To live or not to live…

You confessed that death equals love

pain equals love. You are alone.

Alone.

Suffering solitary confinement for life

with shadows of who you dreamed of being

reflected in the mirrors of their burgeoning souls

warming your icy skin with alien affection

you won’t afford to give yourself.

As you stare at the distortion created by the bottle,

that screams generations of return,

understand that love does not equal pain

or loss or abandonment or unnecessary sacrifice

or lies, deception, theft, loss of integrity

or tears of begged forgiveness forgotten immediately

when the other “Lady” comes knocking

with sharp shaved heads, steaming lips,

and nothing but broken promises.

You select the path. You get to choose now.

It will not be long before it will no longer be your choice.

It will be out of your hands. Choose now.

Choose.

Chance of a Lifetime

Live in the now, man.

Live in the now, man.

2015 begins with shouts of “This year it will be different!” “This year I will lose weight!” “This year I will be a better person!” and I sit at my table shaking my head in disbelief. You already have the tools to skip to the good parts. You can already make every change. Right now. Today. Reading this. It’s a matter of putting yourself into uncharted personal territory.

One of my favorite pieces of advice given in a common language is, “Live right now.” It doesn’t take a year to figure out that you’re still going to a job you hate that pays a tolerable salary. It certainly doesn’t change anything when you buy a size larger than you thought you should because that weight has miraculously grown on your buttocks. It doesn’t bode well that you already believe yourself to be a bad person. Shake the dust off your boots and look to the horizon of possibilities that are just outside of the comforting circle you’ve established. This moment is your chance of a lifetime.

Imagine yourself resting in the middle of a circle that is made up like a protective wagon train hunkered down for the night on the Oregon Trail. As you sleep in the comfort of this circle near the campfire that keeps the darkness at bay, you’re surrounded by the security of friends, family, income, a home, food, reliable transportation, hobbies, and the knowledge that you know exactly (more-or-less) what will happen in the morning because every day starts out the same,  progresses the same (twists and turns happen but usually nothing major), and the day will end roughly the same. We feel in control and safe. It becomes, to some, a prison of mundane predictability with no opportunity for progress. The horses are staked, the homestead built, and yet many have not traveled more than twenty miles from their origins.

Outside of that circle of wagons is a vast prairie. The golden grasses of adventure wave with friendly light at the rise of a new breath, a new dawning. Away from that blazing campfire is the cold face of unfamiliar people, confusing ideas, opportunities to explore growth, languages we don’t understand, beliefs that have never been mentioned within our safety circle. There is nothing written in stone even on the distant mountain peaks. But there is much knowledge, many ideas, creative blossoms of ingenuity to be picked from the stems of the wildflowers, the winds of change tickling the skin of those who put up the sail on their wagon to find their own home.

The opportunities to change don’t come once a year. They are always available to you. It’s not weakness to have to keep trying again, it’s weakness to reject an idea without sincere effort. It isn’t easy to unhitch your wagon and move out into the darkened prairie where things get larger than life that seethe with intimidation. It’s instant change. But, just as the original circle brought comfort and safety, so does the place outside the circle if you can learn to trust yourself. If you learn and remember that you really do have the answers even if the outcome isn’t exactly as you’d expected.

You can choose to be anyone you wish to become simply by willing the change. Obviously, this isn’t going to work for every condition. It can’t raise the dead or take back something done/that happened/circumstances, but it can change the attitude with which we are using to deal with the emotional upheavals.

Take the chance by saying “Yes!” to Opportunity:

There are many things that I know how to do because I’ve tried a lot of different things. I can draw, write, paint, organize, create, visualize, produce, etc. But this comes from seeking new opportunities as often as possible. If I don’t change what I’m doing every day while expecting things to change, that’s just insanity according to the quote attributed to Albert Einstein.

Take the chance to say “No!”:

I see many unhappy people saying yes to things they don’t really want to do. They say yes out of some twisted sense of obligation. It can cause them to blow off the people who were depending on them, not completing the tasks they said they’d do, as well as driving away potential for further opportunities. Understand that if you don’t place and maintain your boundaries, you’re not going to find that happiness because resentment will build as fast as that half-hearted yes came out of your mouth. It’s okay to say no if you don’t want to, are already stretched too thin, or hate the idea of yet another meeting.

Take the chance but know that you’re not Atlas:

We are, as a whole, superhero wanna-be’s. We’re told we can have it all. The problem with that is, we’re not Atlas. We can’t balance the weight of the world, or rather our own personal worlds, on our shoulders as well as taking on everyone else’s. If you’re already juggling three balls and someone asks you to take a fourth you have the option to say, “No thanks, I have enough going on in my juggling as it is.” OR you can say, “You know, I think I will try it.” You really have a 50/50 chance of success which increases depending on your experience, knowledge, skill set, and time.

Say Yes to things about which you feel deep passion:

When I joined a church nearly a year ago, I was given the wisdom from one of the elders, “There will be many great things offered for you to do. Only choose those which speak the strongest to your heart and say yes to those. There are enough people to say yes to the rest that you don’t have to say yes to everything.” I realize this contradicts my previous statement about saying yes to opportunity, but it isn’t an opportunity if your heart isn’t willing and open to try it. You have to figure out what truly moves you to action.

Each breath you take is a new opportunity to make better choices. You have that opportunity every moment of every waking day. Be a member of the breathing life, not the stagnant life. No amount of good intentions will ever allow you to move forward if you don’t actively work towards being happy.

As far as the right now, I am not going to make any resolutions unless I can achieve them right now. I think of it as a bit of pocket change. If I can embrace it right this moment, what does tomorrow give me that right now doesn’t? Not a thing. Tomorrow isn’t promised, only this moment as you read this is and does. It’s all we have. Why worry about what we can’t change or dream about what we will do? Right now is the chance of a lifetime.

“Just Do It” –Tagline from Nike ads

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”–Joseph Campbell, Author of The Power of Myth

“Live in the now, man.”–Garth Algar, Wayne’s World (Dana Carvey)

I’m getting a divorce

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I met ‘em when I was 18 years old. I was in the backseat of Paul’s car laughing and drinking Jack Daniels chased by Southern Comfort. When you were offered to me, it just felt like the right thing to do. I mean, my friends and I were all sharing while singing out loud to songs promised at the concert we were heading down to Kalamazoo to witness up close and personal. I thought, “What the heck?”

I didn’t like you much, to be honest, but you kept pushing towards me with a tenacity that only lover’s know. I embraced you and for a while, we loved each other passionately, fully, and without remorse or thought of consequence.

We’ve been together for over half of my life. Twenty-eight years collectively where you have stood beside me as my pal, my buddy, my emotional rock, my shame and guilt. For twenty-eight years I’ve allowed myself to return to you time and again despite your abuse. Despite the way you take my breath away, and I don’t mean in a good way. I cling to you as a drowning man to a life raft. I run to you, no matter the occasion.

I know exactly how you’ll touch my body, move my emotions, and comfort me when I’m upset. I am hyper-aware of your indifference to my wandering eye because you know you’re my Master. You know I’m your slave. You know that I will give up everything I have if it meant being in your presence for just a little bit longer.

When we are in the honeymoon phase of our relationship, I can enjoy your company like an old friend being reunited with me. We laugh and joke. We carry on stories of “Do you remember when…?” And I love you for those. My emotional attachment to you soothes my body and my brain. You tell me everything is going to be all right as long as you’re with me. I let you stay far too long because I depend on your gratuitous being to cope with daily life.

But we have a problem. I’m no longer in love with you. I’m embarrassed that you show up at social events. I’m embarrassed that you dominate me into humiliating positions where I have to hide my shameful love/hate for you in public. I find myself apologizing for you before we’re even together.

We’ve been married longer than all four of my recognized wedded times. I realize, however, that perhaps, it’s time for us to go our separate ways for good. You see, I’m stealing love from my life with our relationship. My loving husband said, “I wish there was something I could say that would make you give up this relationship like there was when I asked you to wear your seat belt. I’m getting robbed of time with you because of that.” He’s right and I feel ashamed.

My husband sees me cheat on him every day and because of my long-term relationship with you, I’ve not had an interest in changing anything. Which isn’t entirely true, I’m a slave to a master that calls me when I’m uncomfortable, bored, upset, or need a break. But my love for my legally wedded husband is stronger than my relationship with you.

I want a divorce. I want you to leave and never return. You are not valued, you devalue. You are not comfort, you are shame. You are not a stress reliever, you’re an abuser, like me. You are not special, you’re the butt of every joke. You’re not welcome any more to go with me to restaurants, clubs, cars, homes, or anywhere else. You’re just not okay and I am not going to give in to the lies you tell me about how much you love me. You hurt me and I let you. You control me and I don’t like that. I don’t want you ruining any more of my life than I’ve allowed you to already.

I’m not 18 or immortal anymore and you need to understand that. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of damage I’ve allowed you to do to me. I, truthfully, hope the only thing you leave with me is the memory of my own allowed self-inflicted version of a slow suicide that I’m aware of in my life.

I am sending you packing, cigarettes. Butt out of my life. You can’t blow your smoke screen around me anymore. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust get ye out of my life you must! You must!

P.S. June 7th is the birthday of the friend that introduced me to my own self destruction. I was no coerced, but it seems poetic to choose that day as the day I officially divorce myself from that habit.