Better Can Happen

 

Do you believe that better can happen? If you do, then you’re an optimist. Because at the core of optimism is hope.

Hope for a better day. A new dawn. A better outcome. A fresh start. A better life. A recovery. The sun will shine. We will walk out of this.

Hope is not for the feint of heart. Hope is for the strong of heart. Or the getting stronger. It is for us. It teaches us resilience. Letting go. Moving on. Lifting up. Being present. Believing in something. Believing in better. Better chances. Better opportunities. A better life.

A hopeful person learns how to get unstuck. We will fight to get unstuck. A hopeful person will hate being trapped. We will fight to get untrapped. We will rescue ourselves by looking for a way out and a way up and grabbing onto a helpful hand, wise advice, an open door when it is offered (even if it is unexpected). We will not stay in a dead relationship or a dead job forever. We know that there must be a way out of this mess. There must be a way to get unstuck. And we will keep searching until we find it. (A friend once told me that there are always at least 3 solutions to any problem.)

Hope takes time. Hope needs patience. Consider the jellyfish analogy. Imagine two (or more) jellyfish with all of their long tentacles hanging down. Now imagine a storm that blows in unexpectedly. The jellyfish tentacles get all tangled up together (seemingly) hopelessly entwined. Talk about stuck! Forever? This is where we need to remind ourselves that it takes time to get tangled up with someone else or in some situation, and it will take time to get untangled. Be patient, but keep trying. With a bit of maneuvering, we CAN get away and float away to open seas again – and to the freedom of new possibilities.

Better can happen. With a bit of luck and a bit more planning. With a bit of hope and a bit of help. With some effort and some struggle. With a lot of faith and many prayers. Believe better can happen at the hardest of times. Because we all deserve some better in our lives.

3 Truths

3 truths:  You are not alone. Evil exists in the world. There is hope (because you are not alone).

No one knows what we are going through. We may be too scared, too ashamed, too confused, too sad, too angry, too trapped, all these too’s….to tell anyone. Or maybe some people do know, but they don’t care. So we feel even more alone and lost in our problem, our relationship, our circumstance, our addiction, our hurt, our….Too paralyzed to get out, to get over, to get up. We are stuck in the mire. What are we to do? Reach for a life rope.

Evil is a presence in our world. There are bad people who do bad things for bad reasons to us or to those around us. Deliberately. Evil can be up close and personal or it can wave at us at a distance.

“The best definition of evil I’ve heard comes from Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco, who has devoted much of his life to its study. Evil, he has concluded, springs from ‘the absence of imaginative sympathy for other human beings – a choice NOT to care about their suffering.’ ” – William Falk 

No sympathy or empathy from others is one of the biggest problems we currently face. The “I don’t give a shit about you” attitude is rooted in evil. And we must fight to counteract it with active empathy. Because for every person who doesn’t give a shit, there are many more who do. You are not alone when you reach out.

There is strength in numbers, strength in therapy, strength in telling the truth about what happened or what is happening. Tap into that strength. Begin by talking to one kind person and by not hiding anymore. Move forward – even if it is one inch at a time. You are not alone. Hope combats evil. And faith grows hope.

“I think this is what we all want to hear:  that we are not alone in hitting the bottom, and that it is possible to come out of that place courageously, beautiful, and strong ” – Anna White.

 

Be Radiant

The most irresistible beauty is the radiant glow from a kind and gentle heart. ~ Richelle C. Goodrich

How to combat the darkness of the world? Be radiant. Seriously. Be radiant.

“Radiant” means sending out light; shining brightly. How can we shine our lights in a world that is increasingly consumed with bitterness and hatred? We can shine in spite of it. We can actively turn away from the tide of negativity and destruction, and we can actively turn toward optimism, growth, and rebirth.

From the ashes I rise. I am blooming into something radiant. ~ Melody Lee

We are born radiant. The light shines freely from a baby’s eyes. So what happens to us? People and experiences. Some people will try to douse your light on purpose; sometimes it’s by accident. Same with experiences. I’ve had people literally and knowingly try to snuff out my light, my spark, my hopes and dreams in the world. I’ve been told “You can’t be for real,” and “Now, you are damaged just like me.” It hurt, but I crawled toward help, and I never really believed the light squashers – because I learned that misery loves company and so I fled them.

They can change their minds but they can’t change me. I got a dream, I got a dream. ~ Jim Croce 

Keep moving. When our light is flickering and we need to stoke it, we can move toward things that fill us up. We can go out in the natural world and move through its beauty. We can move away from people and experiences that harm us and do not have our best interests at heart.  We can nurture our light with prayer, with kindness, with music, with travel, with love, with friendship, with breath, with whatever keeps us balanced in this unbalanced world.

Escape from the black cloud that surrounds you. Then you will see your own light as radiant as the moon. ~ Rumi

What is the point of radiance? To shine light and to send it out into the world. And that is how we can combat the discord that has the world bleeding. We can be in direct opposition to it by how we live, how we  heal, and how we interact with others. So be a lighthouse to yourself and others by keeping your own glow bright and strong. Defy the times. Be radiant.

 

 

Hope Returns With Every Sunrise

Things really do look better in the morning. They feel better. We feel better. Why? Our natural state of mind changes with the dawn. Hope returns with every sunrise.

We can bring a fresh perspective to a new day. We have had time to rest at night. Our brains have closed to the waking world. Our thoughts have turned inward. Our unconscious may have worked some things out in dreams and/or may have provided us with escape and respite from our worries. We can begin the day with more energy than we ended it.

We can bring a positive attitude to the new day. When we wake up with gratitude, we wake up ready to face the day. We can remember our blessings and count them. I start my day by opening the curtains and looking out a bedroom window that faces the sunrise. The light streams in through colored crackle glass to wish me welcome to my new day.

We can nourish ourselves with morning routines that sustain us for the day ahead. If possible, it’s good to get time to yourself before the family or pets are up in full swing. Morning prayers, yoga, and a healthy breakfast start me on my day. (It wasn’t always this way!) Others may start with reading, listening to music, having a cup of coffee, taking a walk with your dog or exercising….Whatever gets you moving in a positive direction, do that.

And time and energy. Sometimes we are overwhelmed at night by the scope of a problem and by other people’s “crush of want” (Nick Cave). We are out of time and depleted of energy. With a new day, the problem hasn’t disappeared, but it may not seem so overwhelming. What felt hopeless at night often feels better in the morning after a night’s rest. We have restored our energy. We have the whole day ahead of us. We have people we can connect with and count on during the day. We have time to figure it out.

As a child and teenager, when I would be overwhelmed and crying at night, my mother used to say “It will be better in the morning.” I didn’t believe her. It would be the same, I thought. But she was right. And now I say the same thing to my children. And they are starting to believe me.

When Time Stops

“Bad things happen fast, but we live through them slow.” ~ C. Corinthos

It’s in the aftermath of a tragic event that life takes on slow motion. Because sometimes things that happen are so big and so terrible, and they hurt so bad, that we just can’t process them all at once. We have to learn to adjust. Slowly. One day at a time.

Sometimes it’s day by day, or it may be hour by hour, or even minute by minute. When we think, how can I survive what happened? How will my life ever be normal again? We know damn sure that it won’t be the same. Because tragedy changes you. You will not be the same as you were before. Time will mark before and after. It’s a slow road back.

I’ve been thinking about this after a friend sent me an article saying that many empaths have survived childhood trauma. You? she wonders. Yes, me, too I reply.  I’ve read several articles about this. We seem to have this experience in spades. For myself, someone intentionally tried to extinguish my inner light. It was a bad thing that happened fast. And this emotional scarring as a child has led me to seek out healers and healing. And my empathic traits expanded exponentially. It’s like I was lifted out of myself for something more.

This poem by Constantine Peter Cavafy is on my desk. He says that our journey is hard, but our strength and resilience can see us through. It’s a reminder to us to keep moving forward and to not let the monsters of our past determine our future. It was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy Onassis who survived tremendous public tragedy, and it was read at her funeral.

As you set out in search of Ithaka,                                                                                                              pray that your journey is long,                                                                                                                        full of adventures, full of awakenings.                                                                                                            Do not fear the monsters of old…                                                                                                                You will not meet them in your travels                                                                                                             if your thoughts are exalted and remain high,                                                                                                  if authentic passions stir in your mind, body and spirit.                                                                               You will not encounter fearful monsters                                                                                                           if you do not carry them within your soul,                                                                                                        if your soul does not set them up in front of you.

 

 

It Mattered to That One

A child teaches us that we can always make a difference:

“One day an old man was walking along the beach. It was low tide, and the sand was littered with thousands of stranded starfish that the water had carried in and then left behind.

The man began walking very carefully so as not to step on any of the beautiful creatures. Since the animals still seemed to be alive, he considered picking some of them up and putting them back in the water, where they could resume their lives.

The man knew the starfish would die if left on the beach’s dry sand but he reasoned that he could not possibly help them all, so he chose to do nothing and continued walking.

Soon afterward, the man came upon a small child on the beach who was frantically throwing one starfish after another back into the sea. The old man stopped and asked the child, “What are you doing?”

“I’m saving the starfish,” the child replied.

“Why waste your time?… There are so many you can’t save them all so what does is matter?” argued the man.

Without hesitation, the child picked up another starfish and tossed the starfish back into the water… “It matters to this one,” the child explained.”   (as told by Loren Eiseley on All-Creatures.Org)

This story is timeless for we see ourselves in the man, the child, and the starfish (both the forgotten and the rescued). The man is old and cynical. He knows that he can’t change the world for all, so he gives up. The child is hopeful and determined. The child will help all that s/he can and know that the help matters. The starfish have been washed up on shore by the waves of life. They will die without help from another or without the luck of high tide. Either way, they are currently unable to control their fates.

We are all of them. Yet, we can clearly see the truth of the story. If you were one starfish, wouldn’t you want to be helped and put back in the ocean? And wouldn’t you want to be the child helping all of the starfish that he could? The child shows the old man that hope is eternal. Never give up; never give in. Hope with action is our refuge, our duty, and I would argue it’s our natural humanity.

 

We Do Because We Must

How do you right yourself when there is so much wrong in the world? That’s my million dollar question these days. How do we continue to spread healing, hope, and light (kinda the empath’s mission) in this world without being crushed by its meanness? How do we get up each day to face the onslaughts against compassion and unity and continue to have hope for humanity?

We do because we must.

We can start our days by giving healing, hope, and light to ourselves. Light a candle, say a prayer, watch the sunrise. Do yoga stretches, listen to quiet music, take a walk, do whatever centers you. Feed your body well. How we start our days affects how we will handle the day’s energy. Feel peace, be peace, give peace.

We can control our input. In these days of news and social media, we get to decide what stories we feed our brains. Choose well. There are MANY choices out there. Don’t fall in to the top news stations. Empaths are very sensitive to visuals, and horrific videos and photos will have us in knots and despair in seconds. Reading the news is better for us. Through social media outlets, we can also choose sites that send us stories of help and hope throughout the world.

We can go out in nature. Nature is always a source of hope. Appreciate your corner of the world and take care of it. Times when we can’t get outside, we can drink in nature photos right on our computers or plan our next getaway to a beautiful place. When you feel the Earth suffering, crying, bleeding, do what you can to protect it. Donate. Speak up. Show up. Vote. Share. Give thanks for its bounty.

We can surround ourselves with those who want to better the world, not condemn it. Light givers, not light extinguishers. Hope breeds hope, so hang out and work with hopeful people as much as possible. And children. Spend time with children. Children are full of light, energy, and hope. And pets. Pets are in the moment no grudge holders who are delighted just to be in your presence. Bask in their glow.

Hope is what keeps us from falling into the abyss. Hope may seem like a sunset – beautiful and brilliant and slowly disappearing. Yet, hope is also a beautiful and wondrous sunrise – and it always returns.

 

 

Hope for Ourselves

Empaths gravitate towards hope. That’s why people like to be around us. But what about hope for ourselves? What about that?

We are often so wrapped up with other people’s needs, wants, emotions, burdens, and desires, that we lose track of our own. And it’s dangerous to lose track of your own. When we have forgotten ourselves, we don’t grow and we don’t heal.

So why do we do that? Give all our healing energy away to others? Give all our compassion to others? I think it’s easier. Much easier to feel someone else’s wounds than our own. It’s an odd empath avoidance tactic. I’ll feel their wounds so that I don’t have to feel mine. The problem is that yours won’t go away.

Empaths often hover on this emotional bridge halfway between the walking wounded and the walking healed. And it is wearying to keep standing on that bridge swaying between two directions. Here’s the thing – I’m deciding I don’t want to be the walking wounded any more. I want to be the walking healed. Whole. Not fractured. Feeling. Not cut off. Fearless. Not hiding. I don’t want to be the terrified little girl cowering beside the toilet anymore. My back is tired of being bowed. My knees are tired of crouching down. My arm is tired of hiding my face. My scales have tipped.

To be whole, you have to have hope for yourself. To be whole, you have to face the truth of your past and your present. And this kind of clarity is hard and sometimes scary, and it often comes at a tipping point. When we can’t not do it anymore, then we face it. And I know that empaths are so brave for others. We need to be brave for ourselves. To do what it takes to stitch up that wound. (We know that scar tissue is stronger than skin. We will be stronger too.)

I’m finding a way. Or like what usually happens to me, the way is finding me. And I’ve been invited to get off that bridge by a guide to help me do it. We can learn to reclaim hope for ourselves. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And YOU are so worth it. Take it from me. I know. I’m an empath.