Category Archives: Acceptance

I REMEMBER….

A Childhood Lesson on Life’s Fragility

Thank you Weekly Writing Challenge for drawing out from me another memory that framed the truth of perception for me.

A memory that really affected my perception of the world and its profound fragility came from a car accident I experienced in 4th grade.  It is weird how when you think about one memory, all of a sudden another memory pops up.  Our mind is like a tree, branching out.  One branch growing into another, so subtle and fluid.  Fourth grade was one of those years that really stood out for me with change.  The accident took place right after Christmas.  Me and my brothers were corralled into our family’s little white Toyota Tercel by my Mom to take a trip to the local mall in an effort to exchange some things.  It was a cloudy day and the roads were slick with drizzle from the winter sky.  It was the early 80s- no one had their seat belts on.

“We don’t remember days, we remember moments.”  Cesare Pavese

We lived in the woods of Virginia, so we traveled a lot on these curvy “back roads” as we called them with deep shoulders and no lines.  As we took one of those curves our car hit the shoulder on my side of the car, me in the passenger front seat and my 2 younger brothers in the back. As we hit the shoulder, I grabbed for the dashboard.  It was a futile effort to control a car that now had its own mission.

The only recollection I have “during” the accident was when my face planted into the very dashboard I reached for moments earlier.  I do know that we flipped once, and as we began to flip a second time we hit a telephone pole or power line and this positioned us back on our wheels in someone’s front yard.  I remember my Mother being very scared and crying- hitting the horn repeatedly to get anyone’s attention.  Finally someone passed by, pulled over and was running from house to house to find a phone to call 911.  This was also before cell phones.

drseuss_memories

I remember waiting on the grass in this stranger’s front yard that we passed so many times  for the ambulance.  My brother’s face was bleeding, but mostly I just remember my Mother being overwhelmingly distraught.  There were 2 strong, emotionally charged memories from that experience that I still carry with me.  One was of a kind EMT- I remember him telling jokes to draw out laughter from me and my brothers.  I’m sure they were just as scared as I was.

The other most vivid memory from this ordeal took place at the hospital.  I remember being alone in my little curtained cubicle in the ER, and crying.  My mouth hurt because it had a very big cut behind my bottom lip that needed a lot of stitches.  But also, I felt a lot of stress from being in that accident.  It was kind of like what people experience with PTSD.  I remember someone came in to look at my mouth and placated my crying with a “oh, you’re fine- no big deal- we’ll stitch you up and you’ll be out of here.”  She even laughed at me.  It was awful, and I will never forget that person’s lack of knowledge about the psychological impact of a car accident on a child.  I couldn’t get that image of my Mother out of my head, panicking and crying and yelling for help.  Saying over and over again, “my babies,” with anxiety and fear.

Most children are not fully aware of a world that “lacks control” around that age.  They are just learning- and to see your parent in all their humanity, who you always note to be a leader, a solid foundation in your life- not solid and genuinely scared- is a huge learning experience and really affects your perception of the world.  You are learning that everything is not always the way you think it is and all you thought to be safe and secure can change in the blink of an eye.

When I watched the film, The Impossible, I was very taken aback by the scene where the oldest son sees his mother physically falling apart and realizes for the first time how serious it was, and he didn’t know how to handle it.  She had to refocus him and force him to keep moving or else they would die.  I know my memory is nowhere near as traumatic as this was to that young boy- but in essence, it was very similar and it really affected me watching it.  I only hope that other children who experience similar things will be helped with more kindness and compassion.  Our physical world is very limiting- we never know what someone is feeling deeply inside- we are each a planet unto ourselves.

This is perception and the fragility of our perceptions creates valuable lessons for all of us.  I only hope that we can all continue to remember how sensitive the ego of a child truly is, and their inability to describe where their emotions may be coming from makes their ordeal more traumatizing than it can be for an adult.  With a little TLC, we can make a huge impact on someone’s life without understanding what is going on in their heart or head.  It’s funny. I remember the one person that did care and tried to help me and my brother’s anxieties, as well as the one other person that did nothing.  I learned so much from both of them!

Visualize This- Untying the Roots of Perception

Sometimes this picture is the perfect physical expression of how I feel inside.  When I look at this picture right now, I see a beautiful Buddha.  A representation of the creative, divine nature of my being slowly emerging from the lanky, strong root system of an ancient tree obscuring my truth and happiness at this very moment.  That’s right folks, I said it- an ancient tree rooted into the ground with all its might.  Such are my old perceptions and belief systems that give rise to this feeling of helplessness and a desire to run like Forrest Gump from the fire I have created (2 Tom Hanks’ references in once sentence- yes!).  Here I am, wrapped up in feelings that must be connected to a place where my ignorant mind dwells searching for an identity that doesn’t exist like a child playing a game.

I am face to face literally with this part of my existence that is grasping in the form of attachment to some perception of who I am supposed to be- yes this is really how I feel!  This perception is the root I see in this beautiful picture, linked to a feeling of massive overwhelm.  At times I simply wonder why life can feel like this grueling process of emergence when it has the potential to be so simple and easy.  How do we move these roots of obscuration out of way? I hear myself singing the same old song of expectations on how I am “supposed” to be feeling.

It’s Process Time!

When you look at this picture, what do you perceive at this moment?  Start with your feelings and ask yourself-

“What moment, person, or expectation do these feelings link to in my ignorant mind?”

Then breathe in the awareness you have shined into your heart.

Feel how simple it is to love yourself, no matter what you see in the world around you.

Ask to see any barriers you might be imagining between you and your greatest desires and imagine them easily dissolving in this love.

There is an excerpt from a poem by Anne Hillman in the book “365 Prayers, Blessings, and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey” by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon that I’d like to share as it relates-

As we experience and accept
All that we really are…
We grow in care.
We begin to embrace others
As ourselves, and learn to live
As one among many…

Let’s Rock Big Love together everyone, we’re all we truly have on this human journey.

For + Giveness & A Weepie Moment

Opening our mind's doors beyond limiting perceptions through forgiveness.
Opening our mind’s doors beyond limiting perceptions through forgiveness.

Sometimes in our lives you have an unexpected memory pop up, and you have to remember that there are no coincidences in our interactions with others and what they present to you in your heart, especially when there are no words spoken that specifically point to a past experience.  I am so grateful for everyone in my life, as they teach me something new every moment.  Recently I have been talking to a teacher of mine named Cliff Edwards that is publishing a book called The Forgiveness Handbook.  Cliff and I were talking about how forgiveness opens doorways in our lives to new possibilities because it gives us relief to our attachments to the past.  In my work, attachment is a major component to the creation of our limiting perceptions.

As I was pondering our conversation, a song by the Weepies came on called “All that I Want.”  As I heard it I started thinking about a moment in my life where I was told by my ex-husband that he had been having an affair.  That emotion of the past started creeping to the surface in the form of tears even though I thought it was gone.  I was in the middle of some hefty coaching training at the time, so I was constantly in a process, dealing with this giant eruption that just blew into my life without abandon and no warning.  I remember being on a lesson call, and I expressed to all my classmates how much of a struggle it was at that moment to feel forgiveness for the feelings of betrayal I had felt in that moment.  I could barely say the words without my voice straining with emotion, but I remember being told I needed to focus on what I needed at that point in time to take care of myself at that stage of my grief.

I realize now that I have not fully forgiven him.  It was not only for the affair, but it was also for bringing into my life this precious soul, his daughter, and how I didn’t want to hurt her by making a choice to leave the relationship.  I put myself into the situation, but I felt like a victim.  I didn’t want her to feel the pain I was feeling, I didn’t want the holidays to be ruined.  I didn’t want to lose her.  So I chose to stay, and exercise the desire to forgive in an effort to keep my life together.

In the end, it all fell apart anyway.  And in the end, I lost that relationship with his daughter.  But I do realize, that fully forgiving my ex-husband and myself will open new doorways for me and her.  I would have dreams with her, and we would be whispering to one another so that her father would not hear us talking.  When I would awaken I would just pray that her heart was full of the love she deserved and that she could forgive me.  Now, I need to fill my heart with the love I deserve as well, by allowing forgiveness in conjunction with this surrender to be complete.  Our potential in our lives to experience joy from moment to moment is so great.  Through the experience of forgiveness we finally become aware of our greatest potential to live and be loved.  The opportunity to align our self-perception with one of complete acceptance can set us free from the idea that we are not free.

Exercise

Close your eyes, and ask your heart to reveal to you a moment in time where you need to still forgive.  It could be anything- just trust what you see, experience the emotion and remember- you are not alone.

Pop Song

My POP Song Dilemma

I know I have my opinions about music, but there is one thing about pop music in the present moment that drives me batty- the lyrics.  And how fitting, to see this recent “Taylor Swift feminist doppledanger” created by Clara Beyer, a rising senior at Brown University, in the news creating more empowering lyrics for Swift’s music!  After living much of my life in a co-dependent fog I can’t help but notice how often lyrics are very reflective of a co-dependent state of mind, feeding a monster within our society that says “I need you” under the guise of love.  Between the neediness and the victim mentality I seem to find myself plugging in my mp3 player almost immediately upon entering my vehicle  or being that really annoying person that keeps changing stations with the hope that something listenable will magically start playing.

The ignorant mind thrives on lyrics like “This is the part of me, That you’re never gonna ever take away from me” from Katy Perry in her song Part of Me.  I mean, no one can ever take a part of you away without your general consent- hence the continuous victim droning that plays over and over again on the radio.  Most of the listeners of Katy Perry are young girls that are buying into this fake sort of empowerment, rather than learning that relationships are not about compromising your integrity to have someone in your life.

Self-Esteem_Cartoon_Streeter

In reflecting, it is difficult for me to know that other girls really believe this stuff and continue to act it out because I used to do the same thing, and it caused me a  lot of suffering.  Not everyone has the tools to walk out of the fog of these types of limiting perceptions, and they continue to teach them to their own children, hence the cycle continues.  My meditation teacher taught me that the greatest way to help the world was to meditate on my own inner peace.  I am so grateful every day for what he taught me, and will continue to work to help all by working on the healing of my very own heart.

There is this great scene in Sex in the City, the first film, where Carrie is reading Cinderella to her goddaughter and she pauses at the end to make sure the little one understands that life does not always turn out that way.  The little girl naively shouts for her to read it again.  Carrie ends the scene with “Another one bites the dust.”  It’s funny, because it is true.

Lessons learned out of my pop song dilemma:

  • Perceptions that thrive on “me versus you” are rooted in the ignorant mind.
  • I am accountable for me and how I perceive the world- no one else.
  • I always have a choice to either accept someone else’s feelings or indulge in being a victim of their feelings.
  • My self-perceptions will always reflect in the way a relationship is unfolding- the more I shift my self-perceptions into purposeful perceptions, the more my relationships will reflect these perceptions rooted in empowerment and joy.

“LET’S ROCK BIG LOVE!”™  Jessica

WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT?

Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS at http://vi.sualize.us/by_katie_lee_photography_balloons_inspiration_beautiful_picture_5zqt.html
Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS

A long time ago during my partying days, a group of my friends and I loved to rock out to the electronica song “Where’s you’re head at?” by Basement Jaxx.  I remember dancing on the rooftop of my friends’ enormous shared house on California Street in Washington DC during the summer when the low air quality fog hung over the city as the sun would try to peak through making it more amplified-  and soon, you could always count on that song.  Why am I rambling about this song?  Because I realize how this song has revisited me in a new era of my life, where I am always reflecting on just that- where is my head at?

It is a perfect question at a perfect time where half of what I am reflecting on is perception and mind.  In breaking down perception, the basis for my upcoming book, reflecting on your state of mind and how you are about to react to something is a valuable tool for living a life that is authentic and uncompromising.  What I do realize is that most of the time we are completely unaware of where our head is at- tethered like a balloon full of helium just bobbing along and carried off by any slight wind.

Just recently I orchestrated a large event and made a mistake that really upset someone.  When the victim of my own confused and overwhelmed mind confronted me about it, she expressed with great emotion her unhappiness.  I felt terrible and could not get the moment out of my mind.  I had a running tape of it secured tightly, rolling over and over again.  I relived my own feelings of shame and guilt without end.

When I went to bed that night, I had to acknowledge a few things in order to let it go.

1- Forgiveness of Self- I made a mistake, but running a tape of the incident over and over again in my head was completely unproductive and would give me nothing but more negative “feelings.”

2- Acceptance & Boundaries- I said I was sorry, over and over again, but she chose to still be extremely upset.  It is her choice alone.  There is nothing I could do to change how she felt.  This is a good boundary- that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and that includes in how they react.  My only role would be acceptance, and staying in my integrity.

3- Release & Heal- In accepting and creating a good boundary, the one thing I did have the power to do was envision this other person engaged in feelings of love and happiness.  I bathed the situation in love, and let it go.  Even in our boundary setting, which is primarily a function of the ego-driven mind, I can also recognize that we are inherently connected in spirit, and sending love and envisioning the situation transformed, it will help heal no matter what my mind tells me.

I acknowledge I still feel a little shame.  And I shall need to work on that, continuing with the above process.  But most importantly, I also have the opportunity to practice the new perception in my life that is at the core of my past experiences with situations like this one-

I AM LOVABLE.

Even though I made a mistake as we all do, or else what is the purpose of this life, I am not unlovable, as I might have acted out in the past.  But due to awareness, and processing my old perception of self, I can now come out of situations like that empowered with the knowledge of exactly where my head is at.  Time to groove on!

The Passing of Time…

The Passing of Time…
By: Jessica Burnham

Autumn. While witnessing the change that is taking place in nature at this moment, I find myself dwelling on how we as human beings handle the same type of change that whisks us into new places constantly while we grow. As we age, and life seems to continuously change just like the multitude of colorful leaves outside our window, we may begin to feel like everything is passing us by unnoticed. Sometimes there is this need to just slow down a little but the rest of the world continues on its merry way regardless of how we feel about it. Whatever our needs may be, there is a delicate balance within that can easily be crossed when the desire to control our environment outweighs the reality of what simply is. I have noticed with my grandmother that she often feels ignored and left behind as those and what she knows begin to die around her. As a result of feeling like her life is out of control, her negative tendancies that always existed before in her younger days seem to be amplified.

Her feelings of being left behind give way to depression and a constant need to talk about her pains, whether emotional or physical. Some people label it as complaining. The thing is, these behavioral tendencies were always there in the past, they just were not as prevalent as they are in the present moment, now that she has aged and is in a different phase of growth on all levels. The most difficult part of witnessing the amplification of these behaviors is seeing the self induced pain, the giving away of energy and how much suffering is occurring right before our open hearts.

We are left exhausted when we allow our darkest shadows to run the show 24 hours a day. We begin to find ourselves in this downward spiral of feeding our own psychic vampire. Like an invisible friend that is attached to the hip, we unknowingly allow its need to control the world in its way to get out of hand. I feel one of the greatest things I am currently learning is that I need to be on constant guard for my own little tendencies that need to be in control. In witnessing this suffering, I realize that if I do not choose to take a look at my own compulsive behaviors, they too will run my world when I am older and feeling the effects of aging. We have a unique opportunity called life. And in this opportunity we can reflect, even when the pain can be unbearable, on how we act out our need to control the world around us.

Finding compassion within the maze of our darkness can be quite challenging. Especially when someone is constantly projecting their need to control their environment onto you and pointing out everything that they view as wrong with the world (because it is not the way they want it to be). When I start to feel frustrated or irritated it is easy to react or simply walk away. But when I choose to open my heart and see how much suffering this person is experiencing, and how this suffering is like a big cloud of smoke skewing any ability to see beyond it, I try to find the compassion within and offer it up to them. It is important to remember that the behaviors I see before me that seem crazy or fervently overblown could be my own one day. Every potential that exists in others, also exists in us. Somewhere inside of me, the same misery has roots- only I am good at hiding or ignoring it at the moment. But the more life changes around me, I have the same tendency to play out the game of misery I am witnessing in an effort to control my environment.

The similarity between the word ‘ignore’ and ‘ignorance’ is striking. As most of us might have experienced, ignorance plays a large role in our suffering. Most of our ignorance is connected to our unwavering ability to ignore the truth. We play a game of contradiction within ourselves. And soon that contradiction shows up in our relationships. When we choose to take a magnifying glass to our psyche and reflect on our outer irritants, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience peace. We can look at those that have aged, like my grandmother, and learn from the wisdom of their experience. In this way, their suffering has come to us like a story teller. It says to us, “I am here to help you grow.” And, most importantly, the suffering of those when closely examined, does not go wasted and without purpose. Our gifts are many and all it takes is an open mind and heart to utilize this life and others’ lives, to the fullest. So I give thanks to my grandmother and all those around me for teaching me and showing me the potential that exists within my inner cosmos. And I will honor her by choosing to see where I allow stubbornness to take away from my fullest potential to simply be without the attachment that weighs me down.