You meet a new person at work and have many things in common. It could be the beginning of a valuable, healthy friendship. You start to get to know this person, text each other, and even hang out with them outside of work. That’s when the darkness shows up, knocking with full force so loud that you cannot sleep and you have to answer. Your mind spirals into the multitude of terrible scenarios that you “know” will happen if you open your heart to this friendship. You obsess over this each day until you give up and shy away. This is just one example of a normal situation experienced through the eyes and heart of someone with anxiety.
If these same spiraling of thoughts occur with very normal life situations, imagine what happens when a serious life event is presented to someone with anxiety. Anxiety disorder is very real and extremely complex. It’s difficult for some to understand, especially those who have been blessed to live their life without it. It’s also a taboo subject, one that has a reputation associated with: weak, negative, get over it, embarrassment, and emotional.
This article is not a scientific deep dive into anxiety disorder. It’s a personal letter to you, my reader. It’s a letter to both the people who have anxiety and the people who do not but love someone who does.
What does a person look like who has anxiety?
There is not a cookie cutter personality type that defines people with anxiety. Most people who know me, will tell you that I am energetic, passionate, happy, positive, confident, and on and on. Am I really these things? The answer is yes but the truth is more complex.
I have anxiety. There are many types and forms of anxiety disorder and I’m not going to run through a definition of all of them. I am here to say, dear reader, roughly 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year and only one third get treatment. It’s a complicated internal battle that never ceases even if the person is good at hiding it, believing themselves to be a mastermind of their own mind. There is always a breaking point.
I am here to say, I am not embarrassed that I suffer from anxiety and even some depression. Why should I be? Why should I be afraid to talk about a chemical imbalance? There are so many people who suffer from this and never tell anyone. We cannot go through it alone and we should not.
I only recently went to get help. My pride always got in the way and my ignorance about it stopped me from looking into treatment. I grew up thinking that medications for anxiety and depression were bad, weak minded, and thought it would turn me into a different person. Do medications have side effects? Of course. Do medications change a person’s overall personality? In some cases, most definitely. But - it’s such a detrimental disorder that it’s worth trying it out until a solution is found.
You want to hear something else? My anxiety caused me excruciating upper back pain and fatigue. I do yoga almost every day, I meditate, I have hobbies, and I am physically healthy. I also had over thirty blood tests done, x-rays, and a CT scan just to be sure. And all my tests came back 100% fine. So After trying medication, my back pain and fatigue is gone.
If you love someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, your continued support goes beyond what you’ll ever know, even though it doesn’t seem that way. Encourage your loved ones to seek help and be there every step of the way.
And, to my dear readers who suffer with those internal monsters, those demons that try to tear you down: the most troubled souls in the world are those who have the most beautiful things to offer. You are worth it and the world needs those who have been through battles. I finally took the leap and the only regret I have now is wishing I had done it sooner.
We don’t get to pick our family; we are just born into one. Like all people we meet, there are some that just don’t jive with us. When it comes to strangers, we can at least choose who we allow into our lives and who we do not. When it comes to family, well, it can be vastly more complex.
I want to focus on strategies in dealing with difficult, troublesome family members in the exact moments they are “tornadoing” through your life. <- Yes, I made the word tornado into a verb and you should do it too!
If you are a regular visitor on my blog, then you know I am a practitioner of Buddhism. I started to get serious about Buddhist teachings when, a few years ago, I realized something about myself: I used to always allow difficult people and their actions control my reactions and emotions. How can any of us live that way? How can we allow anyone’s behaviors and perspectives directly affect our own emotions and reactions? That is just crazy.
On top of that, when we allow other’s actions determine our own reactions, this leads to tons of other problems: built up resentment, not knowing how to forgive people, always being stressed out, obsessing over what happened and what that person said, and on and on. What a waste of time! And energy. And peace.
We all have those difficult people who happen to be family. Most of the time, those difficult people are all very similar: toxic to everyone, selfish, manipulative, dramatic, conniving, inherent liars, deniers of their toxic actions, annoying, and the list goes on. Do you have one in your life? When you think of them, does your heart beat faster, does your skin crawl, do you feel angry?
You’re not alone.
Even I have to manage difficult family members. I have tried many methods from yelling, screaming, fighting, trying to articulate in logical ways, but those never seem to work.
Here are 5 strategies in managing/surviving difficult family members:
Note: these strategies will not at all change the other person’s behavior, instead you must use your intelligence to change your perspective and continue to lead with your morals always at heart. You will still experience discomfort and feelings of anger or irritation. These strategies will help to bring you peace and teach you to let go of the other person’s shit. (Because it’s never about you, it’s truly about the difficult person having depths of their own issues they need to work through.)
1. Do not take it personal: I have said it before, and I will always say it again. It’s not personal. Ever. Even when you think and feel like it’s personal, it’s not. I know what you’re thinking. When someone brings my children into it, it’s personal. When some talks about my mama, it’s personal. It’s actually not. People who struggle and suffer from narcissism or egoism, will say and do anything in their power to try and make you feel the same way they feel. They suffer so hard that they have no idea what to do. So, they attack, verbally or physically. Just remind yourself of this. It’s never personal. They are dealing with something far beyond you.
2. Always have compassion: This is the hardest one out of the five. It’s easy to be compassionate to someone you truly love and respect. But the biggest challenge, and it’s one I have learned through Buddhist practice, is to have compassion for those who anger us, those who betray us, and those who hurt us. The next time a difficult family member hurts you or causes harm, take some time alone to meditate on having compassion for them because they are deeply troubled, but they too deserve happiness and peace.
3. Every jab does not deserve retaliation: Toxic people will always throw jabs of all caliber because that’s the only thing they are good at in life. They are better at it than me and you. You will never win their fight. I am not saying to allow difficult family to walk all over you but choose your battles wisely. It’s just not worth your time, your energy, or your peace.
4. Draw boundaries and stick to them: So far, the first three strategies benefit both you and the toxic person. However, you still need to have solid boundaries and stick to them no matter what. You can still be compassionate towards someone but have strong boundaries in place.
5. Continue to shoot for the stars: Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in a toxic person’s mess. Those of us who are true to ourselves and true to others cannot really make sense of such complex toxicity but do not ever allow this to dominate your mind, energy, and heart. Always stay true to who you are. Continue to build your hobbies and skills. Continue to hang out mostly with positive people and intelligent people. Be the best you.
You are not alone. Everyone has that difficult, toxic family member or members. Just remember, you have the power to take any opportunity, even the negative ones, and control how you choose to use that opportunity. You can step into challenging situations and use them to build your character, strengthen your wisdom, and become more emotionally intelligent or you can allow it to tear you down. What do you choose?
Thanks for tuning in,
I started meditating 3 years ago when, at that time, I did not know how to harness peace and compassion for those who angered me – to say it bluntly, I was ready to turn ghetto on my husband’s baby mama.
I realized then that there are always “special” people in our lives that we cannot always avoid. We encounter them at work, in our personal lives, in social groups, or in line at the store. Why do we allow people to take hold of our emotions, take hold of our mind and our reactions? How can we take control over obsessive worries, thoughts, and emotions?
I looked myself in the mirror and began to hold myself accountable, because let’s face it – you can’t just get ghetto on the “special” ones when you have a career, a family, self-worth, and worth for others.
So I began to meditate.
I researched it and read about it but like anything, you just need to start.
Sounds a bit boring right? With everything always at our fingertips, with social media always there ready to tell us what we should look like or feel, I challenge you to take a 10 minute break each day to meditate because the benefits of meditation are backed by science – just like the negative effects of social media is backed by science. So what’s stopping you and others? Is it just the leap?
What’s In It For You If You Meditate Only 10 Minutes Each Day:
What are your questions on meditation?
Check out my last blog on Beautiful Lessons from Difficult People and thanks for tuning in!
I am a Buddhist. Being a Buddhist does not mean I am immune to difficult situations and difficult people. It doesn’t mean I do not get irritated, frustrated, annoyed, and anxious. It does not mean that I don’t overreact sometimes. It simply means I do my very best to come from a place of good intention, that I do my best to pause before reacting, and that I act compassionately no matter the situation.
I am a Buddhist and I do get bothered when drivers speed with no consideration for other people’s lives, I dislike unnecessary attitude, negativity, I am not fond of manipulative behaviors or people treating my loved ones unkindly.
Okay, to be put it simply, I do not like assholes!
Yes, I said it. I am a Buddhist and assholes sometimes piss me off. Does that mean I am not actually Buddhist or not living a mindful and compassionate life? No, it just means I am human.
Buddhist concepts have taught me some of the most important lessons to live by and to always practice. One particular concept is that our enemies are sometimes the best teachers of compassion, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. Why? Because it’s extremely easy to show all these traits to the people we love and like. If you love and like your mother and she does something to anger you or annoy you, it’s easy to forgive her, show her compassion, and kindness and then call it a day.
However, the ultimate test is when a stranger or a person you dislike angers you, annoys you, or disrespects you. This is the greatest and the best opportunity to overcome all odds and strengthen your ability to show compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. Without these moments, we have little opportunity to practice these traits and little opportunity to extend them to our enemies.
You might ask, what’s in it for me? Why is my enemy deserving of such traits? Why not just react to them with anger, resentment, hostility? Because that’s what they deserve.
Here's what's in it for you (some of the reasons are definitely a little selfish but well worth it compared to the alternatives.)
1. Compassion and kindness are contagious. There's no question about it that the world would be so much better if everyone came from a place of compassion and kindness. So many worldwide conflicts and challenges could get solved if everyone, including and especially people in power, acted from a place of compassion. I know it may feel pointless for a "normal" person like me or you to show small acts of kindness but it is contagious...as is hate and anger. I choose the former, always and forever.
2. If you react with anger and resentment, you will become those things all the time. You are in control of wiring and re-wiring your brain. It's not rocket science, it's brain science! Neuroscience to be exact and it's amazing that we can re-wire our habits. It's simple: if you always react to other people's negative behavior with hate and negativity, your brain gets used to that and you easily switch to that mode every time someone angers you. I am not saying you will turn off the anger, I am saying that you can train your brain on how to react when you are angry.
You go to the grocery store after work. It's crowded and busy. Other people are irritated in line because it's so busy. You are in line and a stranger makes some snide comment or gives you unwarranted attitude.
Now you get annoyed. Maybe you immediately say something back that will escalate this into an argument. (You are teaching your brain and making it very comfortable to react this way every time someone else comes at you like this.)
Example 2: (Own the shit out of your brain, and don't allow other people's discomfort affect you.)
You go to the grocery store after work. It's crowded and busy. Other people are irritated in line because it's so busy. You are in line and a stranger makes some snide comment or gives you unwarranted attitude.
What I do, most of the time, is observe from an objective point of view. It is okay to label the situation but without reacting. This person just gave me attitude and it is annoying but it is NOT about me. They are impatient, or maybe they do not feel well, I have been there. Shrug it off, smile - not condescendingly but a genuinely kind smile. Now you are beginning to train your brain to react with compassion, calmness, and kindness, and it will turn into a habit.
3. Your physical health is at stake. I am sure you have heard that stress causes a plethora of health issues yet so many people in the world continue with unhealthy habits that lead to stress. The list is long and can be an entire blog post on its own. If you train your brain to constantly react to others with anger, resentment, hate, on and on - these are stressing your mind and body out. If you can teach yourself to live with compassion and kindness, your physical health will be better off.
Check out this article on stress and women's health.
4. It teaches your children not to grow up to be...well, assholes. If you have kids I am sure most of you don't want them to grow up to be rude and angry people (although we do need these people in the world to teach us about compassion haha.) Children model their parents' behavior and they have a better chance to become compassionate adults who can become compassionate and emotionally intelligent leaders.
5. It feels good to be kind. If you've ever done a random act of kindness then you know it feels good! And that is great. It also makes the other person feel good so it's a win win. So the next time you are down or someone angers you, go out and do something kind for someone. Make it a habit to show kindness or be helpful and selfless each week or each day.
So the next time someone gets under your skin, remember to mentally thank them for giving you one of the most important opportunities to practice compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
What challenging situation or relationship are you facing that you may need guidance on? Or, when did you recently experience someone being nasty to you and you reacted with compassion? What was the result?
Thanks for tuning in and until next time,
Time management. A subject that isn't given its deserved amount of...wait for it...time.
Most of my blogs focus on concepts, teachings, books, etc that I claim have made such an impact on my life and day to day activities, they become life changing. When I tap into a teaching that is easily accessible, understood, and leads to a happier life, I want to share that with everyone. My goal is to open the gateways that will lead people to live happier, more peaceful lives and flourish in their daily relationships with others. Time management is one of these gateways.
Do you find yourself saying, "I would love to do that, but I just don't have enough time" or "I am always so busy?"
There are many bad habits we have adopted in this information overload era, the era of constant digital distractions. The good news: we can un-teach bad habits, triumph over digital distractions, and develop healthier habits that will lead to a happier way of living.
I spent a weekend completing two LinkedIn Learning courses by Dave Crenshaw, thought leader, public speaker, and online trainer who has mastered the art of building productive leaders. Here are some quick tips I have implemented from his two courses: Time Management Fundamentals and Time Management for Managers. Some of these tips will seem, and are, very obvious, even elementary but ask yourself if you operate your day using all of the below methods. If you do not, you might experience a feeling of anxiety, chaos, and an overwhelming week ever too often.
I tried these methods, stuck to them, and it transformed my time management in just 5 days:
1. Eliminate distractions
Socialize less at work, put your phone away until lunch, eliminate personal social media engagement until lunch, and schedule time on your calendar to process email. You are not obligated to answer every single email right away, unless it's time sensitive to a project.
2. Open workspaces are not your friend
I work in an open workspace so what do I do? Book a conference room for some of the day or sit in an area that is more secluded. This is one of the best methods that helps me regain focus, becoming a Focus Superwoman. It allows for less interruptions and I am here to tell you, no one's world came to an end when I secluded myself. I got much more done, made less mistakes, and was able to deliver quality work.
3. Schedule all your projects
Most people use their calendar for appointments with others and meetings. Start using your calendar to schedule blocks of time for your broader projects and do not stray from that particular project unless it's an absolute time sensitive matter. Schedule your day in the morning and then follow that schedule. Most important: schedule time for a break.
For example, here is what I might schedule in my day:
8:30am - 9:45am Social Media (work related)
This means, from 8:30-9:45 I will focus only on social media management and everything related, like new projects, managing community comments, scheduling social posts, creating social media content and assets. I will not switch task (jump) to "Events" because I have allocated time for this at 10:00am. Your mind will stray, it will try to stress you out, however it's much worse skipping all around different tasks because it will cause more mistakes, more time, and more stress.
4. Take a break
This is especially true in environments that do not provide a strict schedule with allocated breaks. You must take time to give your mind and body a break. Take a short walk or do some breathing exercises. Many people just don't take this piece seriously. They think that they are getting more done than a person who might take breaks but it's not true in the long run. Studies show that when you do take a break, your mind re-energizes and is able to focus better, essentially getting more done in less time.
5. Educate yourself on time management
Time management is a skill that needs to be practiced. So many people think multi-tasking is a good thing, something to be put on a resume, but it actually isn't always a good thing and works against time management. I did not know this until I began my journey into managing my time better. There are so many valuable resources to teach you about the above tips and more.
Here are a few to get you started:
Check out Dave Crenshaw's website for other books and resources.
Invest in LinkedIn Learning, the training courses are invaluable.
What are some of your time management tips?
Thanks for tuning in,
It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, what you do for a living, or any other category you place yourself in. All human beings experience suffering. It's a natural tendency to resist change and react to challenges, resisting fear and heartache. Yet, we know change is inevitable.
It's not easy un-training the mind but the beautiful fact is that we can absolutely train and strengthen the mind to live in the NOW.
I recently discovered Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist.
I just finished her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
Not only did this book change my life, it's roughly 176 pages, depending on how you buy it.
Why is it so life changing?
It's simple, the Buddhist concepts she discusses can immediately be applied to your life right now. You just have to want it. You just have to be willing to practice making the shift.
Here are some highlights that stayed with me:
1. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth: Chodron is a master proponent of being intimate with our fears rather than resisting them. She teaches to look fear right in the eye, guiding us to become more humble and less arrogant. She even says, "So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in."
2. When things fall apart: Have you ever wondered if you would ever be happy again? "When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too." When we feel the groundlessness of a vulnerable situation, we can either be resentful or practice tenderness with ourselves and others. Chodron believes that the way to healing is to allow room for grief, misery, discomfort.
3. This exact moment is the perfect teacher: This book emphasizes how spiritual warriors face feelings like disappointment, irritation, anger, jealousy, fear, and embarrassment as unique opportunities that teach and rather than running from these, they face them head on. We can move beyond hope and fear, continually moving forward past any fears. This book teaches you just how to do that.
4. Relax as it is: Chodron poses the question, just how willing are you to lighten up and loosen your grip? Are you willing to open your mind and just relax? This is where simple breathing exercises come in that you've heard of, but it's a bit more than that. Your thoughts will distract you when you try to sit for even just 1 minute and breathe. And that's ok. Show kindness to yourself and just quietly say, "thoughts." Keep breathing. My life has changed from meditation and I don't think people realize the benefits otherwise everyone would be practicing this. It is the answer to ALL your problems.
5. Maitri: What is Maitri? This is a Sanskrit word which translates to loving-kindness or unconditional friendliness. Thoughts are what make us miserable. But Chodron does not teach to run from these miserable thoughts but rather allow space for them and sit with them while showing yourself gentle loving-kindness during the process.
6. It's never too late to become a better person: Have you done horrible things to people and to yourself? It's really never too late to practice loving-kindness. Chodron reminds us it's not about making pain go away, it's about giving up control overall and at times, letting our ideas fall apart.
This is just an overview of some of the concepts in this book but does not suffice in experiencing it for yourself. You too can become a spiritual warrior and that doesn't mean your fearless. It means sitting with fear and allowing things to just fall apart.
Feeling down, read this...
When Life's Turmoil Leads You Off the Path
How to Handle Work Stress
Learn How to Forgive
Thanks for reading,
Do you sometimes feel like you have everything in control, everything on the "right" path (whatever right means) and within a flash it seems that your reality is falling onto your shoulders, an impact so heavy you wonder if others around (who are faking it till their making it) feel the same?
Don't let anyone tell you feeling this way is not normal, because it definitely is normal at times and the more we don't talk to others about it, the more alone we feel.
If you live in a big city where employment is extremely competitive, it's nearly impossible to become a home owner, homeless communities are growing into tent villages on roadsides, and you have to manage daily interactions with challenging people all while raising a family...then you might feel overwhelmed at times. I want to make it clear how grateful I am for the things I currently have however every human being can and does lose sight of the bigger picture, one where the current moment matters most and where everything else truly is insignificant. We as people can only work so hard and spread ourselves so thin before we feel robbed and stripped of what Life is really about. What do you really live for in Life?
Recently, I have felt the pressures from multiple directions: trying to live up to be the best mother, wife, daughter, human, and trying to excel in my career. That is a lot to take on at once especially if you hold yourself to the highest of standards.
Funny thing is...we actually do not have as much control as we think. The true reality, not our perceived reality, always comes knocking, yet we never seem ready for it. Think of something recently that has happened to you outside of your control, something that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs or just sit and cry or something that your mind obsesses over, almost to a point of insanity. You're not alone.
So what can you do when you feel such overwhelming pressures, literally a weight around you barely hanging on by a thread before it releases right on top of you?
1. Practice the act of not taking it personally. I am no master of this but I'd like to think I have made progress in my life. It is by far one of the hardest things to learn to do but take the leap and learn. You will fail at times but the successes are peace for your soul. There is plenty of literature out there to learn this method. I look to Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama - just to name a few.
2. Are certain people in your life driving you crazy? We have all been there but take a step back for a moment and really stop to think, why is it bothering you? Ultimately, does that person's behavior really matter? Everyone has their own agenda and they will do and act however they need to keep that agenda moving along. It has nothing to do with you and in the grand scheme it doesn't matter. If you really want to make a change to your situation, change your actions, reactions, perspective, and make the effort to change the environment you are in if that's what you need.
3. Face the discomfort head on. This is another method, very unusual and a nontraditional teaching for many people. The American Tibetan Buddhist, Pema Chodron, teaches this method in many of her texts and conferences. It is also not easy but a great way to change your perspective on dealing with uncomfortable situations that you'd usually run from. One of the best books I have read by Pema Chodron is When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. This book taught me ways to see the world that I would not have discovered on my own and it's the type of book you can read again and again. When I finished this book, my first thought was, "I will continue to always be reading this book, once I finish, I will start again, wash, rinse, repeat."
4. Meditate. I talk about meditation in many of my blogs because it does work. It works the way exercising your body works or practicing a skill that leads to expertise. It takes some time and it absolutely takes consistency. It's just as important as physical exercise and neuroscientists are here to tell you that and to prove it. There are different forms of meditation. You can sit alone for 15 minutes and meditate and you can meditate while doing what you would consider to be meaningless tasks, like folding the laundry, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, and sitting in traffic. The racing mind does not help to lift us up. Learn to slow it down and you will find yourself more relaxed and more carefree when facing stressful situations.
5. Talk to your loved ones. It's great to talk to someone you trust because they can help to shine a different light on the situation. Sometimes we just need affirmation that we are good enough and that's okay. So many people live their lives acting like they are the best but most people are making their way around just like you and me. So don't forget to reach out for that human connection because it works wonders.
I lose sight ever so often, in the grind of Silicon Valley, the competitive nature of work, attempting to be the best mother to my kids and a phenomenal wife, I lose sight. You must ask yourself, is the grind worth it? There are always alternatives, there are other places to see and live, new hobbies to learn, values to teach our kids, and most important - to simply live Life. But if we are too stressed out and feeling down from the grind, then we are hardly living.
Check out my other related blog posts:
When Life's Turmoil Leads You Off the Path
Learn How to Forgive
How to Handle Work Stress
Until next time,
It finally happened. I have been taking the light rail to work for the last few months and its been life changing. No traffic, no silly drivers, I get lots of reading done, and have been very productive with work. Then one day it just happened. My phone was on the seat under my leg a bit and when it was my stop, I got up and walked off. While the light rail doors closed, I paused to get my phone out and then realized I had left it...when I turned around to face the light rail it was off to the next stop.
I stayed calm, realizing there was not much I could do in that current moment. I walked down the street to the office and when arriving immediately went to my colleague in Operations (the guy who everyone goes to when they have something to fix or figure out.)
I walked right up to him, "I left my phone on the light rail and I don't know what to do." (BTW, before I even finished this statement, Anthony had the VTA light rail website pulled up and was already dialing their customer service number.)
And this began our 2 hour journey to find my phone...
What happened next I will never forget.
We are now on hold with customer service. I then go to another colleague and use her phone to call my phone in the hopes that someone will answer my phone. No answer. It rang and went to my voicemail but no answer. I continued to call it but no luck. Anthony got VTA customer service on the line. I explain to them all details of what happened and they assure me that they will contact the light rail driver to try to locate the device. I give them my contact info and they said they would call me back either way.
Another colleague steps in (a technical guy) and tells me to log into Find my iPhone. I do this and now we can see my phone making its way through San Jose on the light rail, riding along beating the Silicon Valley commute.
I continue to call my phone from my colleague's phone...and low and behold someone finally answers! The conversation went like this:
"Hello, I left my phone on the light rail. I am a good person, a mom of a 3 year old. Please meet up with me so I can pick up my phone. I will go where ever you are."
"Why hello, I do have your phone. Don't you worry, your phone is safe with me. I will be at the Homeless Clinic in about 20 minutes next to the Lexington Brothers hospital. I have a blue bike. You'll see my blue bike out front. Don't you worry."
"So you will be at the homeless clinic. I will meet you there. What's your name?"
"I will have a blue bike. My name is Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E. I'll be at the homeless clinic. I have your phone."
"Alright I will see you soon. Thank you so much."
And we were off! My colleague Anthony and I were on our way to the homeless clinic to meet up with Michael Brennie, B-R-E-N-N-I-E. On the way, I stopped at the bank and took out $40 to give him for being such a grand citizen.
As we drove to the homeless clinic, I was praying that this man was telling the truth about everything. We parked the car. As we walked toward the homeless clinic, I spotted something that reassured me, a blue bike right out front. We walked into the homeless clinic, passed folks who were definitely struggling with just living. We asked the reception where we might find Michael Brennie and she pointed us toward the waiting room.
We popped into the wait room where 4 characters sat, dazed, exhausted from sleepless strung out nights, and in need of something.
My colleague shouts "Is there a Michael Brennie here? Michael Brennie?"
We turn to our right and there sitting, slouched down with a green worn t-shirt, baggy pants, and white shoes that have seen better days, is Mr. Michael Brennie. He says "I'm Michael."
"Are you Michael Brennie?"
"Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E."
"Hi Michael, oh my goodness, you have my phone, thank you so much!"
"Well, actually, I don't have your phone."
"What?! What happened?"
"The VTA light rail security guard confiscated it from me."
"Oh, well that's okay. I really appreciate you helping me out. I got this for you." I hand him the $40.
Brennie says, "Oh wow, I really need this. Thank you so much." He looks over at the spaced out woman to his right. "See what happens when you do right and do good things."
My colleague then steps into the hallway and gives me a whisper. We huddle in the hall and he has me log into Find my iPhone so we can corroborate Mr. Brennie's story. I crossed my fingers and the app GPS'd to my phone...and what do you know - my phone was traveling again along the San Jose light rail line. God Bless Michael Brennie.
I walked back to thank Michael and he then asks, "Can I get a hug?"
"Of course you can!"
Brennie asks, "What's your name?"
"My name is Stephanie."
"Oh, I used to date a girl named Stephanie." (He breaks into song.) "Myyyy babyyy Stephanie, darrrrlin Stephy. Oh you smell like roses."
"Thanks again Michael, God Bless."
And that was it. I met Michael Brennie. We were now off again and this time chasing the light rail. My colleague stops at an intersection and we see a light rail stopped. He puts his car in park, hops out of the driver's seat before I notice, and shouts to me to drive his car. I quickly hop into the driver's seat and can't reach the pedals. Of course the light turns green and I have to quickly adjust the seat while driving and wearing heels.
I park his car and run over to where he is. Now he's on hold again with customer service and is talking to the VTA security guards. They inform us that my phone is now headed to Milpitas - really getting the most out of its trip.
We rush back to the car and get a VTA person on the phone. They know exactly where my phone is and we schedule a time to meet the VTA driver who has my phone in downtown San Jose.
We then head downtown to catch the 10:53 light rail driver on his route.
When the light rail comes to the downtown stop, I knock on the driver's window.
I immediately say, "You have my phone, I'm Stephanie."
The light rail driver, "Well, good morning to you," with a big friendly smile.
And that was it, my phone was returned to me and I got to encounter good ol' Michael Brennie.
Tune in next time for my wild shenanigans,
Are you spiritual? Spirituality can mean many different things and the definition focuses on one's soul, sacredness, and the separation from the body at death.
I am spiritual. I am only recently spiritual, over the past 3 years. Like most people, I turned to spirituality because of turmoil that was presented into my Life, turmoil caused by people. I am 31 years old and in my 31 years I have witnessed that the science of logic seems not to always solve the complex issues and emotions of humanity. So what will? Spirituality.
I am writing this because I have met turmoil again. Not the easy kind either. We all experience chaos in our lives, the type that brings confusion and sorrow to us. The type we will never understand and the type that make us feel hopeless. This begins to lead us off the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace. How can we allow the uncontrollable actions of others to maneuver us off the path of enlightenment? We cannot, that is the answer. We must turn to meditation, prayer, mantras, scriptures, and all other sources of Spirituality - else we will get lost permanently.
I study all walks of Spirituality, everything from Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and so on. I do this because I learn from all of them and the funny thing is they all have the same message and overall teaching - how staying on the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace will bring you happiness and will in turn bring others happiness and will help to teach those people as well.
Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
-Lao Tzu, from the book The Enlightened Heart
Most importantly, faith and spirituality also help to leave fates in the eyes of destiny, karma, and natural consequences, essentially allowing Nature to do its job, one that we cannot do.
I can honestly say I am grateful for the situations and people who cause turmoil in my life because although I find myself losing sight of the enlightened path, I am able to recognize that I am losing sight and continue my meditation and prayer practices. Turmoil is the true test of Faith and Spirituality. Difficult situations and people are the true test of our wisdom, love, compassion, and forgiveness. I am grateful that I have the ability and strength to meditate and pray for the people around me and for myself.
I am writing this because I have found turmoil again. Am I oversharing? Is it surprising to read? Ask yourself when is the last time you met turmoil and difficulty, confusion and sorrow. I am sure it wasn't that long ago and we must talk about it. Not gossip. We must talk about how to deal with it in order to never be led off the path.
What do you do to stay on the path to enlightenment?
Here are some of my other writings on enlightenment:
When Life Gives You Crap, Don't Just Make Lemonade, Make Eggnog and Sing Carols
Learn How to Forgive
A Buddhist Approach to Dealing with Difficult People
Work stress...a pretty common topic and maybe even overrated when it comes to serious discussion however as someone who works in the marketing world in the heart of Silicon Valley - horrible traffic like our East Coast counterparts and Los Angeles commuter friends, top competition when it comes to skills, certifications, and higher education, and one of the most expensive cities to live in - combine this with being a wife and a mother to a toddler, and well, you got yourself a beautiful recipe of success (and maybe disastrous stress if you don't know how to handle it all.)
I want to follow the paragraph above with some facts. I have never been happier when it comes to my career. I am doing what I love and working at a company that has been the most innovative and creative in my entire work experience. Every day I come home I am happy and fulfilled. Sure I have those weird days like everyone else but the majority of the time, I live a very content and happy Life.
I also work in a very high pressured and fast paced environment. To all my fellow marketing warriors out there, you know the thrill of working in such a creative, around the clock department and yes, the phrase "I thrive off pressure" came from us in marketing. I don't work a 9-5 schedule because I need to be available for conference calls and sometimes urgent items around the clock (also accommodating worldwide employee timezones.) And even so, I wouldn't change a thing about my job. So how do I cope with day to day work stress on top of having a 2 year old, an 11 year old, and being the Wonder Woman wife that I am (let's face it, I am.) I am not going to pretend that I'm perfect and always grounded, like so many fabricated social media profiles. But I do continue to embrace the list below, out of order, and at times giving more attention and weight to a particular item in the list one month and changing it the next. Full blown healthy chaos!
As I said before, I am not going to pretend that I always do the above in any perfect way. Whenever I have those challenging days and find myself getting wound up, I pause, breathe, and refocus on the above. And although I have a career that stretches my skills to the max, I am able to continue with passion in my soul, with a tamed stress, and happier than ever.
Thanks for tuning in,
I am Sterp. I write horror fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. As long as they make me lose sleep then I'm happy. Fun fact: I am also a Buddhist.