Please Don’t Forget About Us

Sometimes I hold my dog and he reminds me that relationships don’t last forever. Eventually one of us will have to go.

It feels like somehow he knows this better than I do. It’s hard to put into words.

I’ll be writing with my stomach and mind in knots because I can’t seem to get words to come out, and he’ll tap me on the forearm.

I’ll look over and he’s standing on his hind legs, with eyes made of glass saying Hey I’m still here, do you have a moment to spare?

We get pretty wrapped up with all the stuff that we do, to the point that we forget everything else that exists. Especially each other.

I don’t want to lose my connection to the world just because I’m busy. Most of the stuff I do probably isn’t even that important. I’d rather be here with my dogs, my girlfriend, my family and all of you than be doing some fruitless busy work.

If I can’t do that, I think I’d prefer to do nothing at all.

You know I keep trying to write these posts that are interesting. That’s the thing I’m always getting caught up in. How am I going to reach the world? How am I going to get people to read these words? How the heck am I going to turn this into a career?

When I write with those questions in mind, it doesn’t feel genuine. It’s just too calculated.

Good thing I usually end up throwing in the towel and writing something like you’re reading now. Because clearly, it’s more me.

We’re hopeless when we’re not ourselves. And being ourselves doesn’t involve conscious thought. It involves letting go of the ideas around who we think we are or who we think we should be and learning to live and be as we are. Something tells me that that’s more important than anything else.

Donald Trump and The Placebo Effect

I had a dream on Wednesday morning.

I could have sworn it was real. I wish it was.

Everything was blue in color. I checked my phone and the New York Times had announced that Hillary Clinton won the election.

I wasn’t enthused, but I was relieved.

Then I woke up. Nothing was blue. It was pitch black.

Usually, when the dogs hear me get up, they cry to go outside.

They didn’t cry on Wednesday. Everything was silent. I knew what had happened.

Donald Trump is like a sugar pill. It seems and feels like something’s happening, but really there’s nothing there. It’s a sham.

Except a lot of us aren’t aware of it. It somehow feels like a cure.

But it won’t last. And the people who really need the help are the ones that are going to suffer the most.

It’s a shame because no one really deserves to suffer. Navigating life is hard enough.

But what can we do? That’s the question we must ask ourselves for the next 4 years. What can we do?

By we, I mean you and me and everyone. Rather than depend on some establishment to fix our lives, what can we do to begin to repair ourselves and each other?

Trump isn’t going to do it. Hillary wouldn’t have been able to do it either.

Good presidents put band-aids on bullet holes. Bad presidents pick at scabs before the skin gets a chance to heal.

It’s a lose-lose situation when we look for something outside of ourselves to heal our pain.

We’re all walking around with broken hearts. Our cars are nice, our homes are beautiful, but our hearts are shattered.

We’re angry and sad and everyone else is the problem. The “others” are the issue.

But I’m not so sure that that’s true. Yes, Trump is bound to screw some things up and ignorantly inspire more ignorance, but we don’t have to succumb to it.

He’s a disconnected old fart, we shouldn’t expect much. This is more disappointing than surprising.

So can we use this as an opportunity to face reality head on, rather than run, hide, complain and ignore?

Can we use this as inspiration to stand strong and stand together with open minds and loving wisdom?

It’s okay to be pissed off or upset for a while, the world is a little jacked up right now. But it’s not a bad place. Don’t let this dissuade you from being you.

Once the sugar high wears off, we can’t just go back to our regularly scheduled program.

We have to continue to smile at our neighbors. We have to continue to comfort our friends. We have to continue to act with kind intentions.

Because I’d really love to see the love grow.

The sun always shines again. No cloud lasts forever.

Be sweet and pass it on. Maybe then we’ll bridge the gap and realize that nothing was between us in the first place.

It was all an illusion.

Lessons on 4 Legs

I found this picture of my grandparent’s dog, the late great Jazzy.

A stubborn Dachshund who’s grazing greater pastures in the sky.

I decided to convert the picture to black and white. It seemed to be a good fit.

Then as I looked closer, I noticed myself in the picture.

I saw my reflection in her eyes. It looks like I’m standing in the clouds.

She was just a little thing and I stood there, towering over her.

How could animals love us? We take their pictures, tease them, dress them up and put them on display.

And they always come back for more.

They’re professional forgivers.

I guess the torment doesn’t phase them.

Attention, love and affection is all they want.

Or maybe they’re hoping for a treat? I’m not sure.

It just seems to me that our pets have more love in their hearts for us, than we have for ourselves.

We’re constantly focusing on our faults and imperfections. We rarely treat ourselves with the kindness we deserve.

Our 4 legged friends teach us how to love and let go. They want us to give ourselves a treat.

How thoughtful.

Next time you’re feeling low, remember you’re as wonderful as the clouds.

My dog said so.

Nothing Lasts Forever

I took a classical music class once.

It was one of my first college courses. And it was at 8am.

After the first couple weeks, I stopped going. Except on test days. I barely passed that class.

Now on occasion, I listen to classical music. It’s ironic.

My drive down to SIUC brought back a bunch of memories.

It was like taking a trip through time.

Farmland for as far as the eye could see, turkey vultures circling in the sky, trucks driving at obnoxious speeds and the smell of roadkill in the air.

Everything was just like I remembered it.

Except for the anxiety. I had to give a presentation to students about an internship opportunity and I didn’t feel prepared.

The slideshow wasn’t complete. The whole trip was poorly planned and I thought we might look unprofessional.

But then a cloud reminded me not to take things so seriously.

It blocked the sunlight the same way these thoughts were blocking my clarity.

Then the sun broke through the clouds and I snapped out of it. I was back to enjoying the drive.

A simple lesson on how things pass. The good and the bad.

Before I knew it, I would be on my way back home. The presentation would be over, the interviews would be through and I would have new things to worry about.

Why continue to fuel the nervousness if it’s all going to change anyway?

Sometimes we get too focused. Our minds are adamant about contemplating the same things over and over.

The problem is that none of those things are permanent and we spend too much time living like they are.

But all it takes is a second to step back and realize it.

It’s easy to forget that our time here is limited. The sooner we remember, the better.

Spend your time wisely, nothing lasts forever.

Breathe Your Stress Away

I don’t want to be the one that picks up the pieces.

But sometimes I get stuck in that position.

The other day my manager asked me to finish 3 projects by the end of the day.

Fun stuff. I don’t know, maybe he felt pressured too.

Why else would someone ask for something that was so unreasonable? Quality can’t be rushed.

As I worked, I noticed my body was tightening up and my breathing kept getting shorter. I didn’t want to do it.

I was suffocating in my thoughts.

This is crazy. Things shouldn’t be this way. I want to leave this place.  

I had to stop, step away and catch my breath.

Then my mind and body started to relax. I could feel myself loosening up.

My breathing was telling me to care less and think less.

I realized that all I could do was give my best effort. The results weren’t that important.

If I screwed up, missed the deadline or looked bad, it didn’t matter. It would’ve been embarrassing for a moment, then it would have passed. Life goes on.

Being defined as the one who “always comes through” comes with a lot of expectations. I don’t like expectations. There’s too much room for disappointment.

In stressful moments it’s easy to lose ourselves.

We get tied up in ideas about our reputation and who we think we are.

We’re afraid that it all might come crashing down.

But none of it is real. It’s all imagination. It’s all just a prediction. And none of us are that great at predicting the future.

We have to come back to our bodies and let our breathing be our home base.

Let each breath be a reminder that life is too serious to take serious.

Let each exhale soften you in hard times.

Notice when you’re tight and just breathe.

Notice when you’re thinking too much and just breathe.

Nothing is worth losing your peace of mind.

Breathing is the doorway to relief.

Just breathe and be here now. There’s nowhere else to be.