Category Archives: Personal

My Friend Coffee

I love coffee, we’ve grown old together. Our relationship is a long one. I started drinking coffee at the age of twelve but my first taste was much earlier.

At my great grandmother’s house, I toddled around with a plastic cup of milk. From the kitchen, I heard a happy voice, “Coffee’s ready! Come and get it!” I moved with the adults into the kitchen, tiny yellow cup in hand, waiting to get my coffee.

When it was my turn the adults hesitated, but after my firm insistence, a few drops of coffee were poured into my milk cup. “She’s not going to like it” a voice from above me boomed. “I didn’t put enough in there for her to taste anything” another whispered.

The first voice was right. My face puckered as the milk hit my taste buds. Repulsed by the bitterness, I passed my tainted cup up into the crowd of adults and walked away.

In the mid-nineties, coffee came back into my life in the form of the Starbucks blended Frappuccino. To a twelve-year-old, this sweet concoction was basically a coffee milk shake. You could get them with extra toppings and all the sugar hid the bitterness of the coffee.

Once again, coffee was my good friend when I entered the workforce. Sixty plus hour weeks with spit shifts and long days were saved by caffeine. I poured coffee into me like fuel when I didn’t have time to eat. Eventually, I was up to drinking an entire pot of coffee on my own in an 8 hour work day. I loved coffee, however, these habits were completely unhealthy.

Coffee had been a gateway for sugar consumption when I was younger. Now that I’m on the keto diet, sugar is out of the picture, I take my coffee with heavy cream, MCT coconut oil, and a bit of stevia. I like my home made coffee better what I can order at a shop.

Over the years I’ve found a happy balance, mostly because I can no longer handle as much caffeine as I used to. I even cut coffee off completely for a few months when I started the keto diet.

Paying close attention to my body has helped me to learn what’s best for me. Most mornings I have one “real cup of coffee” – a small mug with caffeinated coffee. If I want coffee after 11 am, I go for “the fake stuff” – decaffeinated.

Coffee is still my friend we just realized we were spending a little too much time together.

 

 

NeuroRebel – Float Away Mind – Fiction Based on Reality

The Texas heat is especially unforgiving in August. A dark-haired woman sits in her car, flipping a key chain between her fingers, as she eagerly waits for the next green light. She sits, lost in the sensation of the smooth jingling keys, momentarily unaware of the world around her.

In an instant, the woman is jolted back to reality by an unsettling, noise.

A small child is running at full speed up the sidewalk towards the elementary school. Heart racing, it takes Kat a moment to pair the sound, a loud high pitched screech, with the noise maker.

Finally, the light turns green and Kat manages inch up two whole car lengths. She reaches up and adjusts here rear-view mirror. “That happy kid”, she laughs to herself “I was never that happy when I went to that school.”

Suddenly Kat found herself reliving a memory. First person video of a familiar classroom began to roll in her head. Vivid and colorful memories, with infinite looping playback.

Kat found herself toe to toe with an old nemesis, her first-grade teacher.

This new teacher was a force to be reckoned with. Mrs. B. demanded blind obedience from her students. She was a “my way or the highway” kind of teacher. Students who questioned her were quickly placed on her “shit list”.

The traffic light turned green.

HONK! HONK!

Kat quickly re-entered reality, pressing into the accelerator with enough force to make up for the distance she lost while daydreaming at the light.

“Mind on the road!” Kat tells herself, as she hits play on the touch screen car stereo. “No thinking. No distractions!”

Twenty perfect piano notes dance, tickle the car speakers as Mad World by Gary Jules takes over the car.

Once again Kat’s mind had floated away.  Gone someplace else, lost in a music video created by her mind. “Teacher tell me what’s my lesson? Looked right through me. . . . looked right through me.”

“Shit!” Red light. Kat slams on the breaks, managing to stop the beat up Nissan Sentra just in time. “Fuck!”

“Mindfulness. Right now. Right now. Right now” she muttered under her breath, as she spun the stereo dial until it clicked into the mute position.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Shine

Fear of giving speeches. A baby step for me is reading something I wrote. Today is a first, I am including audio for this short piece.

Don’t be afraid to shine. You were born to sparkle. Refuse to let them hide your light. Be brave. Be bold.

Sometimes you will be your own biggest obstacle. Have faith in yourself and your own abilities. Do the things you love with joy.

Face your fears. I’m not talking rational fears (like bears if you live in the woods). Take on the fears that are limiting your life. Work through them, keep moving forward.

How many of your life’s obstacles are in your own mind? When you say “I can’t” have you given the problem everything you have or did you half ass it? Don’t tell me, be honest with yourself.

Don’t let your dreams die. Be who you want to be. Step by step, piece by piece, and bit by bit. Sometimes the foundations come together slowly, brick by brick.

It’s hard work, gradual work, building a person, but you have a choice in who you want to be.

Build yourself up strong, build yourself up happy. Build yourself out of your hopes and goals. Be yourself and love yourself.

Stop worrying about what people think. If you don’t, it will in-prison you.

Don’t let the haters and the neigh-sayers bring you down. They don’t know what you’re capable of.

While you’re out in the world, be like a fire spreading your light. Shimmer brightly, burn with passion.

Spread infectious joy into the world. Don’t be afraid to shine.

 

 

The Quiet Place – An Addiction to Solitude

I have a deep love for the peaceful quiet that only solitude can create. When the dogs are sleeping, and the only sounds I hear are birds chirping, my introspective mind comes alive.

The blank in between the interactions, where I can find my true self, uncluttered by the sounds and feelings of others. This is my chapel, my holy place, where I speak with my soul.

It is the place I go for yoga and meditation, the place I go when I need to think. At first, I started in my home but, as I grow, I am learning to take it with me everywhere.

I build quite meditation and rest times into my day. Prescheduled breaks give me something to look forward to if I’m not excited about a project in front of me.

I’m a huge believer in positive reinforcement (although taking things away from me worked well for my mother when I was growing up). She called it The Taming of Shrew. For a while, I wondered why she was comparing me to a rodent.

My mother would set a clear expectation of what she wanted from me and what would be taken away if I did not comply. Rewards for good deeds also helped as motivators.

Now, as an adult rodent, I am in charge of motivating myself. I use lists and rewards, many of which are times of quiet reflection or writing breaks. Retreating back into myself, diving deeply, settling in my quiet space.

The atmosphere in my world is pleasant because I control most of the elements. It’s intoxicating and blissful. Why would I ever want to leave?

Careful not to get too comfortable.

This place, where art is born, songs come to life, and birds sing is too perfect, to the point of addiction. It would be easy to settle into a monk-like solitude, giving up speaking, but that is taking the easy way out.

Not speaking is easier. Being alone is often easier. I don’t want to settle for what is easy.

This comfort zone I’m standing in, it’s something I need to push. Walking out of it slowly, step by step, learning new things every single day.

Coming Home – The Road to Writing

Written words are enchanting magic spells, casting thoughts out into the wider world. As I relax into a quiet space behind my keyboard something miraculous happens.

Many people complain about how much they hate writing papers, but my experience with writing (typing) has been very different.

I remember the first time I felt the fear, sitting in the reading circle of my first grade classroom. Each student in the circle would have to read a passage out loud. Terrified, and on the spot, when the teacher called on me I froze like a mouse trying to hide in a dark corner, nose pointing down towards my book.

My mother was furious. I started reading at a young age but my teacher was insisting that I could not even perform the basics in her class. To make matters worse, I was “interrupting the learning environment for the other students, running around the classroom and making disruptive and distracting noises.” The teacher was not happy and my mother was in complete disbelief.

“That KID CAN READ!” I remember hearing her say. “She’s been reading since she was two years old!”

Yes, I could read. In fact, I had read the entire page in my head already several times. The literature was pretty simple, I understood and enjoyed the story but when asked to speak in front of the group something happened. A fear I’d never felt before grabbed me by the gut. The eyes in the room like laser beams blocking the connectivity between my mouth and brain. I was completely stuck, unable to speak. As the teacher became more and more aggravated my anxiety grew, causing me to retreat further into myself.

The same fear lingered for years, even into high school. Teachers, who seemed to take pleasure in calling on anyone who didn’t seem to be paying attention or gave off a confused aura. I was the perfect target. Vengeance on the students who didn’t study or understand the material. Most days I wanted to be invisible.

The school wasn’t the best time for me, but there were a few good teachers along the way. High school was a bit better. I was spending large chunks of time typing up vampire fiction, inspired by books that I had read in middle school, most of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (this was before the Twilight era).

The books were trash, and I never published or finished them. They featured teen vampires, inspired by myself and my friends, getting into fights and mischief. The stories had plenty of sex and violence, giving me credit with my peers as a real “artist”.

Truthfully they were tasteless.

Telling those stories was like therapy. Back then almost everything I set my eyes upon was fiction, so I used fiction to work through many questions and scenes from my own life.

There was a period in my life when I wasn’t writing. The entire time I felt as if something were missing. Chatter in my head, telling me to search without sharing what I should be searching for.

My deepest and most accurate form of communication had been cut off, and I hadn’t even realized it.

Finally, something inspired me to write, I started writing and I kept writing. It was easy and enjoyable, just like coming home to a plush sofa and a Netflix movie.

The more I write the more I understand about life, the world, myself, about relationships, and the people I care about. It is like a key opening up greater understandings.

Spilling my thoughts onto a screen through a rubber coated keyboard is a very soothing practice. Creating a blog post doesn’t feel like work, in reality, it is more of a meditation.

Gazing upon the softly glowing screen I sit perched in a nest of pillows, wrapped in a soft red blanket. Relaxed, bathing in the softly glowing lights of our living room, I am calm and still.

Feel The Music Deeply

I’ve always loved music.

Angelic notes give me goosebumps, making the top of my head tingle as the vibrations radiate through every inch of my flesh. If an artist is feeling a strong emotion while singing I become like a mirror, my mood instantly reflecting back the feelings of the vocalist.

My favorite songs have words that draw me in, painting a story. Sometimes I close my eyes, allowing myself to drift away to magical places that only exist in my daydreams. Vivid music videos playing in my head made up of clips and bits from things I’ve seen and imagined through my entire life.

Song lyrics get stuck in my brain and never leave. As I start to memorize a song the magic videos in my head begin to appear. Once done the same video will continue to play for that song for the rest of my life.

The music videos in my mind keep me company. I am adding more videos to my library every year, movies that I can recall on demand, pressing play in my head. All I have to do is close my eyes.

Both songs below have two of my favorite mind videos.

 

Get the onesie here – http://amzn.to/2s7hldH

 

To Everyone Who “Can’t Meditate”

Mindfulness and meditation have been a big part of my life for several years now. I’m always happy to share with people how helpful meditation is for me.

Unfortunately almost everyone I talk to about meditation “can’t meditate”.

“I wish I could meditate. My mind isn’t made for that!” or “I can’t stand being still”, a few of the most common excuses why people tell me they “can’t meditate”.

People assume meditation was always easy for me, while in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

I started meditation because of a deep internal need for change.

My twenty-fifth birthday was coming at me like an out of control locomotive with a sleeping driver. The number made me uneasy and it was coming too fast. Like a doe, hypnotized by the headlights, I felt helpless to stop it.

Something was wrong, missing, empty and completely inexpressible. I’d been searching my entire life for something. . . peace, stillness, answers, meaning maybe?

In my mid to early twenties, I was very out of touch with my own feelings and emotions.

At first, my meditations were distracted, plagued with racing, unwanted, thoughts. When the goal was to count to five without allowing your mind to wander off, sometimes I only got to two or three before starting over, and over, and over.

It was hard, but as I kept on it things got easier.

Finally, with Buddhism, I was beginning to unlock the tools needed to understand and shape my own mind. Somedays progress crawled along at what felt like a snail’s pace, but every week as I continued to practice it got easier.

As I’ve grown older and incorporated mindfulness into my life over the years, things have greatly improved. I still meditate every day but the way I meditate has changed.

I meditate all the time. At times I may meditate for only a few minutes or seconds, whenever I need to calm and relax my mind, think more clearly, or gather the words for an important conversation.

Meditation has become the tool that I use to recalibrate my brain. Sitting tall I close my eyes and bow my head as I take in a deep, slow breath. As I breathe in I focus on the feelings of my feet on the ground or my butt in a chair (depending on where I am).

As my lungs expand I shift my focus to the feelings of my breath. With eyes closed, I listen and feel, asking myself – “what’s happening now?” Depending on available time I may stay for a while, eyes closed, nose pointed at the floor.

This micro-meditations can be as quick as a few breaths. I’ve even learned to meditate with my eyes open, although I wonder if I have a blank stare when I do this.

I take the time that I need and if I get flustered I remind myself not to rush, gently whispering in my own ear “relax, stay in the present”.

Every day I am needing to remind myself less and less, thanks to a very conscious choice I made years ago to change my life.

Dear people who “can’t meditate” – keep trying.