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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Gift

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Peter.

Peter was very much like other little boys of the same age, he played ball, he told jokes, he even picked his nose and flicked his boogers. Looking at Peter, you would think that he was just another ordinary little boy.

But there was something about Peter that was so different, so amazing, and it was something that Peter was so self-conscious of, that he hid it. This special gift that Peter had was, his brilliance!

Yes, Peter was a brilliant little boy. But deep down, he knew that his brilliance could take him places, far away places, and if he allowed his brilliance to shine, he would supercede his parents and brothers and sisters, and even possibly be separated from them. This fear held Peter back, and he did not tell anyone about his brilliance, nor did he show anyone how brilliant he really was.

Over time, this secret made Peter very sad. He wanted so much to tell someone, anyone about his secret. He wanted to tell his Mum and Dad, but they were always too busy worrying about bills to pay any real attention to him.

At night, Peter would hear his Mum and Dad fight over money. He saw how unhappy money, or the lack of money, was making his parents. And he began to rage a hatred towards money.

Peter was doubly sad because he knew that if he could only have the courage to speak out and tell people about his brilliance, that he would be able to solve all of his parents problems.

One day, Peter worked up the courage to tell his Mum about his secret. He practiced all day what he would say and how he would say it. Finally, this feeling of boldness formed in the pit of his stomach... well it felt more like a boulder than boldness, but it egged him on, and it helped him move his feet, and he began to feel pride and happiness swelling in the center of his chest. This warmth grew larger and larger and it felt as if the sun itself had reached down and touched him.

Peter got right up off of the sofa and walked tall and proud into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner. "Mum, I have something to tell you."

His Mum was really busy and harried-looking; "What is it Peter? Can't you see I am busy?"

"Mum, I have a secret to tell you." His chest puffed out in pride as he finally had found the courage to let go of this deep-seeded secret.

"Well, what is it? Do you think I have all day to be standing around listening to your silly little "secrets"? Do you know all that I have to do? Do you even care? There are bills to pay and your father is too lazy to do anything about them, so not only do I have to work until sweat appears on my brow, but then I have to come home and fix dinner for all you lazy children. So tell me Peter, what is this "great secret" that you have to tell me and it better not be something ridiculous , because honestly I really have notime to listen to a bunch of dribble right now."

With each word that came out of his mother's mouth, the warm feeling in Peter's chest diminished more and more. His back began to curl as he rounded his shoulders in. His head began to droop, and he could feel the heat of tears prickling the back of his eyes.

He knew... he knew he could not tell his Mum his great secret. He knew that he had to keep it locked away within himself.

"Well..." she crossed her arms and tapped her foot waiting impatiently for Peter to answer. "What is it?"

"Nothing. Just that I love you." Peter responded.

"OK fine. You've told me your "secret", now leave me alone so I can finish dinner."

Peter walked away from the kitchen, his heart swelling to the point that it almost burst.

After that day, Peter kept this secret locked inside of him for a very long, long time.

As he grew older, he began making choices that were not so good, and he had to live through the consequences of those choices. These consequences, and the guilt that he felt over making some of the choices he had made, added to his self-doubt, his loneliness, his isolation, and his fears.

One day, Peter met a young lady, and his heart began to swell in a love that he could not understand, and he did not want to truly understand. He decided to take a risk and marry this lady.

This lady was very different to anyone he had ever met before. When Peter introduced her to his family, they scorned her. They did not like the light that was shining out of her. She was the type of lady who entered into a room, and the entire room lit up. The more her light shone with love and compassion and friendship, the more Peter's family hated her.

And the more Peter's family hated her, the more he grew to love her.

Soon, Peter began to discover a new found strength inside of him, and he told his family that he would never leave his beloved bride; in his saying this, his family scorned him also. Finally, Peter had no choice, but to leave his family and so he did.

As the years went by, Peter and his wife fell more and more in love with each other. His wife's light began to rub off on Peter and he would have moments, great moments, when his inner-light shone so brightly, it was almost blinding.

And as Peter's wife observed him, she noticed something about him, a very special quality that could not be denied. As she began to notice this, so did others.

Soon, Peter's secret was beginning to be revealed. In small ways at first, but soon the secret of his brilliance was shining forth brightly.

Sadly, there were many dark forces who noticed this and who took advantage of it. Each time this happened, Peter began to withdraw his light a little more and a little more. His once shining bright star, began to grow dull. He began to get sad and fearful once again. And no matter what encouragement his beloved wife would offer him, what words of wisdom she shared with him, he did not want to hear or listen.

One day, Peter had an immensely brilliant idea. It was the idea of ideas. It was something that was SO brilliant, he would HAVE to share it with the world as it was just too great for one man to hold within himself.

Peter shared his idea with his wife. Immediately, she began to glow. The glow came from a deep place inside of her as she recognized the brilliance of Peter's idea. She encouraged him to work on his idea so he could share it with the world, and help light up so many lives that had grown very dark, and were decaying in so many places.

But Peter grew scared. Everyday he would go to his computer, he would determine inside of himself that "today is the day I'll start working", but then he would find other things to occupy his mind and his time. For weeks and weeks, then months and months, Peter would follow a routine. Each morning he would tell himself that "today is the day", but each time he turned his computer on, he would find himself another distraction.

Soon, he noticed that there was almost no food in the house and there was no money to go and buy more food because he was not making any money. The once shining bright light that his wife exuded was starting to dim. She no longer carried a smile on her face and her face was beginning to grow deep lines from frowning with worry and stress. He noticed that they began to have more and more arguments about little things, and he began to feel that she was picking on him each time she thought she was motivating and encouraging him. Soon, the love he once felt for her was also diminishing, and he began to fill his mind with thoughts of divorce.

Peter did not know what to do. He knew that this secret that he held on so tightly to was destroying his life. He felt himself die just a little more each day.

Soon, he told his wife that she had to stop pushing him to work. He began to let go of his brilliant idea because he did not feel the courage to pluck himself out of the sorrow and dark pit that he had formed around him.

As he let go of the idea, there was another man who lived in another state, and soon he was finding himself becoming filled with the most brilliant idea the world had ever known. And as the idea filtered away from Peter and filtered into this new man, the light within him started to grow greater.

This man was not a brilliant man by any means, but he knew brilliance when he saw it. He grabbed hold of this idea and began to work on it. Soon, he brought his idea to the world, and all the people of the entire world stood up and clapped. They jumped up and down with glee. The light that had been going out in so many lives began to grow again. Soon the entire world was glowing with the light of happiness, positive energies, love, and fulfillment, as this idea truly changed the world.

But in one small part of the world, there was a darkness. A sorrow so deep. A regret so great. A pain so tremendous. It emerged from two people, Peter and his beloved wife.

As Peter let his idea slip away into the Universe, the Universe realised that they needed to find someone else much more suitable to manifest the idea into life. So they did.

What Peter never realised or wanted to comprehend was that his gift of brilliance was just that "a gift". It was entrusted to him by the greatest force, but he hid it away. He was too afraid to let it shine. When he was entrusted with the greatest light-giving idea, he was too scared to let it out and share it. As he fell more into his routine of being busy by procrastinating, the Universe was always observing. Finally, the Universe knew that it was time for the idea to shine, there were more people in the world that needed this idea to materialize than just Peter. So, they found someone else and they gave him the idea instead.

Often, we do not realise that the ideas we are given are not created by us alone, they are entrusted to us by a higher and greater force. When we are entrusted with such a gift, it is our responsibility to hold on tightly and take that idea to the maximum limit. We do not know what that idea can do for others, but the Universe does. While we may be compensated monetarily or by wide-acclaim, the Universes compensation to us, and especially to the ones the idea touches, is so much greater.

When you have an idea, do all you can to turn it into reality. There are no true obstacles but the obstacles you place in front of yourself. They are nothing more than mere illusions that can be maneuvered by simple imagination and action.

Success has never been created by imagination and dreams alone, it takes action, work, and diligence in persevering the end goal.

Do not be like Peter, if you have an idea, put it into action, today! You never know when the Universe will remove it from you and give it to someone else. Don't let your fears or the words of others distract you or hold you back. Inspite of what others say to negate your idea, your dream, or your belief, do it! There is an even greater audience watching you and cheering you on.

©Leyla Hur
All Rights Reserved. Copying, altering, displaying or redistribution of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Awakening

Over the past few days, I feel like I have come into a new Spiritual Awakening, a complete and total understanding. To keep this locked up inside of me would not service me, or whoever might be reading this.

For too long, I have tried to find “understanding” within the walls of religion. Recently, I had a comment from someone that was very negative in its very words, but in comprehending, pondering, meditating, and then understanding, I find myself sitting here tonight with complete understanding.

The individual who wrote to me accused me of having an “identity crisis”, they told me that I should have “gotten over” my identity crisis years ago. While my initial reaction was one of complete shock and hurt at the words, I now am grateful for those words because it caused me to open my heart and my mind to complete and total opening up to my Self.

Over the years, I have traversed many spiritual paths, gone on spiritual journeys, and tried very hard to find my sense of “belonging” within the walls of organized religion.

This started in my mid-teens when I was in a foreign country attending school in a distant location from the town I was living in with my Grandparents. Alone, lonely, away from “home” (the home that I had grown up in with my parents), and without the friends I had known most of my life, I was friendless in this town. The only people I could consider as “friends” from school lived in the city, a distance from where I was.

In that loneliness, I was introduced to the Mormon Church via members of the church who embraced me and accepted me as one of their own. At 16-years-old, it was no wonder that their complete, total, unconditional acceptance appealed to me and drew me in. Whether I actually believed in the teachings of the church, I felt that I had found my place of belonging.

After I was baptized in to the Church, I found myself leaving within 9-months. I began my true “journey” through many different paths and religions, returning often to the Church, but never staying long.

For so many years I could not understand why I was not “satisfied” to just give up my life and any other beliefs that I might have and remain within the bonds of the church; at the same time, I wondered why I kept being drawn back to the church.

So when I was finally “out” of the church, my name removed from their records as if I was never even in existence; in essence, wiping me away from the mind and the cognition of God, I felt freed and relief. Now, I was finally released to truly explore my own truth.

After my father died, I delved in to the religion of my ancestors, my father and my birth; Islam.

Initial study taught me that Islam was more a way of life; it was a spirituality where Allah (God) was everything, not merely IN everything, but actually WAS everything.

Removed was the belief and teaching that God was a mortal man, an image that I simply could not comprehend since first learning about this “white-bearded Deity”. My mortal conceptualization of an omnipresent being contained within a body of flesh and bone seemed overtly limiting to me. The idea of a Holy Ghost and Son seemed even more foreign to me.

So, as I delved more into the study of Islam, things began to make sense. And that is why when I was first harassed by what are known as “haraam police” (haraam meaning “forbidden”), I was shocked. These individuals claiming that their “correcting” me was “sunnah” and that if I was to be a Muslim, I had “better get used to it”.

Often, I felt like I was a mere child being scolded continually by individuals whom I had never met and whom I did not know; strangers, that were labeled as “sisters” simply because we were both Muslim.

I became increasingly frustrated and angered at these people who were correcting my every thought, my every belief, my every action, and most often these individuals were much younger than me.

A couple of times, I came close to giving up the entire aspect of Islam because of the nastiness that was spouting out of these individuals, followed up by the prevalent “I say this because I love you for the sake of Allah”. What the hell did that sentiment mean? They only “loved” me to keep in the ‘good graces’ of Allah; and that “I”, the “you” they were correcting, had no matter, no meaning, no worth?

I began to withdraw from a lot of the social and religious activities within the community as the offense of more than one unnerved me. I was told by the select few I confided in to just “ignore them”; but in my doing that, I was continuing to give them permission to act in such an abusive manner.

An individual with my background does not accept abuse by simply rolling over and taking it. I have long-learned to open my mouth, stand out strong and tall, and shout out against abuse.

In my frustration, I tried to understand why I kept delving back in to different spiritual paths. Why was I not simply satisfied with “me”? What was I truly searching for, and would I ever really find it?

In a moment of complete and sheer frustration, I unloaded on a dear friend, and divulged a part of myself to her. I let down my barriers and opened up to a secret I kept long buried. In my doing so, in her amazing response, and in my thinking about her words, I finally saw clearly the whole picture. I finally understood myself, my frustrations, my “need” to hide behind organized religion.

This was a process that first began last year, but I could not let myself go enough to be honest and truthful with who I was and “why” I was.

In this openness that I finally began embracing, I began to SEE and see for the very first time.

I began addressing issues that I had seen crop up time and time in religion, and especially what I had recently learned within the confines of Islam “the religion”.

One of the biggest issues was the idea of covering in the hijab. When I first covered, I did it for myself. I did for my own reasons and it had nothing to do with the common misnomer held within Islam. And I had often questioned myself if my own reasons for covering were “in line” with what was common thought within the religion itself.

The verse in the Quran says; “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” Qu’ran 24:31

And when I finally came to understanding, I realized that when God speaks, He speaks in the whole sense of the explanation and it is us mere mortals who understand in literal, and in so-doing, MIS-understanding.

“Guarding” one’s modesty is something that most of us do already. What is “modesty” in the true understanding of the word? In the online Princeton Wordnet definition it says that modesty is freedom from vanity or conceit. When we guard against this, we are removing EGO (Edging God Out) from our lives.

So covering the body in “modesty” as the literal translation has been interpreted, might not be what the original belief was.

When I meditated on “lowering their gaze”, I realized that this was not something that was also literal, but realize that this was the precursor to guarding modesty. Again, I finally understood it to mean that we need to be aware of our surroundings. When we lower our gazes as we walk, we are being cognitive of the path ahead of us. While this is indicated towards us as individuals, it has a much bigger meaning to it. A deeper, more spiritual meaning and not the literal translation that has kept so many women covered in cloth for so long.

I questioned why, if modesty was such an important thing, were we all born naked and emerging out of our mother’s naked vaginas. And then I understood the complete picture…

We are already “covering our modesty” as we emerge out of the womb, as we are forming IN the womb. Our “covering” is our physical bodies, and this covers that which “drives” our bodies, our soul.

In discussion with my husband, he asked “So does this mean that we’ll all be naked in heaven?”

No. We will not be naked; we will not have the bodies which we have now, because we are nothing but forms of energy.

We say Allah is everything, not just IN everything, but IS everything. How could that be? What is true omnipotence? The concept is difficult to comprehend on so many levels. But as we transcend in Spiritual awareness, it makes complete and total sense. Upon shedding of our mortal bodies, we too are omnipotent in that we can be in more than one place at one time because we are nothing more than energy forms.

Does this concept align us with Allah and “enjoin” us to him? Yes and no.

Yes we are aligned because if we truly believe that Allah is the creator of all things, therefore OUR creator, we hold a strand of His DNA within us. This is shown in the mere fact that we are alive, we are breathing and we are feeling. We have a soul, and in that soul, He holds a part of us. This is what is called Divine Connection. This is also what links each and every single person upon this earth to each other.

Does this mean that we are in essence “Gods”? No. However, we do hold a part of God in us through that Divine Connection, but we are NOT Gods, at least in my comprehension.

In answering my husband’s question, no we will not be “naked” because we will have no form to be naked with, but rather we are energy.

Someone asked tonight “how can God judge us, and why God would like some of us or dislike some of us when he doesn’t have a character and human emotions?”

I replied, “From what I have learned over my years (not IN religion), I have learned that this "judgment" is truly that Divine source in all of us (our soul connectedness) that will be responsible for judging us based on experience culminating with the intensity of Love on the Other Side, as well as complete and total understanding of the ages once removed from our physical form and limitations as well as human, earth-held, understanding. I have a very difficult time comprehending a "court" with the energy force that is Allah at the head handing down judgment and "sentencing".”

And I truly do believe this. It just makes complete and total sense to me. I suddenly “get it”, I understand and I feel completely freed in my understanding.

I no longer feel confined within the bounds of man-made religion. I finally can understand the concept of living and experiencing without the man-made rules and regulations.

Am I no longer “Muslim”? Yes I am, because I understand the meaning of Islam being “to submit” or “to surrender”, from the Arabic root word “Peace” (Salaam). Muslim means “one who submits”. But again, I do not believe that it means this in the literal sense, but rather in the limitless sense.

We all submit and surrender in so many aspects of the meaning, being “submissive” does not mean the same thing which many have come to understand the meaning.

As a tree bends in the wind, so to we bend with the winds of change. It is a natural process.

Life is as easy or difficult as we choose to make it. For me, I choose to make life easy, without all the confines of rules and regulations, rights and wrongs. I choose to simply Be.

The true purpose of life; is to experience, and in those experiences we learn, we expand our minds, and we live.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coming into Be-ing, Because of My Dad's Passing

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who wrote with condolences, expressed love, showed support, for your kind and deep words, when my father passed away. You each have touched my heart very deeply.

It has taken me several weeks to get to a place where I am able to write and to do it without the tumultuous pain that was overwhelming me. The pain is still there, and I guess it will take a long time (if ever) to ease completely.

I am so grateful for the support I have received from my good friends, and the support that has been extended to my Mum, Marlene; sister, Hetty; and brother, Christopher. This has been absolutely devastating to us all, and we are each grieving in our own way.

On Tuesday (August 24th 2010), it will mark 30 days since Dad's passing (4 weeks ago today), and as tradition goes, it is the day when we are supposed to officially "stop" the mourning process. But how does one turn that off? How does one suddenly go from such intense grief to living again? How do we go on?

But we do. We each do. And, while the process is not an easy one, we manage, we adjust and we just do.  As one dear friend so aptly put it: “you sort of adapt your life around the grief.... it's a bit weird to explain, you get on with it, but you don't really get over it because no one will ever fill that void.

I had been living away from home for the past 7 1/2 years, and only had one chance to spend 5 momentary months with my Dad in all that time. So the reality of his not being there (in the physical) is hitting me very hard.

I had not spoken to him for two weeks prior to his death (we had tried to make a concerted effort to speak regularly, so I could “cheer him up” and “make him laugh” in the weeks prior after he had come home from the hospital), and that weekend, I felt a strong prompting to call. But truth be known, I'd had a disagreement with my mother two weeks prior, and just did not want to have to "deal with her" at that time. So I put it off. I had planned to put those harsh feelings aside and call them that night to speak with Dad, but it was too late; he died before I got that chance.

This experience has taught me so many things. For one, no matter how we don't see eye-to-eye, pick up the phone and just continue on. After all, are petty disagreements really that important in the grand scheme of life?

Tell those you love, that you love them, each and every day, no matter what. Hug them, kiss them, love them (if you are close enough to do so); if not, drop them an email, or pick up the phone and call, just because.

Treasure each and every opportunity that you are together with those you love. Record your most loving, and favourite moments in a journal to look back on and laugh, reminisce, enjoy.

Another dear friend wrote me a lovely letter of comfort, and shared with me a poem that had been shared with her 20 years prior, when her mother passed away;

Don’t Cry for me

Don't cry for me now I have died, for I'm still here I'm by your side,
My body's gone but my soul's is here, please don't shed another tear,
I am still here I'm all around, only my body lies in the ground.
I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,
I am the frost, that nips your toes.
I am the sun, bringing you light,
I am the star, shining so bright.
I am the rain, refreshing the earth,
I am the laughter, I am the mirth.
I am the bird, up in the sky,
I am the cloud, that's drifting by.
I am the thoughts, inside your head,
While I'm still there, I can't be dead.

Yesterday, I was reading in the Bhagavad-Gita something that goes in line with that lovely poem;

"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time.
He has not come into being, does not come into being,
and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal,
ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

For us, we see each other as being that "person", but in truth, we are nothing more than the shells that transport our souls. I have always known this, but I SAW it the moment I saw the photos of my Dad, laying in such peace in his coffin.

Once I got past the intensity of the pain of seeing him like that, I realised that I did not fully recognize him. He was not the man I knew. This "body" was nothing more than the shell of the father that I loved, and will continue to love, forever.

It was in that moment, through the pain of loss that I "got it", 100%; saw that the body was not my Dad, it was just the vessel by which I knew my Dad in this physical realm.

As the days and weeks have progressed, and my burden of sorrow is slowly easing, I am finding a deep comfort in that knowledge.

While I miss my Dad's presence, his voice, his laughter, his jokes; his Be-ing is even more present that it ever was before. Now I can experience him constantly, whereas before, it was only when I saw him, or spoke with him on the phone.

Again to quote the Bhagavad-Gita;

"This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble,
and can be neither burned nor dried.
He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable,
immovable and eternally the same

Today, as I thought back over the past four weeks, I did not sorrow. For the first time in so many days, tears have not fallen from my eyes. Instead, I feel intense pride at being my father’s daughter. I look back over the past 37 years, and I see the lessons I have learned; directly, and through the experiences that he went through. And I am who I am today, because of the person my Dad shaped me to be. So, as I felt this peace and this comfort wash over me, and could sense Dad around me strongly; I penned this poem in honour of my Dad…

Because of you, I am.

I am an indelible woman, because of your example.
I know how to love, because you loved me.
I have deep-seated kindness, I learned from you.
I know love, because you showed me.
I am proud of me, because you were.
I am generous, because you taught me.
I stand tall, because you raised me up.
I reach for the stars, because you lifted me.

For all that I am, I am because you taught me,
You raised me,
You loved me.
You left your mark, your legacy,
And now I carry on,
Because of you.

I wish to express my thanks to you for the thoughts you have sent to me via email and Facebook postings; your words which touched me deeply, your support, your love, and your prayers have left a strong mark on my soul. I am so filled with gratitude for your friendship and love; I send you loving embraces and heart-filled appreciation, gratitude, and love.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Dancing With Daddy

Ibrahim "Abe" Suleyman Hur
April 2nd 1922 - July 25th 2010

My beloved Dad passed away suddenly on July 25th 2010.

The past three (almost four) weeks since Dad's death has hit me in a way I could never imagine possible.

This is a poem I wrote this afternoon. It expresses my pain in the best way I know how right now.

Dancing With Daddy

My heart feels like
It’s ready to burst.
I wish it would already;
Joining the millions of
Stars that reside in the night sky.

When will this pain end?
Where can I run to escape,
Reality, is a bitch
And I stand here with empty arms.

I long to hug you, hold you, hear you;
But you now reside on my mantle.
No, it’s not you; the real “you”
Is gone, gone far away and untouchable,

Lost, I feel so completely lost.
My compass is continually pointing north
And that’s where I want to go,
Up, out, away;
To you.

Daddy, you left my sight;
My ears no longer ring with your voice.
Gone too far, but still right here;
But I can’t hug you, hold you, hear you.
I miss you, I love you.

Come and take me in your arms,
Let us dance among the clouds;
Laughing, joking; Be-ing.
I await our waltz,
Daddy and daughter, forever.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

She Said "Change Will Happen"...

It has been a few weeks since I last sat down to write anything, and the reason being was that I've had a lot of things to deal with and a lot of soul searching.

When I first shaved my hair, and posted my very first photo on my Facebook account, a very wise friend messaged me privately. After the customary compliments to how good I looked and "good thing you have a nice shaped head" (which still makes me laugh, especially when one acquaintance told me "You are SO lucky that at least you have a nice shaped head"!); she told me that there is an ancient saying that when a woman cuts her hair, she is going to experience some major changes. She followed up by wishing me the best and hoped that the changes I'd see would be positive ones.

Arrogant, and a little self-righteous in my attitude of shaving my hair, I politely responded that I had done it all for change and that the change could only be a good one.

Oh wow... how I wish I'd known then what I know now. And how many times in life have we said the exact same thing?

I did this specifically for change, but the change I figured on would be an internal change and that there would be nothing outside of me that would be affected. What I did not factor in was... the Universe.

As is always the case when we make major decisions (and follow through), the Universe is already a few steps ahead of us. When small things started to change, I embraced them and the words of my friend rang in my ear. "Okay, so maybe she's got something there", I'd say to myself.


Well, I guess I could only describe it as a mega earthquake of potentially devastating effects. The Teutonic plates of my very existence shifted and things in my life would never be the same again.

When this "event" happened, it literally struck as an earthquake, out of the blue and totally caught me off guard. There had been a little "rumble" several months ago, but then the energy subsided and I had thought that the matter dealt with and simply "went away". What I did not expect that it was simply the beginning of a potential Armageddon.

The first thing to happen was anger; intense and absolute anger. The situation concerned a family member, who had been abusive and controlling my entire life. This person still attempts to control, manipulate, and abuse.

Now; interestingly, just prior to this seismic event, I had been soul searching and trying to understand why... How, I had attracted to my life such an abusive first marriage/husband. I mean, I did not grow up to expect to be married to such a man, so how did this happen?

Well, I guess I put it out there for the Universe to answer and to throw the answers in my face, shift my world, and create a massive change.

After the anger subsided, I expected to feel the sadness, the pain; but in its stead, I felt nothing. I was absolutely devoid of any real emotion for this person, and knowing my own reactions to life, and trusting in my intuition, realised that I was finally "done". I have no more emotion for this person other than them being a human being who walks this planet and who shares the same air that we all breathe. But as far as any emotional connection, they broke the final straw and sealed the deal. And I feel relieved, I feel freed; and for the first time, I am not questioning my reaction; it simply, just is.

For years, I have been able to simply let go and let God regarding many people... usually these people have been friends and any family members have been on my husband's side so that "loss" was easier to bear. And I have been coaching people to let go and let God all those individuals in their lives who drag them down, hold them down, and try to drown them and their dreams.

In my arrogance, I honestly thought that I had let go and released all these people from my life; but this event showed me different.

I really had to wrap my head around this in the past weeks since it happened. I tried to understand my emotions, my reaction, and what hold did this person have over me that allowed me time and time again to permit them back into my life, accepting them simply because they were family, but forever walking on eggshells around them. How old was I? And how old was I made to feel when I was around them, or in contact with them?

As I started to see things with the rose coloured... family coloured glasses removed; I started to see a lot more than what I bargained for. I started to see where things stemmed from, why I reacted often to things that happened around me. I began to understand. I now KNEW why I had attracted the kind of man into my life who abused me in so many different ways. When I looked more at the ways I was abused, I saw that they too mirrored what I had been "used" to. I realised that I not only came from a dysfunctional family, I came from an abusive one.

Suddenly, I was welled up with intense emotion. I could not understand the emotion which arose, and often I could not even identify it, but it was simply there. I would be laughing one minute, in sheer happiness; and the next, I was balling my eyes out.

When other members of my family decided that they wanted to "write me off", I took this as a moment of being free. For the very first time in my life, I am free. I am free to think, free to act, free to be; without consequence, without having to explain myself; I am finally free to be ME.

This was the change I had been striving for when I took my hair off, I just did not anticipate the work that would have to come with it. Not the kind of work I experienced anyway.

For the very first time in my life, I see those around me for who they truly are and what they truly are, and I am ready to let go and let God.

This process is not easy. It is wrought with pain, and anger, and emotions that one might not even be able to explain, but once you get through the storm, you can stand tall and proud and free. Those who anchor you down do not deserve to be in your life. I have learned my self-worth and I know that I don't deserve to have the kind of people in my life who are abusive, manipulative, or controlling. I deserve better; and so do you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Unconditional Love and Hugging Men in Underwear

As you have been reading my blogs and getting to know me, you know that I am the type of person who stands up for my beliefs and convictions; c'mon I shaved my hair off to experience an indelible change in my life, so I am not afraid to stand out and stand up!

You also know that I have received so much support on my decision (actually was told by someone in Walmart the other day "I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT!" and she decided she was also going to take her's off too... okay she is close to bald with as short as her hair is anyway, so she had a jump-start on me! But GO FOR IT and EMBRACE IT! I say!); but along with the support and compliments, I've also received some flak. Well, with all good things come challenges and I think this is giving me a jump start on my grabbing more bulls by the horns and my skin sure is getting much thicker.

One of the things I have said was that I don't have cancer, nor am I a lesbian; as that is most often associated with a woman who is bald. Do I say that with disgust? No, I don't. I am just stating that as a fact. I remember many years ago (while married to my first husband), I had had my hair cut short and he and I were in a mall in Ottawa; walking, minding our own business, holding hand... Suddenly, this brash woman comes up behind me, grabs my hand and says to me "Hi gorgeous! You don't need any man to satisfy to, I can satisfy all your needs!" and then began to pull my arm (and me) away from my husband.

Okay, it was a compliment; but the approach... not-so-much.

I am the type of person who embraces one and all; it is not a matter of "tolerance" or "acceptance", but rather I just see people and not their sexual orientation (or colour, or disability, or anything else for that matter). I have many gay and lesbian friends (my closest friend is gay and has been in a relationship with his partner for over 20 years), but it never dawns on me to mention it to people.

To me, being gay or lesbian or straight is simply who a person is, and orientation is the focus on sex, what do I care what anyone else does behind their bedroom doors? Its not my business anymore than what I do behind my bedroom doors is anyone else's business.

What I have learned from having friends who are gay, is that it is about love; sure there is the popular belief that "all gays are promiscuous" and they can "never hold down a single lover", but how is that any different from the rest of us? What about the old adage that we have to "kiss many frogs before you find your prince"? Isn't it the same thing?

Humans have always been sexual, since the beginning of time; there has been sex before marriage for eons, it was just never "open" as it is since the sexual revolution. I was surprised when I learned that my own parents were living together "in sin" before I was born, even having me before they were married; that I have a brother that my mother had from a previous relationship - a far different story from the one I had grown up with being told by my Dad that I had to be a "virgin" when I got married, and that if I wasn't "no man" would want me. That my mother was some virginal saint and that had he had sex with her before marriage, he'd have never married her... especially if she had had a child.

WOW! The revelation of truth conversation when I was 19 had quite an impact on me! It took me years of therapy to embrace my own sexuality, deal with the fact that I had been sexually abused and therefore no longer "pure", and get to a place of understanding the lies. After that, well... I "kissed" a lot of frogs, married a toad, kissed some more frogs, before I finally found my "prince". With all that experience under my belt, I can definitely say that I have lived through hope, and desire, and wishing, and wanting, and not finding or having; and getting my heart broken all too many times.

So how was my seeking my prince any different from a man seeking his prince, or a woman seeking her princess? Is what I went through deemed "OK" just because the frogs I kissed were of the opposite sex?

As I was growing up, I started seeing the hatred and prejudice that is in our world. How could a person be detested for the person that they love, or the colour of their skin? I could not understand how human beings were treating other human beings in such a manner. I saw an example of this firsthand when I was still quite young. We had a friend in Hong Kong who was a well-known TV news anchor (in Hong Kong); and he was quite obviously gay. To me he was never "gay Joe*", he was just "Uncle Joe". In those days in Hong Kong, being gay was a crime and being caught "in the act" meant imprisonment or deportation for foreign nationals.

I guess someone did not like Joe and, well lets just say that he was "caught in the act" in his own home together with his Filipino lover. I never saw him again; he was immediately deported and his lover thrown into prison. It was a scandal that rocked Hong Kong and was fodder for gossip for months in the higher social circles which he had run in.

I remember feeling at the time, so overwhelmingly sad and strangely, constricted. As a small child, what could I do? But even as an adult when I look back on that memory, I wonder how could that kind of discrimination occur and what could I do to make a difference? How could such an intelligent, loving, and kind man be hated so much and by government officials who did not even know him, just for who he loved and what he did behind closed doors?

In time, I have seen more and more of this kind of hatred towards people; and quite frankly it has me disgusted, and I feel so intensely sad that humanity is still in such a place where this kind of hatred is still spewed, and in such countries which are considered progressive, modern... Christian.

So with all of this said, whenever I see so-called Christians spewing hatred towards those who are gay, see images of protesters holding signs which attack a persons sexuality and doing this all under the banner of God and Jesus; it sickens me. I am not sure what God or Jesus they are following, but it is not the same one that I know. It has sadden me to find this very strongly within my own faith also. I have friends who have been forced out of our faith (and many of them, cast out of their families) because of who they are and how they live their life. I hurt for them because their faith in God and Jesus is still strong, even though they know that the people are not true, they continue to pray daily, read their scriptures and live their life according to how they grew up; the only exception is that they are free to love.

I think one of the greatest movies ever made was Brokeback Mountain. It showed that sexual orientation was not about choice, it was about love and it is all love. It was a great love story and it was so painful to watch and see. It actually was the movie that helped my husband open his heart completely and embrace those who are gay and lesbian and see them as fellow brothers and sisters and not just seeing the labels.

Today, I saw a post that a friend of mine posted on Facebook which directed to an article about a Christian group who had attended a Pride Parade. At first, I was leery to read it, but knowing the person who posted it, decided to check it out. I did ready myself for the regular feelings of anger, angst, and pain as usually come in the Christian/Pride Parade mix. But what I read brought me to sobbing tears of joy, of relief, and of absolute hope.

There IS hope out there that those who are true Christians will reach out and embrace a person whom so many reject. Nathan speaks about his experience at Chicago's Pride Parade, where he and his friends gathered wearing T-shirts that said "I'm Sorry" and stood their with their signs of seeking forgiveness. They hugged and kissed gay men in the parade; and they are not gay! In fact, they are Christian and are "working for the re-humanization of the LGBT community" through The Marin Foundation.

Please do yourself a favour and read this article I Hugged a Man in His Underwear, it will bring you to tears and give you hope. I applaud Nathan who is the author and organizer of the "I'm Sorry" campaign, and I pray that he will continue this amazing work and that it will become a world-wide movement.

* Name has been changed

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Emerging Butterfly

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends that I have around me supporting me and loving me, no matter what.

Last night, I was absolutely exhausted, and received a comment from someone who quite often does tend to push buttons. Usually, I let things slide because I know the characteristic of this person; but last night, my button was pushed... all the way. I was upset.

The comment made me think that there are some people who think that other people's actions are done simply to offend them. My lack of hair seems to be having this effect on some people.

It makes me wonder about these people. What is up with their self-consciousness or lack of self-esteem that makes them feel like they are the victim in each and every situation?

This lead me to start examining my own life and my past. There was a time when I felt so guilty for everything, even going so far as believing that if I drove past a golf course, and it was stormy, and a golfer got struck by lightening, that it would somehow be my fault.

When you read that, you may be thinking "how ridiculous"; after all, I am not God, I can not control the weather, the golfer, the decisions or anything else. I think that kind of control would actually make me Satan and not God.

As I was able to get through that time in my life, let go of the guilt, and understand where it came from; I suddenly had people enter my life who had the exact same feelings of guilt.

A healthy person reading this might then wonder what have we done in our past that is causing us to feel guilty for everything.

It's not that we have done anything, but rather influences in our lives have caused us to believe these things. So when I understand this, I can also understand individuals who are perpetual victims, who open their mouths and speak without a filter causing others to feel hurt, confused, uncomfortable, and questioning of their actions.

Are they truly self-righteous, or are they coming from a place of victimization from past influences or abuse? Some people don't realise that they have been abused as it is so subtle, but their actions towards others are reflectent of their past and how they are living their lives.

Instead of focusing on the actions and words of the other person, I have to be reminded of the lessons which I learned when I was involved in Kabbalah and was involved with the Kabbalah Center; my teacher taught me that each time I react to a situation, I am simply reacting to something within me that is being mirrored back.

Sometimes I have found the reason to be really obvious, and other times, not so much. I remember at one Kabbalah event where I worked the registration desk; this woman was very demanding and argumentative about the money that was being charged for the event. The more I tried to explain in a calm and rational manner, the more belligerent she was getting. I was very pleasant to her, but inside of myself I was steaming.

For the life of me, I could not understand how I could be getting upset with something that was mirroring my own image; I mean, I would never speak to a person like this, so what was the mirror?

I spoke with my teacher who told me that the woman was obviously displaying issues of trust, and the lack thereof. NOW the penny dropped... THIS is what I had been reacting to.

Most of my life, I have had major issues of trust. Growing up, I was taught to not trust anyone, to not speak about family secrets to anyone, and to keep myself encrusted in a cocoon with walls so thick that no-one could penetrate them.

This lack of trust affected every area of my life. I was so closed down and so angry, that I used that as a protective barrier so that no one could come in and cause more disruption to my life. In my lack of trust, I opened myself up to the worst possible person and allowed an abuser to enter and grasp a hold of my neck and squeeze the life out of me. This experience only caused my walls to thicken and my anger to deepen.

When I met my current husband, I felt a place of security and in that place of safety and security, I let myself go, just a little, and in doing that the pain and anger and all the emotions that had laid dormant for so long, began to creep out and I went through a major breakdown. For 2 1/2 years my husband and I suffered through a roller coaster of emotions, angry outbursts, and while I was letting these emotions out, I was burying even deeper ones.

As I struggled to surrender myself to the emotions buried deeply, and they resurfaced, I began to encounter more and more people who were suffering through many of the same emotions and experiences. They were uncanny and it was amazing how each of these emotions related to me. It was as if God had placed these people directly in my presence, coming to me for advice, so that I would HEAR the advice and then learn from it.

The more I opened myself up to understanding what I was going through, delving deeply to uncover the deep seeded emotions, the more that these people were coming to me; and with each person's story, another layer of my own past was uncovered and I was lead to understanding.

In my difficulty; and quite frankly, anger last night at this persons comment, I wrote to a couple of friends to express myself and vent. The advice I received back was wonderful. I did not need (or want) anyone to jump down this person's throat, I did not need anyone to bad mouth this person, what I needed to hear were the same words I would have told them in the same situation. I am so grateful to them for the sage advice in reminding me that in the ignorance of this individual they don't realise what they are saying and that I know who I am, and reminding me that I have done this for me. I did not do this to piss anyone off, or offend them; in fact, I did not do this for anyone at all. I am learning about a new part of who I am and why I am, what I like and don't like. I am entering a new phase in my life and I am pretty darned proud of myself.

My cocoon is thinning drastically and I am emerging as the beautiful butterfly that I am.