Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to the Busyness of Being Happy

Life is complicated.  It’s filled with difficulties. No matter how ‘together’ we get ourselves, tragedy finds its way into our lives, upsetting our plans, providing roadblocks to the best of our intentions.  If we are ‘waiting’ to live in any capacity, or for our lives to be less complicated before we open our hearts to love or happiness, then we are lying to ourselves and robbing ourselves of any love or happiness we could experience today. We need to get busy, NOW. We need to start living in the moment, right in the middle of our chaos.  We need to get into the busyness of being happy.

Waiting never brought anything.  Life doesn’t present itself out of the blue, we must go out and grab it, live it, and choose to fight for the success we want to enjoy.  If we think things will be better LATER, when our priorities and problems are lighter, we are telling ourselves the biggest lie. It’s a lie that robs us of the love and happiness we could be enjoying now.  If we can’t choose happiness now, or accept happiness in our lives now, we never will.  There will always be reasons and excuses.  We must choose happiness in the middle of our chaos if we ever want to experience it at all.

Are we waiting to love after …our kids are grown, our bills are paid, we lose weight, we have a better job, we have a bigger house, we have a better car, we have gained success, or we are healthier?  Are we waiting to be happy to be happy?  That’s stupid. It doesn’t work that way. If we think so, we are lying to ourselves and robbing ourselves of the happiness and love we could be enjoying now.  Not only enjoying it, but allowing it to fuel, encourage, and inspire us – giving us the strength we need to obtain all those other things we want for ourselves and the ones we love.  Do we want our children to be happy?  How are we teaching them to be happy when our example is the opposite?  Do we want to be an example of hope, determination, and success?  Do we think we can teach something that we are not leading by example?

Love and happiness are our strength.  It is the force in this universe that gives us the forte to properly deal with all the chaos the world throws at us. We are weak without it.  God is love.  Love is where we find forgiveness.  It’s where we find hope.  It’s where life truly happens. It’s where we learn to truly love those in our lives.  Outside it, we only find pain and heartbreak, loneliness and fear.  I speak of love, not lust, not obsession, not passion, but true love. Love that puts others’ needs before our own; love that reaches for us in the fullness of our failure, at our weakest, at our most low and desperate moments. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we should be alone. Choosing to be alone isn’t about trying to find ourselves, it’s about being afraid.  Our fears keep us alone.  Our fears make the self-destructive choices that only bring more chaos, more oppression, and bad decisions into our lives.  Fear is our weakness. The only way to confront fear is to get back to the busyness of being happy.

1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” ~Euripides

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”  ~Hubert Humphries

“We are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Orson Welles

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Business of Being Happy

There’s only one person that can truly make us happy, and that’s our self. While others can influence us, inspire us, encourage us, or detour us, we are ultimately in control of how we allow others to affect us.

I have had some happy moments because of my interaction with others. My children have made me happy. My loves have made me happy. My soul mate has made me happy. My friends have made me happy. Well… they’ve created moments that have led to me accepting that happiness. At the same time, they have also led to moments of great pain. But my happiness and my pain have all been in my control, by what I’ve allowed to affect me. I’ve recently went through a period of great happiness, followed by a period of great pain and stress. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m tired of being stressed. I’ve decided to get back to the business of being happy.

I wish I could tell you it was a simple as that… to just decide and then *poof* it’s done. But, making the decision in only the first step. As I blogged yesterday, part of the path to happiness is changing my atmosphere. Change what music I listen, what foods I eat, what activities I participate, what is the state of my health and fitness, and what company I keep. All these things contribute to the business of being happy. I can’t reach that state of happiness working in or on just one of these areas.

Happiness is about balance, an equilibrium within my heart, mind, body, and soul.  When one is injured, damaged, abused, or neglected, it affects them all. Life is too short to allow my heartaches and disappointments to keep me from reaching or fulfilling my potential. I’ve got too many things to do, too many dreams to chase, too much life to live to allow these pains to steal all my joy. The Word says there is a time for everything under the sun… a time to mourn, a time to grieve, a time let the pain out… but there’s also time to pick myself back up and get back to the business of being happy. I was created for a purpose, I have a dream, a plan, a vision, and that is to live my life to its fullest, and its time I got back to it.

I really don’t understand laziness.  I understand taking time to just relax and let your body, mind and soul rest.  While most of the time I can’t sit still for more than an hour, I can at times spend all day in bed binge watching or reading. What I don’t understand is laziness in the form of a lack of drive, of not having a goal, a plan, a vision, or a dream.  I don’t understand the concept of procrastination and just drifting by and surviving the day, letting the world and circumstances dictate what happens in our lives.  Why on earth would we give that kind of control to chance? 

I also really don’t understand the concept of being reactive compared to being proactive.  I can’t grasp the mindset of spending all my time and effort chasing the chaos. I’ve been on this earth long enough, and intimately acquainted with Murphy, to know that SHIT HAPPENS.  If we drift through life always reacting, believe me - life will continuously keep throwing shit at us, spiraling our lives out of control, sending us into places, circumstances, and situations we never wanted to be a part.  But when we don’t take control and plan, and then do the hard things necessary to move those plans into action, then we cannot be proactive and are constantly moving from one disaster to another.

Getting back to the business of being happy, there’s no room for laziness or a reactive mind set.  Being happy has a lot to do with having purpose and then doing what is needed to fulfill that purpose.  Work isn’t work when you’re working with purpose or for a purpose.  It only brings us down when the effort we are expelling is only to meet a need.  If we work just to pay the bills, to survive from one paycheck to another, yet not LIVING in the moment, then we will despise what we do and hate every moment.  But, when we work because we have a goal, a vision, a dream, or a purpose, then what we do isn’t draining.  We don’t wake up in the morning groaning and despising having to get dressed and go. If that’s our mornings, we need to remind ourselves it’s not our jobs we hate or that makes us unhappy, it’s our state of mind, happiness, and purpose.  I don’t particularly love my job, but I like the opportunities it provides.  

I’m happy, because I’m happy with myself.  I can look at my image in the mirror and smile, because I love the woman I am and have become.  I am proud of myself. I’ve been through hell and back, been knocked down so many times, but I keep getting back up.  I’ve been rejected, unloved, and unwanted, yet I continue to hope, to love, and to dream.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, done shameful things, but I’ve worked hard making amends, facing my demons, and repenting for my sins. I’ve learned from my mistakes.  I’m my own hero. If no one else on this planet thinks I’m amazing or worthy of their love, their time, or their attention, well… that’s their loss, because I think I’m pretty damned amazing.  It’s time I got back to it, too.  Call me arrogant, but not too many people are going to be able to keep up with me in these coming days, because I’m back to the business of being happy, of chasing dreams, and of living life out loud.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Where We Choose

We are exactly where we choose to be. I’m not talking about any situation we may find ourselves, because sometimes things outside our control come in and effect our lives.  But, the condition we are in while inside that situation is completely up to us.  We choose how we face our circumstances.  We also choose our success or failure in that battle by the selections we make in how we fight it, who we select as our source of strength, encouragement, and support.  If we surround ourselves with defeatists, we will be defeated, because they’re going to drain the hope, the life, and the strength we need to fight, leaving us weak and vulnerable.  If we surround ourselves with positive, driven, deep thinkers and overcomers, then we will draw from their positive energy and gain the strength we need to make us strong.  Once we are strong, we will then have the energy to give back, to pour into, and to help others.  

The greatest way OUT of our darkest times, deepest holes, shattered hearts, and bouts of hopelessness is to change our atmosphere.  Here are a few little changes you can make that will help you change your success or failure.  We can’t stop things from happening.  We can’t protect ourselves from tragedy or from the choices and actions of people who will hurt, use and abuse you.  BUT, we are where we choose to be in our responses and reactions.  So, if you WANT to change your circumstances, you’ve got to change your atmosphere and set yourself up for success, not surround yourself with the things, choices and people that will contribute to your defeat.

1.        Fill your playlist with positive and energetic music.  Stop listening to songs filled with anger, defeat, heartbreak, stress or other influences that lead your mind down a dark or dangerous path.  There is a time and place for all songs and all types of music.  Music plays a huge part in determining how we feel, what we think, what encourages us, or makes us feel more defeated.  Always listening to angry songs, you’ll discover you carry around angry thoughts and feelings.  Always listening to party songs, you’re going to find yourself choosing to party.  Think about what you need in your life, think about where you want to go, and then choose the songs and music to fill your playlist with songs that will get you to that point.  If you’re struggling in your life right now and can’t see a way out, then listen to songs that inspire you, that encourage you and give you hope.  “Let’s Get it Started”, let your “Eye of the Tiger” play over and over.  Then, after that, “Don’t Stop Believin” because once the change happens inside you, you’ll start making the choices and decisions outside to put those changes into effect. Sometimes we need “A New Pair of Jeans” to be “Feelin’ so Fly” and start skipping through our “Beautiful Day.”  “Get up, Stand Up,” “Walk,” “Dream On,” because “I Feel Good,” and I “Don’t Give Up,” nor will I “Let it Be.”  Fill your life with the lyrics that are going to push you.  “I’m a survivor, I’m not gonna give up, I’m not gonna stop, I’m gonna work harder (Destiny’s Child – Survivor),” “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down (TubThumping – Chumbawumba),” “Stronger than yesterday, now it’s nothing but my way, my lonliness ain’t killing me no more, I’m stronger (Stronger – Britney Spears),” “I get by, with a little help from my friends (Joe Cocker),” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller (Stronger – Kelly Clarkson), “I’m walking on sunshine (Katrina and the Waves).”

Get it? You’re already feeling better just hearing those song references in your head right now. So, check your playlist. That’s the power of music. Stop listening to those angry, depressing, and defeatist songs.  Inspire yourself.  Change the atmosphere.  Music puts energy in the air around you. Put the right kind of energy in the air, into you, and let it flow through you.  YOU ARE WHERE YOU CHOOSE to be. You make the choice of what you listen to.  Edit.  Edit.  Edit.

2.       Fill your life with positive and energetic people.  Who are you hanging around with?  Who are talking to? Who are you getting advice from? Who do you spend most of your time reading their posts, texting, chatting with, talking to? Who is influencing you?  Look around and evaluate the people in your life. Everybody is either pouring in or pulling out energy from and to you.  They are either building you or tearing you down.  They are either making your life better or more complicated.  Here’s a couple tips that shouldn’t have to be said, but often the most overlooked and cause the most damage to our efforts of change and success.  Don’t take relationship advice from someone that has a long history of bad relationships.  Don’t take financial advice from someone always broke and needing help.  Don’t take loyalty advice from a cheater.  Don’t take exercise advice from a couch potato.  Don’t take dietary advice from a food addict.  Honesty isn’t found within a liar.  Life isn’t found within a vampire.  Energy isn’t found in a zombie. Love isn’t found in the player. Integrity isn’t found in deceitful.  Maturity isn’t found in the immature. Success isn’t found in those always in a disaster.  Surround yourselves with those who’ve been THROUGH some shit.. not ones still going through it, again, and again, and again, and again.  The only thing you’ll learn from them is how to keep failing.  But the ones who’ve been down and have gotten back up, who have pulled themselves OUT of their darkness and tasted success, who’ve actually ACHIEVED some things in their life, those are the people who will inspire you.  Being down isn’t  a bad thing; staying down is.  Failure is when someone doesn’t reach higher or beyond their boundaries and circumstances.  Staying around the same type of friends will create an atmosphere of the same defeat.  You’ll find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over and over and over again.  That’s insane according to Einstein.  So, change your atmosphere. Think about what you really need in life, and then make THAT change. 

Life sucks sometimes. We all go through struggles where can’t seem to catch a break, bills just keep piling up, responsibilities just seem so overwhelming that we get to the point where we think we’re going to break, that we can’t hold up too much longer.  Our hearts have been mangled, our lives turned upside down, and no matter how far we run, how much we try to drown the pressure or numb the pain, we can’t find relief. Our bodies ache and begin to fail from carrying the weight of our stress and pressure for too long. We spiral, we fall, we push away the wrong people, surround ourselves with even worse people, find comfort in playing with fire, destruction, just to feel something.  We listen to things that constantly remind us how much life sucks, and we just stand in one single spot, turning and turning and turning but getting nowhere. Stop!!!!!!!!!  Please, just STOP!!!! Breathe. Pray.  Know… “Everything’s gonna be alright.”

3.        Our bodies carry our stress and pressure.  Change your atmosphere by changing your body.  Start working on the outside and watch the changes happen on the inside.  Start exercising, because exercise releases endorphins and adrenaline, and dopamine.  Don’t turn to alcohol and drugs, turn to diet and exercise.  Do something good for your body.  Feel good.  Feel strong.  Feel healthy.  As you change your body, and work on changing mind by changing your atmosphere, music, and friends, your soul will change.  Have sex, but even with that, the kind of sex will play a big role in that transformation.  While emotionless, uncommitted, and casual sex can be fun, it will add no value to your life, only help contribute it to your defeat.  We often think casual sex doesn’t affect us, but it does.  It affects our souls, it affects our minds.  Nothing is more healing than the gentle touch from fingers filled with honest love and affection, a hug that is honest and as strong as the love of the person wrapping their arms around, and don’t even let me get started with a kiss that you feel down in the deepest part of your soul.  Having casual sex has no real benefits, but comes with a LOT of added problems (std’s, possibility of someone getting hurt, sharing intimate moments with someone that doesn’t care, infidelity, lies, problems, stresses, unwanted pregnancies, etc), but making love – making love with someone that deeply loves you, adores you, respects you, trusts you, someone filled with integrity, honesty, and a pure heart – is a conduit that gives and receives hope, inspiration, and energy. 

We are where we choose by the choices we make.  No matter where we are at this moment, it’s not where we have to stay.  If your heart is broken – love another and let another love you.  If you need help – help someone else and let someone help you.  If you need inspiration – inspire others and let others inspire you.  If you need encouragement – encourage others and let others encourage you.  Just be careful who you choose, what you choose, and how you choose to give and receive.  It makes ALL the difference.  It’s our choice.  It’s our responsibility.  We are where we choose to be and how we choose to be. Protect and fill your mind, your body, and your soul with the things that will change your stars.

“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It's Time

Life is filled with moments.  Good moments, bad moments, great moments, and moments of defeat.  We laugh, we cry, we love, we hate, we fall, and then we rise. 

This past year has been filled with a little bit of it all.  Hell, the last few years have been such a rollercoaster, riddled with ups, downs, sharp curves, steep inclines, and free falls.  I regret none of it because all it means is that I have LIVED.  I have felt and experienced the greatest of love, and I have also experienced the worst of pain. It’s time.  It’s time to move on to the next phase, to get on the next ride, and see where the universe takes me.

My spirit cries out with a howl so deep and filled with so much longing, even the wildest of wolves would bow in reverence. My soul has been ripped in two, a piece of it lost, possibly forever.  I’m a weary warrior who’s been fighting the ghosts of my past for so long that my blood-soaked sword is heavy, my arms are weak, and my resolve is exhausted.  But, it’s time.  It’s time to rise from the ashes, leave the battlefield behind, and be reborn to peace. 

It’s time to let the sunshine warm my face, caress my shoulders, pour its radiance into my skin, healing me from the inside out. As Jack Johnson says, it’s time to radiate. It’s time to face my ghosts.

I think it’s time to finally write my story.  My mother just recently passed away, and I think a part of me held back from telling my tale because I didn’t want to hurt her more than she has been hurt in this life. My story isn’t an easy one, and she’s suffered enough.  I’ve tried to write this story a few times already, the last being because I had a source of joy to battle the heaviness I knew that would come, I was in love. Love is always a strength of comfort when battling something very painful. But that source of joy left me, and I just wasn’t strong enough to face my ghosts while my soul was in so much pain. But, it’s time. 

It’s time to face my ghosts. It’s time to open my heart and let healing come in, to let my walls down, to let my gift once again flow freely.  It’s time to get back to being great.  I am great. I am talented. I’m not wasting my life chasing mindless things that mean shit.  I don’t need drugs to numb my feelings, or alcohol to drown the thoughts that torture me, or mindless sex to make me feel alive.  I have many gifts and it’s time to let them do what they’re meant to do. I will not apologize for being driven, for having vision, for living a life focused on rising above the circumstances of a shit world.  I love myself, and believe I deserve the best this world has to offer.  That doesn’t make me a snob, it makes me a warrior.  This world didn’t give me anything, nothing was handed to me, I was not of privilege, and I have fought for everything I’ve accomplished, everything I have done.  I’m so sick of being surrounded by people with nothing but excuses. There are NO excuses.    

We are responsible for the things we allow to come into our lives that distract us, that use us, that hurt us, that we let bring us down.  We have the responsibility to ourselves to remove those things, take a stand against the vampires and the distractions that seek to destroy us.  We can only blame ourselves when we allow people to lie to us and tell us this is who we are, when we should be looking up and forgetting those things that hinder us. I will look forward, look up, move ahead, casting off all those things that hinder. I’m the only one responsible for my situation and my circumstances.  If it was up to the world, I’d be a cheap whore dancing in the local strip club, drowning my sorrow in booze and sniffing my morals away up my nose, blaming everybody else for my circumstances, not caring who I hurt in my path of destrucktion.  But this world can go fuck itself. I am not a victim. I am a survivor, a warrior, and a lady.  I choose love over vices.  I choose hope over the mentality of defeat.  I choose vision instead of excuses.

God, I’m so sick of hearing excuses.  Everywhere I turn I’m bombarded with them.  Everybody has issues.  Everybody.  EVERY BODY!  Everybody is going through something. EVERY BODY has been hurt, tripped up, knocked down, had the rug pulled out from under them.  Who we are - is not what happens to us, but how we respond.  Being a liar, being a cheat, being a fucking vampire scumbag, being an addict or full of excuses and quick fixes, is OUR choice. The only person we have to blame is ourselves.  Keep whining like a little bitch, and that’s all we’ll ever be… a little bitch. So what - We got hurt.  So what - Our dreams were crushed.  So what -  We have to start all over again.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s time.   

I’m tired of hearing excuses… from myself and everyone else.  It’s time. I’m cutting that negativity out of my life.  Some of you are NOT going to like me very much in the coming days.  Some of you are going to hate me because I’m not going to be your sounding board to whine about your problems or lie to yourself with your endless excuses.  I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck and do something about them.  Some of you are not going to want to hang around me because I’m going to be focused, driven, energized, and fighting.  If you’re lazy, you’re going to be intimidated, jealous or irritated by me and my energy.  I don’t give a damn.  Sayanara, bitches.  It’s time. Those I leave behind… I will miss you.  Those who are about to come into my life with all your energy and vision, I can’t wait to meet you.  I’m not apologizing for being hard to keep up with.  Shame on you for being too weak. I know we live in a world of weak people.  That’s their choice.  I love me just as I am.  I have fought hard to be the woman I have become.  It’s okay, I don’t need you or anyone else.  If you’re in my life, it’s because I choose you and I want you.  I can choose to leave at any moment.  It’s time.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray