What Don’t Kill Ya

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Pulling up a heavy heart

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Produces crooked curves

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Hunching low

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For earthbound hugs.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“Spiritual yearning is the homesickness of the soul.” – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

What Don’t Kill Ya

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The Simplicity of ‘It’s Okay’

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“The nectar of compassion is so wonderful. If you are committed to keeping it alive, then you are protected. What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in you, because compassion is the real antidote for anger.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

I have always been an open book for all to see. My mom used to tell me, “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” I didn’t get it for the longest time. I simply didn’t understand which is why I got hurt so often. I also had the tendency “to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders” to quote my mother yet again. That gets really heavy. Now I find myself at a time of transition. Alone. I have tried so hard to make peace with myself. In fact, I really found a path in this life that supports me a great deal. However, the age-old demons that plague everyone in this life, like fear and anger, take their toll.

Time has a way of grabbing hold of our thoughts and feelings and squeezing tight till we are out of breath. Fear rises up. And then there is a mad scramble to protect ourselves. To control. What we don’t realize is that we are giving our strength away. We forget who we are and take on an identity associated with fear and anger. Fear or anger shouldn’t necessarily be shunned, but we should greet it with compassion and patience. We cheapen our essence by shutting out fear in ignorance. I am slowly waking up to the fact that compassion for ourselves is the very protection we seek from our fears. Fears that we might not even understand half the time because they spring from our imagination.

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It’s okay to lose our balance, but when we do, instead of being critical and judgemental we can mindfully choose to approve of ourselves. We can concentrate our energy on self-compassion when we make mistakes instead of taking out our anger on ourselves. David Kessler once posed the questions,”What if we started taking some chances, if we stepped into our fears? What if we went further, if we were to pursue our dreams follow our desires? And if we allowed ourselves to experience love freely and to find fulfillment in our relationships? What kind of world would this be?” Sometimes the only way forward is to move through our fears. We can embrace them and still proceed on our journey. It doesn’t have to be a paralyzing process that zaps all our strength away. We are new each morning. We have the opportunity each day to open to life. To BE. When we find that our strength is gone we can whisper to ourselves, “It’s okay.” Then we find that place of belonging. That safe place within where our soul can breathe.

I would like to conclude with another quote, “Now is the only real moment we have, and love is the only real emotion because it’s the only one that occurs in the present moment.Fear is always based on something that happened in the past and causes us to be afraid of something we think may happen in the future. To live in the present, then, is to live in love, not fear. That’s our goal, to live in love. And we can work toward that goal by learning to love ourselves. Infusing ourselves with love begins the washing away of our fears.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross-

Live the breath my friends. ❤

An Ordinary Tendency

image“In the beginning you told each other, ‘I cannot live without you. My happiness depends on you.’ You made declarations like that. But when you are angry, you say the opposite: “I don’t need you! Don’t come near me! Don’t touch me!’ You prefer to go into your room and lock the door. You try your best to demonstrate that you don’t need the other person. This is a very human, very ordinary tendency. But this is not wisdom.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

My Secret Garden

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“What do you want me to do?”, I asked again.

A voice inside said, “Write what you see.”

“I can’t. It hurts too much. All I see is pain and suffering on the faces. I feel it too. I feel it through the words I read or the voices I hear. It combines with my suffering until I can’t bear it anymore. You want me to write about all that?”

Silence.

“What about the joy?”  I asked,  “Can’t I write about that?”

“What do you see?” came the question again.

“I see closed windows, doors and gates to everyone’s secret garden. I see walls all around  keeping out intruders. I see boundaries and limits. I see a closed and lost world.”

The voice asked,  “What is in your secret garden?”

I looked and paused, finally muttering,”A space with a lot of weeds. I thought I had gardened.”

“Look again, what do you see?” the voice persisted, “What do you see everyday when you wake up?”

Joining hands with self-doubt, I  babbled, “What if all I see is pain and suffering? Who wants to read about that?”

“WRITE WHAT YOU SEE.” Then silence.

Pausing to breathe and break free from the grip, I asked myself: “OK, what do I see? Let’s start, with my life…I see routine and boredom. Ordinary familiarity. Day in and day out. Stop. What do I see about myself?” Not able to open my eyes, I tried another way.

I closed my  eyes and began again, “What do I feel about myself? Kindness and cruelty, together. Tenderness and bitterness; joy and anger, even rage.”

“Wait. I feel a hushed silence as if something is about to happen. There is a bird and some lemon trees situated in the shade, but the air is warm all around. There’s a voice singing. I see a young girl about 14 years old who didn’t want to move.”

All of a sudden, I remember where I kept a story I had written long ago when my family was moving from Pennsylvania to Arkansas.

A Look Out the Window

     Twilight had already dwindled away and rain was sharply falling upon the hard cement. City lights illuminated the pavement on the street. The vacated buildings were swallowed up by the dark foreboding clouds that loomed above them; making one feel insignificant. The rhythm of the rain went undisturbed upon the pavement except for an occasional car driving by. Once in a while I could see a lonely figure passing. 

     As I watched this melancholy setting, time seemed to turn back its dusty old pages as I remembered my childhood. An image of a little girl appeared on the sidewalk. She seemed down-hearted about something. A strange sensation came over me as I watched the little girl behold the dreary view before her.

     She had dark brown hair and a dark complexion. She didn’t appear any older than nine years old. Slowly she turned toward the window and lifted her gaze.  As our eyes met, I stumbled back, stunned at what I saw. It was my own face peering up at me.

    I quickly went back to the window, but no one was there. It still continued to rain and the clouds had become darker. A lonesome feeling tugged me from somewhere underneath. I definitely would miss the little town where I grew up. A slight dot on the map, which held many memories that I hoped wouldn’t fade. The prospect of the future though beckoned me onward to a new bend in the road.

My secret garden is a place of mysterious wonder with shadow and light, but what I see and feel right now is simply the pain and loneliness.

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