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Friday, July 20, 2018

Hearing some Bullshit

I heard some bullshit today. Every day we each hear some sort of bullshit. What do we do with it?
Today I heard some sound information by a person who would be well equipped to make the statement I am referring to as bullshit. I onboarded it and started to identify with it. I put myself in the story I was being told, as if I was interested in judging myself against this “so called” bullshit, although I was not yet calling it bullshit.
It was actually opened a way for me to pass off some of my challenges on the invisible “others” that exist. I saw myself in the argument that wa being expressed and began to play the victim, ever so slightly. When I saw this it initially felt rather good, I was vindicated in a way. I was able to look outward and see that my lack was not mine but caused by others.
WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! What the fuck is that?
“That must be some bullshit!” I thought. There is no way others are in control of me. So what made me flip? It was the feeling of satisfaction that came up. It was a relief to not have to be in control of my experience. It had scientific and institutional “proof,” an expert speaking on the subject, and there I was lapping it up like some thirsty dog.
I know better and after a few minutes I returned inward, it is not society, it is my beliefs about me that lead me to lap it up. There is no out there effecting me, my path is my own and I create it. When I am not happy with what I am experiencing I will look to me, what am I holding, believing or owning that is not me. Where is my blind spot and how can I bring it into focus?
What is some bullshit you have been hearing? Do you agree with it? Do you now live as if that bullshit is true and matters to you?
Let me know.

from miedonomas

Hearing some Bullshit

I heard some bullshit today. Every day we each hear some sort of bullshit. What do we do with it?

Today I heard some sound information by a person who would be well equipped to make the statement I am referring to as bullshit. I onboarded it and started to identify with it. I put myself in the story I was being told, as if I was interested in judging myself against this “so called” bullshit, although I was not yet calling it bullshit.

It was actually opened a way for me to pass off some of my challenges on the invisible “others” that exist. I saw myself in the argument that wa being expressed and began to play the victim, ever so slightly. When I saw this it initially felt rather good, I was vindicated in a way. I was able to look outward and see that my lack was not mine but caused by others.

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! What the fuck is that?

“That must be some bullshit!” I thought. There is no way others are in control of me. So what made me flip? It was the feeling of satisfaction that came up. It was a relief to not have to be in control of my experience. It had scientific and institutional “proof,” an expert speaking on the subject, and there I was lapping it up like some thirsty dog.

I know better and after a few minutes I returned inward, it is not society, it is my beliefs about me that lead me to lap it up. There is no out there effecting me, my path is my own and I create it. When I am not happy with what I am experiencing I will look to me, what am I holding, believing or owning that is not me. Where is my blind spot and how can I bring it into focus?

What is some bullshit you have been hearing? Do you agree with it? Do you now live as if that bullshit is true and matters to you?

Let me know.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fermentation and Healthy Eating

Many of you may know that I have to eat fermented foods. That is because I follow the Wahl's Protocol. I don't think about it much to be honest. Every day I eat the things that I need to because I had been diagnosed with MS. The second time I was in hospital for the symptoms is when I was officially diagnosed. During that visit I lost about 70% of my motor function on my left side. I regained that and live today happy and healthily without meds.

But lets talk fermentation. I recently fermented Watermelon rinds and, if you like crispy pickles you'll love these. All I do to ferment is add salt and water to something. I am pretty sure this will work for any vegetable. That is a lacto-fermentation and it is super simple. I ferment cabbage and add other shredded vegetables to it on occasion to change it up as well.

I one got a SCOBY from a dear friend of mine and since then I have had a continuous batch of Kombucha brewing. That only takes making a sweet tea once a week.

Adding fermented foods to your diet will definitely help your gut health. With a healthy gut you will be able to think clearer and be less susceptible to mindlessly eating.

To start fermenting is the hurdle most people can't do but if you do it fermenting is so easy that it will become part of your routine in no time.

Start by getting 2 containers

Then get some salt. I use Morton's but you can use any salt. Today I do not use any sort of measuring device when making my ferments but here is a great post from that addresses how much salt is right for your fermentation.

After that you can pick up a cabbage, or some other vegetable you would like to ferment
Cut up your vegetables, add salt directly to them and stuff them in the container. After putting them in the container I top it off with a healthy amount of salt, but I do not measure my salt so I do what is comfortable for me. Depending on the vegetable I will add water or just, as with cabbage, let it produce its own liquid.

I burp the hermetic containers once a day after three days and then, after 5 days I start to taste  it until I like where it is at. If you have any questions you are probably thinking too much. If you get mold on the top of your fermentation, (This have never happened to me) pull it off and what is under it will be perfect.

Don't be afraid. You are an amazing being and food is all around us. Eat up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Mysterious Origins of my Discomfort

Understanding ourselves takes a lot of work. The first step of doing that is accepting that not everything we are experiencing is our responsibility. We are all carrying issues that have been passed to us via our parents, or teachers or just simply things we picked up and accepted as truth before we knew any better. Those things, once we have identified them are, in the grand scheme, easy enough to let go of. We only need to identify them and recognize that we do not align with the message. Racism is a prime example here. We often pick up fears from our surroundings, and although we do not contribute to them actively within our lives, they live on in us. Fears and misunderstandings can easily be dismantled if we only embrace them and face them. There are a lot of people who would much prefer to turn it off, stop thinking about them and move on without ever really facing those uncomfortable challenges.
I was once in conversation with a fellow artist who talked about how she was often addressed about her work and why it only pictured, for the most part, white people. We spoke about it as being an important part of her practice because, as I saw it, she was working out these life issues that she had picked up, to no fault of her own, through her work. It turned out that her shame was so overwhelming of not previously representing other races that she changed her work. She now depicts a variety of races within her work and she probably no longer gets asked the question. Over time this may still make her consider other races naturally although I am concerned she, like so many others, are just sweeping the problem under the rug and not facing it.
I once was speaking to a group of people in my Art and Healing Meetup group and I mentioned that, considering my past struggles with addiction and other non-law abiding activities, I was lucky to be white because I did not have a permanent police record and if I was black or latino that very well may not be the case. I was recognizing my white privilege. This made a few other older white folks a bit uncomfortable, and one of them questioned a black lady in attendance about how it made her feel to hear me speak this way. She spoke a bit of her experience but agreed with me that I was white and because I lived in the United States I benefited from that. The other white folks that were uncomfortable by the situation, I feel, may not yet be able to face the amount of privilege they receive from just being white. It is important to talk about this, to sit with ourselves and really look at where we are and how we got here. There is nothing wrong with being privileged, especially if it has only to do with the color of your skin. To dismiss privilege and not examine it, and all that is has brought us, is not a healthy loving approach.
Another thing that makes us uncomfortable is change. Our physical beings do not like change, they would much prefer to cling to grounded and definitive definitions. This brings us the “I Am” statement. In the arts we all say I am an artist. That comes with definitions that we, as individuals, did not create. When you think about what an artist is a whole lot of things come to mind, the starving artist, emotionally unstable and so on and so on. We as artists live these definitions and, until we can admit that and try to separate ourselves from completing the “I am” statement with anything other than a period, we will never grow from them.
Uncomfortable feelings like these that come with a lot of cultural ties, are not necessarily our own personal issues. Yes we need to be aware of them and respect them, and those whose issues these are, completely.
So what about the issues that are ours? The definitions we associate with that we built within ourselves because of repeated experiences, karmic residue and past lives. I was talking with someone the other day that said, while talking about allowing themselves to be hurt “that is just who I am and I accept that.” This is someone who may not yet be open to doing the work to seeing who they actually are. They had been playing the victim for so long that they currently have no intention of changing, or so it seems. Thing like these are OUR discomforts and it takes a whole lot more than just recognizing them to work through. This work is very similar to therapy but we have to be our own therapists in here. Actually we have to trust that the part of us that is making us uncomfortable is that of ourselves as therapist and life coach. The uncomfortable nature of the feelings that cause us to blame an outside source, is the imbalance between our spirit and body, the thing we are here to experience. When we place blame, it gives us an outlet and allows us to feel grounded in something that is not real. Our growth can also make us feel uncomfortable but in growing there will not be blame, there will be acceptance.
To be made uncomfortable by an external source means we are not in line with what we are doing or where we are heading. External discomforts can be seen a few different ways. A question to ask in order to understand these discomforts more deeply is “Am I in control here?” The reason we ask that is because of course we are, it is our life, but when we look at the case of the victim I mentioned earlier, they accept something of themself as not being able to change. That thing that they are unable to change also is causing pain within them, presumably, by another person. In this case they are not in control. This is a complicated thing to address because of course you are your own captain, but when you say or think that you want or accept something you are literally putting things in motion within the universe to attract more of those things. We all know thoughts become things but if we feel that we are caused to be uncomfortable by an external source, maybe they are not the right actions to gaining the things we really want. In the case of the previously mentioned victim who is presumably “comfortable” with the uncomfortable nature of being hurt we know that because they used the phrase “I accept that.” This means they are not willing to challenge their comfort levels with real growth. The word uncomfortable here can be seen 2 different ways, the first is an uncomfortable that is presented because we are not growing, the other is the uncomfortableness of growing. To accept you are perfect as you are today is essential, to think that you will accept who you are today, tomorrow, is short sighted.
To have an understanding of something makes it is easy to say you want something and do the work to plan how you are going to get it. The problem that arises is that our understanding of the universe is so scant we cannot really rely on that physical information to guide us properly. We do not know the future and our plans may not have a lot of use tomorrow. Fortunately, the universe does know a bit about the future and lets you know when you are getting off track from your course. And to keep the language fun going that can also be described as an “uncomfortable” feeling.
I was speaking with a close friend of mine recently and we were talking about how if everyone would just follow their path the world would right itself. It is such an uphill battle, this discussion. In my practice I want to help others find their path and do the things that they are in line with, but with so much baggage and self doubt that has been cultivated it is not an easy topic to bring up casually. As soon as I address that a person’s drive and passion have merit the excuses start to emerge. It is interesting because those excuses are the source of discomfort but because they have been clung to for so long they feel comfortable. There are huge differences here between going outside your “comfort zone” and sabotaging your happiness. It is hard to say how the Universe will communicate with each individual because everyone will receive messages differently. One key thing that I have seen though is if you find yourself making excuses, to only yourself, about who you are or what you are doing it is very likely that you have ideas that are growing within you that make you uncomfortable. They are uncomfortable because they are pushing you beyond your comfort zone. They are asking you to step up and accept how awesome you are. When you are living your life honestly you will have no need for excuses.
Saying that you want something is easy and often pretty flippant. When I was an addict I was constantly saying I wanted more of whatever I was addicted to at the time. When I began to listen more to my heart I felt a deep desire to quit. I can easily wake up and say “I will never use again,” actually following through with that is the hard part. The universe had already put a lot of work into getting me in situations I could use as an addict. So like a great friend She wanted to be sure I was making a choice that I wanted to make. Although drugs use can be seen as bad to us the universe will only see it as a neutral action, it does not judge or presume to know better. For months I was tempted by old addictions, and I very often had to remind both myself and the universe of my new plans. It was not easy I was constantly uncomfortable, plagued with old thoughts of using and having new opportunities to use or drink. Before accepting the responsibility that I was in control and wanted to quite my uncomfortable feelings were diverted to placing blame on external things. Other people, my job(s), my relationship(s), my own nature anything would do. I was convinced that I was uncomfortable because of something outside of myself. At the point that I decided to quit, and I had thoughts of quitting for years before I actually did anything about it, I realized that none of those external things really mattered. The longer I was clean and sober the clearer I was thinking. I was no longer looking outside of myself to place blame. I began acting differently towards my uncomfortable nature, I watched it and tracked it to see how it presented itself. As temptations were presented I reaffirmed my stance that I was to blame if I had used and accepted my responsibility. I knew that I was laying track with the universe and it would pay off.
Eventually we came to an understanding and I was in sync with my buddy the universe, but not without a little discomfort along the way.
Uncomfortable feelings are always things we can pick apart and examine. Some of course we have to continue to be uncomfortable with in order to remain on a course we are choosing until the world understands we are ready for that shift. There is a big difference though between wanting to alter a course that I am not happy with, and being content with what I have built. Here too we are being guided. And there is no easy explanation to its purpose.
We need to remember that we are part of a complete system. Not only are we here as a separate beings, but we are also very much a part of the whole. In a spiritual sense we are the whole, and somehow have complete access to the whole system. We can not access it all within our brains, well we can but that is a skill that very few people can do. The reality of this connection to the whole is best seen within your intuition, and like anything the more you try to hear it the more you will find it is always communicating with you. This communication is your emotional guidance system. If you are feeling uncomfortable allow it to exist and learn from it.
It is a good practice to see if the feelings you are having are of yours or new ideas that conflict with old dogma. Either way have trust in the universe, or God (whatever you fancy) and step into the unknown. You are held and it’s okay to be scared of, or uncomfortable with the unknown. All fears do is keep you from being your true loving self. Too many people use fear as an excuse to remain in an uncomfortable state they are comfortable with. Don’t let your fears change your course or keep you from being yourself. If on the other hand this uncomfortableness is something new that you can not unpack, observe it. Be aware of where you are physically and emotionally. Ask your heart and gut if you are safe and loved. If you get a resounding no then maybe it is time to liberate yourself from that which is causing you discomfort.

from miedonomas

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Angry? It Is Time to Get Over It

Feelings, are so much more than just feelings contradictory to Morris Albert’s opinion. We have so many feelings every day. They are happening within us all the time. When we are young they seem to be much more intense and singular. As we get older they become muddled, we can be sad overall but still have little moments of joy or happiness, then maybe we remember we are sad and return to that state.

It is so hard to know what is happening within us and when we can choose to change it or when we have to just be in the state we find ourselves. Sometimes our feelings don’t matter at all. We just have to suck it up because we have responsibilities that need addressing. How we see these issues, or what we do in reaction to them, has to do with who we are and where we are in our development.
We have all met people that find it hard to do what we, as separate individuals, are naturally inclined to do. We can often find this in family members. That’s why holiday gatherings can so often get overwhelming for so many people. We do not choose our family... well maybe we did but that spirit entity that chose was definitely not the complex person living within space time. If we had chosen our families, and I do believe we did in some way, it would have been within the spiritual realm where we had instant access and wisdom to all that is. Our families, and the people we are connected to that challenge us, are the ones who have the most to teach us. Unfortunately we do not like to be challenged, as a general rule.

There are so many stages to our personal spiritual development that it is hard to know exactly where we are and how to move forward. Well, that may never be able to be known, but if we open ourselves up, and spend time with our thoughts, we can slowly grow and develop into who we are meant to be. It is important to see balance in all things and to understand that we will probably never be exactly what the universe wants us to be nor will the universe be everything we want it to be. Nevertheless every aspect of ourselves needs to grow. We may not even consider some part of our nature while developing until it is challenged. It is that challenge that wakes up that part of ourselves so that we can do the work needed to grow.

I have an issue where I get angry while driving and it is one specific thing that gets me every day, left lane drivers. I have the idea that the left lane is strictly a passing lane, but when I am passing in the left lane and I find myself having to pass on the right, I often get very angry. This is curious because I am a very calm person for the most part, especially when it comes to loose rules. I have to look at myself here, and I look to try and see where in my life I am acting like that person nonchalantly using the left lane. I do this because that is my focus, that is a specific story I am telling myself and it is garnering a reaction. It makes me angry, and anger, being a response to something I do not like. If it is tues that everything I see and experience is a reflection of myself this response needs to be noted. So although there is another person involved who I am seemingly angry with within spacetime, that other person is ultimately a part of me and I see this as a time where spiritually that part of me is looking to communicate something.

In this scenario the first thing that comes to mind is in my career, am I pretending to be in the proverbial left lane while calmly moving forward oblivious to my position? I look into myself and I see that I can do more for my work. I can spend more time being quiet and listening to my thoughts in order to use that left lane when I need to, but maybe I prefer to block others from moving to the front than taking that adventurous approach myself. Today although I may claim to be in the left lane, am I passing others?

I see the left lane as an ego boost. And I see myself needing that on occasion. I think that people in the left lane want to be someone going fast, or passing others. This is the story I repeat to myself about those that get me angry in the left lane. This is not the only time I have used a story that revolves around a person wanting to be seen one way but acts in a contrary way to that. This is line of thinking I start to follow and try to link back to myself. I have found that I want to be seen a certain way, and maybe there things within my actions that I want to adjust to accomplish those more fully. Or there are ideas that I am not in alignment with that will lead me to just change lanes, but changing lanes would see me have to retrain my ego when it comes to my career.

To be honest, what I really want is to “be,” and enjoy being, on my path. I see jealousy in my life the same way. I try to curtail jealous feelings but they exist because I internalize thoughts that I needn’t. Other people are in a place I am not, that doesn’t mean I want to be there exactly, but I internalize thoughts of success and failure all the time. I try to look at those thoughts and understand myself better. The messages unfortunately are not always so cut and dry as my driving example earlier. My feelings about everything relate back to me and my goal, however odd it sounds, to not have feelings. I expect that would sound odd because of course I want feelings, but I want to feel love not judgment. Indifference is not the same as embracing things as they are, although it is not always easy to see the difference.

When I love myself, and I have seen this unfold over years, I have less conflict with the world. To not have conflict with the world is not the same as condoning, or sitting idly by as abuses are rendered. Yes if these things happen and we have pain because of it, something needs addressing. That pain is a sign that change needs to happen within us. If that pain calls us to take action out in the world we need to listen to that and so we take action. It may happen that the pain makes us angry, in that case we need to be angry. We can use all that anger, to take action and to talk about what changes we think need to be made. The caveat to that is the fact that once again the imbalance is not in the world, it is within us.

Within us exists the entire universe and from there all healing can happen. It is important for us to understand that a balance needs to be struck between who we are, as we align with our best self, and how we see who we are expected to be. That balance is becoming increasingly difficult as fame and social media preach how important it is to be a certain way. I find it difficult to express my love for how things are especially to people that are living in pain. Many people feel they are right and that they need to fix things, to me nothing is broken, things are just growing.

Do I feel that women or racial minorities need to be given an equal voice in the world?
Yes of course!

Do I want conflicts, genocides or corruption to run the world?
Absolutely not!

That is why I look inward to heal the injustices I promote by living in contradiction to my beliefs. As we see year in and year out people who fight against something or another or have a message to spread to the world we often find that message to be marred by personal actions that are in direct conflict with their message.

As Hollywood people are being accused for abuses we can easily see that the rise to fame may not equal happiness. We can easily see that personal work is done within. It is also important to understand that the companies that are associated the likes of Weinstein, Spacey, Louis C.K. and the dozens of other people only now being accused were perfectly fine working with these people before the public knew. The idea that these companies are supporting the accusers over their meal ticket is very shortsighted. That sort of obvious transparency is exactly how most of us are, we show the world one part of ourselves, and then, when we feel we are in a private place we can be less than our best, but if we were to just heal ourselves the world would not be so dark. It would not need fixing. Of course there will be conflict in the world, but it all starts with us. The conflicts that exist within us are the conflict that we see and are attracted to in the world because those are the ones we need to heal.

The Tao says:
When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone.
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done.
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds,
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order

from miedonomas

Friday, April 6, 2018

Healing Myself and Others Through Portraiture

I had very little interest in continuing my education after High School. So much so two week before graduation and I hadn’t even applied to a college. I was eventually coerced by my guidance counselor to apply to anything, I knew that his reasoning was much less about me and more about the track record of the school but I relented. I was already an addict at that point and really just wanted to be left alone, so I applied to an art School. It was a trade school, I would spend 8 hours a day painting if they let me in, it was also a private school so they were probably taking all comers. Was I an artist at that point? It’s hard to tell, I only took art in High School as a way of not having to take a language. It was also the only class I did not struggle in.

I did get into that school and it was set up primarily as a way to crank out marketing draftsmen, but that business was rapidly changing and I didn’t have any idea about marketing. There I met a great teacher, one who saw me, and eventually, got me to see myself. This was the first teacher who allowed me to explore and I did. I created a lot of garbage back then but I was learning, maybe I was learning about art but I knew that I was learning about myself. After that first year I was convinced that I would be following my new interest in fine art. I left school, got involved in AA, to deal with my addictions, and continued to make art, whatever I could with whatever I had. After a year of making, and getting increasingly familiar with who I was, I returned to school to reconnect with that teacher that so inspired me. I was still very much struggling with my addictions and with who I was and how I fit in, or did not fit in, as the case may have been. That teacher and I quickly became peers and we remain so to this day over 20 years on.

I struggled with addiction for many years quitting for a time and returning to either using, gambling or drinking and there were times when I would make art and then there were dry spells. I would romanticize art making and the artist’s life and was exploring all sorts of different making techniques as well as printmaking and video, all of which I showed in galleries and really may have had a foundation to build some sort of art career ,but then something interesting happened. On my final (as of today) cocaine binge I was invited to clean up by staying with a friend, which I was happy to do, as I really did want to clean up. After a few days of not being able to create I had an urge to do just that. My friend wanted me to spend one more night at her place, I explained that would be fine if I could could paint her portrait. She was cool with that and I brought some watercolors over and painted her portrait while she watched television and we chatted. I left the portrait behind and began to aimless drive out of the city. That was when I was gifted with the idea that I wanted to do this exact thing. Make portraits of people, connect with them, talk with them and leave the portraits behind to be out in the world. This project began as being much less about the portrait than it was about the interactions that I would, and did, have.

Over the next few years I was doing about 100 - 150 portraits a year. People who I may have only met once prior were opening up to me and the experience. I was learning a lot about myself. I was seeing how all of the people I met with had information to share. It was all information that I needed at the time. It continued to show me we are all the same and our differences are so slight that they needn’t even be mentioned. I was learning the true meaning that everything we see is a reflection of ourselves. This began as my “1000 Portrait Project” but I learned this was more of a lifelong activity so I just called it my Portrait Project because I knew I would be doing much more than 1000 of these. This was a project I did wholeheartedly for many years but eventually I could not keep it up. It was giving so much of myself and asking literally nothing in return.

I explored other art forms again after having to get a little distance between myself and that project. That project had always been with me though and I would do a handful of portraits ever year. I was connected to others in a way I can not explain and I was able to allow myself more space and freedom to be me through that project. It kept me sober, it kept me clean and at times it kept me alive. It gave me purpose. Not all the portraits were good, but that was never my intention. My intention was to connect and eventually I learned it was to see others as well. As I see it each of those people I got to do portraits of, and all those in the future, see themselves through me and the work as I see myself through them and the act. Through these portraits I can drop myself and be with others. I hardly ever remember anything about making the portraits, I am so often totally engrossed in conversation that I only know when the piece has arrived, at that point I check to see if it is finished and it often is.

I have always known that I connect with others, the first time I was out in a plein air painting group only wanted to stand in the middle of the river and I had no focus in making a painting at all. Connecting, for me, is everything. And through art I am able to step outside of myself and connect with others deeply. I recently began doing portraits again but this time there is a preconceived understanding that it is a healing practice. After years of connecting and being vulnerable I have taken my portraits and put them in the place of a healing vehicle. I, as I have always done, talk with people and make their portraits, with the intention of creating something that will help my client see themselves. As they receive their portrait many things may come up and we discuss links between what they are seeing and the bigger picture.

I believe that when an artist has completed a piece they are drawn to look into this wild work. In the act of looking, which is more than mere looking, imbues the it with meaning and purpose. Looking at an artwork is connecting with it on a deep level that most people, when faced with that depth are not always able to navigate. This connecting and imbuing of meaning may take hours, days, weeks or even years. The artist may never again touch the painting, but still it will change, it will be tamed, tame enough to be shown and experienced. This is an activity that maybe only visual artists can experience but it is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had. With my portraits on the other hand I do not do that work, my client does. They look at a wild piece of art, which happens to be of them, and they react, they go inward and see themselves. This self reflection is a dialogue and eventually the portrait is tame but the inner dialogue continues.

I have, and continue to, develop Portrait Facilitation as a way to help others see themselves.

from miedonomas