Creativity is my Motivation

Have you ever approached a period in your life when you’ve considered giving up? I remember when I was in high school, I wanted to give up on dance. I turned my back on dancing and decided to pursue visual art. Little to my knowledge, I was going to be better at expressing my individuality in an art class, then I was standing in unison cheering for a football team.

I ended up getting accepted into some of the best creative art schools in the country. However, naturally rebellious in my youth, my mother opted out of paying a high-end art tuition. In revolt, I stopped pursuing art – for a time.

I wanted to be a painter or dancer, and I had truly felt like I was getting cheated out some kind of entitled right to pursue my passion.

When I turned my back on art for three years, I felt more disconnected from the experience of who I was than ever before. I honestly became a disingenuous, fake production of myself. It took me a lot of time to come back around and realize that the mere act of expressing myself creatively is something that is critically inherent to who I am as an individual. I learned a lot about my journey, and I know recognize that creativity is everywhere.

Creativity is in the way we walk. Creativity is the way we cook. Creativity is the way we deeply allow each moment to pass with serenity. It is the voice in the back of your head that wants to play, dance and laugh. I am proud to say that I found abstract painting and ballet as a means of individualistic expression. And I don’t see this as a method of giving up, but possibly moving forward to pursue creativity in different facets of society.

I will always be a dancer.

I will always be a painter.

Our Obsessions Cause Us More Lonliness

Understanding our personal obsessions is an important aspect of overcoming our personal inability for acceptance. Sometimes, when I am in a dark place, I obsess over things that I can’t control. One second I am pacing around the kitchen looking for the spatula and the next I am overworking my body thinking it is going to make me a better dancer. Today when I was in dance class, I had a real epiphany. I had gotten to dance an hour early and started working on my stretches and crunches. I then did a pro-cheerleader dance class and then stayed for another contemporary class. In the middle of stretching for my contemporary class, something came over me and I felt myself becoming light-headed. “What is going on,” I thought to myself. I calmly and diligently started listening to what my body was telling me.

“I am tired,” I heard my body say. “You’re overworking me and you need to let me cool down,” it repeated back to me.

I typically have a tendency to want to be the best. To want to strive, work and exacerbate myself in order to feel more entitled to my personal ability to showcase my talents. However, I started listening to my body. I stopped doing crunches, and I just laid on the floor to catch my breath. Did I feel shame? Did I feel inadequate? Possibly. However, my body was thankful. I could feel the life-force energy coming back into the tips of my fingers, and I knew that I was doing the right thing.

I feel like there are so many times in our lives when we forget to listen to our bodies and do the right thing. 

Sometimes, my ego disallows me from doing the right thing and I can even be hurtful to others. For a long time, I never quite grasped the concept of hurting others. I think it was because I was living my life from a locus of control that ensured my personal safety and disregarded the personal safety of others. I think that is because, for a long time, I felt that other people were not safe. However, I tend to have an obsessive nature. I tend to obsess about the things that I cannot control a lot and it causes me a great deal of anxiety, worry, and self-destructive behavior. But now I have the ability to stop myself. I have the ability to trust others and see that they might be hurting more. And when I am able to sense their personal pain, hurt and agitation – it allows me to accept them for who they are. Every relationship is essentially a two-way street. No matter what people tell you. If someone is doing something mean to you, then they’re hurting – no, ifs, and’s or buts. It is the truth: hurt people, hurt people. And that is why understanding why hurt people lash out is the first step to staying safe. And what I mean by safe is understanding their words, thoughts and actions do not define who you are. Do not let the pain of another person imprint on you, and do not let the actions of someone who has hurt you allow yourself to feel less about your capability, integrity, and personal resiliency.

We have to accept the choices that people make. We cannot dwell on the past and smoother ourselves with unnecessary pain. Letting go and accepting a person’s choice is the greatest, most noble act of love there is.

Obsessive love is not real love. And your body will tell you. Your body tells you everytime you have anxiety or fear. You can feel it by the rate of your heart, the sweat in your palms or your newly disoriented perception of reality. Every time, we’re obsessing to gain something we have no control over, we’re losing control over ourselves. We’re acting in the opposite of love. We are reacting with fear.

 

 

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The Loving Presence of God Helps Mend Our Wounds

Spirituality in Nature

Many times when we think about traumas and mental health, we think about the need for individuals to improve their own self-worth. Self-worth is a large part of why we overcome shame and guilt and begin to find a feeling of wanting to belong. Guilt is the idea that we have done something bad, while shame is the idea that we’re inherently bad.

Although, shame and guilt are just as powerful as one another shame is usually the destructive part of us that believes we can no longer change or do better. Everyone at some point in their lives experiences shame. When I was working with alcoholics at the rehabilitation center, the majority of them felt shame for what they had done and believed that they could not change. People who are LGBTQ experience a form of shame for the way they were born and never learn to fully believe in themselves. Many times people deal with shame by overeating, withdrawing, exhibiting compulsive behavior and more. These are all unhealthy coping mechanisms people pick up because shame directly impacts our personal self-esteem.

Brene Brown says, “If we want to live fully, without the constant fear of not being enough, we have to own our story.”

There are many times we feel inadequate and like we will never be enough and it is in those feelings we begin to act out those exact feelings. The message we say to ourselves is, “I am not worthy.” Because of what happened to me as a child, sometimes I feel like I will never be worthy of love. However, there is one guiding principle that diversifies us from our shame. That diversification is a fire in the soul. What is a fire in the soul? That is the loving presence of something larger than us.

In Elizabeth Smart’s autobiography, “My Story,” she walked through her tragic story of kidnapping, rape, slavery and horrendous abuse. Every ounce of her self-worth and self-esteem was stripped by Brian David Mitchell. Although, there were plenty of times she thought of planning her escape and dreaded the idea of living out the rest of her days as his wife. There was not a single point where Elizabeth Smart thought of taking her own life. Seeing those words written in her book made chills run down my back.

How could you go through something so terrible and wicked and not want to die?

Elizabeth Smart had something that I believe is an essential part of healing and recovery for all victims of mental illness. She had an undying love for a higher power. I believe that there is something that happens to us as humans when we hold on to the concept of our soul – to the concept of something larger than us.

With spirituality, we are able to connect to a wholeness that is lost without it. The idea that God is inside each and every one of us is not just a Christian fallacy. I believe in order to self-actualize, there needs to be a connection to a creative force or energy that completes who we are. Many times, mental illness can be the consequence of what I consider to be a spiritual crisis. I believe my diversity is in the fact, that I am a strong believer in all religions, spiritual groups, and practices. I have practiced Wicca, shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.

I take and pull from each of the disciplines and create a spiritual template that aligns with my soul. Indeed, that creates an everlasting flame that will never blow out. Cultivating a resilient spirit is dependent on finding wholeness within ourselves and overcoming shame.

I believe one of the best ways to heal shame is to find forgiveness and healing with your higher self. 

 

Never Give Up Hope

 

Decades of Systematic Oppression, Mass Incarceration, Racial Tension and the War on Drugs.

This is America Drug Violence

Decades of Systematic Oppression, Mass Incarceration, Racial Tension and the War on Drugs.

In the political documentary, the 13th, the film exposes the truth involving the mass incarceration and criminalization of African Americans through the end of the civil war up until the turn of the century.

Violence against African Americans has been a distinct part of our economic and political system that has built and maintained a labor of division and injustice in the United States. Since President Nixon was elected into office, the United States created a reported “war on drugs.” The war on drugs was a sensationalized campaign evoked by new office members like Clinton and Ronald Reagan as a platform to help keep communities safer, reduce violence and incarcerate criminals who were dangerous to society. 

When in reality, the war on drugs has continued to be a political campaign that has helped build an economic industry of violence, prejudice, and criminalization against African Americans in the United States. 

Social unrest and racial tension have existed in America for many years. Throughout history, institutional oppression and structuralized racism have been a relevant method for maintaining social control and dominance over the African American community. Records of methods used to control African Americans dates back to Colonial Virginia. “In order to maintain power among the people of African descent, oppression and internal colonialism emerged through legislative actions by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1692 to institutionalize slavery” (Seabrook, Wyatt-Nichol, 2016). 

In the documentary, there is a clear investigation into how slavery in the United States is necessary for understanding the foundational racial oppression of African Americans in our current political landscape. Through a historical understanding of how our country has continually used tactics of manipulation, abuse and deceit to keep African Americans disempowered through reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Right, and Civil Disobedience to the newly imposed form of cultural domination of embedded racism in the criminal justice system. The documentary sets the stage for how the war on drugs is, in fact, a continued method of oppression against African American communities. 

The war on drugs as a weapon of violence against African American communities

The documentary gives voice to the massive enforcement of laws criminalizing personal drug use and possession of drugs in the United States causing devastating harm to individuals lives. Enforcement and increased criminalization of drug usages in African American communities ruin individual and family lives; discriminate against people with color and undermine public health. The documentary takes a stand on showcasing the societal consequences of not decriminalizing the personal use and possession of illicit drugs.

In the 196-page report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States,” there is clear evidence that the enforcement of drug possession laws causes extensive and life-threatening damage to individuals across the country. The long-term consequences of the criminalization of drugs in these communities can separate families; exclude people from job opportunities, welfare assistance, public housing, and voting; not to mention, can also incriminate and expose the individuals to a lifetime of discrimination and stigma.

However, the problem is that drug discrimination in America is a clear replicated pattern of discrimination against African American lives. During the 1980s – 1990s, harder enforcement for criminalization became a huge political concern for white communities around America. The war on drugs: was never a genuine public health concern but what Michelle Alexander characterizes as “the New Jim Crow.”

In the 1980s the invention of crack cocaine was administered into Black communities and was even backed by the CIA. This event has been denoted as “one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history, the union of a U.S. backed attempt to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting ‘gangsters’ of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles.”  The aforementioned quote is in reference to accusations brought forth by investigative journalist Gary Webb against the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its role in smuggling illegal contraband to fund an army named, ironically enough, the Contras. Several presidential administrations would later wage a war on drugs, and despite the proclaimed purpose, seemed to only adversely affect the very same African American community it knowingly allowed the filtration of drugs into.

Racial Profiling and Criminalization

The consequences of the “war on drugs,” officially declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, has come to refer to police practices that involve stopping and searching people who fit the “profile” of drug users or couriers on the nation’s highways, buses, trains, and planes; saturation of particular neighborhoods (almost entirely low-income communities of color) with law enforcement officers charged with finding drugs in any quantity through widespread “stop and frisk” activities; no-knock warrants, surveillance, undercover operations, and highly militarized drug raids conducted by SWAT teams.

Racial profiling perpetuates negative stereotypes of black males as “criminals,” “aggressive” or “dangerous.”

“Many African-Americans contend that the issue of stereotyping them as criminal defendants and then disaggregating them out from other racial groups for discriminatory treatment by police officers is commonplace and, in essence, the price for being Black in America” (Joseph 2003).

The cause and effect of these laws have created an entire system of incarcerated African American populations whose faces have not only been sensationalized as “criminals” but have also endured the long-suffering of racial prejudice and unfair treatment against law enforcement officials.  Not to mention, the sensualization of African American men as criminals has increased civil violence against African Americans. 

“This is America:” A Real Exposition into violence against African Americans in the U.S.

In his recent music video, Childish Gambino, a Grammy-winning alias of Donald Glover, has seen a viral explosion all over social media. But why is this video so poignant in American media?  The video opens with a smiling and happy shirtless Gambino as he dances in a very light-hearted rhythmic fashion to a very light-hearted tune; however, as the video continues you can see that the image of a very “happy” facade is juxtaposed with him shooting a hooded black man in the head and gunning down a black choir.

The chorus sings: “Yeah, this is America/ Guns in my area/ I got the strap/ I gotta carry ’em.”

Within the song, there is a very clear and creative message being conveyed: Gun violence in America is a racial issue.

As a society accepting the normalization of gun violence against racial minorities is not only a social injustice but a disempowering narrative we’re passing down from generation to generation.

According to Live Free, a gun violence non-profit, “THERE ARE ALMOST 12,000 GUN MURDERS PER YEAR IN THE U.S. (MORE THAN THE ANNUAL DEATH TOLL OF U.S. SOLDIERS DURING THE VIETNAM WAR) AND THEY ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALES AND THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR LATINO MALES, AGES 18-34.”

Since of the deaths of individuals like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and a continued tally of unarmed African American men who have died in “officer-involved shootings,” it is clear that America is experiencing the violent consequences of an unprocessed history of racial tension, which is poignantly examined by the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, over the countless of areas and faculties we’ve employed for the restitution of this tumultuous political landscape, we do not always consider drugs to be a planted weapon against the African American people.

Raise Your Vibration – Why Kindness Matters

I hate to think about the world in terms of hippy maxims or quantifiers like “you’re killing my vibe, man” or “whoa dude where did that energy come from.” However lately, I have really been thinking long and hard about a relative truth hippies get right. Your vibe is everything.

Here is why.

What is a Vibration?

Your vibration is essentially your thoughts.

What do I mean by this?

In the recent studies by positive psychologists, they find that thought patterns predict whether or not an individual feels happiness. This is not only a phenomenon brought on by positive psychologists but behavioral and cognitive psychologists as well. In cognitive psychology, we learn that our thoughts essentially dictate and control our behavior. When we think low vibrating or low unconscious thoughts, we begin to externalize those feelings, thoughts, and emotions in our behavior.

Let me give you an example of this: 

  • Have you ever been so stressed at work that you feel like the world is crumbling down around you?
  • Have you ever had an inter-personal conflict with your wife, daughter or other family members where you feel like a victim?
  • Have you ever unconsciously lashed out at an individual, pointed fingers or blamed them?

If you checked yes to all of these questions, don’t feel bad that is completely natural and normal. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. In fact, I have recently been in situations where I was doing all of these at the same time. Trust me, it wasn’t good for my mental health. And as a psychologist-in-training, I knew something needed to change. If you’re having an inter-personal conflict with someone who is abusive, the best thing you can do is to remove yourself from the situation and work on making yourself happy.

However, in order to understand this happiness, you need to RAISE YOUR VIBRATION! 

What I am saying here is don’t get stuck in a victim mentally just because you have felt victimized. Even though you can’t always love people up close, that doesn’t mean you should stop your thoughts and start thinking negatively. The more we think negatively about people in our lives, the more we blame and hate and point fingers – the less happy we are.

Have you ever felt what it feels like to love? It is the most magnificent, wonderful feeling in the world. And we can still choose love every time. When we are stuck in our negative thought loops, we start discounting all of the beauty and life there is in the world. We also start turning that hatred towards others inward on ourselves. When we can’t blame other people for the negativity, we blame ourselves and we keep perpetuating the cycle of hate and doom.

But we can choose to be happy. We can choose to express, feel and always have unconditional positive regard for everyone we meet. We can appreciate all individuals are beautiful, lovely beings of light who have their own struggles and their own life experiences that make them who they are.

Remembering, that you are not a victim and that you have enough self-love to remove yourself from toxic situations is no one’s fault. The only thing you can control is yourself and what you experience in every moment. You cannot change other people, you cannot make other people happy and you cannot blame yourself if other people don’t understand your situation.
But you can choose kindness, happiness, and love in every moment.

  • Do you have an ex you still hate?
  • Do you have a frenemy who you think toxic, mean thoughts about?

I encourage you to sit down and send them love today. Whoever you hate, send them love at every moment and you feel the shift in your happiness. You will feel the stress dissipate and the negativity evaporate.