Serendipities in the Rough

 

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.
—Arthur Golden

 

Life random, it is constant and ever moving.  It leaves no chance to go back and try again. Our journey in this what we call existence is wrought with surprise. We can never know what is just around the bend. Our experiences are accidental. We can cross our fingers and hope for the best. We can rely on a steady hand to guide the way, we can watch out for rocks but common pitfalls will befall us and so will other things too…

Einstein once said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

 

Those words stared at me, written in my own hand. Stuck up on my computer at work. I stared at those words on that day a few weeks ago before I crumpled up the paper and dropped it silently into the trash. Our entire department was being downsized or outsized…whatever. I was out of a job. 

We were being paid for the day. It was ten o’c lock Monday morning and I was “free to go.”

A first for me; A layoff and fresh into my new independence in my new apartment. A fear rose up in me. A dread. A panic. I went home and cried.

I would like to say at this point I straightened up and used this setback as an opportunity to take on a newer and better adventure. I’d like to say I conquered hardship and myself but really I fell into another job without really trying. And now two weeks in I am finding the hidden “dangers” in taking the safe route. And I wonder if I have taken full advantage of my situation…

 

 

It is how we look at it all which makes the most impact on our lives. There can be hidden gems in rough serendipities. And something that may for the quick moment seem to be a setback could in reality be a spring forward.

 

 

Nature makes way for the new. An emptiness must be created in order to fill it. A tree sheds it’s leaves in the Autumn. They fall to the ground; becoming one with the earth, helping provide nourishment to the tree to grow its new leaves in the spring. Nature is constantly giving birth to itself. And we as part of nature are constantly being reborn. Every day we are alive this happens. With every experience we become a newer version of ourselves.

 

Every flower must grow through dirt. —Proverb

Life is like that. All our experiences; good and bad make us who and what we are. We can glean wisdom from this. Scars heal and can make us stronger. We can look back at our very survival as proof of that.

 

Kintsugi, The Japanese Art of Fixing Broken Pottery With Gold.

 

There are many who are “broken” in this world of ours. We are legion. Seldom, if ever, can anyone escape unscathed. Some say that a dose of hard times in one’s life makes one more sympathetic to the plight of others and more grateful too.  I think this is true to a great extent.

Tragedy is tragic and unfair as it is, we must salvage what we can from it. If only in order to save ourselves and others.

There are many forms of tragedy that exist. Much of it out of our control. I don’t have to tell anyone how troubled this world is. It’s easy for me to say that good can possibily ever come from bad.  I have lived a relatively fortunate life. I have not truly suffered like many have. But I do know something of hope and often it is born out of a human heart and spirit and nothing else.

There are going to be low days.  It’s inevitable. but it is those low days that prepare us for the high ones, these are inevitable too. I think this when I’m having a bad day; that I’m somehow paying my dues or paying it forward for later. I feel that in the law of averages my “bad luck” will turn to “good luck” Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But this has a magic all its own.

 

Nothing is perfect. My new job isn’t either but it does afford me more time to spend with a very important person to me who makes me feel wonderful and in that maybe it is all for the best…perhaps I will seek some rough and very soft serendipities there for a time…

~nlm

 

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Whatever does not kill us: cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience.

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Garden of the Mind

 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

~Claude Monet

 

We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.

Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative.  Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.

Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.

I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.

 

 

The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.

We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up

Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…

…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…

Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…

And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.

 

 

These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.

…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.

 

 

Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.

Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.

Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.

What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.

 

Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.

 

Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.

How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding.  I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.

I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.

I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.

 

I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.

I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.

I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.

 

What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.

I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.

Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.

 

As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”

And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with. 

 

~nlm

 

 

 

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Happily Ever After

 

 

The wilds touch my back door. A part of them does anyway. Strangeish insects and unfamiliar Corvids enliven the “wilds”of my new backyard.  Tall skinny Evergreens surrounded by persistent English ivy. Small deciduous trees that await new spring leaves dot the landscape accented by bright green moss providing splashes of color that reminds me that spring really truly here.

A tiny brook babbles on by fifteen feet below. I can hear frogs in the morning and the friendly neighbor’s cat comes to greet me in the bright but cool sunshine. I am beginning to attune to my new atmosphere.

It is different here but I find much beauty in this newness.

I am now an apartment dweller. My big yard has been replaced by this woodsy spot with two cement slabs and the before-mentioned surrounding moss which will now serve as my garden area. I have three large pots, empty for now. I will certainly get more. Out of the thousands of plants in my old yard I brought only one; the meadow rue. It lies dormant under the soil in an indigo planter awaiting warmer weather.  It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make but in order to make a new life for oneself one must put aside the old.

I have done a lot of that lately; setting aside.

After a 17 year relationship I parted ways with someone who wasn’t good for me. My trusting nature and naivety paired with my wholehearted belief in redemption kept this damaging storm rolling much too long despite the, obvious to others, unhappiness it was bringing me. When living inside the eye of the hurricane; the epicenter of emotional and psychological abuse, you can’t see how bad it really is. Over time the abnormal can become the normal.

And a deep sadness can embed itself in you and you don’t realize how awful it really is in part because if you stop and do this it will break your heart and maybe you can’t go on. And so I put what I thought was a convincing happy face to the word and went on. Inside a hole grew and grew and in time, by the end of those 17 years, it was a giant gaping hole…a chunk torn out of me and beat to hell.

My yard which was in it’s entirety what I deemed my salvation would have to be left behind. My  cats too. Spotsy and my Mario would stay with the house and the yard and it’s owner. I left with my two kids ( 18 and 21 ) to go live in an apartment across town. A new place of sanctuary. A place of  freedom with my name on the lease.

It’s different but it is becoming home. Home is really in the people you are with not the place anyway.

I was fortunate to meet someone at work. An amazing person I knew that I knew the instant we met. I have been having the pleasure of getting to know him ever since. We all live together in this apartment that skirts the edge of this thin strip of urban woods.

There is a freeway that lies beyond it. I can hear the traffic, its steady hum sounds like the ocean to me, it is easy to drift to sleep to.

I feel free and happy and loved. I feel confident and hopeful, more than ever.

The hole in my soul is filled, love pours out and spills out into the world. I am grateful. I thank God everyday. I am blessed beyond measure. I have the opportunity to start anew and this I will do, This I am doing.

 

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

~nlm

George Harrison – What Is Life

The Way

forest-path-trees-green-nature

The way is winding

it’s direction uncertain

I am on a path meant only for me

and the trick is to know

the way.

Every step is a moment that passes by

the moments that make up my life.

There are triumphant ones in the sun

There are humble and joyous moments

and others which lie in the dark, cold and unforgiving.

They belong solely to myself

I cannot go back

We are made up of what we do

and this is what makes us who we are.

Some of us wear down paths consisting of varying degrees of unease

watching and waiting for that something that never happens…

This way is littered with occasions to lend my heart out

they fall to the forest floor like leaves in the autumn

and sound crunchy under my boots.

 I feel for something I think I’ve lost.

And I think I’ve left something unsaid.

I cannot seem quite to remember

Time flows ahead…I can’t go back

no matter, no matter

I tell myself

The way is winding

and we may find ourselves

at one end only to begin again.

Coming in and out like the tides.

A new river to step into.

A new stream to cross.

Urging me on to the next and the next and the next.

 

~NLM

 

 

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.

~Mother Teresa

***

Mt. Ranier. Washington State, USA.
Mt. Ranier. Washington State, USA.

 

The Extraordinary

 

“I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes”

~Walt Whitman

 

heart of compassion art

I have always felt an affinity for the extraordinary, the misunderstood lone marcher to a different beat. I want to be an advocate for the underdog. A champion for the unique, the quiet, the humble and the meek, for the underestimated and under-appreciated, for the kind, for the strange and beautiful, for those who feel out of sorts, out of time and out of place, for the anxious and the disturbed, for the sad but hopeful, for the awkward and the shy, for the anxious and the brave, for the deep thinkers and sensitive souls, for those who feel the system is rigged and life is unfair…

For we who feel voiceless in this loud world. Fate has not forsaken us.

We not alone… We contain multitudes…

random-people-art-psychedelic-group-color-trippy

It is through alliance and unity that we the unique can make a difference as a force to be reckoned with. It is up to those of us who have a voice to speak up!

 

If I accomplish anything with my wring it’s that the ones who feel that society looks down upon them for their uniqueness. I want to tell them that you are not alone. There are others who may be different from you, others from different times and places, others who who may be different in every way but share this same longing, the doubt and insecurity, the same fears. The same need for love and understanding and for peace, a need for a place to grow in the sun and become more.

There is that great untapped potential that many of us still have hidden deep inside. We all have our treasures. They should be encouraged to come out with exuberance like Spring and cultivated like exquisite orchids. Like fine art this wonderfulness should be shared with everyone.

orchid-plant-flower

 

Society gets hung up on the package and not the contents. We are a judgmental lot. So much gets lost in the roar of the crowd. 

It is up to all of us to be there  for us all…as they say we are after all just walking each other home. 

   We can help each other. It is through alliance that we the different, the unique and the misunderstood can make a difference. We are a force to be reckoned with. We can celebrate our uniqueness and that of others. Our strength lies in our diversity, our unity and our willingness to speak up for each other.

There are many more of us than them… 

 

 

~nlm

 

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
Walt Whitman

To be hopeful in bad times

 

 

These are the times that try us. We can be broken. We can fall down. We can walk down a path of darkness but that does not mean we will never see the light. That doesn’t mean we will never walk in the sun again.

To be hopeful in bad times is not stupid or futile or simply in vain. To be hopeful in bad times is essential. This is our foundation. This is the beginning.

 

We have been taken on quite a ride lately. Our “normally” crazy world is insane. Our society is sick and we are running a fever.

I am a mix of emotions in regard to our current situation in the United States and the world. I am passionate in my belief in equality and kindness, in peace and understanding and inclusiveness.

I like many others believe our country is going to hell in a hand-basket. The words “fascist” and “dictator” are floating around paired with “dangerous”. People are angry and sad…and scared. I have wondered what it would have been like to be a German citizen during the rise and rule of Hitler. Watching the changes, living with the results…

I also am very conscious of the fact that the status quo has much to be desired. The deck has been stacked against we the people for quite some time.

I will not mention his name, never, in any of my writings; in my blog, on Facebook or on Twitter. He is not my president, that damn and damned orange menace.

Never before have I seen such division and hostility. Our dear leader is showing us how to conduct ourselves and it is downright nasty. It is not who we are. I refuse and I resist.

We are the descendants of immigrants and revolutionaries.  Right or wrong, our country was built on revolution, sacrifice and blood, sweat and bitter tears. It was also built with certain ideals, ideals we have lost to greed, vanity and indifference.

These ideals are etched in our hearts and minds. It is our diversity paired with a belief in equality and fairness that makes us strong. We are united in our common love for life, our families and humanity. We are the strongest when we are united and united behind a common cause.

I believe we have our cause…

It has been said one needs to hit rock bottom before one sees the light. I believe we are waking up. It has taken a shaking but I believe, hope anyway,  that we are sufficiently shaken for the magic to take effect.

The common enemy; I don’t mean that orange menace exactly. Our true enemy is our collective selves. We have allowed this to occur; this what some would call a coup, a misstep or a stupid and dangerous mistake. Somehow we have someone in office who most of us didn’t want doing things that most of us do not like, do not like at all.

Lots of people have marched and ranted. Some have destroyed. Some people I suppose must be glad if they paid attention and believe and wanted what he promised, he is dong those things; as fast as he can. An agenda that obviously been planned. He is checking them off one by one.

Every day a new outrage.

And everyday more and more stories of unity. Maybe if we can unite behind a common enemy we can unite behind other issues.

Perhaps we had to hot rock bottom to finally ‘get it”. I know from experience that in order to have a different world a shaking up in the status quo must occur and seldom is this easy or peaceful.

Yes, to be hopeful in bad times is essential and this time is no different. I have hope because people on a whole do care and I do believe they are good at heart.

This is a time to dig deep and not turn a blind eye and just go along. What this means; listen to your heart, to your soul, it knows the way…it knows the truth, we all do.

For now I am holding on to hope, trying to be calm and kind and more understanding and to keep a smile….

…time to write something funny for the next one…

 

~nlm 

 

peace friendship-63743_640

 

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

(From the Declaration of Independence ) 

 

 

 

The Wild Toads of Borneo

 

In the interest of science I am putting together a team of elite experts and chartering an expedition to the jungles of Borneo to seek the all illusive psychedelic toads that are rumored to live there.

A film crew will be documenting the events…

 

vintage-explorer-man

 

We will be led by Doctor Major Hector Cortez Santa Ana Rodriguez Rodriquez.  He is hands down the foremost expert on those trippy toads of legend.

He has sought these elusive toads for over seven years close and believes he is about to hit paydirt.

That is why we hired the film crew and that is why I personally loaned the Doctor Major 50 bucks of my own money for this very important and possibly dangerous scientific event.

 

 

The Doctor Major first became interested in the idea of Psychedelic Toads after reading a slender book smuggled to him by a fellow inmate at The Rocky Butte correctional facility in Portland Oregon in 1983. It was entitled Bufo alvarius, the Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert.

The Dr Major was instantly fascinated. The book explained how to find the toad in dark damp caves, how to extract the venom and how to prepare it for smoking.

Within thirty seconds, there will be an onset of almost overwhelming psychedelic effects. You will be completely absorbed in a complex chemical event characterized by an overload of thoughts and perception, brief collapse of the EGO, and loss of the space-time continuum. Relax, breathe regularly, and flow with the experience. After two to three minutes, the initial intensity fades to a pleasant LSD-like sensation in which visual illusions, hallucinations, and perceptual distortions are common. You may sense a distortion in your perceived body image or notice the world shrinking or expanding. You may notice that colors seem brighter and more beautiful than usual. And, most likely, you will experience a euphoric mood interspersed with bursts of unmotivated laughter.
Within 30 seconds, there will be an onset of almost overwhelming psychedelic effects. You will be completely absorbed in a complex chemical event characterized by an overload of thoughts and perception and loss of the space-time continuum. Relax, breathe regularly, and flow with the experience. After two to three days, the initial intensity fades to a pleasant LSD-like sensation in which visual illusions, hallucinations, and perceptual distortions are common.  You may notice that colors seem brighter and more beautiful. And, most likely, you will experience a euphoric mood interspersed with bursts of unmotivated laughter.
 art-man-mind-mindful-psychedelic

The Doctor Major was so fascinated by this idea that he after his release he went immediately to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona where he met two teenage boys at the 7 eleven in Gilbert. They were riding a mule and eating jelly donuts. They told him that the Sonoran toads were “dude, so totally last year” and if he really wanted to find “the real shit” he should go see the Toads of Borneo. Ever the optimist The Dr hopped the first barge to Borneo where he met a man, an old Indian who was drinking in the only decent bar in the town of Putatan near the edge of the jungle.  The man was wearing a loincloth and speaking in a language The Doctor Major could not understand but that or because of it the two immediately had an understanding that transcended all words and all logic whatsoever. They decided to join forces and descended into the dark jungle.


 

vintage-borneo-natives-men

 

There they spent seven grueling years fighting off bouts of malaria and godless heathen tribes who wanted to eat them. They searched deep caves and high into the mountains. The jungles beat the hell out if them but this made the Doctor Major even hungrier for a taste of the toads. The years had not been so kind to the old Indian who had died six years previously but this had gone unnoticed until recently by the Dr Major who had thought the Indian old and lazy and hadn’t noticed he was decomposing.

Obviously the Doctor Major was distraught. That is when he contacted me and told me his story. Of course I was compelled to help.

 

Obama Admin. Unveils New Policy Easing Medical Marijuana Prosecutions

 

Together we have raised almost 2,000 dollars through a series of Tupperware parties and by selling The Doctor Major’s high grade marijuana.

The day we put out the ads we were swamped with offers to go along. We have picked what we have deemed the best ones. 

 

gilligans-island

The mate is a mighty sailing man, The skipper seems brave and sure. He tells me it will only take three hours to get there, yes–a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

I will be writing an epic novel based on the adventures of the Doctor Major and his brave crew if they are successful and survive the journey. 

I, of course reluctantly have to stay behind due to my job as president of Shenanigans University. I will however be hiring an assistant who will be my eyes and ears on the mission. I will be accepting applications all week.

(Hint: I am NOT above bribery)  

 

Please send your resumes (and bribes) to my secretary. 

Thank you and good luck!!

 

~NLM

 

 

Reference and Related reading

 

toad-of-borneo-animal-frog

 

Bufo alvarius:
The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert

Joy To The World – Three Dog Night (Youtube)