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.

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.

How The Little Things Make A Big Difference

I don’t remember the first time I had coffee, but I imagine it was gross.

Or maybe I added a bunch of cream and sugar to mask the bitterness.

I’m not sure, I was probably 12.

I’ve never really liked coffee. I can’t seem to get it to taste right. It’s either liquid candy or dirt.

But sometimes I drink it to fit in with the aficionados. A hot cup of joe next to my computer as I write makes me feel important.

I can’t deny that it packs a pretty nice energy boost. And the smell of hazelnut is wonderful.

Still, I’m not a big fan.

I’m stuck on the classic stuff that I’ve always liked. At least that’s what my girlfriend says.

Old cars, vanilla ice cream, black and white sneakers.

I’ve never put in the effort to experiment and create my perfect cup. I just assume it’s not for me.

I added it to the “do not like” list. I do that a lot.

We all have our favorites. The things we never stray far from. Our safe zones.

And sometimes they hold us back. They keep us from exposing ourselves to new things and new ways.

Our little habit of staying in our comfort zone and living by assumption, snowballs into the larger portions of our lives.

We stick to what’s familiar and become afraid change, too nervous to switch things up.

We keep jobs we hate. We stay with people that hate us. Our sense of strength crumbles.

All because we fear the unknown.

But we can’t grow without experimenting. Testing and trying is what creates our sense of curiosity and discovery.

Just like when we were kids. We knew how to try things and we knew how to give second chances.

We just have to start small, then build our confidence from there.

Newness can bring freshness to life. Getting past the fear is the hard part.

I’ve been experimenting with coffee this week and it’s starting to taste a bit better.

Medium roast, coconut milk, cinnamon and coconut sugar.

Or maybe it’s all in my head.

All we can do is try.

Learning To Play Possum

I stood there, face to face with a possum.

The dogs barked and clawed at the sliding glass door as they watched.

This is our 5am routine. Backyard animal control.

Usually a flip of the lights sends these creatures of the night on their way.

But not this time.

I walked up and she froze. She stared in my eyes from the top of the fence.

Even with a clear escape route, she stood still, not moving an inch.

Finally, I shooed her along with a broom and she scurried across the fence until she faded into the dark.

A piece of me wanted to wave like a child saying goodbye to a new friend.

These unexpected experiences are more than just a nuisance. They’re all lessons if we’re paying attention and listening closely.

Everything is saying something. Especially when no words are spoken.

When we hear with our heart, we unlock the power of choice.

We can choose to continue to live on the coat tails of our emotions or decide that some of our reactions aren’t very useful.

I could have became frustrated. After all, my feet were wet with morning dew and the air was brisk.

But for me, the possum was a reminder that life is unpredictable and that sometimes our best defense is saying nothing and doing nothing.

We’re allowed to watch the scene unfold without attempting to be the director.

I’m tired of getting wrapped up in the unnecessary. Because it leaves me feeling heavy and hollow.

I’d rather play possum.

Not everything is our responsibility. We have to learn to find a balance between acting and refraining.

And slowly overtime the weight on our shoulders will become lighter.

Then all of our strength can be used to tend to the things that are truly meaningful.

Each other…