Friday, July 22, 2016

The Personification of America as Uncle Sam Might Be Confusing You

America belongs to all it's citizens people despite the way a lot of us have been brought up to believe. I think more people understand this than those who don't. But... those who don't are terrified that they are losing control. That is why you see people shouting and trying to scare you. Like I said, they try to scare you because they are scared. White men of the United States have controlled this nation for far too long through whatever means necessary. They think America is only for them because up till now it kind of has been. They killed the people native to this land to steal it for themselves. They enslaved people of color and built this country on their blood and their backs. They put their thumb on the women in their lives to make sure these ladies cared for them at home. They've had it all for so damn long and have been pacified by the blood of others who kept them in charge. It's killing them that we are taking their pacifier and they are throwing a tantrum about it. These men try to pit the different races, income classes and religions against one another so that we will fight each other while they continue to stay in power. "Keep 'em after each other, then they won't come after us." That is how they think. 

When you see a person that doesn't believe like you, look  like you, act like you, or live the way you live, stop seeing them as something else. They are human just like you. America belongs to all of us, not just scared white men.

You have forgotten or never knew that we are all equal. Maybe it is because the first time it was said on this soil the people who said it owned other human beings. Maybe that also confuses you. It friggin' confuses me but not for the same reason.

We will never be a great country and no one is going to "Make America Great Again" if you only want it to be great for the ones that look like you. Also, it would be hard to make this country great again when it never was. Our history has been ugly, brutal and murderous. We shouldn't fear rapists coming over the boarder when the founding rulers of this country could count themselves as such. I know it makes a person feel like shit to think that we may not be the good guys but guess what? We aren't and never have been. Instead of Making America Great Again, maybe, just maybe, we could MAKE AMERICA GREAT FOR THE FIRST TIME.

No matter the shade of skin, the belief of the person, the good or the bad, like it or not, this country belongs to all of us. Stop thinking you can take back something you stole to start with. We could be great and I know we will be great but it will not happen following the path we've followed till now. This next generation gets this and I know that scares you too. 

Hey, ya know Mr. Angry White Man, you should be scared. Your time is almost done.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

I had to go see some folks in Fentress and Pickett County on Friday. Everytime I'm in the area I am reminded of the time someone tried to take me to see the waterfall at Colditz Cove and couldn't find it. I've always wanted to see the falls and I figured that as well as the trails are maintained now in the area that it would be much easier to find. I always tell myself I'm gonna break for lunch there and see the falls and I finally kept my promise.

It's just a bit off the main road but the parking area is secluded by trees and there was no one there when I arrived. I headed out in clothes that were neither appropriate for the heat or the hike. My attire consisted of jeans and a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up and thong Birkenstocks. I didn't really think this thing out. I just wanted to see the falls once and for all. As I walked the trail I began to hear cars, doors slamming and people talking. I have no idea where it was coming from. It seemed like it was in front of me but I've never been one who could decipher the direction of sound well. It's never been one of my great abilities. So, when I started to hear it I remembered all the times I started a trail by seeing a sign that said "not responsible for items left in your automobile." It made me wish that I'd tried to hide my iPod, iPhone and purse just a little bit better. The only hope I had was that I could make this trip a quick one and get back to my car.

I finally reached the falls but with all the summer growth between the ledge and the fall I could hardly see the falls. I knew I'd have to go down but first, since I was at the top, I wanted to see the water spill over the top. Every twig and every root I tripped over in my inappropriate shoes forced the thong further into the split of my toes until they felt like the next time might actually split my toes. I would not give up even with the threat that my car was being broke into right at that very moment. I saw what I needed to see at the top and then turned to make my way back to the path that would lead me down.

As I moved along the path, stumbling over my Birken's, it finally occurred to me that if I tighten the buckle a few notches it might be enough to stop my foot at the strap instead at the thong. As I stood back up from the rebuckling I saw the most beautiful little turtle. At that very second I knew positively that nature was trying to tell me a thing or two. I was hot and my foot burned between my toes and all I'd thought about since I left my car was how fast I could get this done and get back on the road to work. Now, I just laughed at myself because I got the message loud and it was clear. I was in no danger. I could slow down and stop worrying about my car, I could stop looking for snakes at every rock and I could relax and begin to enjoy this detour to see something I'd wanted to see for many years.

I started to notice how all the downed trees looked like sculpture no artist could replicate. There were beautiful mushrooms everywhere and at one point my path was literally littered with tiny flowers that fell from up above. I went slow and took my steps very deliberately and decided that no matter the terrain, I'd make it to the bottom of that waterfall, in my now sweaty clothes and my fairly slick shoes. I knew it was mine to have and I knew this was the day I was meant to see it. I felt like this had been part of my birth plan. I felt so supported by everything around me and I knew I should just let go of everything else and have this moment for myself. I was protected by these woods and nothing was going to happen to me. In my heart I felt myself turn loose and fall back into the arms of nature.

When I returned to the car it was just like I left it. When I checked my Spire later it said that I had only walked for 23 minutes. It felt like it was much longer. I must have fallen into a time warp where 23 minutes feels like a couple of hours. It felt so good to check this off after so long and know that missing it so many years ago actually led me to this moment in time. My moment. My walking a path that led to finding  a tiny bit more of me. But now I want to share it with you. Enjoy...

Colditz Cove from tonyaru on Vimeo.

Monday, July 11, 2016

the mechanic's guide to gratitude

So we went over making a lasting change in the last post. So now let's talk about gratitude.

I just finished the book The Magic by Rhonda Bryne. It is an amazing book about learning to have gratitude in your everyday life. While I read this I finally recognized the way gratitude works. I wanted to break it down and share it with you here.

So, many of us, me included, start to feel disillusionment about the way the world works sometimes. If we keep up with world news we may start to think there isn't a lot of good in it. We may walk around in a cloud only able to see the bad. We may complain a lot or judge things harshly. So, what does gratitude have to do with this? Everything. Gratitude is the opposite of what I just described and by practicing it we will manifest more things to be grateful for.

When you decided to make gratitude a daily practice the first thing you have to do is decide to start looking for things to have gratitude for. Once you start looking (or keeping a gratitude journal) you will begin to see how much beauty their is in the world. It might seem like a challenge in the beginning but everyday lived grateful will make it easier day by day.

How does the shift occur that we all hear about when people talk about keeping a gratitude journal? In the third paragraph of this post I talked about how we get focused on all the negative things going on in the world. That my dear friends is a habit. It is a habit. It is a habit. How do you break a habit? Replace it with the desired way you want to be. How can we shift the habit of only seeing the ugly in the world? By deciding to concentrate on the good in the world. So, when we make gratitude part of our daily life we are really creating a habit to look for good.

I wish someone had told me that a long time ago. I'd read about keeping a gratitude journal and I'd think about how magical and transforming it could be but I never thought about what the practice actually creates. That transformation, turns out, is just learning a new behavior. If ya don't want to be a grumpy ass then learn to be a grateful ass.

Never mourn for what you've lost in life but instead be grateful for what you still have. Though mechanics are involved in that you can explain what happens in this shift, there is also magic. Give it a try and you will feel like someone waved the magic wand.

Friday, July 8, 2016

the mechanic's guide to change

Like so much of my reading, I am studying a few different topics right now. When I do this the crossover of information get's all blended in my mind and I have an epiphany. This happened over the last week. 

I know you've heard the rave reviews of doing affirmations and you probably tried them with little success. I think a big part of the failure regarding affirmations is that the mechanics are never really explained well. Without knowing why you do it you feel silly and give up or just have a negative attitude about the significance. 

So you've also heard the thing about how it takes 28 days to change a behavior. If you are like me, you'll give up way before the 28 days (some say 18 or 21 days) because you get busy with life and you just forget. 

It just all feels like a bunch of stuff you read in gimmicky books that people write to make money. But...what if there's something to it?

So, like I mentioned before starting out this post, I had a light bulb go off while trying to retain information from three different topics. I'm gonna explain and like always, I'll try to make this as brief as I can. It will not be easy. 

You are a person with habits. You can drive home 20 miles and not remember a single thing about your trip. You could also start to go to the a store on your way home during your afternoon commute and end up in your driveway without ever thinking of the store. You pull in, start to get out and then remember you didn't go by the store. We've all done it. It is habit. 

Do you really want to change something about yourself? Then you will need to break a habit first and replace it with the desired behavior. You could use affirmations but then you will start forgetting once your life gets busy. You could try keeping up the change for 28 days but you'll have to find a way to get up and remember to stick to your plan everyday. It seems hopeless. So, what to do. 

Take 28 days to make it happen. Write those affirmations and place them all over the house but you'll still need a real plan if you really don't want to forget that you are working towards a change. 
If you are a creature of habit and you cannot remember from one day to the next that you are working towards a goal, you are really going to need to buckle down. Right now you are a certain way that you want to change to better yourself and it's going to take practice to unlearn this habit and start a new one that will take over once you are through the process. That, my friend, is the mechanics of your situation. You need to find ways to be reminded through the day that you are working at something. You need to be persistent in your exchanging one habit for another every time that habit arises. If you want to be less negative you have to be on guard all the time so that when you start to say something or think something negative you can stop yourself and try to see the good in the situation. Unless you can remember throughout the day your old habits will keep rearing up. 

What are some ways we can break these cycles?

  • Journal, journal, journal. Write everyday about your change. Write about your process, Write about your results. Write about how you feel and the challenges you face.
  • Write it 100 times a day. Remember in school when you got in trouble and had to write sentences? Do that. 
  • Reaffirm through the day that you have conquered your habit. If you say it in the affirmative you'll be able to take ownership of the new habit from the beginning. Say it, "I am a positive person."
  • Meditate and see with your minds eye what your life will look like when the change happens. Don't just try to see the change actually feel what it will feel like when you are different, with the sand on your feet and the wind in your hair. "Be the change you wish to see in the world?" - Mahatma Gandhi
  • Tell people you trust what you are doing and have them remind you when you go off track.
I'm sure there are lots of ways to keep the process going day after day. Whatever you do just make sure it keeps you from sleeping your way through and giving up. It's habit. Make a new one. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

every place is a sacred space

I have a growing need to make wherever I'm at feel like a special place. I want to make my space feel like it fully supports whatever task I'm working on. Having this feeling makes me understand the significance of the Japanese tea ceremonies. It just feels nice to have a space prepared to accomplish a single task.

I am in my car so much for work that it's easy for me to get anxious about getting where I'm going instead of just enjoying the ride. I spend around 9 hours a week just driving to and from work. Some days I spend more time driving than that if I do home visits. I've been at this job since September 2011 and it just occurred to me to make my car a sacred space.

The other day I thought about the long time I'd spend on the road that day and I just got this feeling I should prepare my car with intention for the task I would be engaged in the whole day. Before I left home that morning I did a little cleaning and straightening. I sprayed my sacred space spray all around the car, I actually keep this bottle in the car now for when I need to spritz a little freshness all around. I picked out an array of different crystals to also keep in the car. These were just tiny little things to make it feel sacred but I also wanted it to look sacred. So, I bought a nice throw pillow for the backseat and a faux sheep skin to drape over all the stains I have from riding a very messy niece around when she was little. Of course a sacred space needs music so I had my iPod at hand for that. Now my car is a tiny mobile temple. It makes the time I spend in it feel so much less like work and makes me feel much more present and in the moment. I find it helps me to not feel hurried. This is just one example of making a space feel special that we might usually take for granted. You might also do this with your porch, garden, your desk at work or bedroom. Any place can be a sacred space.

If you have a space that you spend a lot of time in that does not feel conducive to your peace of mind think about taking steps to introduce some things there that make you feel more inspired and calm. This little practice will blow your mind at how effective it is. I love the idea of the tiny travel altar for those who meditate to use to make a space for meditation on the go. Just total sweetness and a good example of what I'm talking about.

Okay, so, if ya got a space that doesn't make you feel like the whole world loves you and thinks you are the most awesome, then sacred spacify it. Yes I just made that up but it works and I'm sticking by it. You still here? Go go go...