Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Blame Game

to-belittle-240x300
We all make mistakes, and we all seek forgiveness. Ironically, we also tend to downplay our own mistakes and over-dramatize the mistakes of others. And because we know what our intentions were, we expect forgiveness to come easy for the ones we have hurt or disappointed, yet we find it so difficult to forgive those that have crossed us. Why do we do this?

It’s hard to move on from our past mistakes especially when people keep bringing you down, or reminding you of your failures or bad decisions. In the peak of my divorce and child custody battle, I remember my ex forwarding me old emails of things I’d said or done that weren’t that “smart”. He would leave old anniversary or Valentine’s Day cards I had written him when we were married on my doorstep as a “reminder”, and screenshots of texts I’d sent to him when I lost my cool. He would document the moments I was less than the perfect mother, and say I was a horrible, weak, ignorant person that could not be trusted. He would threaten to use my childhood trauma and history of psychological counseling as “evidence” that I was an unfit mother, and that my son had to be taken away from me. He would keep detailed notes of who my friends were, and threaten that by being their friend I was exposing my son to “bad people.”

At one point, I began to believe him. His stories almost became my stories. Maybe I was a failure. Maybe I should have stayed in the marriage. Maybe I was stupid. Maybe I was mentally unstable… No.

That was not true. That was his story, not mine.

We all make mistakes and it’s important to remember that not all mistakes are one-sided (well, some are…) I’ve never liked the word “mistake”. I prefer to call them “bad calls” or “bad choices” because mistakes make it sound like we didn’t have a choice in the matter. When we make bad choices, our job is to own up to them. Now if you’ve paid your debt, even if the other person hasn’t moved on, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t move on. You don’t have to wait for someone else to move on in order for you to. Sometimes forgiving yourself is the best thing you can do. When we forgive ourselves or others, we are not saying that what was done was ok or somehow justified. When we forgive ourselves or others, we are simply saying that what has happened is done and we love ourselves and others enough to move forward and grow from that experience. This doesn’t mean that crimes should never be put to justice. What it means is that we don’t have to ridicule, put someone down, or remind them of bad decisions made (and it might help a little, or a LOT, to acknowledge the role that you played in that experience as well).

But if someone keeps bringing up your past or telling you that you will always be a horrible person because of something you have done, that’s ok. It isn’t a reflection of who you are, it’s a reflection of where they are in life at that moment. And it’s ok to forgive yourself for what you’ve been through. Although it is ok to feel bad and maybe even a little regret for the bad decisions you’ve made, it is NOT ok to stay there and live in the past, and it is NOT ok to allow another person to keep you or pull you back into that past.

We are progressive beings. We move forward, we evolve. Most importantly, we love, and we love passionately. Our spirits thrive on goodness. We feel joy in kindness and being kind.

And so maybe the next time someone belittles you or tells you how horrible you are because of your past, try this:

Think deeply at the last time you held a stubborn stance when someone apologized to you. Look back on the last time someone let you down and you hesitated to forgive them or respond in kindness. Remember that time when you were judgmental about someone who did something you questioned as morally wrong.

Regardless of how unkind another is, regardless of the mistakes others make, we too, have unkind moments. We too, make hurtful choices. We too, have difficulty forgiving.

I have a challenge (for myself, and I ask it of you too). The next time someone makes a mistake, instead of pointing out the flaw, how about looking for a way to encourage them?

“You’ve come a long way. I’m so proud of your progress. Look at how well you’ve been dealing with ….”

And if they still are struggling, maybe add kind suggestions that get them thinking, such as:
“I noticed that when x,y,z happened, you responded by doing, a,b,c. I wonder if your message got across to them effectively…?”

Perhaps these small gestures can end the cycle of this blame game, one person at a time, and encourage empowering relationships instead.

Maybe, instead of blaming and pointing fingers, we can build people up. Bring forth encouragement when people are at their lowest. Remind them, by our own actions, that peace prevails. Goodness prevails. Love prevails. It always has, and it always will.

And if that doesn’t work (because sometimes it won’t) and those SOBs keep bringing you down, fly high! There’s a story I once heard that goes something like this:
Storm-Eagle

When a storm is coming, the Eagle sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm.
While the storm rages below, the Eagle is soaring above it.
The Eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher.
It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our faith toward a greater good.
The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow our faith and fearless inner peace to lift us above them.

Faith is what enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives.

Like an Eagle we can soar above the storm.  Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

(Story adapted from http://www.indianchild.com)

What is Soulful Detox?

“We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow?”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

If thoughts, behaviors, perceptions, and experiences are food, what kind of “food” do you feed your mind/heart/soul? What thoughts do you have? Do they help you grow or do they hinder your growth? Do they give you inner peace or cause you stress?

While we wish to put the huge responsibility on others outside of us, we are responsible for taking care of our “soul” the best we can. How? By being selective of what we put in or allow into our mind and body, and by being mindful of what we are neglecting when we don’t take care of your soul.

When we are born, we were given a body to house our soul. The body carries us physically, but our soul is like a priceless tool that helps us navigate our way through life.

As we navigate our way through all these experiences, however, we will inevitable experience  both the things we LOVE as well as the things we don’t- the things that bring us comfort as well as those that cause us much discomfort. That’s life. That is the human experience.

There are those who try to take just the good and escape the “bad”. Some people use alcohol or drugs, while some people do other things like shopping, eating, compulsive sexual behavior, codependency, overworking, violence, etc. But as long as we are alive, there is only one thing that we are guaranteed, which is that life will always change. We can take it and run with it, or we can sit and pout.

When I founded Soulful Detox, my intention was to simply share my experiences and how I either overcame adversity and where I still struggle. Soulful Detox was me just trying to get to know that “soul” inside and the daily little toxins (resentment, control fear, etc.) that slip in. This journey, which I hope you will join, is simply a place where we learn how to detoxify so that we can live a more empowering, loving, meaning and fulfilling life.

Keeping One Foot On the Ground and One Foot In the Sky

footinthesky

A few weeks back I had, what turned out to be a very inspirational 2-hour lunch with my very good friend and ex-colleague. We met with the intention of catching up and talking about my new career goals, but what I got from it was something more profound and unexpected. I’ve always seen this friend of mine as successful, so naturally I respected every word she said. When we think so highly of someone’s ideas, sometimes we tend to think that everyone else feels the same way. I forgot how it all came together, but we were talking about how in search for our “higher self” it’s common to meet people that just “don’t get it” (or simply, people who don’t see things the way we do, don’t believe what we believe, or don’t think the way we think). She casually mentioned how her husband, for example, wouldn’t have a clue what we were talking about because his brain “just doesn’t work that way” and that was fine. I was surprised because I had just assumed that because they seemed like such a tight loving family that she and her hubby agreed on everything. Nope!

It got me thinking… Often, when we set ourselves on a mission to better ourselves, or reconnect with our higher selves, we run into people that get excited about what we are doing and saying. We connect with them. They’re just like us! So we like them! We get so “high” on this new found “self” because we are surrounded by people that reinforce our beliefs. In a sense, we’ve got our heads in the sky, and that is a very fun place to be! So we keep following this path, because who wants to be around people that “just don’t get it”? But in this process… we forget where we came from. We bump into someone who doesn’t agree with us, or who has a different view on life and almost like a protective mechanism, we clam up and divide ourselves between “them” and “us” and this division destroys the very core of what we are – human beings.

I recently almost fell into a blind state in which I was very happy with nearly every aspect of my relationship with my significant other…except that we didn’t share the same amount of passion for this “spirituality” and I noticed instead of me growing into a better person and better partner, I was allowing that difference to come between myself and one seriously amazing man- who, coincidentally, is far more “grounded” than I am. That was when it hit me… WTF am I doing? What is this damned spirituality doing to me and my connection to other humans? And how the heck can I keep grounded in both “worlds”?

After 33 years of life, I think I’ve come to accept that there are nearly as many different beliefs about life as there are people in this world. If there are 7 billion people on this Earth, then that is a LOT of differences. That means that given I have this pretty amazing man, maybe our differences are not only normal but a blessing… Common sense, right? But in a heated debate, who actually remembers that it’s ok to be different? I know I have failed at that and was ready to call it quits because for a second I was stupid enough to believe that he had to think like me in order for us to be happy… Ouch…

I’m getting side-tracked. Back to what I was trying to say. Anyway…

I’m absolutely moved by the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. One of his most profound quotes, in my opinion was,

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Again, this doesn’t have to ring true for everyone, but it does for me. And IF I choose for this to be true to me, then what am I doing with my life? What am I living for? I spend so much time and energy with my own personal improvement and growth, that I almost neglect that which keeps me grounded to this Earth in which my purpose is. I almost forget that strife became my strength. Loneliness became my appreciation for people and solid sense of Self. Coldness became my appreciation for warmth. All these experiences were like waves rushing in and out of my life. Some of the waves were bigger than others. Some of them were disastrous and humiliating. But all of them served a grand purpose- to make me a better swimmer (or surfer…whatever). And that’s precisely why we gotta stay grounded. That’s why we gotta keep one foot on the ground but one in the sky. Because that “sky” is our faith. It’s faith that is going to get us through, and our being grounded that is going to keep us connected to all those blessings that are so cleverly disguised as “problems”.  Everyone copes differently. I do it by meditating.
Meditation, schmeditation…

Some people think meditation is some kind of spiritual state of being in which you check out of Earth and transport to woo-woo lala land and never go back. Some people believe that meditation means that you don’t have any thoughts or feelings, or even that you have to be in some kind of silent state of being for an extended amount of time. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters what anyone thinks it is. If you are doing “meditation” in your own way and it’s working, that’s awesome.

My feeling is, if we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then why try to pretend that none of this “human experience crap” is happening? I was reminded that I am nothing without this physical world. Yup, even that jerk that is out there simply to be a jerk. My mission is not in the sky, not in some spiritual awakened state of being, it is being fully present in what, where, and who I am at this very moment. It is not getting distracted by the waves but finding and maintaining the connection to those around me (even the ones I don’t like), seeing them as part of this mission, part of The Plan.

What plan?

Last year I read a book, “Everyday Enlightenment” by Dan Millman. He stated, “What good does it do to pray like a saint or meditate like a yogi if we are unchanged when we open our eyes? What good does it do to attend a place of worship on Saturday or Sunday if we lack compassion on Monday?”

Maybe The Plan is really that simple- to see every day as my “place of worship”. To see every person, every moment as a chance to develop myself, to explore myself, to understand myself, to know myself, to LOVE myself. Maybe just learning how to be in that moment- every single moment of my life- is all I need. I don’t need to piss and moan about it. I don’t need to judge it as good or bad. All I need is to remember and have faith that every single moment of every single day of my life  is just as it should be.

“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.” -Dan Millman

The problem, is that we get distracted, or bored and we set out on this journey looking for answers, looking for an escape, looking for something better, as if we are missing something, as if our lives are somehow incomplete, when actually what we need is right in front of us.

There’s this great Hindu proverb that explains the three great mysteries in life: Air to a bird, water to a fish, and mankind to a man. Often, we forget who we are, and what we are here for because we get so carried away with other things. We start to define ourselves by what is going on around us.

For example, when I was going through my divorce and custody battle, I saw every day as a war zone. It was fight or be killed. Anything I said was rejected. I began to determine that I would never escape from this madness. I was doomed till death in having to deal with this endless hell.
“Maybe I should just give up…” I thought. “Maybe this isn’t my battle.” I spiraled into a negative place of hopelessness. I felt my soul, my passion for life, my faith in humanity had been ripped from my body. But then I remembered, that this wave is not out to destroy me. This wave (or should I say, massive tsunami) is here for something greater, and as much as I want it to disappear, I need to get back to Me.

Maybe meditation is simply calming down those distracting thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of need, greed, anger, resentment, or boredom, and checking back in with yourself. For me, I don’t meditate to “be inspired” or to “find the answer” but come to a calm state, where there is nothing going on (no judging, no activity) because it is only then that I can really see what is going on and it is only then that it is quite clear what I need to do.

And this is meditation’s purpose- to reset ourselves. To put ourselves back into a level of clarity in which we can see things more clearly. That place in which we see the blessings and opportunities.

If we are to progress as humans we must shift with the changes and all that BS that pops up along the way, unfortunately is our little reminder of how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Going back to Dan Millman’s quote about faith, if everything that happens is for your highest good, then I supposed the situations that keep recurring are not punishments but God’s small way of saying, “try again! You can do it!”

This way of thinking may not work for everyone, and I always say “do what makes sense to you.” But for me, for now, it makes for a truly fulfilling, resourceful, resilient and productive life. After all, life is just a bunch of choices being thrown at us moment by moment, day by day. It’s all a choice. It’s that simple.

 

Assuming the Worst – Why one tiny change in thinking could change your whole world.

Two years ago, our world was turned upside down. One moment I was a single mother, master of my universe, and the next moment shattered with the news that my narcissistic ex (also my son’s father) was planning on moving to the United States and seek custody of my child.

Coming from a divorced family myself, I knew the importance of co-parenting and equal visitation, so I started reading up on how to best proceed. Long story short, what transpired over the course of the next two years was the opposite of what I had expected (a walk-away) and played out worse than I could have ever imagined or even be prepared for (financially or emotionally). The litigation seemed like an endless hurricane, spinning me in and spitting me out only to suck me back in and nauseate me to a point of exhaustion. At the end of the battle, I felt like a limp, lifeless thing looking, begging, desperately for my last breathe of life (that story shall be saved for another time).

I think that experience trained my mind to expect the worst, assume the worst. It was the only way to survive the litigation. It was the only way to stay on top of things in order to protect myself and my son. Or so I thought…

Towards the end of litigation, after receiving daily emails (for two years!) of hate, false accusations, verbal and emotional harassment, threats, and stalking, I was reminded that my thoughts and energy behind them are what create my reality. Maybe those emails were as bad as they were because I was expecting them to be. And I responded to them as “the worst email ever.” If I can’t change him, perhaps I could change my experience? Although this sounds like talk from woo-woo land, the idea is actually quite practical and effective if you use it to your advantage. Trust me! You don’t have to believe in any kind of religion or partake in any kind of spiritual practice. Just try it. Change those thoughts into positive, uplifting, empowering, and encouraging ones, and stand back and watch that magic happen.

I was listening to a motivational video the other day that illuminated this exact statement:

“You don’t get in life what you want, you get in life what you are. And the good news is that we can always become more by working to better ourselves.”

As far-fetched as it sounded, even if I thought I was doing everything right, maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was missing something. Maybe…just maybe… I had to change myself. As humans, especially living in the US, we have complete power to become the person we want to be. There are literally NO limitations to that power. If we can be whoever we want to be, then that is equivalent to “we can have whatever we want, as long as we become that first.”

Did I want peace? Yes. Then I had to become peace. Did I want resolution? Yes. Did I want the possibility of one day peacefully co-parenting with what I felt to be an impossible hopeless person? Yes. And there was only one way I was going to get that. By digging deep, keeping an open mind and heart to find what it was inside of me that was preventing me from getting what I wanted. In other words, what I was lacking. It’s hard because I didn’t know what to look for and didn’t know what I would find. But when you dig deep enough in your soul, you will find it was there all along.

With that I decided that even though day after day I was used to the humiliating and hurtful emails, I would put my mind and heart in a peaceful state before I opened the emails. I would read them not looking at what was said, but what the intent was. I started looking for ways to respond so that I came off as completely open, peaceful, and cooperative. If I was still upset by the content, I would have to wait until I could read it without the emotional upset. Yet while I responded, had to use my brain and resources to maintain my assertiveness and wise judgement on what was not negotiable (and relay that kindly). I can tell you from experience that there is an extremely fine line between being assertive and being peaceful, and I have yet to master that art of communication.

What happened after this change on my part was that I was starting to receive somewhat peaceful, negotiable emails. I started receiving emails that did not make me feel anxious, insecure, or frustrated. And because I had taken a moment to put myself at peace, and to not expect the worst, what I got in return was not “the worst”. Granted, it wasn’t the best, and we still struggle with so many issues, but the feelings I get from it (positive, empowering, encouraging) also help me respond to the emails in the same way.

When we respond in or set the stage for anger, we are only perpetuating such a cycle. When we expect the other one to take the first initiative in changing this cycle, we are again, perpetuating this cycle. The first step is always the hardest, but if you take that first step, that will put you at least one step ahead of the rest.

This story is going to take a bit of a turn, but I don’t see these opportunities in only my dealings with my co-parent, but I see them everywhere I go. With friends, family, and even at work.

The other day I got an email from my boss out of nowhere. The content was that of, “I need to chat with you about something. Can we meet at 2?” Apparently, even if I practice optimism my first thought was negative. Oh my gosh, what could it be? Am I in trouble? What did I do? Was it that time I came in late? Was it that time I took a longer lunch?

I remembered the quote “You get what you are” and reminded myself that I am a hard worker, I was the only one with 100% positive customer feedback. I was recognized multiple times for my efforts in the past year. I had a pretty bonus and raise. It couldn’t be that bad… But if it was, I would be ok, because I am surrounded with people that love me and support me unconditionally.

Two-o-clock comes around and my boss enters my office, closes the door, and I start fidgeting with my fingers. I felt a little nervous, but what she came to talk about was a small promotion.

That was proof in itself. Why assume the worst? If we knew how powerful our thoughts are, we would make every effort to never have a negative thought again.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with negative emotions, but there is something wrong with negative thoughts, and there is absolutely no reason why we have to worry about or assume the worst, especially if we have the power to make it an opportunity for something great.

You have all that power inside you. It’s your choice to use it or not.

What’s My Purpose? And Why Do All These Obstacles Keep Getting In My Way!?

About one year ago I came across a story by Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God) called “The Little Soul and The Sun”. I hadn’t thought about it since, but in a recent “I Am” meditation, I spoke the words “I am compassion” (Honestly, sometimes I feel like what I say is just wishful thinking, but the whole point of the I Am Meditation is to feel more aligned and connected to your higher self). The moment I said those words, I was reminded about The Little Soul and The Sun. If you haven’t read/listened to this story, I highly recommend it.

The Little Soul and The Sun is basically about a little soul that ponders who he is and what his purpose is. The little soul finds out that he is “light” but remains curious and presses God for more answers. Excited with his new found identity, the soul asks God if he can now “be the light and feel what it is like to be light.”

God responds “You are like a candle in the Sun. You are there, along with a million other candles that make up the Sun. And the Sun would not be the Sun without you. So how to know yourself as Light when you are among the Light? Since you cannot see yourself as the Light, I will surround you with darkness.”

The Little Soul asks “What is darkness?” And God replies, “It is that which you are not.”

God reminds the Little Soul, “When you are surrounded with darkness, do not shake your first and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather, be a Light unto the darkness, and don’t be mad about it. Then you will know who you really are, and all others will know too.”

In the end, the Little Soul exclaims to God that he wants to be special by being Forgiving as well. And so it was… he was given a life in which he had to learn forgiveness by experiencing times in which he had to forgive.

The story is a tear-jerker but really got me thinking about my own life and my own unpleasant experiences. Who am I? What is my purpose? If we are all from God, and God is Light, then the Light that I am might be compassion.

Well… It might be a bunch of things. But the word Compassion hit a soft spot in my heart as I was doing my I Am Meditation. Let’s say I was Compassion (or whatever I may be). Then it would make sense that for whatever difficulty I may encounter, it is simply an opportunity for me to remember who I am. To practice being Compassion. If I am confident and stand strong in who I Am, then dealing with the obstacles is much more easier, because I remember that they aren’t obstacles- they are blessings. Here is my chance to learn my truth, act accordingly, and avoid reacting as someone that I am not.

Maybe my purpose in life lays down before me every day, in different ways, in different moments, through different encounters- and yes, some of those are testing my compassion and obstacles that make it difficult to be so. If life were a video game, it could be seen as though every moment or event or person is just one level. If I pass, I move on to something better. If I pass, I graduate that stage and become a little smarter, a little better, and a little closer to awakening to my higher self. The sad news is that you can’t skip that shit. If I throw that opportunity away- if I piss and moan at the difficulty or inconvenience and hassle of the opportunity, I go farther away from the goal -alignment with my true self. Mastering this game.

There comes a time when you are at the end of your rope. You tell yourself (and every one else) that “I’ve done everything I can do. There is no way I can change this situation” and then you realize that you indeed did not do everything you could do. To change the mind is a scary thing. We are so sure that we are justified in expecting another person to change. Their behavior is inappropriate and out-right bad. But after a while of this kind of thinking, I realized, it’s not the situation that needs changing. It’s the way you look at the situation that needs changing. And besides, it’s a hella lot more empowering that way, because it’s 100% all your choice. This may not be everyone’s goal, but it’s mine, and the reminder helped me re-examine my current struggle and accept the challenge graciously.

Neale Donald Walsch’s “The Little Soul and The Sun”

Doing The Right Thing When You Don’t Want To (and you’re pretty sure it won’t work anyway)

I remember when I was a kid growing up with two other siblings, fairness was always an issue (and a totally rational excuse for starting a fight). If my elder sister got to go on a date, it only made sense that I should be able to go on one too. If my brother didn’t have to do dishes, then I shouldn’t have to do them either. When we were kids it made sense, and we applied that rule to EVERYTHING. As humans, we are always comparing, measuring, balancing, as if it is our responsibility, our personal obligation, to make sure he doesn’t have more than me, because if he does, it’s simply not fair and this world MUST be fair.

In some circumstances, this may be true, but what we often fail to recognize or consider is that what may be suitable for one is not always suitable for another. What may be good timing for one person may not be good timing for another. My sister went on several dates before I did. My brother never had to do the dishes. But it didn’t ruin my life. In fact, it made it better.

As we grew up, somehow the term “eye for an eye” was misinterpreted to assume that reciprocal justice had to be carried out by you (or another person, or some legal official) instead of leaving it to karma, or “God”, or whatever other beliefs are out there (I’m going to talk about divorce, because that’s what I’m really knowledgable about). Divorce cases with children typically end up losing the main focus (the best interest of the children) and result in two spouses fighting it out, sometimes for years, until they either both lose, or the more powerful feels they’ve adequately gotten “even” with the other person. The idea of “taking the high road” or “doing the right thing” has not even had the chance to become an option. Emotions are high, pride is on the line, and ego is at stake. The idea of revenge feels so much more pleasing than walking away and starting over. Why should I have to accept this? Look at all he’s done! He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this! He must be punished!

The past few weeks I was blessed with the opportunity to challenge myself on several occasions in trusting this “karma”. Although tempted to manipulate the situation, I took the high road. In each moment, I took a risk, but knew that even if I lost, I would still have the resources I needed to make it through.

What happened, you may ask. Three things:

1) In signing the child custody papers, I was supposed to select 3 co-parenting therapists (a professional that helps two divorced parents peacefully parent a child). I found two extremely qualified Psychologists that I felt would be an excellent fit, and one other that was “meh”. Since I couldn’t find a third “amazing” Psychologist, I added the “meh” one but noted that she didn’t accept insurance (the other two did).  Since my ex is all about money, I assumed he wouldn’t pick one who doesn’t take insurance. As luck would have it, my ex chose the “meh” one and I immediately starting thinking of ways I could manipulate the situation so that we didn’t have to have her as our therapist. I reminded myself that these kind of tactics don’t work in the long run, and that I needed to trust the Universe, trust the process, trust karma, and accept the repercussion of my own decisions. One week later when we tried to schedule the “meh” therapist, she responds that she can’t take on any new clients, which left us with the two preferred therapists in the end. My ex ended up selecting the one I ultimately had my eye on.

2) Our child custody case has always been high-conflict. Our biggest problem was that my ex was a flight risk. He had threatened on several occasions to take my son away from me and move to Japan, or Vietnam, or Detroit. My attorney and I were able to put stipulations in place so that he couldn’t fly out of California without my permission, and I was to hold on to the passport and IDs, but Japan is still an infant when it comes to child custody and divorce issues. Even today, they have little to no regard for any US court orders in child custody cases. If my ex wanted to create a Japanese passport for my son and fly him out of the country, there is almost nothing I can do from preventing that, and once done, almost nothing I can do to bring him back to the US. That said, I did some research and found that I could petition to the Japanese Embassy and ask them to put a restriction on renewing/creating any passport for our son. The catch? When our son was born, my ex failed to name me on the Koseki Tohon (Family Registry) so the Embassy didn’t recognize me as my son’s mother, and told me that I had no authority to put such a restriction in place. I was doomed… I tried to think of ways I could manipulate the situation, and again, had to remind myself that “doing the right thing is ALWAYS the right thing”. After talking to my best friend in Japan I found out that there were other ways of going about it. After directly contacting the Ward in Japan, we resolved the case in less than a few days and they sent us the documents we needed to continue the process.

3) My ex had been out of the country and out of our lives for nearly all of my son’s life. It was only 2 years ago, when he found out I was seeing someone, that he asked for custody of my son.  Our litigation has taken that long. To make a long story short, the cause of the delay was basically unnecessary delay on his part and my allowing that to happen for too long (This is a topic I’ll address in a separate post about what you need to know when talking to your lawyer, and how to take the lead on your case). My ex delayed the case because he needed time to hide assets. The Financial Disclosures he did provide were incomplete and we didn’t know any better because they came to us in Japanese, which no one could read. After some translation (on my part) I found out that he was missing several months of salary and stock/bond options. When it came time to present our case to the Settlement Officer Conference (something we had to cancel 3 times prior because he “wasn’t ready”) they again, asked to post-pone. But this time, I was smart enough and decided to call them out on their bluff. I gave them the their Financial Disclosures and asked them to account for the missing salary and stock information, or to sign off on the orders immediately. I threatened that if they did not sign off on the orders, I would hire a forensic accountant and external attorney to discover assets with the intention of pursuing half. The document was signed the next day… Yeah, they got away with fraud, but I got closure to the custody issue. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got what I wanted most, which was peace from the hell of litigation.

What happens now is to keep reminding myself that good always triumphs. We cannot see, hear or feel the magic of this truth, but it is out there. I promise.

“Everything will be ok” does not equal “everything will go my way” but it most certainly means that you can trust God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, that doing the right thing, even if you don’t want to, will always be the right thing.

We live in a 3-dimensional world in which we define our reality as what we can see, hear, or physically feel, and given that our species is still so young, that doesn’t make us much different than gorillas, dogs, and fish. Our small minds are more reactive like our primal ancestors, and we fail to see the larger picture. But as scary as it is, it was precisely this restraint from primal reaction that allowed us to evolve as human beings, and I believe it is the nurturing of this restraint that will continue to push us towards further evolution (and possibly into a 5th dimension…but that’s for a different post). There’s a Confucius saying that I absolutely love:

“The ultimate revenge is living well and being happy. Hateful people can’t stand happy people. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”- 
Confucius

BTTB – Going Back to the Basics in Moments of Strife

Often times people will ask me for a “quick fix” to a specific problem that they may be having, and each time I try to reach into the back of my mind for quotes, books, movies or songs that helped me in my (one of several) times of struggle, and although there are so many inspiring messages out there, I always find myself going back to the same piece of advice – Find gratitude in this moment, because it is an essential piece to something greater.

When I was at the peak of my troubles- or should I say the birth of my freedom- I fell upon an audio book by someone I can’t remember now, but what they said stayed with me and it was to always maintain the attitude of gratitude. I think that came from “The Secret” or was at least inspired by it. The point was to trust that at this very moment, recognize that everything is just as it should be. To trust and recognize that you have everything you need for this very moment, and that the struggles were also a part of what I “need”. I’m not going to go into detail right now (perhaps some day I will) about what all that means, but I was at my greatest despair. I had taken a great leap of faith in ending an abusive marriage and took on two jobs to take care of my son and two dogs. I was scared, insecure, alone, and had been told for years that I would never be able to make it on my own. For me, having confidence in my decision was one thing, but being grateful for the repercussions that came out of it (a lot of hard work and navigating my life as a single mother all alone) was key.

It’s been 4 years, and although I’ve come really far, the inevitable downfalls in life will occasionally dampen my spirits. In those times, I like to remember the speech, “Gratitude” (spoken by Brother David Steindl-Rast, music by Gary Malkin, and Louis Schwartzberg’s cinematography):

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. it’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes that can open. That incredible array of coors that is constantly offered to us for our pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, and even with the weather we don’t think of all the nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather.

This day right now is unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes.

Look at that. Look at the faces of whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face. A story that you could never fully fathom. Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far. And in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, and all that life from generations and from so many places from all over the world, flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water, if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gift that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water, and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions of people in the world will never experience.

These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts that we can open our heart to. So I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you. Let everyone who you will meet be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessings all around you. And then, it will really be a good day.”