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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The G Word (Guilt.... Blaaahh)

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  As most of you know, I am a working mother. I am also of Italian and Greek descent raised by a traditional Catholic family. Add to that an addiction to food, an innate desire to please everyone and keep everyone happy and what do you get? Guilt.

Mommy-Why-Do-You-Have-To-Go-To-Work Guilt + I-Forgot-To-Ask-How-Daddy's-Procedure-Went Guilt + When-Was-The-Last-Time-I-Called-My-Nanny Guilt + I-Don't-Believe-In-Confession Guilt + Too-Much-Peanut-Butter Guilt + I-Forgot-To-Call-My-Best-Friend-Back Guilt + I-Should-Really-Stop-Eating-Meat Guilt + My-House-Is-Not-Clean-Enough-Guilt + I-Really-Shouldn't-Have-Spent-So-Much-On-That-Gift Guilt +I-Am-Way-Too-Hard-On-Myself Guilt....
and that just scrapes the tip of the guilt laden hot fudge covered iceberg.

                                                               I hate guilt.
             I am done with guilt.
                                 You SUCK, Guilt!
                                                   F---- You Guilt!
      It took me a long time. Too long of a time to understand and to stop being held hostage by guilt. That's right. Held hostage. Guilt is an ego based emotion. It has its seeds in darkness and it grows up around you and holds you back from experiencing real happiness. It strangles you. And if you let it, it will consume you and hold you in a dark prison shackled to a moment or an action replaying it over and over in your mind, wishing you could change something you believe should never have happened in the first place.
     Don't get me wrong. There are things we just should not do. Any behavior that you know will hurt another person is a reason to feel guilty.... for a minute. I say for a minute, because if you realize you did something wrong, if you realize you made a mistake, you own up to it, ask for forgiveness, make it right, and then you let it go. You cannot go back and redo it. You cannot change the consequences. You can just accept responsibility, do your "penance," so to speak, and move on.
MOVE ON. IT IS OVER.
     Or is it? This is where guilt becomes evil. It should be over. You learned a lesson. You made it right. It's over for the person who forgave you, but you can't let it go. You are plagued. The roots of guilt are beginning to anchor themselves into your heart. And now you are stuck. Replaying. Reliving. Asking why.
     Remember "The F Word (Forgiveness, That Is), last week's post? Guilt is the opposite of that. Guilt is the antithesis of self-forgiveness. When we really love someone unconditionally, it is not that hard to forgive them. Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves? Because guilt is an ego based emotion. Confounded guilt has nothing to do with the other person or the act. It has to do with you. Think about it. Guilt is about self importance.

"I am so important to him or her that he or she will NEVER be able to recover from what I did." 
"My children love me so much that it isn't fair to them that I should have a life of my own."
"I need to be perfect all the time so everyone will love me." 
"I am the center of the universe and my friends and family need me all the time."

Those are the lies that guilt tells you. The truth is:

"Your actions were hurtful, so learn from them."
"There was a lesson for everyone involved. Your actions were a necessary part of another person's life path. They have learned them and moved on."
"If someone cannot move on, they have lessons to learn about forgiveness. There is nothing you can do about that. You are a part of their lesson."
"Your children do love you, and they need you, but they have their own lives and do not think about you every second of the day."
"Your friends and family love you, but they are not thinking about you every minute either."
"Organized religion is just a set of rules. If following those rules makes you feel closer to God, great. But God knows all of your sins. He knows exactly who you are. And if you have sincerely asked him for forgiveness, he has already forgiven you."
"You have accepted the universe's consequences. Don't repeat your mistakes, and move on."

     It's over. Get over it. Show yourself the same unconditional love you would show your child if she made a mistake. "I know you are sorry. You made a mistake. You are only human. We are all just doing the best we can." Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Let it go!

Dear God, I thank you for forgiving me my transgressions. I truly feel sorry for what I have done. Help me to learn my lessons. Help me to cut the chords of guilt that are holding me back from moving forward. Thank you for helping me to forgive myself.

I wish you all well. I wish you all happiness. Remember we are all just human. You are a beautiful child of God and you are doing the best you can to be the best person you can be. God loves you. Remember, every one of us is an extension of God's energy. To love yourself is to love God. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself. It's okay. May you be flooded with healing green light. May any attachments you have from guilt be cut and all scars healed in love. So mote it be. God bless.

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Greater than 3!

Thank you Archangels Gabriel and Raphael for helping me to bring this healing message. Thank You, God for your constant love and support and for the abundance of love in my life.




Saturday, February 16, 2013

The "F" Word, (Forgiveness)



Dove Of Peace, Pablo Picasso
      My favorite Metallica song is *Nothing Else Matters. Probably because it's a song about fearless undying love in the face of adversity.... you know I'm a sucker for that kind of poetry. Mr. Jones', on the other hand is *Unforgiven. Which, is argumentatively one of their best songs as well. Eloquently written, beautifully sung, painting a picture of the painful life a man endures due to his abusive childhood. "Never free, never me, so I dub thee unforgiven." So tragic. So accurate. "Never free," he says. But why is he never free? Not because he cannot erase the scars of the past. He could overcome them. Not easily, but it IS possible for anyone to transcend the cards they were dealt. No, the reason he is 'never free' is because he dubs someone else unforgiven.
     Whenever I find myself deeply engaged in conversation with someone. When we get down to the nitty gritty of what is really holding a person back from experiencing authentic happiness, I find we get to one of two blockages. The two things that are holding most people back are lack of faith or lack of forgiveness. So many good people tie themselves up in a prison of pain without even realizing it because they refuse to, or believe they cannot forgive another person or themselves for some painful moment (or a series of moments) from their past. And this is what I mean by never free. Forgiveness is the key to real emotional freedom. No one ever likes to hear this, but it is the truth.
Mother Teresa
     "I cannot allow myself to forgive him for what he did. I can not give him that. He doesn't deserve to be forgiven." Never free, then.
     "I will never forgive myself for what I did to her. I was so selfish. How could I do that to someone I love?" Never free, then.
     "Some things are just unforgivable." Never free.
     I get it. I get how forgiveness could seem so illusive. Some crimes are just so horrific, so evil, so disgustingly inhuman that to forgive them just seems impossible. If you believe this, then you don't really understand forgiveness. When you find real forgiveness for someone, you are not giving the evildoer anything. You are not giving her a gift of Grace. You are not saying what he did is acceptable. Nor are you saying that you will tolerate that behavior again. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It's about releasing your pain, and allowing yourself to leave the prison of continually reliving that pain.        
     Forgiveness begins by taking yourself out of a situation. Looking at it from a higher perspective. Like you are reading a novel. See yourself as a character. Look at your life path. Look at the other person's life path. Ask yourself, how did that person's mistake affect his life path? It doesn't matter if he learned a lesson from it or not. It doesn't matter if he wants forgiveness or not. He is on a journey. He has lessons to learn in this life and his path is different from yours. He will face judgment. He will face karma. Those are his lessons not yours. 

     Now look at your own life path. How has this transgression affected your life? What lessons did you learn? How did you overcome the hardship? Or, what can you learn from this situation? What are you supposed to learn from it? Refuse to let someone else's mistake, someone else's darkness, someone else's ignorance hold you back anymore. When you hold onto anger towards someone, when you get angry every time you think about him or her, you are continually reliving the pain. You are allowing yourself to be abused over and over again. You deserve better than that. You deserve peace. You need to let it go. When you find forgiveness, understanding of the situation from a divine perspective, you find yourself saying things like:
"He was wrong, but didn't know any better." 
"She was lost in darkness, overcome by evil or ego and he couldn't find the light. She is without God." 
"He was afraid. He acted out of fear. He had lost his faith."
"She is only human. Everyone makes mistakes."
"He is evil, I pray that God will find him."
And then you begin to let go, you begin to realize that his path is his, and your path is yours. They just crossed. There was a reason. You were supposed to learn something. Did you? Maybe your greatest lesson in this life is to learn how to forgive. Maybe you had to experience something horrific so that you can find your way out and help others who still suffer.  Only you can find the answer to the why? Look into your heart. Ask God. You will understand if you seek to understand.You have to make a choice to move on from it. You have to refuse to relive your pain anymore. Refuse to be a victim. 
     I know. This is easier said than done. And maybe you think I couldn't possibly understand the depth of your pain. You are right on both accounts. It IS easier said than done. It requires work on your part, and no one can understand another person's pain. Not fully. **Viktor Frankl described suffering as a gas. It fills you up regardless of how it compares to another person's pain. Each person can only understand the suffering he has experienced, but it doesn't make yours any less or more painful than mine. Suffering is suffering.  I can tell you this, though. I have forgiven everyone who has ever hurt me. 
    "How is that possible, Meliss? You mean you hold no anger for anyone?" Don't misunderstand. Anger comes up. Pain comes up. Sadness comes up. When it does, I pray. (Yes, that is my answer for everything. It works every time.) I ask God to help me release the anger and find forgiveness. I ask an angel (Archangel Raphael) every time I feel angry to help me find understanding and bring healing to a situation. And I do. Everytime. And I am at peace with everyone who is in (and out) of my life. Instead of harboring anger for a person, I pray for humor her. I ask that he will be surrounded in God's light and love so that he will find his way back home. It takes time. Healing always takes time. But it can be done. With faith, with hope, with love, ANYTHING is possible. 
Remember, forgiveness is not a gift you give another person. It's a gift you give yourself. Here is a prayer to help you get started:

Help me to understand forgiveness. Help me find peace in my heart. Thank You, God for helping me to forgive anyone who has ever hurt me. Please forgive me for any and all wrongs I have done against anyone else. Thank You, God for helping me to forgive myself. Thank you for cutting all attachments I have to painful situations in my past. And bringing healing to everyone involved. Thank you for helping me learn my lessons and move forward to a life of peace. Amen
Just think about it. Like I said, healing takes time. But as Pink sings in that song that seems to be playing every time I turn on the radio, ***"You gotta get up and try!" No one deserves to be "never free." Instead, "open mind for a different view," because "nothing else matters."

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>3
I hold the intention that everyone who lays eyes upon this page be surrounded by healing green light. That you be blessed with divine guidance and wisdom to help you on your path towards happiness. For the good of all things and harm to none.

"Nothing Else Matters" and "The Unforgiven" was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett
**Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl. Beacon Press, 2006
***"Try" was written by Busbee and Ben West
Thank you Archangels Gabriel and Raphael for the gift of inspiration, understanding and healing. Thank You, Jesus for helping me find forgiveness in all areas of my life. I am so blessed and grateful.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Moment I Wake Up...

(You know where this is going, right?)... before I put on my make-up.... (that's right, I'm channelling Dionne**).... I say a little prayer for you! 

     It's been in my head all day. It's true, though. After I drag my sorry butt out of bed, already having pushed snooze twice, watched the clock with the right time change over to 5:55, and untangled my legs from whichever child crawled into bed and intertwined with me, trying not to disturb the 75 lb dog who has wiggled his way between Mr. Jones and me, I stumble into the bathroom and that's when the prayers start. While the shower heats up, Our Father Who Art In Heaven... Wetting my hair... Hail Mary, full of grace... Shampoo... Oh my Jesus, forgive me my sins.... My Queen, my Mother, I give you all of myself....Conditioner...My Jesus, help me to be a beacon of Your light..., and somewhere between the Dove soap and facial scrub, I speak to 5 of the Archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Chamuel and Raphael) asking them to shield me, protect me and guide me through the day. I ask to clear blockages, lift negativity, ground energy, push aside my ego, keep me "sign posted", and to fill me with Divine Love that overflows onto everyone I meet. And that IS before I put on my make-up. Those are just the prayers I say for myself.
      The rest of the day is pretty much a series of nonstop prayers for other people. Driving to work: please surround D-, in healing light. Lift any anxiety off of J-. Shield Mr. Jones and "all my children" in white light and protect them from all negativity. Walking down the hall: that kid has been really sad lately, lift his sadness and fill him with love. There's C-, surround her in Divine love so that she can heal the scars of her broken heart and move forward. There's J, help her find the answers she needs to help her son who is being bullied. C is trying to get pregnant, help her to surrender to the process. It goes on and on like that in between explanations of cell function, parent meetings, making photocopies, and discussing science fair projects. But you get it... I pray A LOT! Even sometimes while I'm teaching, someone I care about will pop into my head at random and "I say a little prayer" for them. 
Michelangelo, The Creation Of Adam
     I know this is not typical. I realize that I have a faith that is unlike most people's, and I am not saying that everyone should spend their day in prayer that way, but there is a reason why I pray so much. I know it works. My life has been transformed through prayer. I have seen other people's lives change dramatically, as well.
     A few months ago, I was at a birthday party. I didn't know the hostess that well (Mrs. S), but I felt immediately comfortable with her. I had the extreme joy of connecting to her late parents that night. And if I remember correctly, an aunt as well. I don't remember that much of the reading, but I do remember that they were quite upset with her as she had lost her faith. They were saying over and over again that she needed to pray. That she needed to count her blessings. Her parents' names were *Anne and Anthony. Her father showed me a bunch of religious statues. I recognized Saint Anthony, and asked Mrs. S if she prayed through him. She said, "all the time." When I finally left, Mrs. S was in tears, and when I kissed her goodbye, I felt very blessed because knew I had delivered the message that God wanted her to hear. Driving home, They showed me (in my head) a St. Anthony medal that was in the junk drawer of my nightstand. I understood immediately that I had to find it and give it to Mrs. S. Sure enough, I opened the drawer and shoved in the back were 2 prayer cards with medals attached to them. One was Saint Anthony, the other was Saint Anne. (I didn't even know they were there, nor did I know where they came from.) So I sent them to her. A few days later, I received a beautiful thank you card saying that she was wearing the medals everyday and that she had begun to pray and count her blessings. She had shifted her thinking from, "God, why did You make my life so hard?" to "Thank You God, for the many blessings I have." A few months later, I saw her again at a birthday party. She showed me her medals, and said, "I have been praying everyday, and I feel so much better." Something prompted me to ask her about her job. She was working for a daycare and was extremely underpaid. She told me that recently, that she had considered leaving, but a voice in her head told her to stick it out. After a series of unforeseen circumstances, she was given a substantial raise, and her work conditions improved tremendously. By shifting her thoughts to prayers of gratitude, she was rewarded with more blessings. When she finally gave her heart to God, suddenly her life began to change. This is why I pray.
     Yes, I say a lot of prayers. And some are the ones taught by the religion I choose to affiliate myself with, but most of them are just little conversations with God and His angels. That's all a prayer has to be. A simple thought with the intention for God to hear it. He knows it's meant for Him. He hears everything your heart cries out for. The thing is, since He gave you free will, He cannot help you unless you give Him permission. You have to ask. And once you do, you open the door for miracles. If you don't ask, the door stays closed. The choice is yours. Just say a little prayer. That's all there is to it.

(Today, I thank God for the opportunity to connect everyday with so many beautiful souls. >3!)

*Amazingly, I just found out that the day I posted this was the anniversary of the Anne's death. I didn't know it at the time. I don't usually post on a school night, but for some reason I felt it HAD to be posted that day, Feb 7. It wasn't until I shared it with "Mrs. S," that I learned the significance of the date. I remind you, there are NO coincidences. What a beautiful way to honor her.  I feel blessed to have been chosen to do so.

**"I Say A Little Prayer" was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cogito

     It means, "I think," in Latin. No, I am not trying to remind you how smart I think I am. I just have a thing for Descartes. It's not what I think, after all. It's that I think... and therefore, I am. "Cogito, ergo sum." (I think, therfore I am.) Okay, so maybe it is a bit pretentious of me (I slipped on my ego for a minute there), but as you will see, that's sort of my point. I was going to entitle this post, "Check Your 'Big-Ego' and Roll to the Church in Your New Tuxedo." And while I'm sure Young MC would have been delighted that someone, anyone, remembered enough of "Bust a Move" to cleverly butcher his lyrics, I much prefer to honor Monsieur Descartes for the influence his philosophy has had on my own sense of ego. That's what I want to talk about. Ego. The essence of "Cogito" is this idea that each of us has a self, and the only thing we can really be sure of in this world is of our own thoughts, our own existence, our own sense of self. I know...  but before you tune me out like Charlie Brown's teacher, let me start with this:
                                                                   It's hard to be human.
     What does that even mean? Being human. I often say that we are divine beings having an Earthly experience. We are capable of so much and limited by our human bodies. We have this massive beautiful mind that we only use 10% of. I often feel trapped in my body. Like if I could just escape it and let my soul free I could soar throughout the universe and explore and learn so much. But here I am. And there you are. Separate from me. Separated by our bodies. I am me. You are you. We are each an extension of God's divine energy, and yet we are separated by flesh.
The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Salvador Dali
    The ego is a manifestation of this separateness. My body separates my soul from yours, therefore, I must be different from you. My body also creates this illusion that I am separate from God. This idea of who I am is the ego. The ego is not divine. It is the exact opposite of it, actually. It is the part of us that is the farthest away from God. It is the animal in us. The human animal. It is our most basic instincts. It tells us that we have to control every situation. It tells us that we only have two options, fight or flight. It tells us that we have to be the alpha male or female. It tells us that if everyone loves us, we will be in the best position of power and therefore we will be happy. It tells us that happiness is having lots of stuff. It tells us that being (or at least looking) young is imperative to our survival (old is weak, young is strong). To live a life of pure ego makes us no different from any other pack animal. And yet, we are so much more than that. 
     We are God's children, are we not? We have a divine spark. A soul. The soul is not the ego. The soul tells us that happiness comes from giving and receiving love. The soul tells us that peace is an option. The soul tells us that age brings wisdom and that physical appearances are not important. The soul doesn't care about the accumulation of stuff. The soul knows that there is no need to compete with others because there is always enough love to go around.
    The soul is the ego's biggest threat. The ego is based in fear. The soul is based in love. The soul gives you confidence to let your inner light shine in the face of darkness regardless of anyone else's opinion. The ego gives you arrogance and a constant need to receive praise. The ego needs a spotlight. The soul makes YOU the light source. Being human is hard. We are constantly plagued by ego. It tells us we are not good enough unless someone else thinks so. It deludes us into thinking we have to wait for someone to show up with a spotlight, and that that spotlight is the most important thing. But what happens when you stand in a spotlight? You can't see anyone else. The light is on you, but all you see is darkness.
     If you can squash that ego, just a little bit. If you can tell it to shut up for a minute. If you can ignore the lies it constantly tells you. If you can embrace your own inner light. If you can start measuring your success by amount of love given instead of by adoration received. If you can live a life where things matter little and people matter a lot. Then your light will shine. It will shine so bright that you will realize that you are not alone on the stage. You will be able to see. And you will see that you are surrounded by many beautiful lights, many beautiful souls, creating a beacon that destroys the darkness. And in this light, there is no place where I begin and you end, and love and happiness can fill us all.
     I know. It seems really hard, doesn't it? Do you mean I have to stop wearing make-up? I can't stop wearing make-up! (You don't have to stop wearing make-up, Mommy. It's Okay) No one is completely without ego. (Especially, me. Remember "cogito?" It's a constant battle.) We all suffer from our egos. If you could stifle it all together, you would be divine, a saint, a buddha, a prophet. Most of us are just humans struggling to live normal lives. Just start paying attention to it. Try to recognize its voice. And when it starts to creep up on you and tell you that you can't, know that you can push it aside. Focus on the love in your life and remember what's really important. Remember that all the bad things in life, anger, fear, jealousy, pride, arrogance, self centeredness, lust, avarice, guilt, violence... they are all manifestations of the human ego. They do not come from God. Not in you. Not in other people. And if you can remember that everyone of us is struggling with ego. If you can remember that being human is hard for all of us, then you can understand forgiveness. There is a reason why they say, "To err is human. To forgive is divine." You can undertand that we all fall prey to our egos sometimes. You can forgive those who have hurt you because they were caught in the throws of ego and you can find the hardest form of  forgiveness of all... forgivenss of self.
I pray that you find your divine light and embrace it without fear.

Love, love, love, love...... >3