Message to (my Younger) Self

Life holds many mysteries. As a child, we want time and space to hurry along so that we might be allowed the freedom to make our own choices and forge our own path. Yet, as we complete the apex of our mid-life, we proclaim that it is moving too fast. As we approach the finish line, we start to evaluate the choices we’ve made and the journeys not taken. We search for meaning and purpose in our lives. We seek to understand who we are and why we are here.

At midlife, we are not the same person we were in our 20s. Our character has been refined by the circumstances of our life, some chosen, some chosen for us. Free will is always available providing the opportunity to make meaningful choices or damaging ones, with the likelihood that we alternate between the two.  As I contemplate the many choices I’ve made in this lifetime, I seek to learn and understand their origins, while forgiving myself when I went astray. From this current vantage point, if I could speak to my 20-year-old self, I would share the following 8 caveats:

Don’t make assumptions: When you make assumptions, you are believing that something that has not happened yet, is inevitable. When in fact, 100% of your assumptions could be false. The real damage occurs when you change your behavior based on a false assumption. It can bring about immense, unnecessary hurt to those that you care about.

Love the body you have been given: Genetics plays a large role regarding our physical features and the weight we carry. We should always seek to lead a healthy lifestyle, but do not compare yourself to others. Their challenges may be different than your own. Accept and nurture yourself and always make time for self-care.

Kindness Matters: Just as dictated in the Disney animation Lion King, there is a circle to life. What you choose to put out into the world, will circle back to you. Choose wisely, yet do not mistake this for being a people pleaser. A people pleaser acts from a place of fear due to a lack of self-love. Make kindness a priority in your life. Bless others as you wish to be blessed.

Choose your friends carefully and distance yourself from those that do not honor you: Friends will enter and exit your life story at different stages and don’t be afraid to show them the door if they show disrespect. You are uniquely special and deserving of great love and abundance. To draw in those that honor and respect you, seek to be, in character, the person you wish to be with. And don’t seek to rescue or change someone else. Let them be them and you be you. Just know when to walk away.

Evaluate negative emotions for root cause: Aristotle once said, “knowing yourself is the key to all wisdom.” We learn a great deal from our parents, including coping skills. When we experience a negative emotion with repetition, such as frustration or disappointment, it may signal a need for healing. it may be helpful to investigate it for a root cause from the past. Did it originate with a childhood experience? Are we simply regurgitating what we’ve learned, even though damaging?

Do not fear the tests: Of one thing you can be sure, as you forge through life experiencing all it has to offer, you will be tested. The size of the test can change, but there is opportunity for growth and learning with each and every one. As you conquer more and more challenges, you will grow in confidence and character. Do not fear that which will make you stronger.

When someone treats you unfairly, do these 2 things: The feeling that someone has betrayed you can be one of the hardest to endure. The first step is to confront them with love. Clear the air. If you do not do this, you risk wallowing in bitterness all the days of your life. It also gives them the opportunity to provide their insight. As much as we value our own personal perceptions, sometimes they are wrong. No matter the outcome of the first step, the second step is that of forgiveness. We all come from different backgrounds and people usually do what they do based upon past experience. The event may actually have nothing to do with you. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve them, it releases you.

Love people more that things: When we leave this journey and take the last breath of this lifetime, we will take nothing with us. No material things that is. What we do take with us are experiences with those we love. Relationships have great potential for cultivating joy, acceptance and love. Those memories and those feelings should be cherished, for it is those jewels that will cross the veil. Love and respect all persons, for we all come from the same source from which we all return.

There is much more yet to learn in this lifetime I am certain. This list will grow longer. There will be more challenges and more tests, but there can be joy in all things. As we learn and grow from each experience, we cultivate a better life for ourselves and those around us.

Are there reasons that our 20-year-old self stumbled about a bit? Certainly there are. If she were to read this list, perhaps she would understand it to represent the journey set before her. As we seek to become a better person tomorrow than we were yesterday, perhaps this list of caveats could be entitled, my life’s lessons to learn, or maybe even, “my life’s purpose.”

WHERE HAS LOVE GONE?

There is a saying that Love heals all wounds, but if Love has disappeared out of the hearts of many, how can there be healing? And then that begs the question if Love is gone from many hearts, what has taken its place? The answer, for a number of people, is hatred and malice. Thankfully, we don’t have to continue along this ill-gotten path.

We can start the change within ourselves. We can show Love to those that do not seem to want it or want to return it. If enough people begin to Love the unloved or the unloveable (as deemed by society), change can occur. You just need to ask yourself, am I willing to take a leap of Faith and be the first one? Will I use the strength that I’ve been given to withstand the attacks from those that wish to see True Love wiped from this earth?

Those that have Love in their hearts, need to be the ones that step forward, while others step back. We need to stand in the gap for those that are not strong enough yet or who have not seen the True definition of Love in their life. Many have only seen a world view of love, which boils down to being nothing more than lust or a box full of scars.

Let us wake up the Love that dwells within each and every one of us and watch the miracles begin to multiply exponentially.

What Would You Do?

Sometimes life will present us with circumstances that require the use of contemplative discernment. In such a case, do we do what is easy and what seems to provide us with the greatest reward, or do we do what is right, knowing that the consequences may not be in our favor?

There is a video circulating of an interaction between a police officer and a suspect, as filmed from the officer’s vehicle webcam. The clip begins after the suspect has been placed in handcuffs with his arms behind his back. Shortly thereafter, the police officer begins to choke on his gum. His hand then moves to his throat and he begins to gasp for air. He backs away from the car, falls on his back, and continues gasping, with legs flailing about.

The suspect, seemingly uncomfortable, begins glancing about. There seems no one else in the vicinity. With the officer continuing to gasp for air, the suspect moves to his side and yells to the officer, “throw me your keys. (for handcuffs) I’ll help you.” Yet, the officer continues to flail about, both hands on his throat now, gasping in panic. The suspect again barks out, “throw me the keys and I will help you.”

Being in a vulnerable position, this is a decisive moment for the officer. If he does nothing, suffocation seems eminent. And yet, there are risks involved with taking action.

What could happen?

He could throw the keys to the suspect, who could subsequently remove the cuffs and run away.

He could throw the keys to the suspect, who could remove the cuffs and possibly proceed with acts of aggression. He could take the cops weapon, steal the officer’s car, and/or more.

He could throw the keys to the suspect, who could remove the cuffs and potentially save his life.

In all these scenarios, the suspect removes the cuffs when keys are provided. What happens after that is a mystery at this point in the story. Some would say that the officer has no choice, he must attempt to save himself. Others might describe the latter action as selfish and not true to his duty. To take action will take trust, the officer needs to trust that the suspect will do the right thing.

So here is how it played out…

After the second request from the suspect, the officer managed to grab the keys and throw them at the suspect’s feet. The suspect then lowered himself down, while remaining on his feet, and picked up the keys from behind. After a return to standing, he used the keys to release the cuffs, then proceeded to throw the keys and cuffs to the ground. Without hesitation, he proceeded towards the head of the officer. He bent down, reaching his arms under the officer’s shoulders he managed to pull him to his feet. He then began the Heimlich manuver. With the first thrust, nothing happens. After the second, the officer is continuing to gasp and has difficulty trying to remain on his feet. With each thrust, they are moving closer to the car and camera. The suspect, now having to also hold the officer upright, continues using all his might to thrust a third time, fourth time, and a fifth. He is not giving up. Finally, after the fifth thrust, a wad of gum flies out of the officer’s mouth, landing on the hood of the car.

What happens next is also amazing. The officer leans on the car, coughing and gasping, trying to regain some level of composure. Meanwhile, the suspect walks back over to the handcuffs and picks them up. He returns to the officer, hands him the cuffs, then turns around, putting his hands behind his back.

 What do you do when you think no one is watching?

Although continuing to cough, the officer appears quite relieved that the ordeal is over. Making eye contact with the suspect he says, “man, you saved my life. You are free to go.”

This story has a happy ending. It turned out well because someone chose to do the right thing and in doing so, invoked a double blessing. He saved someone’s life and by this action, gained respect and freedom. So it is possible that doing the right thing can provide everyone with the best possible outcome, even when not seen initially.

What would you have done as the officer?

What would you have done as the suspect?

Would you call yourself a person of character? People of character do the right thing, not to boast, but to align with their true nature, for we are always called to authentically Love One Another. At the root of everything, Love is who we are. When provided with a challenge such as this, we must remember, the time is always right to do the right thing.