Freedom of the Past

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the “stuff” that weighs you down.” ~ Toni Morrison

Everyone has been hurt by someone in their lives. Perhaps someone has hurt us so bad that we harbor a resentment towards them. The only way to get past resentments is to forgive that person – not for their benefit, for yours – so you can move on to the future.

When my husband wanted a divorce, I was SO ANGRY at men I swore I was going to stay single until the day I died. My other best friend, a male, heard me saying this to someone and told me I would change my mind. Somewhere between me saying that and what happened was something I hadn’t expected. A man I’d been friends with for a few years started talking to me more often. Somehow between coffee dates he snuck into my heart when I wasn’t looking.

There was just one problem, my heart, angry as it was, still belonged to my ex husband. I realized I couldn’t go into another relationship with the weight I felt in my heart. I needed to forgive my ex husband for all of the hurt I felt. Forgive, not forget, for me, not for him.

When I began to forgive, I started to feel the weight fall from my shoulders and heart. I even spoke to him in a civil tone of voice. Do I miss the good times? Of course. Do I want to punch him in the nose? Hell yes! Do I miss him and want him back in my life? Definitely not. After a little while my heart healed and I was open for love again.

Thought for the day: We must learn from and forgive the past so we can live in the present and can look towards the future, whatever it may hold.

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The Past

“All mistakes are lessons to be learned and challenges to be overcome” By Unknown

Have you done something in the past that you look back on today with regret? Maybe you zigged when you shoulda zagged, you woulda said this, then this coulda happened. Psst, I have a secret for you. All the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s ain’t gonna change a darn thing.

None of us have lived a perfect life, but fortunately, the past, even tho it hurts, is done and over. This quote tells us that we can learn what to or not to do, who we are or are not, and who we do or don’t want in our lives. We can also learn to live by Spiritual Principles like honesty, integrity and acceptance to name a couple. We can even find what we’re passionate about or what our calling in life is.

Mistakes are a part of life. Having bad experiences, events or situations don’t have to define and describe us or make us victims. Once we can ACCEPT our mistakes and the part WE played or didn’t play in the situation, we can share with others what we’ve learned.

I have another secret for you. The key to learning from our mistakes is to get out of our “self mode”. That’s self mode is when we are selfish, self-centered, and self-serving. It’s when we think of only ourselves and not other people. When we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes and we can understand where they’re coming from and how our mistake affects them. Also when we can do this, we can see our part, our role in the situation.

Thought for the day: Today I will accept that mistakes are a part of life and will learn the lessons that they teach me.

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“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” ~Dr Martin Luther King Jr

When we forgive we stop feeling anger toward and stop blaming someone who has done something wrong. We don’t necessarily go up to the person, bop them on the head and say, “I declare you forgiven!” Of course if it were that easy none of us would hate anyone. Sometimes we need to forgive them in our hearts.

We can ask ourselves what we did to cause what happened or did we say something wrong or unnecessary? Could we have avoided what happened? This helps us look at our own actions to help us see our role in the situation which helps us grow. Sometimes no matter what we did or said could’ve changed the outcome and we need to accept this.

If we cannot forgive, we end up resenting whoever hurt us. This is a poison that slowly kills us from our insides out. Eventually we become bitter, lonely people because we trust or love anyone including ourselves. One thing we can do to help ourselves is say a prayer. The prayer doesn’t need to be big and fancy. Just something asking your Higher Power to help you to find forgiveness.

Thought for the day: “Free of Resentment Prayer” (Your Higher Power’s name), free me from my resentment toward ______. Please bless ______ in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day. Please give _____ everything I want for myself. And may ______’s life be full of love health, peace, prosperity, and happiness as they seek to have a closer relationship with You.

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The Evil That Men Do

“Gunman Opens Fire in Texas Church, Kills 26 People Many Others Wounded”, “White Gunman Opens Fire in African-American SC Church – Kills 9 People, “Terrorist Attack in France, England, United States -X Number Killed, X Number Wounded ”

Before I go into my message of today, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones to all those affected by the tragedy in Texas yesterday, Sunday November 5th, 2017 and also those affected by the terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. My hope is that my words may give some solace and/or understanding to senseless tragedies like this.

One look at those headlines and one might wail, “Where is my Higher Power in this mess? How could He allow something like this to happen? Why didn’t He stop it from happening?”

Tho it is no solace, our Higher Power has given you and me free will. The power  to do and say, or not do and say what we want, when we want in life. He is with us always and there are messages in these messes. I look at His message like this. He loves us no matter what we do, and wants us to share that love with others, even those who harm us. It’s what we should do after these tragedies that is important. Simple as that.

Many of us know the Bible has conflicting stories about being injured by another person. One story talks about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth while one says we should turn the other cheek and offer the other side. But which is it?

The passage, “…an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” is found in Exodus 21:24 and Leviticus 24:20. In those days, this was our Higher Power’s Personal Injury Law. It called for retribution that was to be properly administered only after an offender had stood trial before the priests and judges. They weighed the circumstances and the degree of deliberateness of the offense.

According to a 19th-century commentary on the Bible, it’s believed that this law was taken to literally and became grounds for authorizing retribution for private resentments. Revenge was committed by vindictive people and this revenge was often carried to the utmost extreme, and the punishment was more than the crime.

Later in the Bible, we learn that “…But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other cheek..” in Matthew 5:39. This reflects the true spirit of our Higher Power’s Law. However, this did not mean that if you were struck on one side of the face that you should stagger to your feet and offer the other side as a target. In Biblical times, just as today, a slap is not necessarily meant as a literal slap, but more metaphorically. The “slap” is more of an insult intended to provoke a reaction to a confrontation. It means that if someone provokes you, we must avoid retaliation. This helps us to avoid what could become a vicious circle of repaying evil for evil.

Turning the other cheek does not mean that we should not defend ourselves against violent assailants. It means that we should never strike offensively or allow ourselves to be provoked to the point we take revenge. While it is wise to retreat whenever possible in order to avoid a fight, it is proper to take steps to protect ourselves and seek the help of the police if we are a victim of a crime.

Yes, evil exists in the world, there’s no denying it. It exists in villages and cities across the globe. If there’s one thing we can take away from this mess is that we must not keep the cycle of violence going. Do not retaliate a slap in the face with gunshots. For these frequent occurrences of violence, we need to seek an understanding of how and why they happen. From there, we need to look for solutions so that it can be prevented in the future. Yes, while the power of prayer helps in situations like these, we need humans to step up to help turn the tides on the Evils of this world.

Thought for the day: What will you do if someone strikes you? Will you get and eye for an eye or will you turn the other cheek? The choice is yours. I’ve made my choice.

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Learning from Crayons

Prayers to my fellow New Yorkers. So proud of all who showed up for the Halloween parade just hours after the terrorist attack. 

“We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.” ~Robert Fulghum

Funny how to get a point like this across we look at things from a child’s viewpoint. Another way we can look at this is to watch how young children live and play. Imagine a bunch of parents putting their children in a sandbox with other children of different skin colors and faiths and all they tell their child is to have fun and play nicely. What happens next is anyone’s guess but whatever happens you can pretty much guess they’ll all be playing together fairly well. Parents who encourage their children to play with other children in this way can set the tone for how they will grow up to be adults in a very diverse world. A world that seemingly grows more divisive by the day.

When we are born, we only know love. Somewhere along the way we are taught hate. It starts out small like being picky about what we eat. Then it progresses more in our school years when we start deciding who we associate and play with. Sometimes it starts when we’ve been teased by our peers because we befriend someone our peers think have less than desirable characteristics(enter the days of the jocks, nerds, preps, etc). Sometimes we learn to discriminate because of something we hear our parents say. Then there are some people that grew up learning nothing but hatred and discrimination.

I’m sure you all know that hatred is an intense emotion of dislike. But do you know why people hate?  Usually we hate others because of fear and how it manifests within us. We may be afraid of what that person will do to us. Maybe we heard something about that type of person, their race or their beliefs. On the other hand made we may be insecure, or jealous of something the other person has or we feel we deserve better, therefore that jealousy, or insecurity comes out in the form of anger/hate.

Also some people can evoke certain emotions in them like fear. They don’t hate people, they hate the emotions and fears that arise within them and project these fears/emotions onto others. To avoid the pain of dealing with their own emotions, they hate them. Also people hate because of mutually conflicting values.

Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. It encompasses words like prejudice, bias, bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, unfairness, inequity, favoritism, one-sidedness, and partisanship. The one word that sticks out to me is intolerance. This is an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.

You probably know that hate, discrimination and intolerance are at record levels not just in America but all over the world. If we are to have any semblance of peace in this world we desperately need to learn to be more tolerant and accepting of people, especially for those who are different from us. Not one of us is a perfect person.  That job is left for someone else. Underneath our skins and beyond the name we give our Higher Power, we are ALL the same. Each of us has the same organs that keep us alive. Each of us also has feelings, goals, hopes and dreams.

Yes, we can learn a lot from crayons. Although they are all different colors, each one is made of wax and each one is covered with a paper label. They all get along well in the box. No matter how you arrange them, they still make a rainbow.  Just imagine what it would look like if red kicked blue out of the box or orange picked on green because of it’s color. It would make for quite a muddy mess. If we’re just a little more patient, tolerant and accepting we may not achieve world peace but we’ll have more peace in our own little world.

Thought for the day: What are some ways that you can practice patience, acceptance or tolerance?

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Freedom is Not Free

“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary” ~Malcolm X

Protesting has been a way to make changes in the county since we became free from control of other countries. In recent years, masses of people have protested various injustices that they feel. Some have even protest the American Flag, the National Anthem, our troops and the country as a whole. While I applaud utilizing your Freedom of Speech and agree with peaceful protesting injustices in the country these are symbols of our freedom should be protected and respected. Granted, these acts are not illegal, it is disrespectful.

When you do that stuff to the flag or during the National Anthem it is like spitting on our military past, present and future soldiers, their families that support them, as well as our Founding Fathers. I’m quite certain that if you ask any veteran or their family members you will find that this is how they feel. I will almost bet if you look far enough in your family’s history you will find a relative who fought in some war.

This country was founded for and it’s citizens have fought for this country for one main reason – Freedom. Think about this if you will. I am quite certain that someone somewhere reading this does not have the Freedoms that we take for granted. There may even be someone somewhere reading this who would be in some serious trouble if they were even caught reading this. PleaseOur wars, for the most part, have been fought to preserve our way of life.

Thought for the day: Ask yourself this question, what would your life be like right now if Japan, Germany, Vietnam, Korea, England, France or any of the Middle East countries we’ve fought won? To get the answer just look at how life is right now in any of those countries. Would you have the happiness and freedoms you have now?

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Break the Stigma

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Drug addiction has not only taken hold of, but it’s taken over people in our community in my lil corner of the world, just like many other communities in other lil corners all over the world. It’s killing our youth and adults at unprecedented rates. Statistical numbers vary, but on average, between 120 – 150 addicts die each day because of addiction. To put that into perspective, as you are reading this, at least two addicts are dying.

In our community, to help battle this epidemic we’ve had increased law enforcement activity and a couple of town hall type meetings. Nothing much has really come of it except for a very overcrowded jail. As much as many of these people might deserve jail time, it doesn’t help that addict to seek out recovery. In fact, it actually does the opposite. It not only fans the flames of guilt and self loathing but drugs can still be obtained in jail no matter how hard it is to do it.

Consequently, any hope that was built up by these community efforts was squashed by the next addict who died as a result of our community’s inaction. Other reasons that add to the problem are the lack of resources, and the lack of willingness to get and stay clean. Perhaps the biggest reason is the stigma of being an addict. We are already ashamed and embarrassed by our addiction and the monsters we become. We hide in the shadows while being called some ugly names.

In recent months, a young lady in our community has stepped up to the plate. As a recovering addict herself, she has been working very hard to bring awareness to the effects of drug addiction in our community and the stigma attached to it. Recently she, with the help of others, put together a community event to do just that and more. She brought together vendors, musicians, speakers and organizations to raise this awareness and to show other addicts, family, loved ones and our community that addicts are not bad people. We are sick people who need help. Her goal was to let others know that there is hope.

When I found out about this event thru social media, I decided to get a hold of this young lady and asked if I could bring my friends and some resources with me. I also asked if she needed another speaker and I offered to share my experience, strength and hope despite my trepidation of public speaking. She was excited to have me come with my friends, our resources…and for me to speak.

My target audience was to loved ones and others in the community who may or may not be sympathetic to addicts. I’ve had a fear of public speaking since my school days when I had to give a book report to my classmates. At this event, I was going to be speaking to total strangers and people who know me but don’t know I’m an addict. Normally, if I were to speak to another group of addicts, I would just shoot from the hip, however, wanted my message to be crystal clear to everyone there. Because of this fear and health problems that often affect my brain and mouth, I wrote what I wanted to say on my iPad.

In the days leading up to the event, I’d read some posts on social media about stigmatized addicts that I wanted to incorporate into what I’d be saying. I wanted to speak briefly yet clearly to each type of person who was expected to be there. Besides sharing my story, hope and insight to addicts and loved ones, I spoke to people who criticize and stigmatize us. The following is part of what I said the other day

“…I’d like to speak to those who criticize and condemn addicts. How would you feel if someone says to you, ‘You’re so fat, you’re so stupid, you’re so ugly, you’re dressed so funny that you don’t deserve to live.’? Doesn’t feel so good does it?

“…put yourself in the shoes of an addict or their loved ones for just a moment. Imagine how it feels when they hear stuff like, ‘Why can’t you just stop using? It’s a choice not a disease. Once a junkie, always a junkie. You’re a dirty, rotten, low life, piece of shit, dumb ass, brain dead, crackhead whore. Addicts are dirty homeless people. Addicts are scum of the earth, they should all just die’

“When you say or think these things what you forget is that an addict is someone to somebody.

“When I was little, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. Something changed shortly after I graduated. I think I can speak for all addicts when I say this.

  • Never once did I say that I wanted to become an addict.
  • Never once did I say I wanted to pop pills, smoke dope, inject poison into my veins, or drink poison.
  • I wanted to be somebody when I grew up. Not some junky, crackhead, loser who was mentally, emotionally and spiritually broke.
  • Never once did I say I wanted to be lonely, homeless or the outcast of society for the rest of my life.

“It’s not like there was a representative from Addiction University at our college fair in high school. Even at the job fair I don’t recall seeing anyone from Druggie Incorporated looking to hire me.

“I am somebody’s child, somebody’s sibling, somebody’s parent/grandparent, somebody’s spouse, somebody’s significant other. I am your co worker, your neighbor, your family member, your friend. I am that celebrity that you idolize. I am your next door neighbor. I am the stranger you meet on the street, I am somebody’s…someone, I am…me. I am a recovering addict now.

I chose the quote today because even tho I’ve been in recovery for some time now, I’ve sat by silently as people in my community have died from this disease. Tho I’ve been more vocal in recent months on social media, I’ve forgotten what I’ve said to you, my readers, when it comes to making changes in the world. I need to be the change I want to see in the world. I need to do more than I currently do in my own backyard, my community.

In the time I’ve been recovery, I’ve known many of the addicts who’ve died but I wasn’t close to them. There may be others I don’t know about, but this year alone, I’ve lost someone I considered a brother in April and this last month I’ve lost someone I considered a sister. My heart still breaks over the fact these 2 addicts were young. It also breaks knowing that other brothers and sisters are out there.

It also breaks my heart that we are still viewed as bad people.

Thought for the day: i simply repeat, we are sick people who need help.

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