Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review, Rethink, Rejuvenate, Reboot

Today I can share that I am no longer the same person who started Living PowerLife. My perception has changed. My expectations have changed. My lifestyle has changed. My health has changed. Consequently, my decisions about what I do, say, and who I allow close to me are different. As I reviewed these differences, memories from my childhood came back. I remembered being naturally drawn to healthy food such as fresh fruit, honey, and vegetables. I remembered having to be encouraged to eat food with refined sugar and starch. In addition, I was a child with a happy disposition but my expectations changed over the years. Growing up and accommodating society's expectations, taught me to believe I was inferior; believe that I did not deserve to be happy. All of the above had negative effects on the quality of my physical, emotional, and spiritual states. In Living Life in Reverse I, Living Life in Reverse II, and Living Life in Reverse III you can read about this in more detail.

Little did I know that developing and following the Living PowerLife approach to health and well-being would result in reviewing, rethinking, rejuvenating and finally rebooting everything about me. I reviewed past decisions for wisdom, rethought how those decisions could have been different, and rejuvenated my mind, body, and spirit through a wholesome approach to life that included physical, spiritual, and emotional upgrades. My upgrades came with a cost; I had to come to terms with my own mortality.

Only through facing and overcoming the frightening fact that one day I would die was I able to look at the past, present, and future with the same eyes. Coming face to face with my own mortality empowered me to transcend the distractions I used to avoid personal growth. These are the distractions that allowed me to avoid reviewing my decisions in retrospect.

We all use distractions to keep from facing things we do not want to know about ourselves. Distractions such as blame, where we see others as the source of our problems. Anger, when we lash out in efforts to cause pain in others, rather than face why we hurt from within. Drug, food, sex, and alcohol abuse where we over-indulge in efforts to mask our feelings of guilt, loneliness, and inadequacy.

These distractions keep us isolated from one another and more importantly, we are unable to connect with all of who we are. We can see an example of how distractions separate us and stop us from maturing in the current tensions between communities and the police. The talking heads, news papers, social media, and broadcasts are full of distractions such as racism, gun control, and legal justice. In the process, we are only becoming further and further apart from one another based on political, ethnic, or cultural differences. We are less able to see the common needs that connect us as humans, while we focus more on the particulars that make us appear different from one another.

Thinking about the fact that we are given a limited number of days, can frighten and paralyze us. Knowing and consciously accepting this limitation can also empower us. Empower us to see each day as a gift not to be wasted on actions that come from pride, fear, or bigotry. Accepting our own mortality empowers us to focus on ways to rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and spirits with each new day. This means that instead of making choices that separate us from self and one another, we can make life-giving choices that build connections. Rather than succumb to the challenges that we face, we can hold on to the knowledge that no one event or person has the power to diminish who we are.

Indeed, the day we become consciously aware that we will one day lose our lives, is the day we gain the calm confidence to live life completely. The time we understand that any minute can be our last is time we begin to make every moment worth remembering. I know this because one of the benefits of acknowledging and overcoming the challenge described in You Are the Answer is gaining fearlessness.

Now, do not get me wrong. I do not think I can leap tall buildings in a single bound email me if you got this reference. I still avoid pain and understand what could happen if I walk out into moving traffic. The fearlessness I am describing is based on freedom from anxiety. Freedom from the problems any mind can create. With fearlessness, or freedom from anxiety, we own life, powerless is not a word, and the miracle of a rebooted mind takes place.

Rebooting a mind is similar to rebooting a computer. When the computer is sluggish or crashes sometimes taking it to a time before the crash will restore the machine. This is how I experience the results of following Living PowerLife to date; my mind has been restored to a time before I went down the path that led to living a disjointed, fearful life.

One example is that my taste for food is different. A few days ago I realized that, after eating mayonnaise on my sandwiches for decades, I now prefer mustard which has less fat. This is a simple example but significant in the long run. A more complex example is the fact that I no longer have the need to address rudeness from others. When I encounter rude people, I do not have to internally fight the urge to respond. The feeling simply is not there any longer.

Coming to terms with the fact that we all will ultimately die, gives us courage to recognize our mistakes and use the lessons they contain to become better. These are the mistakes we can only see if we are willing to rethink how we lived and be open to new perspectives. Understanding the fact that death is the one thing we all have in common, frees us to focus on the work of becoming better at eliminating the perceived differences that separate us from one another. In addition, accepting death as part of living gives us the ability to refrain from wasting time and energy on situations that are beyond our control.

I leave you today with these thoughts as we recognize, claim, and live the power we have in every situation:
  • The more things you know you can live without, the more power you have to overcome adversity.
  • Realizing that life is limited and living accordingly is how we leave anxiety behind.
  • Whenever you can, regularly take time out from the Internet.
  • If your health allows, regularly fast (this does not include water).
  • When you take time out and fast, meditate more and listen for your inner voice.
  • Keep those who live in love rather than anger close.
  • Understand that those who live in anger are full of anxiety.

May your year be prosperous, full of love, and peaceful. Until my next entry...

From my PowerLife to yours,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Are the Answer

While sitting in front of my computer for the umpteenth time, hoping to complete another installment of Living PowerLife, I wondered if my mind would freeze, again. I wondered if there would be no more than a few nondescript sentences when I stopped, again. Most of all, I wondered how long this frustrating writer's block, which had been going on since September 2014, would continue.

Yet, I also felt for the first time in months the familiar tingle in my stomach that always came before I began to write. Tingle meant hope. Yes, my hope was high this time not only because of the tingle but also because this was my first attempt at writing in a new year. In addition, I had new insight and felt that I would finally succeed in describing a struggle that shocked, shamed, and frightened me to the core last summer.

What follows may be difficult to read but take consolation in the fact that I overcame. I came out stronger and even more able to recognize, claim, and use my power to build a better life. While reading, you may wonder why I made this public. I grappled with the same question only to realize that shame fueled my hesitation to write about this. After careful consideration, though I concluded that my experience needed to be known because this struggle affects us all. Any one of us can find without warning that we are in the middle of a life/death struggle.

Indeed, just as we all are susceptible, we all can learn from my experience. What we learn can then be a base for recognizing and using the power that we have, even when our very lives are at stake. In addition, those of us who love someone who is currently experiencing this life/death struggle, will learn that the most we can do to help is make our love known. The struggle, you may have guessed, is over whether to commit suicide, or not.
Suicide. A word that we avoid using. A word that strikes fear in our hearts.

Suicide. A word for deciding to give up, leave loved ones behind, end our life.

Years ago, I had a close friend who committed suicide. She did not leave a note. She did, however, visit me just days before taking her life. For decades I agonized over whether there was something that I could have said or done. Did I miss an opportunity to save my friend from herself?

Now, after experiencing and overcoming my owwen struggle, I know the answer to that tormenting question: NO. While there are things that I may have done differently with the wisdom that comes from age, nothing, short of my friend, would have ultimately stopped her from shooting a bullet through her heart. I know this because when I had thoughts of suicide in June 2014, I was the only person with the power to save me from myself.

Saving myself, though meant recognizing and accepting the shocking reality that I was in the emotionally, spiritually, and physically dangerous state of suicide. I use the term state of suicide because that is how it felt. I saw and understood everything in the context of living or not. During this time, I did not talk to anyone about my state of being. Indeed, at the time of this publication, only one other person knew, after the fact, how close I came to taking my life. No one knew because I enclosed myself within my state. There, no one could reach me or influence my decisions.

Because of my education and professional experience, I was able to make a solid self-assessment. I knew that I was one step away from taking action. Imagine my shock and horror as I realized that, even though I withstood several life changing events that brought me stress and distress, I was not immune. Despite the fact that I endured, accepted, and learned to thrive while extracting myself from several toxic relationships, nothing protected me from wanting to destroy myself. Even after I came to terms with the past and moved on, stronger, wiser, and less likely to be fooled by the liars of the world, I was not above feelings that revealed I no longer wanted to live.

My shame is what kept me from talking to anyone and mixed feelings were why I felt shame. On one hand, I had a wonderful family that I spent the majority of my adult life teaching, protecting, and loving. I was a successful single mother and seeing the fruit of my labor was, and is, one of my main inspirations. In addition, my life had become my own. I was far better at recognizing and using my power to make the best decisions possible. I felt better than I had in decades and was grateful for all that shaped the person I called me.

At the same time, out of the blue I received bad news that felt like a mortal blow to my psyche. This blow brought into view just how tenuous life is and reminded me of all that I had lost over years. The details, other than the news was economically based, are not important; any threatening news at the right time and condition could have the same deadly affect. The timing of my blow was such that it threatened to stop the progress that I was making to have a better life. The condition was that I could not envision a way to withstand; I could not see my way out of the situation because the threat came from the government. The result was that, over a period of a few weeks, I slipped into a state of suicide.

Fear came from what I thought was coming and what I imagined would happen. Because of this, seemingly, all-powerful threat I was afraid to die and afraid to live. I was afraid of the unknown. Fear of the unknown was something that I had worked for years to overcome. Yet, I found myself in the middle of my worst fears with not even one clue about how to get out. Shock, shame, and fear were the veils that covered me during this time. They made an invisible barrier that separated me and everyone else. They were the foundation, and the fuel for my state of suicide.

Holding on to and remembering the people I loved, and who loved me is how I found my way out. Even while I planned a way to leave this world, I also thought about how people would be affected. Spending a lifetime of learning, and accepting how my actions affected others, meant that I automatically thought about how people would be affected by my decision.

My daughters came to mind, and I wondered about the message I would leave them if I followed through. My parents came to mind, and I knew that my action would be the worst insult to them. I thought about everyone who had shown that they believed in me, and valued my presence in the past. I acknowledged that my action would be like a slap in their faces. Then, I thought about my grandchildren and that stopped me in my tracks.

Through my grandchildren, I could see how the future would be affected in a very negative way by my hand. I could not rest with that possibility. For you see, members of my family have overcome terrible conditions such as slavery, lynching, illness, and death. Through everything, suicide was not an option. I would have been the first and I could not let that be my legacy. From this point, I slowly started to tear away the veils. I began to accept that this problem had a solution and ending my life was not it.

Then, I went to what I knew worked. I sought out, and identified the power that I had at that moment. I could stop. I could wait. I could let time reveal a way out. I could talk to someone about what the government was threatening to do. I knew that ending my life was permanent; suicide had no retakes. Consequently, I decided to wait. I did this mainly by saying, one day at a time, that I would not act until I had slept on things. Also, I made myself sit with not knowing what would happen or how I would solve my problem. I made my mind slow down and meditate more than my usual routine. This kept me conscious of the fact that I was connected to the Universe and to God. Ultimately, after weeks of internal fighting, I rejected the possibility of suicide. Also during this time, I found the solution to my looming problem and began taking the steps that I needed for resolution.

Months later on January 1, 2015 is when I became aware of the insight that I needed to end my writer's block. Often, I awake with thoughts, or ideas in my mind. This is why I always sleep with pen and paper nearby. I write these thoughts down before they fade away as I become fully awake. This particular morning I woke up knowing what happens when we use our power to change for the better. I realized that the Living PowerLife blog gives real-life examples of the life-long process of obtaining and maintaining balance. The following is a summary:
  • We succeed only if we start by changing the imbalance in ourselves
  • Once we find balance our immediate surroundings will adjust accordingly
  • People we once called friends may fall by the wayside
  • People we never knew existed will fall within our view
  • Guidance will surround us as we learn to listen and follow
  • Communities will change for the better as individuals achieve balance
  • There are no quick fix, special knowledge, secret diet, all knowing leader, or magic pill
  • Nature heals
  • Sometimes the Universe sends help in the form of people
  • Knowing when to let go is one aspect of lasting peace

To everyone who has (or is) struggled with thoughts of suicide, I hope that my experience gives you some encouragement. Please do not hesitate to get professional help if things get too much to handle alone.

To those who have lost someone to suicide, myself included, I hope that my post gives you comfort.

Remember that no matter how bad things get, we are gifts to the world. No matter what problem comes our way, we have power. We have a connection, and that connection holds the answers, and strength we need to succeed. We are saviours, warriors, sages, and shamans. All we have to do is continue to:
  • Know
  • Believe
  • Live

From my PowerLife to yours in 2015,