I found God in the ocean

In all fairness, I didn’t feel like I was missing him. Or her.

It was the middle of summer, and I was in massage school in Virginia Beach. I went to the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy, located at the Association for Research and Enlightenment, both of which have over 75 years of history behind it. It is also just one block from the beach.

It was my class’s regular habit to walk down to the beachfront to eat, and sometimes swim, during our lunch break. On this particular day, perhaps five or six of us had gone. Since I had my swim suit, I went for a dip, and my classmate, Michael, came along. We dove into waves, finally coming to rest on either side of a boogie board we’d found. The sun was hot, and the water was cool.

We had the same tattoo, Michael and I. It was the om, the symbol for the sound of creation—the sound that unites us with every living thing.

Our arms resting on that boogie board, we listened without words to the myriad sounds of the beach. When our friends yelled that it was time for class, we simply nodded, choosing to be not quite on time.

I said, “I think this is where God is,” to which Michael smiled and agreed quietly. And when we finally made our way back to class, fifteen or twenty minutes later, dripping with ocean water and tracking sand, our instructor paused, turned, and said in all seriousness, “Looking at the two of you, I think life must be very good.”

Ocean

Family and Umbrellas

I hope that everyone has a lovely family that they enjoy, and for those for whom that is not the case, I hope you are able to create family-by-choice.

As time grows faster, and technology demands more and more of our attention, I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of forgetting that which truly matters. Humans, relationships, love, soul growth–these matter, and these all go together.

I love my family and family-by-choice more than anything, and I would do anything for them. They are my built-in friends that I can’t live without.

Remember that song by Rhianna? It means romantic love for many, but look at the lyrics below. You’ll see that the sentiment is appropriate for many types of love.

Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be your friend
Took an oath, I’ma stick it out to the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella

This is how I feel about my family, and how I hope future generations of our family will feel. If I could distill it, I would say this to the children being born now: It’s more than blood–because, of course, you can sometimes pick who you call family. The family means safety, love, acceptance, friendship. When times are good, you will celebrate together, and when they are rough, you will stand together. With family, you are never alone.

The family is your right hand, and without them, you are lost.

Your place in the world, so often questioned during youth, is explored and then cemented through interaction with them, and later, the family ensures you are remembered into the future.

Think about who you consider family. Take a moment, in fact, and make sure that they know how much you love and appreciate them. There’s no time but now, after all.

Happy Monday.

Updates

Hi!

So. I’ve made some minor, monumental decisions lately, which have resulted in some equally minor and monumental actions. I am in a list mood today, so these updates shall come to you in that form. Ha! Ok.

  • I have decided to focus on Love. Local. Little Rock. for the rest of the year, which means that my planned release of the informational pamphlet-book on seizures is not going to happen.
  • However, that same information will be available, for free, on my blog! I will release excerpts here and there. Next year I will probably aggregate those posts and sell them as a booklet for a dollar or two.
  • I wrote a business plan. It involves a whole bunch of stuff that no one but me is probably interested in. However, I did discover that there will be some online courses coming out next year, so there’s that. It’s nice when your subconscious lets you in on things.
  • I am also considering a collaborative project between myself and…everyone on the internet. Sort of. Okay, not really, but it could be that. More to come.

And…that’s it. It felt bigger when I started typing.

:Steps down and hands microphone to next person:

Happy Saturday.

Cats and Dogs

A Dog named Trucks

Image

When I was six years old, my mother’s best friend gave us a cat. Her name was Rita. She was one or two years old, dark and light gray co-mingling in a way that hinted at her half-Siamese parentage. Just above her little gray nose was a streak of white. To this day, I’ve never felt a coat so soft.

For over 15 years, she slept in the crook of my arm, kneading my side every night. In the summer, she sometimes slept by my head, on my pillow. In the winter, it was not unusual to come home and find her curled up on the counter, wrapped around our warm crockpot. She saw me to my first day of kindergarten, and my first day of college.

Rita Bathing

In October of 2007, she started getting thinner, and then weaker, and finally quit eating all together. She died at home, peacefully, curled on a blanket from my infancy that she had long since claimed as hers. I thought that I would not survive it.

Time passed. I was in college, renting a room from a young lady who had a dog—her brother’s dog—living in a small cage in the backyard. Her brother lived in another state, and she didn’t have time to give him any real attention. Winter came, and it snowed. She asked me if I would check on him, bring him in out of the snow. I did. Then, later, if I could feed him regularly. I did.

I walked by his cage every day. He wagged his tail, hopped around, looking for some love and attention. I would say, “You are not my dog. Quit. I don’t need a dog.” I continued saying this to myself as I pulled out my cell phone and called my land-lady. “Hello, Kasie. How much would you give me off of my rent if I found someone who wanted this dog?” “$50 all day long!” she replied.

I sighed. “Done.”

“Well, who wants him?”

“Me.”

I had never had a dog, and in all honesty, I had decided after Rita passed that I would never have another pet, since losing one hurt too much. Trucks—an odd name for a dog—wiggled his furry butt into my heart, opening me to the ability to love in such a vulnerable way, yet again.

My mother says, and she’s right, that it’s easy to love our pets in a way that opens our hearts to more pain than we might expect, because they, too, love unconditionally. They want only to be with us, to play, to cuddle. They do not play mind games, they do not mistake our words—they only love us, and are there when we need a friend.

Rita was there for me for my whole childhood. I don’t remember her not being there, so when she wasn’t, my world temporarily cracked. I decided to refuse to feel that pain again—but as it turned out, the only cure for my pain was to love more. All thanks to a dog named Trucks.

I think love in all forms is sacred, and I think the love between furry people and humans has a special place in the development of our souls. What animals have touched your life in a special way?

Thoughts on Frugality: Guest Post by J.K

Today, I’d like to welcome J.K! Below is the beginning of her memoir/practical guide to frugal living. I know you will enjoy it–and please, leave your comments below to encourage her to keep writing!

Taking Us Back to Basics – Personal Finance

 By J.K

After reading an article about a family that makes $100,000 a year and “still feels poor,” I want to state my personal beliefs and strategies for not “feeling poor” on approximately $18,000 a year. First of all, somewhere along the way the American Dream got cross-pollinated with…insanity. The American Dream IS NOT and WAS NEVER to buy things you cannot afford, waste food and other resources indiscriminately, most certainly not to borrow money to buy things you do not need.

I praise God that I was raised in a reasonable household that had a reasonable head on its shoulders. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were “poor.” The reason I didn’t know it because my mother and father are awesome. They worked hard to put food on the table and pay our bills. We did the best we could with what we had, which wasn’t much, apparently. We wore clothes from yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs. We furnished our home with yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs. We ate plain, home-cooked food and utilized every dead wild animal that was carried through the front door. We didn’t do these things because we’re hillbillies or because we love eating shit-on-shingles. We did it because that’s what we could afford.

Nowadays, it seems that living within your means is a lost art. I say “art” because that’s what it is. In many cases, it takes skill and determination to live within your means. And practice. After moving out on my own I quickly realized that life was expensive, college loans have to be paid back, and minimum wage is very minimal. Living within your means is a personal choice, a commitment. Modern-day America has made it TOO EASY to live in debt. To many people, owing the credit card company money isn’t a big deal; the average Joe expects to have credit card debt. As long as they can make the minimum payment, no problemo. Personally, owing people money makes me anxious. I don’t want to be anxious. I want to live my life without worrying about living in a house I don’t own, built on land that isn’t mine.

Do not misunderstand- I am not debt free, my finances are not perfect, and I have only just begun my journey to a simpler fiscal reality. Somewhere between age 24 and age 25 I had an epiphany about how I want to live my life. Here are some tips I use to live within my means (yours are different).

It is okay to say “No.” To your family. To yourself.  As traumatic is it seemed at the time, I was not scarred for life because my mom never let me get those magic pill things that grow into spongy dinosaurs when you put them in water.

It can wait. Just because you can’t have it now, doesn’t mean you can’t ever have it. This applies to most wants and some needs. Maybe it’s just not a good time for a purchase. Maybe saving your pocket change will allow you to purchase this item. It is silly to put yourself in a financial bind, when simply waiting and/or saving for a bit will allow you to enjoy your purchase to the max.

Expect the unexpected. Eventually your car will explode. Someday the roof on your house will leak. Planning for expenses like these will alleviate stress and worry in your life. Having an “Emergency Fund” can turn a crisis into an inconvenience.

Prioritize, even when the truth hurts. At the moment, I am not rolling in dough, but I do have enough money to pay my bills. Usually there is a seemingly insignificant amount left over at the end of the month. This is where my problems arise. It would be so fantastical to drive to the mall and buy a super-cute outfit, followed by a spa treatment and a fancy date with my man. However, this frivolousness would ultimately lead to me huddling in the bathtub in a state of total panic (complete with nausea and sweating) because my 1995 Nissan Sentra is DEAD and I am totally BROKE. Saving needs to be a priority.

Basically, I think that Americans need to get back to the basics. What ever happened to giving 10%, saving 20%, and living on the rest? Give, save, spend. It’s not rocket science, it just makes good sense.

Bio: J.K is a super-cool chick who loves the outdoors, food, and hanging with her friends.

————————————————————————————

Thanks J.K! That was entertaining and eye-opening.

See you Thursday with a short post on what it’s like living with someone with epilepsy!

Birth Control: Don’t we deserve some options? (A rant)

This is not an advertisement; I have not been compensated in any way for this. It’s just my opinion.

I’ve been on “The Pill” for my entire adult life. Literally. Since I was 14. I’m grateful for it, as it’s prevented me from having kids way before that would have been healthy or productive, and I’m grateful on behalf of the many other people for whom it’s had the same benefit. If the choice is between more unwanted, uncared for children, and some artificial hormones, I think the choice is obvious. I just want to make that clear–I’m definitely not against the pill or any other artificial means of birth control.

However.

I was off the pill for about two months a couple of years ago. Linoleum was turning me on. I felt better, more clear, more vital…all around better. I got back on it for exactly the reasons stated above. It was a choice. However, I realized that I was missing out on the really amazing things my body is supposed to feel. So, fast forward a few years. I’m hitched, so while I’m not seeking pregnancy, I feel more comfortable switching to something that requires more responsibility on my part. After searching for awhile, I found Cyclebeads. I realize that these are not for everyone, but I feel similarly about these as I do the cup for one’s menstrual cycle–it’s frustrating that this method isn’t a widely available choice. We, as women, deserve the choice. I deserve the choice to have something that will (with 95% accuracy) prevent pregnancy, without hormones or something artificial in my body. We, as women, deserve the choice. I deserve the choice to have something that will (with 95% accuracy) prevent pregnancy, without hormones or something artificial in my body.

The short version is, these are a set of beads with a marker. You move the marker one bead per day, and when the marker is on certain colors of beads you are fertile and need to use some backup. It also tells you rather or not your cycle is within a 26-32 window (which are the lengths of cycles that can use this method successfully). There’s also a really cool app that I’ve been using heavily. It tracks not only the above, but has pop up reminders about being fertile and reminders that your cycle should start within X amount of days. If you just input your start date every month, or use the beads appropriately, these have a 95% success rate. That’s pretty damn good. Yes, you have to use backup or abstain for certain days. That’s not for everyone…but it’s a hell of a lot better to me than feeling heavy and dulled, like I finally realized I’ve been feeling.

This all comes back around to the same thing: choices. I’m really frustrated that we’ve been led to use disposables and hormones as the norm. There are some amazing reusable that function as well or better than disposables, save money, and are, in my opinion, much more sanitary than disposables. There are some good, scientifically studied options for birth control that don’t involve pumping our bodies full of hormones.

Use whatever works for you. I want women to explore their options and make the choice that is best for them. But you DO have options.

New Book: Discipline

We forget sometimes that if we want to make changes, smaller baby steps are a much easier way to stick with your goals. At least, I do. I often try to make huge changes all at once–and not even one change, but many big changes. Guess how many of these stick? Not as many as I’d prefer.

You know what does stick? The tiny goals. The ones that build on each other.

You know that already though, right? What if your struggle is that you know you need to do baby steps, but you can’t seem to even start? This book is for you. I’ll be posting a preview in a couple of weeks, and the first copies will be available in about a month. Discipline is about how to develop self discipline (sticktoitiveness) so that you can stick with the habits, goals, tips and tricks that you are already aware of and trying to implement, but have struggled with starting or maintaining. I hope it helps many of you–writing it has certainly helped me.

What problems do you have with discipline? What habits are you working on developing?

LCT