think for yourself.
  5. Share what you find.  Contribute to the good of the world; let your knowledge be a platform for others to stand upon as they build theirs.
  6. Be kind.  Many people are hurting in the world, and your kindness may disarm their expressions of pain or salve them.
  7. Be open.  You don’t know everything.  If knowledge is power, and you need power to help or protect the powerless, stay open to keep learning.
  8. Be aware.  It is not enough to be kind or open alone. Know what you’re dealing with.  This is part of self-preservation.
  9. Be of service.  This is another way to contribute to the good of the world, and to honor #10.
  10. Be grateful.  Life has little meaning or joy without this.

Although not spelled out, Dexter actually did most of these things on my list, and I can say vice versa to his.  (Don’t be shocked – I’ll wager most of you can say the same thing.  😉 )

This code has been fairly consistent all my life.  Whenever I’ve failed to adhere to or protect it, it is like I’ve abandoned myself.  Spelling it out has helped me become more aware of it to maintain its integrity.

What about you? What is your personal code, the one that defines and directs the best of who you are and want to be?

5

Truth

Nothing owns me.
Neither science nor religion, nor other dogma.
Neither fear of criticism nor need for conformity.

I need no proof to believe in God, nor to be happy.
I need no reward to be kind, nor to do the right thing.
I need no permission to speak up or live it up; I just have to show up.

I am utterly free in thought and in heart.
And as I know better and better, I am free to change and grow,
free of guilt.

And so are you.

Yazminh A.B.

3

Life Crop #1: Gratitude (Always in Season)

Image

(Picture Credit: Gabriella Fabbri)

Do you know of anybody who has so much to be grateful for, yet is not truly happy?  In varying degrees, we may have our areas of discontent; this helps us strive and grow.  But I’m talking about the kind of person who, if they could hear their discontent from the outside looking in, would see how disconnected they were from Gratitude – the warm-fuzzy part of peace and joy.

I had a friend, we’ll call him “Don,” who strove and was exalted by coworkers and peers for his seeming perfection.  Don was always well-groomed, had an adoring wife and beautiful children, a finely decorated home in a friendly, closely-knit neighborhood, many admiring friends, and even the picket fence.  He was intelligent, popular, and looked good for his age.  His wife supported all his endeavors, kids did well in the myriad of activities they were involved in, the family ate out often and went on numerous vacations yearly, and he and his wife had a good social network as couples.  But Don was unhappy, deep inside.  His marriage was good, but not “perfect”—his wife was simple and not on cue with his emotions.  He had had 2 years-long affairs, chasing this “last perfect brick,” and eventually sought counseling to deal with his issues.

When I think of all that Don has and look at my bare-essentials life, and how, as long as my family is well, happy, and together, I am satiated, I feel immensely fortunate to be able to connect with Gratitude.  Don’t get me wrong – Don has acknowledged that he has a lot and is fortunate, and he would say he was grateful for all he had, but he intellectualized Gratitude – he understood that it made sense for him to be grateful, but he could not truly connect with it in his heart, where it is housed.  This doesn’t mean that he was an ingrate, but that he was missing the point of it.

Gratitude says, “I am happy because of what Is.”  It stops and revels in the glow of that joy.  It feels full and asks for nothing more.   It gives meaning to everything good, and goodness to all in its path.

I have started sharing 1 thing I’m grateful for daily on my personal Facebook page for this month, and I revel in that subject of gratitude of the day.  I don’t think of any pressing concerns that “must be resolved before I can be happy” – Gratitude dissolves any such “musts”.

Granted, there are times that may require a call for action, particularly if there’s certain life or death involved, but most of the time in life, we have all we need to be grateful, where your soul feels the joy and celebrates the truth of the present.  It disregards woes of the past or fears of the future. It asserts, “I am happy now because of what Is.”

When I was growing up, as my father worked hard every day, slowly building up his construction business, we moved often from one low-income home to another.  There was one house in particular that I and my brothers refer to as “The Shack.”  It was a pink, dilapidated shoe-box, built of what appeared to be wood slats.  It was as if there was no insulation in that house as we walked around bundled up in the winter, and could see our breath, and the only heat came from an old, black, metal wood-burning stove in the middle of the living room.  The floors slanted along the back length of the house, and there were what seemed like hundreds of large roaches that would scatter whenever we flicked on the light switch in the bathroom or kitchen at night.   Soon after we moved from it, we learned that it was a condemned building which was immediately torn down.

I was maybe 12 or so when we lived in The Shack, and my brothers and I were happy.  We played in the creek and woods, where we were wild and free, and came home to love, where we were warm and safe.  We lived the unconscious stream of Gratitude – reveling in all the good things we had, and not in what we didn’t.

Between my friend, Don, and myself, our upbringings were quite opposite from each other’s.  I cannot speak for him and what was not filled in childhood that may have affected his ability to fully connect with Gratitude amidst all his life’s treasures, but from my teenage years until not too long ago (20 years time), I’ve lived what many may consider an emotionally and spiritually taxing life myself.  I could justify feeling too angry, bitter, entitled, whatever the excuse, to be grateful.

Gratitude is not just a choice, a chore – you can’t just say, “I am grateful,” and not stop to truly listen, see, understand its beauty.  It would be like a spouse saying, “Sure, I love my wife,” but not taking the time to spend with her, look at her, listen to her, and see her and celebrate the person she is.

Gratitude requires full attention for true connection; only then can you reap the benefits that can salve many wounds and fill hollow spaces.

I started this blogging venture in big part due to Gratitude.  And I am so grateful.  I am here speaking to you about this and many things that I hope will help heal your heart and sharpen your senses, and I am so grateful for it all.

But how to be grateful when something is tugging your heart?

What is tugging your heart?

Is it the past?  If so, be present in the truth of today: You are no longer there where the pain happened.  Rejoice! You made it! You didn’t think you would, but you did! What victory! What a blessing!

If it’s anything else, use this formula:

“I am grateful that I am catching this now, AND* I will [course of action].”   

*(Gratitude does not have space for “but.”   To say, “I am grateful for x, but…” is like saying, “I love you, but…”  – the first point immediately withers.  Gratitude is independent joy.)

And be grateful for your ability to process a solution, or find help, or even have friends or family to talk to.  Be grateful that you can read and research, that you can learn and reach out via so many avenues nowadays.  Be grateful if you are healthy, and grateful if you are able to receive medical attention if you are not healthy, and grateful that you have a mind that is well enough to crave growth and learning – this is part of honoring yourself, those you love, the world – be grateful for these desires and connections.

Nothing can replace being connected to Gratitude for true peace and happiness.  It is not required to be alive, but to feel alive…and worthy –  Gratitude senses an ultimate source of goodness in the world, whether or not one is conscious or acknowledging of such a belief.  Thank God for it.

4

These Babies are Real: The Beauty of Authenticity

Image

(Photo: Courtesy of Stock.xchng)

While in the midst of my most confusing, turbulent years, a relative casually commented about girls with implants, saying, “I’d rather have fake pretty over real ugly any day.”  The word play sounded convincing, but at the heart of it was the sad sign of the times, where the core message falls into the bloated “WTF” category.

That comment may be an extreme expression of the sentiment, but it was brutally honest about a viewpoint that manifests itself in many areas of our society.   I have a close friend who feels the need to “keep up” with her image to the world, and she has been on that treadmill for so long that she has become accustomed to it, and in her need to present “perfection,” any insinuation of human imperfection has her scurrying to try to validate against it.  It’s both sad and frustrating to witness.   A family member of mine has been in a series of relationships with people so disconnected from the truth of their own beings that any no real progress could take root, neither on personal nor relationship levels.  I see people putting humanity and/or positivity quotes (the “new cool”) all over Facebook, yet defining success as accumulation of material things, among other contradictions to their campaigns.

It seems that this B.S.itis stems from deep insecurities, which is rooted from the lack of understanding oneself.  When I wanted to start a serious blog, one that I could truly identify with and be able to consistently write about, I had no idea what I had to offer that could give value to others.  I was a Jane of All Trades and master of none, simply because my life routed me every which way, so I could not develop any socially marketable skills – I only knew how to survive, and I learned about the funny ways of the world, and the misconception of the misconception of bad people.  But mostly, what came naturally to me was my introspection, and through my “20 lost years,” this understanding deepened.  The one thing that I knew how to do was be real.  And I would learn that it was not a common ability.

I started off believing that I was doing the right thing, being genuine, kind, fair.  The ridiculousness of chance: me, being this kind of person surrounded by completely opposite types of people.  I stood my ground for a long time, but eventually, I started wondering if I was, in fact, wrong.  At one point, I even thought that I should try to be more superficial, care about amassing money, care about what people thought, because, after all, when you worry, you scurry, and maybe I needed to scurry to fit in, because then my life would be easier and happier, right?  Hypothesis FAIL.

The only thing I learned about that experiment was that such people lived a busy, frantic life. It was flashy and noisy, but without substantial joy.  It was distracting enough on the surface to ignore the loneliness deep inside, and you had to keep chasing the chaos so that you don’t ever have to face the truth of how void of meaning there was in this impressive commotion in which you’re partaking.  Although the power of introverts is coming into awareness, the perversion of extroversion is still society’s soup du jour.

All of this masking is really a disservice to us as a society, as well as individuals.  What kind of society do we have if we’re a network of weak links?  As individuals, how do you fix a problem if you are unaware of it, or if you hide it from others?  Imagine if people could come out and be honest about their true selves because they felt safe in the world they lived in.  If everyone in the world could feel unabridged safety, love, acceptance, there would be no need for validation through power as exhibited in its many morale-(and sometimes moral)-crumbling forms – we may have discovered the formula for world peace!

Well, that’s not a guarantee, but there would certainly be peace in the worlds of our individual lives.  And I would imagine that not many people would be opposed to that scenario.

Being authentic, simply put, is being honest, humble, vulnerable, and human in the most edifying, interconnecting way.  (Not to be confused with being an unapologetic jerk, although if true jerks took on this approach to authenticity by saying, “I’m an asshole, accept it,” they actually do us a service – who wouldn’t want such a fair warning?)

Most insecure, fearful people have been rubbed raw by hurts and disappointments, and so they wrap themselves in layer after layer of all kinds of numbing material, some harder than others, some pricklier than others, but all burying the truth.  It’s no way of living, for we born to be alive, and unless life’s hurdles shut us down, we desperately crave living in this state of convergence of who we really are and who we pretend to be:

(“Breaking Bad”: Walter White – “Alive” Scene)

Authenticity removes the muffling layers, catalyzing self discovery, enhancing life experiences, and teaching the world not only tolerance, but celebration of the individual.  I’ll take this real beauty any day.

Related: “Choosing the Red Pill”

2

The Misconception of the Misconception of Bad People

MisconMisconBadGuys(Photo Credit: WiseWander)

This is where I will be frank.  Forgive me for sounding crazy.

Some people are just bad.

They are not just confused, misled, or poor victims of abuse and crooked government that should be given compassion, etc.

These are not people who made stupid, even terrible mistakes in life.

These are people who prey on the innocent, who prey on kindness, who study what “good” and “kind” and “trustworthy” look like, talk like, act like, in order to manipulate the system after they’ve manipulated their victims into a mangled pile of their selves.

These people are evil, bad to the marrow of their bones, and until we recognize that such individuals truly exist, we will not be able to properly protect the good, the normal, the innocent who become victims to such entities.

I used to be where some of you are right now – bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, love-for-all-and-all-for-love.  I would believe in the best of everyone, that the potential is there to be awakened, that there just needs to be kindness and generosity and goodness poured into them, and they would be touched and healed, and evolve.

While this is true for most, this is an absolute lie—a dangerous one—to prescribe across the board.

Our (oxymoron ahead) “justice system” has been played by such individuals because people mean well but don’t know well enough: that not all men are created equal, that “a fair trial” needs far more discretion and knowledge on the participants than the court has any control or interest in ensuring, and that the lax of demand for true justice spreads repercussions into our society like a crack on glass, fanning out into splintering shards.

The problem is that good people play by the rules and the not-so-good play by the feigning of playing by the rules, so they see and predict every move, and intercept and destroy, cheating all the way.

There is a reason why the shady like to do business in the dark: concealment is the best way to ambush, and ambush is an effective strategy to take over what is not freely given.  As long as people don’t know, or insist to not know, they foster successful victimization by these types.

Shine the light – know wtf we’re dealing with in this world.  That’s the first step to solving the problem.

(More to come on this when I start sharing my story.  Stay tuned.)

Related article: “These Babies Are Real: The Beauty of Authenticity

1

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes