My Worthy Past

When I look back on the years that I used, I always, always think of that chunk of time in my life as wasted.  I just figured it was lost; I shot it all away.  I didn’t progress or grow mentally or financially, and I only alienated myself further from my immediate family.  Many faithful AA members add up the time that they used and automatically deduct it from their real age, and say that intellectually they are the age they’ve come up with.  I totally see the logic in that.  In that time, you don’t grow at all.  Up until almost two seconds ago, I viewed my “druggy time” as wasted time.  However, I was cleaning my room up a bit earlier today, and I found the Daily Reflections book that my cousin gave to me.

Here’s what it said for January 28th:

THE TREASURE OF THE PAST

Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now.  Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have–the key to life and happiness for others.  With it you can avert death and misery for them.

– pg. 124, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

This quote from both books (actually) showed me that I need to appreciate my past.  I’ve really been coming to learn this notion lately.  I can’t discount the fact that I used.  I need to acknowledge the fact that I used drugs, and I actually need to be grateful for that time.  Why?  Because if it wasn’t for all that time of getting high, stealing, being in withdrawal, lying, cheating, deceiving, etc, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today — in a place of contentment and recovery.  For the most part.  I do wish, geographically I lived away from my father in all honesty.  Me and him, we just don’t see eye to eye, and I don’t think we ever will.  It’s getting harder for me to be around him.  In spite of this, I am basically thankful I’m an addict-in-recovery, though.  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

God bless you all.

Handling Bereavement

Death is, of course, very sad. However, life will always continue to move and progress forward; the clocks won’t stop ticking.  There is nothing that can be done about the progression of time.  When we lose a loved one though, it’s like everything in our lives skids to an impasse.  Yes, there’s of course the normal week or two that we would want to take off of work for the customary “bereavement” period.  That’s typical.  In spite of this, sometimes people who lose  loved ones, I’ve noticed, still struggle with their losses, even after the bereavement period.  I’ve seen certain individuals become depressed, less talkative, more anxious, manic, anorexic (the symptom, not the disorder necessarily).  And this is all the result of facing mental suffering due to death.

Some people, even so-called “friends,” are not very sensitive to your condition the more time passes.  I know it from personal experience and from seeing others go through it, too.  If a grieving person returns to work after her bereavement period, and she still appears to be in mourning with an array of physical and mental symptoms, some co-workers are likely to tell her, “YOU GOTTA GET OVER IT ALREADY!”  I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE the expression “get over it” or “move on” when referring to death.  A man who just loses his high school sweetheart wife of 50+ years does not want to be told to move on, since he would probably feel like he’d be betraying her and foiling her memory if he did just move on.  I don’t know how that expression came about, but I honestly think it is one of the worst.  It doesn’t make anyone feel better about absolutely anything.

I was listening to a talk-radio show yesterday and it was by pure chance that I got my answer!  I had been looking for a new way to tell someone to “progress forward” in his/her life without saying “move on.”  It’s an awful statement.  I’d think it would make the person feel as if he was being told to betray and/or forget the loved one that he just lost.  When I was driving in the car, I heard the radio host, who’d lost a close friend a few days ago, use the expression to branch out, right in the same place where move on could have been.  And I thought, wow, that’s perfect!

I love to think visually.  I think maybe deep down we all do and some people might not like to admit it.  Nevertheless, if you were to hear someone saying “…in an effort to branch out,” I would think of a big tree, one that is still growing.  The term itself is a bit vague, but that is good, so you can make up your own details in your head.  Further, you have a big and strong stump at the bottom of your tree — that’s like the foundation or base of your life.  After I had the new expression in my mind, I thought that all the memories of the loved ones lost would be stored in the base/stump of the tree.  Therefore, with this expression, I progress in life while still keeping a firm hold of my loved one’s memory.  Moreover, you then grow your branches outward overlooking the land, to see where you might like to go possibly or who you might like to meet next.  To branch out means doing things you’ve never done before, thinking in different ways, and just basically keeping your mind open.  All the while, you’ve still got a firm grasp on the thoughts and memories of loved ones lost inside the tree.

That’s how I thought of the expression to branch out.  This certainly is a semantic solution to a big semantic problem.  I’d been looking for a way to influence people NOT to tell others to move on, especially in cases of death.  Nobody wants to hear it.  Most of all, I think it’s actually rude.

God bless you all.

How I Came to Meditate

Even as I grew to become an overall more spiritual person, for the longest time I didn’t know how to meditate.  Well, that was how I used to phrase it.  I thought that there was this certain, strict procedure behind meditating.  I always thought it had something to do with sitting cross-legged, having my arms stretched out, with my palms on my knees facing upward, along with my middle finger and thumb touching, almost in a replicating a frozen snapping motion.  It was that stereotypical, almost comical way of meditating that I’d seen on loads of T.V. shows and sitcoms for years growing up that put those thoughts into my head.  So, I think that is why I never approached meditation, nor did I have any faith in it “working” for me.

However, I’ve come to discover a few important concepts. Meditating is just like praying.  You keep doing it.  You keep working at it.  It’s simply for your own benefit, and there truly is no “written in stone” way of doing it.  In my view, meditating is any mental AND physical way of centering your thoughts on what you wish them to be centered or focused on.  So, that’s why I find music to be such a wonderful accompaniment during this process.  It was during my home group AA meeting several weeks back when I learned about this rather liberating approach towards meditation.

Now, I no longer have to dread doing it when someone suggests it to me in times of distress, for instance, since I’ve probably been doing it for all of my adult life!  I was even using this same technique in middle school and high school.  I think it served as an instinctive survival technique for me.  I’ve always been able to completely zone out, close my eyes, put my headphones in, and listen to really compelling music that captures my emotions, affirming where I am at in that moment.  And that is how I enjoy meditating.  I enjoy soaking up the “now” through meditative affirmations that consist of exactly what I just described.  It keeps me grounded, since, and this should be obvious if you’ve been reading my blog, I’m certainly out there basically most of the time!

God bless you all!

Self-Control

I would say, oddly enough, that there is comfort in knowing that self-control really is my biggest struggle.  I also think it has been the biggest catalyst for all of my major life problems, such as addiction and apprehension.  It is a notion that I have acknowledged.

Writing and crafting your own prayers and meditations is a healing activity that I would very highly recommend. I’ll be honest, I have been writing my own prayers since I got sober back in 2014. Many of the prayers that I’ve penned are still a part of my private meditation practice today.

I would like to share with you my prayer about self-control:

God, I need you
I need you completely
I beg you to show me
To conjure passionate thoughts
Only for you and your will

For I’ve become your physical will.

That rash mentality
Slammed me and dragged me
Through apprehension and addiction
Through bad and good! –
Through all and nothing;
And I became obsessed.

My most powerful strength-
The pursuit of desire
T-boned my saddest weakness
Of one-sided ambition
I finish lost, scared, in pieces.

Surprise me, Lord –
I welcome change.

AMEN.

New Take on Life (and Death) from Emily

Some things that I just love about Emily Dickinson’s poetry is that she tends to shine light on very common, simple words from the English language that we use practically every single day. I love her use of capital letters in random spots for random words just as well, since it draws a great deal of emphasis to that one word. We notice a little feature such as that because it defies what we’re taught as youngsters just learning how to read and write for the first time. This literary device, in fact, is almost like a semantic flashlight for those simple words on which Dickinson intended to focus throughout the poem.

The Great Emily Dickinson

The Great Emily Dickinson

I also believe her endearing, witty work happens to be timeless. Here’s a personal favorite; it’s very short and sweet. But it forced me to view life and death a bit differently than I always had, and truly invigorated my faith in God. This piece that I am about to share came from a little compilation book that I was thumbing through filled strictly with Dickinson’s poetry entitled Final Harvest, put together by Thomas H. Johnson around 1951.

They leave us with the Infinite.

But He – is not a man –

His fingers are the size of fists –

His fists, the size of men –

And whom he foundeth, with his Arm

As Himmaleh, shall stand –

Gibraltar’s Everlasting Shoe

Poised lightly on his Hand,

So trust him, Comrade –

You for you, and I, for you and me

Eternity is ample,

And quick enough, if true.

– page 76

I absolutely loved this one. And I’m a person that believes even if you do not understand or happen to catch all the particular specific references in a piece of literary work, it’s still possible to love the writing just as much as any person who could. Beautiful, beautiful.

God bless you.

Prayer for Victims of Sex Trafficking

“Loving Father, loving Mother… We seek your divine protection for all who are exploited and enslaved. For those forced into labor, trafficked into sexual slavery, and denied freedom. We beseech you to release them from their chains. Grant them protection, safety, and empowerment. Restore their dignity and provide to them a new beginning. Show us how we might end exploitation by addressing its causes. Help us reach out in support of victims and survivors of human trafficking. Make us instruments of your spirit for their liberation. For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen”

Protecting One Form of Energy

Yes, I said that. I have come to the conclusion that money, in general, really is energy. I know that sounds surprising at first, but we earn money for the energy we expend. In fact, I love the acronym I once heard for money- My Own Natural Energy Yield. It really made a lot of sense to me. So basically, in this post, I want to tell you- don’t waste your money, or energy, on New Thought/New Age products available for sale on Amazon.com.

Why am I saying this? Look, I am a huge fan of Oracle & Tarot cards. I got my first deck over 14 years ago, and they were really my first foray in a very spiritually enlightening and fulfilling world. Now, I easily have over 100 decks. I am actually not proud of that at all; it makes me feel too materialistic considering the fact that I own many decks that I didn’t end up using very much. I am currently working on downsizing and simplifying my collection.

Amazon.com is of course one of the biggest vendors for anything and everything in the world. However, it is a fact that they are the biggest seller of Oracle and Tarot cards. They sell tons of New Age products, like crystals, stones, necklaces, other jewelry, etc. Speaking as someone who has purchased stones, pendants, and TONS of cards from the website, thinking I was saving money; in the long run, I really wasn’t. The quality of the crystals & various stones is absolutely terrible. I recently bought a pendant made of black obsidian (as a form of protection when doing readings). It was so clearly a fake, and when I wore it for the first time, it broke. And to be honest, it looked and felt like it was plastic when I actually held it and examined it. So, just like that, $14 and ENERGY wasted.

However, it is their cards that might even be a bigger issue for me. Yes, of course you can buy plenty of the newer, best-seller decks and it’s just fine. I mean, cards in general have become thinner in the last 10 years, but that’s not Amazon’s fault. However, Amazon also peddles loads of bootlegged decks, and that is where I have SERIOUS problems. Shady manufacturers out of China and Japan bootleg loads of cards from popular authors, and they make their way onto the massive website. It’s terrible, considering that these decks have price tags that are almost just as high as the original, better-quality versions. The bootlegged decks initially appear as mini versions of the originals, but they are tissue thin, the printing is always substandard, and they don’t come with guidebooks. DON’T BUY THESE! They are an absolute waste of energy.

Sometimes, because of the way the pictures appear online, it can be very difficult to tell if you’re even buying a bootlegged deck or not. The #1, most sure-fire way to check to see if you are buying a bad deck, is to look at the company name that is featured on the listing. They’re in gibberish and they appear capitalized, like MVITOSH, VIGUHIZ, MARLIFOS, etc.

STAY AWAY FROM THESE PRODUCTS. I know you might end up spending a little more money, but buy your decks either from the original manufacturers like Hay House, or go to Ebay, honestly. It’s better to spend a few more dollars and to know for sure that you are going to receive a quality product. I also support physically going to the small-business spiritual gift shops in every community around the country. They always sell tons of books and card decks.

“LSXX Moonology Tarot Cards”FAKE.

If you have any questions about any of this, please write me in the Contact section of the site. NAMASTE!

BOOK REVIEW: “Awakening to the Fifth Dimension”

I loved this book. I have been following Kimberly Meredith for over a year now, and she truly is instilled with the love, joy, and utter beauty of the Holy Spirit. The passion Kimberly so clearly possesses to help others is undeniably palpable. I think this is what keeps me so interested in following her and taking her classes.

This book is the perfect blueprint to living a new way of life with that enhanced sense of elevated consciousness. She first tells of her upbringing and background working in the entertainment business. This immediately makes her audience see that, even with the career in Hollywood, she is actually a real person. And further, she, like all of us, has faced real struggles in her life. I know that when I read of her difficulties, I was able to identify with her. Some individuals in the New Age/New Thought world feel so “unattainably spiritual” to me. It’s as if I could meditate for a million hours and read all the right books and still not feel as “enlightened” as some people in this business. Kimberly’s different, though. Not only does she possess real healing abilities, but she is also just a real person, with a real heart, and a real soul.

I don’t want to spoil the book for any potential readers, but it is the horrific result of two near-death experiences which leads to her discovering that she’d been blessed by the ethereal forces of a higher dimension. She goes on to share various prayers and affirmations that she’s penned over the last several years, and they so clearly reflect her journey to finding out about the magical beauty of a 5th Dimensional consciousness.

One of the best parts of this book, however, are the various recommendations she makes to her clients in the way of which supplements to take, which foods to eat, how to meditate; she even goes as far as explaining about the best way to drink your water. She is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the overall health benefits of water…which is something I for one think we need to hear more of from folks with notoriety.

I could go on and on. The bottom line is “Awakening to the Fifth Dimension” is not only interesting AND beneficial to her fans and followers, but to individuals who are simply interested in finding out about living their lives in a more enriched, organic, and CONSCIOUS way. Do yourself a favor and check out this book!

  • This book review was written by Louis Grassi and is also featured on other vendor websites.

Positivity from Peril

I do try to live my life by certain morals and standards that I’ve set for myself with the help of God and my wonderful and beloved parents.  I also think that it’s important to talk about some aphorisms that have aided me so profoundly about a decade ago when I was experiencing such horrible circumstances, like seeing friends almost die right before my eyes, almost overdosing myself (I only barely remember), being locked up in numerous “psych wards,” detoxing off of painkillers, getting arrested in my hometown on Christmas, the list could go on and on, but I think you’ve got the idea.

Really, I think it starts with good, simple positive thinking.  And hey, if you’re into visualizing and you find that it works for you, then go for it. I never found that visualization was something that worked for me. Yet, positive thinking, starting from a prayerful, meditative mindset is what works for me. And everybody, even certain miserable politicians could benefit from this way of thinking!  I’ve always had a hard time with praying/meditating regularly, hey let’s just put it out there, right?!  I thought making a prayer book would help, especially since I’m obsessed with visual art.  So far, in all honesty, it has helped enormously. It is a guide to which I can go back when I never see fit, and I really love that!

To continue, I found this page that was supposed to go into the book, (which I so aptly titled The Spiritual Upgrade for Addicted Dummies).  However, I had a few pages too many because the paper was so thick that they wouldn’t fit in the three-ring binder I was using to hold it all together.  So I had to leave some pages out, unfortunately.  I suppose there is still some inclination left in me to hoard though, since I still have those extra pages, but it’s to my spiritual advantage today, I would say.

Flower filled with the words of the Serenity Prayer. From one of my own journals.

The page that I found is a simple, short & sweet excerpt from, believe it or not, an older book, called Anxiety & Panic Attacks – Their Cause and Cure written by Robert Handly in 1985.  As one can see from the title, it’s a book that focuses on anxiety, but there is a rather large section about how addiction and use of substances like alcohol is a viable means for a nasty case of anxiety.  It was one page in his book that truly caught my eye: page 200 – very easy to remember.  Handly tells his readers to practice the FIVE R’s when we’re stopping taking drugs and alcohol and STARTING to THINK positively.  To me, it’s mind-boggling, because he makes it sound so rudimentary, and really it is.  It was almost like I needed that foreign third party to point that notion out to me.  Internally, I didn’t know how rid myself of negative thoughts, which led to continued drug & alcohol use.

The FIVE R’s:
(My comments after each bullet may sound easier said than done, especially towards the end.  I’m fully, fully aware of that.  I know it’s an exceptionally long and difficult process.  However, this is what the process looks like over a good deal of time.  Plus, it’s not as dispiriting as you might initially think if you are going through this.  Latch on to solid support and do as he/she says; if you have no close family/friends, find someone in the hospital or @ an AA meeting.)

1. “REALIZE you may be using your habit to escape the effects of negative thinking.
Lou: Use dope to not have to think while I’m trying to fall asleep at night.
2. RECOGNIZE that your habit has become a problem.
 Lou: I’m scamming my parents out of so much money.
3. REFUSE to continue the habit.
 Lou: I need to stop, so I am stopping.
4. REPLACE the habit with something better.
 Lou: Instead of using drugs, I’m going to an AA meeting, really.  (This tends to be the most difficult step, along with #3, of course.  Certainly was for me.  Drugs/alcohol = the love of your/our/my life at the time.  There is a huge, cavernous void in my soul where drugs once set up shop.  So, if you have trouble with this one, I get it.)
5. RELAX and the use the unconscious.”
Lou: If you used like I did, you were always on the go. Take a nap! (I mean that, I slept so much in early recovery; my head felt so much clearer after some much-needed R&R!)