In general, we all want the same things in life. One of my favorite poems, a short piece by English poet Henry Howard entitled ‘The Things That Cause a Quiet Life’, is a prime example of the simplistic human desires that we all seek out in order to provide personal fulfillment. Henry Howard penned his poem over 450 years ago, but the themes of the piece; happiness, peace, friendship, and good health, resonate into the current years. I say this to highlight the fact that we all want happiness. We all seek wisdom, and we all seek the same knowledge and understanding that will bring those elements into our lives. We all seek the same thing, yet we generally look for it in different places…but as long as we’re hunting for that wisdom, we’re on the right path. My mother, Jumoke, is a proponent of Universal wisdom; a seeker of the answers that the Universe provides. Growing up, I’d call her the Gypsy, in reference to her free spiritedness, intellectual vigor, hunger for knowledge, and willingness to provide and educate us all on what she’d learned. Her teachings have helped lay the brick that paves my own path, and I’m happy to welcome her as a regular contributor to this blog. Please read below, and enjoy.*
About nine months ago, I began to experience some health challenges – pain, inflammation and stiffness had begun to take up residence in my body. I was taken aback to say the least. I usually don’t even get headaches, but on the rare occasion that I do, before I reach for an aspirin, I’ll ask myself, “What painful or stressful thoughts are you having today?” And I always know the answer! I’ve learned how to be brutally honest with myself.
So needless to say, when my hands began to gradually become stiff, swollen and painful, I was horrified! Horrified!!! I had to ask myself what in the world was going on? And, of course, I knew. After 10 years of coasting, I had recently gone through a plethora of drastic change in my job environment. The situation had been simmering and roller-coastering for about two years until the final blow, and it all fell apart in mid-2015. I, equally, had been seething in the midst of it all for those two years, feeling at times uncertainty, confusion, frustration, annoyance, and at other times, so angry!…which is an emotion I don’t usually entertain, knowing how counterproductive it is….but I forgot. Being in the midst of turmoil can make one get all caught up in it, and I did. I forgot my tools. And by the end of 2015 I was hit with a thud when my body began to change, leaving me stiff (anger, resentment, rigidity, not flowing with the changes in life), swollen (filled with irritation, frustration, confusion, and inflamed thoughts about a situation) and in pain (all those silent, negative, painful emotions with nowhere else to go, settling in the joints of my fingers and hands).
You see, I know that the mind, the body and the spirit are not separate entities; they are ONE, and that what begins in the mind and breaks your spirit, affects the body as well. But in the midst of the anguish, I had forgotten, and I remembered too late that what you plant is what you harvest, and in my case, toxic thoughts produced a toxic body. I got my wake up call when it became difficult to use my hands, a major part of what I did on the job. I was forced to admit to myself that the instability I was experiencing, losing my source of income, the changes my life, had affected my wellbeing and now I was no longer being well. I had to confess that this illness hadn’t just “taken up residence in my body” out of the blue – I had unconsciously invited it in, lock, stock, and barrel, and now I needed it gone! I was ready to evict it! And I needed a restraining order keep it at bay! But first I had to re-mind myself of and re-connect with the Spirit within, which has the power to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, all the qualities I needed to counteract the dark cloud I had carried above me. I wanted the sun to shine again! And I had to revise and re-create kinder, gentler and more loving thoughts about the state of my life so that my toxic, wounded self could heal.
So after months of anger, fear, pity parties, frustration and confusion, now towards my uncooperative body (over the months the swelling, stiffness and pain moved intermittently from my hands to my shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet), doctor visits (rheumatoid specialist said I didn’t have rheumatoid arthritis) acupuncture, anti-inflammatory herbs, more frustration, conceding and taking aspirin for relief, then ultimately to acceptance, modifying my diet, reading Iyanla Vanzant-esque materials again, realizing my body was trying to communicate something to me, listening, acknowledging my emotions, having compassion and understanding for myself and for others in pain, more listening and more compassion, I am finally remembering what I’ve always believed – that there are no coincidences, and everything is in Divine Order and on purpose.
My pain was purposeful. It reminded me that going to extreme places of negativity is destructive and unhealthy. That there is a solution to everything if you trust that your life is already designed, and that there is an unwavering Energy within you that supports you when you rely on IT. I had so much blind resistance during those months, and was all up in the struggle and stayed too long. I could have accepted and assimilated the changes in my life sooner (change is inevitable), made some adjustments, trusted the process and gone with the flow (or gotten a new job, dammit!).
I also am remembering that love heals all wounds. I was not feeling much love then, so my immune system, likewise, was not feeling very loving and proceeded to withdraw its protection and subsequently fought against me (auto-immune disease) and allowed all that negativity to flourish! That’s what the Universe does (our bodies are a complete universe within itself), it magnifies beautifully in our lives what’s being expressed in our thoughts. And I was paralyzed during that time with hopelessness.
I have begun to relax and feel some relief now. I am back to my old habits of meditation, and visualizing myself as I truly am – a complexity of magnificence – cells, molecules, chromosomes, oxygen, and 7 octillions (can you imagine?) of atoms and many other precisely behaving quantum particles dancing and flowing in Techni-colorful unison! I’m back to my deep breathing habits, inhaling slowly into my lower abdomen (second or Sacral chakra, which is represented by shades of orange) and exhaling even more purposefully, visualizing toxins being released. That relaxes my muscles and brings a sense of peace to my mind and body. The pain and swelling is dissipating.
Looking back nine months ago, I was a wreck. Today I’m moving back in to a good space, mentally; and I’m now dwelling in a house of more contentment, looking forward to giving birth to a new and improved me!!!
I met her at a checkout line while buying a box of 9mm ammo and a bottle of Tylenol P.M. Yeah, that’s right; bullets and sleeping pills. Looking back, it had to have appeared as somewhat of an oddly curious combination. She strolled into my aisle, all freshly beautiful and radiant and mysterious, initially oblivious to my existence. I’d spotted her earlier, looking intently at the beauty products as I passed by and did a double take and subsequent slow down. I paused to pretend as though I was reading a box of cereal while I briefly gawked surreptitiously, but decided to keep on going once my eyeballs had their fill. They were hungry, and she fed them well. Besides, I really did have some shopping to do. A friend and I were going shooting that weekend, and I’d gone to the store to pick up a few boxes of ammo, and as a result of having slept like pure shit for what seemed like weeks, I’d also discovered the magnificently dreary prowess of Tylenol P.M. That stuff had proved to be a godsend; without it, I was up all night. The zombies that I’d normally been dreaming about? They must have been missing the hell out of my flesh. But there she was, just two feet away from me; she reminded me, in just the first glance, of all the things that I’d always wanted. All the little perfect, daydreamy shit I’d envisioned over the years, all the imagined moments, carefully cultivated images, and dream induced qualities were right there in front of me in full glory. Five feet something of just pure rainbows and sunsets. I couldn’t help but to stare…fuck it, right? Why put a painting on the wall if it wasn’t supposed to be looked at? At that moment, I thought “Why else is a beauty like that created?” So I looked, and of course she noticed me looking, and I felt a slight tinge of embarrassment as she scoped my suicidal looking purchases sprawled out on the register, bright as day.
Birds darted and soared outside in slow, steady spirals and graceful zig zags. My cubicle faced the window, which was heaven and hell all rolled into one. Staring out into the blue skies was a revelation that reminded me of the unfathomable depth of the world, and that the world still breathed…and, through it all, that I was still alive despite the paralytic effects of my surroundings. It reminded me that beauty was a real thing, a very honest concept, not just a figment of imagination and magazine ads, or movies, commercials and television shows. It was a reminder that I was most certainly not meant for the off-white box that I was in. On the flip side though, having a window seat was pure, uncut hell, because it was also a sickeningly painful reminder that I was very well shackled to a cube wall like some dungeon prisoner in the old cartoons or comic books, all hairy and ragged and barefoot and threadbare. I felt as if I were that comic book detainee, tethered to some imaginary world where numbers ruled, office politics reigned supreme, and management was as crooked as a bad case of scoliosis. Either way, it was awesome to see the clouds float by and the birds soar outside every day.
He painted the surface of the
moon with doubt,
and filled each crater with tears,
as his breath painted the night sky with
mist spewed into the chill of winter,
fast and frantic and desperate-
he knelt in the snow and prayed,
the sun dried his face clean,
and taught him the power of words
and the truth behind them,
of expression, and the freedom
that it dealt,
of self belief,
and the healing that it sows,
of change, and the foundation that it
one foot on the ground and another
on the mountain,
perched tall on the moon while gazing
always searching ahead for the next
preparing for the next battle,
dreaming of the next hurdle,
planning the next adventure
and refusing to settle for less…
all while savoring each second
of the present*