No New Friends

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Ode to Drake

For the past 5 days I’ve been in Miami spending time with one of my very good friends, someone I consider part of my “Vegas Tribe”. The Tribe was a concept born from a group of hippy artists I became very close to my last two years living in Vegas. The Vegas art scene is very unique in that it is very small. Because it’s small it’s easier to connect with other artists in a communal atmosphere. It’s common for artists to attend birthday parties and weddings of other artists or for a group of artists to host a Thanksgiving dinner together. There’s more than a few that have gotten together and collectively rented a house. That’s just how we roll.

I don’t get to spend time with my Tribe very often but when I do I’m reminded of how much I need that supportive energy. As much as I love Atlanta the one issue (which also happens to be the biggest issue) is that I haven’t been able to cultivate a Tribe there. Even establishing authentic friendships has proven challenging. I’ve experienced a lot of people who are attracted to appearances and/or what they think they can get from you. They approach you under false pretenses in order to try to use you. There are a lot of fakes in the city of Atlanta.

This has been very difficult for me because I am generally very open and authentic. I take people at face value and have no reason to mistrust because I am honest in all my dealings with others, so I never expect anyone to be dishonest in  their dealings with me.

Yeah…idealistic, I know.

And my idealism has resulted in being flat-out lied to and used, several shady living arrangements, unfruitful business “partnerships”, flaky acquaintances that want to call themselves friends, clients with ulterior motives, and being owed a total of several hundred dollars for work done for a few small businesses. And while I could be upset about these experiences I refuse to be a victim. My participation means that I am a co-creator. And each bad experience has been a lesson on what I need to do to tighten my ship; speak my truth, improve my business practices,  call out bullshit, be discerning, and be discriminating on who I allow into my circle.

And speaking of the circle….

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t need any new friends. An Atlanta Tribe isn’t necessary because my Vegas Tribe is more than enough. I have more than enough love and support from the true friends and family in my life. They know me. They understand me. I don’t have to explain myself to them nor do I have to worry about being taken advantage of.  I am part of a strong collective that ensures that all involved grow and elevate. We honor each other with the up most respect and integrity. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So to anyone new, I’m good. Unless you are of the same caliber my circle is closed and I am ok with that.

We Are All Reflections

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hands-connecting

It’s uncomfortable to face your demons. Those painful insecurities and negative patterns of behavior we try so hard to shield from the rest of the world. When we get tired of being controlled by our destructive patterns, of repeating the same mistakes, we embark on a journey of self-actualization.  We work to heal ourselves. We work very hard. Eventually we grow, become better, healthier. But every so often we’re faced with something that triggers our painful experiences and our demons crawl out of hibernation. We’re forced to look at them again.

I came out of my marriage with a very wounded spirit. All the hurt and confusion I carried from my divorce was the main reason I started this blog to begin with. Being an unhealthy person in an unhealthy relationship with another unhealthy person is a concoction for Armageddon. Our union was a slow meltdown to a nuclear war– I barely escaped with my sanity. I still say that my divorce was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had to go through and because it was such I promised myself that I would never allow myself to go through something like that again. I took a step back, connected more deeply with my spiritual practice, spent time getting to know myself, took the time to learn how to be content by myself and with self, and did what I could to heal so I wouldn’t bring that baggage into any new relationship. And I did ok, for a while. After three years being single I ended up in a relationship with someone I love very deeply. The relationship wasn’t perfect but I was dedicated to her. I saw our potential and was committed to using our challenges as a chance to grow as an individual. I’ve learned so much about myself through my relationship with her. I managed to keep my demons tucked away, for the most part, until the moment I stopped feeling safe within our relationship.

It’s interesting what we do once we kick in to survival mode. When I don’t feel safe I experience insecurity and fear. I allow those insecurities and fears to put me on a low vibration and then other things start to come up. I withdraw and won’t admit how I feel so that I’m not vulnerable. I manipulate and try to control situations. I get angry and defensive. I make judgement and assume things. I project. I get extremely depressed. I hurt. I found myself in a painful situation that had been building up over the past few months. It left me very upset at my partner and the individuals we’ve allowed into our relationship.  I felt like there was a lot of selfishness and insensitivity thrown my way and it left me feeling betrayed. And though I acknowledged responsibility for my part I couldn’t help blaming the faults of everyone else involved.

But I realize that we are all reflections of each other. The people in our lives are mirrors to all the positive and negative things we carry inside of us. I grew in my garden a lover who, like me, has a very deep need for the space and freedom required to live in her highest truth.  A lover who has many of the same insecurities and fears that I posses, though they may stem from a different root. I also grew in my garden connections with individuals who are bruised in many of the ways I am and who have a lot of the same destructive, self-serving patterns that I  have. Hurt people hurt people, right? So I guess we’re all guilty. I can’t be angry at others without being angry at myself. I can’t judge the actions of others before first taking a look at my own. I know this. I’m very self-aware. I’m not angel. I’m human. I once read that focusing on the negative aspects of others only stunts our own spiritual growth. I’m learning this to be true. At least in my experience. So I guess I’m back to working on healing all the remaining wounds I have yet to address. I’m tired of reflecting darkness. And the present moment has no room for old baggage.

At the end of the day you just hope that those closest to you can see you in your ugliest, most authentic form, and still accept you–still stick by you. That they are willing and able to love you through your human moments.  It’s also kinda scary too, dropping the veil completely and allowing a person to truly see you in the hopes that they will continue to love you anyway. But I do that for others, love them unconditionally. So I guess there’s no reason why I can’t be loved unconditionally in return.

Buddhist Reflection: Meeting Others Where They Are & Loving Kindness

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This particular blog post has been sitting in my drafts for at least six months now….

Last month I posted the following status message on FB:

I wish some of the people in my life loved themselves as much as I loved them. That would be a wonderful thing to witness.

Along those same lines , a few days ago I tweeted “Surrounded by so many broken people that I can’t find which pieces go to which puzzle.”

What I’ve learned during my spiritual journey is that the biggest part of Buddhist practice is meeting others where they are. I mean exactly where they are. Regardless of whether or not they are in a good place or a bad one. Such a stance requires a lot of things like patience, a letting go of expectations and judgement, and an open mind. It’s a separate practice all its own. Learning to meet others where they are is a training in abandoning the ego. We all have the tendency to judge others by our own standards. We often hold the people in our lives accountable for the way we think they should be and when they fail to meet our expectations we respond with harshness. But once we let go of our expectations and judgement our hearts soften–we are much more understanding.

That softening of the heart is where the loving kindness comes in. The crumpling of my own personal emotional walls was met with sadness. Sadness because I find myself surrounded by so many beautiful and amazing people who don’t know just how wonderful they are. People who are so hard on themselves, full of self-doubt and self hate. People who are broken into so many tiny little pieces with  no idea how to put themselves back together.

Loving kindness starts with the self. This is why metta starts with the meditator visualizing himself/herself as they recite the mantras of loving kindness. Buddhism understands that we can never fully love another if we don’t love ourselves. Yet, for some reason,  it’s so much easier to love others before ourselves. Though it may be easier

The most I can do is accept the place they are at and meet it with understanding. I still love the people in my life no matter what. It is always my hope that the unconditional kindness I show them is enough to help them realize that they are worthy of the self-love they deserve.