I may be just writing this to myself, but I will share this with you all anyway. Over the recent weeks I took a step back from everything to look for clarity. I do this from time to time. I limit my social interaction, reading, writing, work, and anything else that I deem a distraction. For me, everything had become muddled with opposing views and internal conflicts. The journey of self is like a constant revealing and just when you think you have something figured out, a new bit of information is added to the mix forcing you to reconfigure your previous calculations. Maybe I should stop trying to reach conclusions. Maybe there aren't any problems to be solved and the very act of trying to solve the problem is what causes the problem that never really existed... I just read that I titled the post "Anger" so I should get to it. The funny thing is what I have done so far is the perfect illustration of how I have been addressing my anger. I work so hard on an explanation that I forget I was angry. Kind readers, use your imagination and see this next paragraph as the first.
I am angry about a lot of things. If I had to describe what my anger looks like, it would resemble a black ferocious canine-like creature that when it gets really angry bulks up like a charcoal gray hulk. This androgynous hulk dog/wolf has the strength of 8000 pitbulls and the hunger 5000 packs of wolves combined. I keep it chained up, but it broke free recently and it started to hunt me. My cat-like abilities and uncanny talent to search out steel doors and high ledges have allowed me to allude it, but I have a feeling that it knows exactly where I am. It's hunting me, finding the right time to take its reward. You see, every time I seek to dive deeper into myself, there it is growling and baring its teeth. I hiss back with explanations and someone distracts me with heart shaped candy corns. It watches me sap up the unbearable sweetness as a new muscle tones in its jaw. I search for cake and it searches for me. Dun Dun Dun Duuuuun.. I have had too much cake this time. That ultimate muscle has been toned. I saw it when it happened. I heard it when it said enough was enough. I ran when I saw the chains break and the cage completely shattered. I tried to negotiate with dog-catchers. No one would help me because this is my journey.
Here is a confession: I have always had a strong disdain for the phrase "love and light". Oooh it irks me to the bone. Oh man, I don't think I could describe enough how much I can't stand those words together. Recently in an email exchange, someone said "love and darkness" and I felt my heart smile and inside I sighed, "Yes!". "Love and light" always sounded incredibly pretentious and a like a huge gargantuan LIE. Most of the people saying it from my observations seem to be saying it as a hope and not a reality. I say deal with the reality. You know good and well you aren't all about love and light so be real and say so. I know I am not. I am all of it. If I am the oppressed, I am the oppressor. If I am the beautiful, I am the ugly. If I am the shit, I am the flowers. If I am the light, I am the darkness as well...And if I am the articulate, then I am the foul-mouthed, so fuck "love and light". <-----Maybe that is the dog in me. If I am the hunted, I am the hunter.
One day recently I went to my local "Water n Ice" only to find it stripped bare and deserted. The scene reminded me of those old movies when someone left their car in a bad neighborhood and came back to a completely stripped car. The store was totally cleaned out. At first a small wave of surprise came over me and then it quickly shifted to acceptance of the inevitable. I knew they weren't going to make it and sure I would like to credit my psychic powers, but I didn't need my third eye to foresee this one.
I first started going to the store when the new owners came in at the end of the year. The owner was a fairly young guy with an old school fro and a nice smile. He was very kind and even gave me a discount on the the bottles I purchased. He had a repeat customer in me. He told me about how excited he was to start his own business and I was inspired because I as well was starting a business. Things seemed to start off great for them. Him and his charismatic brother ran the store and though they put in long hours they seemed to be pretty optimistic. But eventually I found myself preferring to use the 24 hour water machine outside and avoiding their store hours. So what happened?
Well great customer service turned into lazy customer service as they added new employees who seemed confused about why they were there. Each new employee looked like they were just taken out of a meth rehabilitation center with the original clothes they went in with. Every time I went into the store, it had a funny smell of corn chips mixed in with stale cigarette smoke. Eventually, probably after a few gentle complaints, it smelled like air freshener, corn chips and cigarette smoke. My water was near all of this. Yuck! The old, lackluster signage, which I often examined, looked like they didn't make any attempt to attract new customers. Nothing about the design of the store was pleasing to the eye. They could afford a big, useless, flat-screen tv, but not paint. Water n Ice is a place known for its ice cream as much as it is for their water. When I was younger I used to save up my allowance for a butter pecan cone. Somehow they made their ice cream look absolutely unappealing because they looked so grungy. I'm vegan, but well-presented ice cream and groomed people can at least bring back good memories.
I feel like they felt the water and ice cream would sell itself. In fact the owner kind of told me this and clearly he proved himself wrong. Almost every time I came home I would tell my mother about the slow decay of the store. She told me to offer them advice, but I found that the owner was very resistant so I left it alone, and after awhile I didn't see him anymore. The biggest problem with this store is that it seemed to be the antithesis of its product. No one, and I mean no one in the store appeared to have an intimate relationship with water. They would often wear poorly fitting attire in black, gray, or faded colors. The place felt dirty even if it wasn't. I never saw evidence of dirt, but I could feel it in my pores, through to my bones. I couldn't understand how they missed this concept of clean, fresh, purified water. How do you sell water while drinking a big gulp? How do you sell water with ashy skin? It was the weirdest thing.
So there I was, in need of water, looking into a shell of a store with a sloppy handwritten sign that read, "closed". On my intelligent phone I found that there was a water place up the road a bit. When I got there, I felt an immediate difference. There were hearts in the windows. They had cute tables and chairs for people to enjoy their ice cream. They were closed so I had to use the outdoor water machine. It was less convenient because I needed coins but when I tasted the water, it was sweeter. It was truly sweeter.
I share this story because it served as a powerful lesson for me. If you are going to offer a service, you need to be and show that you are a recipient of the service you are offering. People feel and even taste the difference. I supported the old store because I wanted to see them succeed. They were nice guys even if they were a little misguided but eventually I found myself avoiding them. I also learned that it is important to be open to guidance. There are people who want to help but if you act like you have all of the answers, you shut them out. I would have suggested that they invest in uniforms and better signage. I would have also suggested that they tighten up their hiring criteria and change their lifestyle as much as possible to reflect the product they are selling. These simple suggestions could have made a gigantic difference on their business.
So just so you know... I practice Reiki every day on myself. Anything that I suggest you do, I have done with lots of success. I do spiritual work all day and night and always look for new lessons to learn so that I may be of greater service to my clients (such as this one). I meditate daily. I am in a great love affair with myself - so when I tell you to love yourself, it is because I know how much it has changed my life. And as I learn how to grow a business, I am open to suggestions. If you have any, shoot them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. My recent addition of pricing suggestions on my What I Offer page was in direct response to my clients saying they needed a little help. AND I drink lots of water, though not as much as I would like. Now that my water is sweeter, I am sure things will change.
No matter what your business is, it all comes back to you. Don't push it because you think it is a easy sell, do it because you LOVE what you are selling. You may say this is common sense but sometimes we miss these lessons chasing after money or being caught up in the stress of life...
If you sell tires, have the best tires on your vehicles.
If you speak of joy, be prepared to show and prove how you are joyous.
If you sell water, look like you use it.
If you sell health, be and look healthy.
If you are an healer, heal yourself.
If you are a teacher, teach yourself.
If you are a sexual master, master yourself sexually.
I woke up one morning last week to a lovely text from a dear friend which resulted in an even more lovely love text fest later. Her text reminded me of how much I have grown over the years. There was a time when that kind of exchange with someone I called a friend would be unheard of or unreceived because I was afraid to open up in that way. When we first became friends I was going through a big change in my life and I wanted better relationships with my friends even though I wasn't quite sure how. Until that point, I was in what felt like accidental friendships that violently collided a long time ago and no one ever managed to get checked out for injuries. We just kept doggie paddling in a sea of ignorant dysfunction littered with mangled emotions and shark-toothed egos.
When I thought I lost one of my greatest friends to suicide years ago, the shift began in me to look for deeper and richer connections with those I called my friends. It is weird to say I lost him because I don't feel that way now, but it is still true. I lost him to what we call mental illness way before he made his transition. However, I did get him back. He continues to come back to me now, his true essence unmarred with the personality known as him or the illness associated with him, the true essence of who he is and who we are. There have been times when I thought he left me as my ever present spiritual guide but I have learned what has left are my notions and misconceptions of who he was in physical form. He reveals his true self to me now slowly and I must admit sometimes it is hard for me to accept. Why?... because I want to be right about him and all the ways I judged him. It's my ego really and I do the same thing to myself. It can be hard to see past all of the fluff, walls, and drama that people have around them and some don't want you to. Some might say it is just my selective memory of him and I will allow them to say that because I know better. I ask you to open your heart and have enough vulnerability to allow someone to reveal themselves to you and then tell me about selective memory. Why would you need to be vulnerable you ask? Well...the moment you put down all of your defenses that you have built up over time to "survive" this life so do all of your prejudices, as prejudices are just protection mechanisms. I say he reveals himself to me slowly because he moves as fast as I do, despite my fantasies of radical transformation. He shows me who he is as I let go and become more honest with myself. It is in those moments I understand how deep our connection really is! When I think he is gone and instead he shows up with a greater beauty, a greater lesson, and a greater love that I had only glimpsed when he was in physical form.
I have experienced countless deaths of the ego and mourned each one of them. It's the oddest feeling. I will feel sad but mushy and loving all at the same time. With each death my relationship with myself gets deeper as I reveal myself to myself, and my friendships have begun to reflect that depth. This has also meant that I had to release some friendships. This was a hard lesson for me since I have not always made friends easily. It meant I had to let go in order to let in what I really wanted without any guarantee that I would get what I wanted. I have had to step out with faith and heart. I won't dare tell you it has been easy for me to do that. Nope, not at all. I had become so emotionally intertwined in these friendships, sometimes feeling like it was my job to ensure their sense of well-being. Their problems were mine and I had to fix them. I found as I started to put the focus on myself and started fixing myself, the dissonance in the friendships grew from a whisper to a bawl. Once again I felt the loom of death, an event I have grown to appreciate as odd as it seems. Sure there is sadness but there is also love and overwhelming peace that blooms within, purifying all of the madness that seemed to be a mystery until that moment. Maybe I have described the process of acquiring wisdom.
My last post about relationships greatly affected me. (Yes, I read my own blog.) I started to see all of my relationships differently, especially the one I have with myself as it determines all other relationships I have. Every stride I have made with myself shows in the wisdom I received. Today I will say, there are two aspects of us, the personality and the true self. Our personalities are like the suits we wear to navigate this terrain and our true selves are us in all of our naked glory. Sometimes we find it easier to only see ourselves and others in our suits. Getting naked is often out of the question. Well I am different now. I just want to get naked and see others naked. I remember being 11 years old in acting camp, we were traveling and had to shower in public showers. I hated being naked and washing in front of my fellow theater folk. It was miserable. Fast forward to a Korean Bathhouse in the recent past and I was more than happy to bare it all and let someone else bathe me. It was joyous. Wisdom. Overtime as I have grown, the lessons my great friend taught me continue to reveal themselves. He didn't judge people, a skill I work everyday to master. He loved people even when I thought he was setting himself up to be hurt - so I am learning to love fearlessly. He didn't do anyone's work for them, but he offered a helpful loving hand, and so I am learning to not carry others' burdens. Since he spoke well and honestly of all of his friends, I baptize my tongue every morning. I can say now I have managed to attract really loving people into my life. I can also say I have acquired the wisdom to let go of those who can't get naked with me. I challenge myself everyday to befriend in love and not my ego, fear, or loneliness. Fearless friendships, that's the journey, love is the fuel...and it all begins and flourishes from within.
10 years ago he and I graduated from college together. He from Morehouse and I from Spelman. It rained on the Morehouse green just like it did this year, but I was there to see him walk as my hair threatened to change its appearance with joy in my heart. Later I went to get ready for my own time to don my cap and gown knowing he would be there. When I went to find my family after commencement, there he was, the first person I saw, with a expression of glee and my headscarf around his neck. He uncharacteristically picked me up and swung me around in an embrace and emotion that seemed to propel us out of the confines of time, our suits, and the gaze of our on-lookers. I think only he and I really understood that moment, our embrace, our nakedness, a celebration of our friendship and all that we overcame to be in that moment together.
Now go find a friend and get naked. ;)
What I am about to share is something I never thought I would do. Never say never, right? Well my dear readers for the past week I have been happily and joyously playing Coasterville on facebook. *cue gasps and face palming*...I'll wait for you to get yourself together... ... ... Alright, I trust you are finished. There are many reasons I like this game but the main one is that it is oddly grounding and dare I say it, healing. I deal with the non-physical world all day and all night. I am literally working in my sleep and I am working for results that don't always manifest themselves in obvious ways. Sometimes I need to do something that allows me to be meditative without the whole quiet room, incense, candles and crystals show. Along comes Coasterville...
It started innocently enough. One of my facebook friends kept on sending me requests. This person is someone I happen to respect as a spiritual teacher so I found it odd that they would be so wrapped up in a online game and have no shame to consistently request goods from me such as a wizard's hat, sugar, a princess uniform, or a dinosaur claw. Out of curiousity, I simply started to respond to their requests. If you want a pink unicorn I am happy to click this button to help you out. I was making dreams come true and there were messages telling me that. I was happy when I saw that his park was growing "leaps and bounds". It truly did my heart good to aid in someone's abundance, even if it was a just online game. The act of supporting this person was something I recognized as an affirmation that I recognize abundance...and you should see what this person has created with the help of his friends... AH-MAZING!
The game teaches me a lot really. I often read posts about people always complaining about getting requests from their friends and I think it says more about our culture than we are really wanting to recognize. Much like life, Coasterville and similar games show you can only get so far alone. This is a big lesson for me because I have never liked asking for anything. I have a hard time receiving help as well, but at the same time when I look around, the people I admire greatly are the ones who have a great support system around them. I have never revered a person who said they achieved everything on their own for two reasons: It looked too lonely and they were lying. We don't get anywhere alone. In fact, most of my friends on Coasterville are people I have never met and probably will never meet. Playing Coasterville helped to reveal one of my personal blocks, the illusion of the independent person. Sometimes helping someone just means showing up or giving them your spare room. On Coasterville, I am learning in a ridiculously fun way that helping someone is studying together, staying in their hotel, working at their front gate, visiting them, appreciating their creations, giving them gifts, and the list goes on.
I am also learning patience. Once you spend all of your energy there isn't much you can do. You have to wait or get creative. I find myself looking forward to how I can use my time well. Yes this is all happening to playing an online game in a very conscious manner I should add. There may be something I want to build but I don't have the material for it so I have to ask and wait. In the meantime, I have my life, my business, my blog, my spiritual practice, and on Coasterville, my guests. I find that if I use my time well, I haven't waited at all and that thing I have been waiting for comes right on time. Once again, I am learning all of this in an online game and it is exciting.
My other lesson is be yourself and be inspired! It is an obvious message for most but it is different in application. When I visit my Coasterville friend's parks, I always note how unique they are. No one's park is the same but they are all amazing. I am so impressed when anyone takes the time to be creative, so when you get to see how people have designed their parks, it is inspiring and would you believe that when you spend time in someone's park you get an "inspiration" point. It only makes sense, right? I love designing and changing the look of my park. It is a greater pleasure to decide exactly how I want to focus my abundance. I am really into the Fantasy part of "Kiki's Loveland" (the name of my park :D), so it is a joy developing it and seeing it grow "leaps and bounds". I often see dragons in my meditations, so it is very aligned with what I enjoy. Yes, I have a dragon coaster and petting zoo at Kiki's Loveland! EEEK!
So yes, it is true, you have just read an entire blog post about my appreciation for Coasterville. Was it a waste of time? Of course not. You have wasted time if while you were reading this, you weren't thinking about things you can do to spark more inspiration, love, and appreciation within. If it feels good and it doesn't hurt anyone, do it. Even if it seems silly, cliche, or uncool, DO IT. I remember the way my love for Korean dramas saved my life and I also remember how odd everyone thought I was for being so obsessed. But guess who went to Korea and had the time of her life because of said obsession?? Me, that's who. As I always say, trust yourself, trust your path. No one can walk it for you and no one can tell you how you should do it. Skip, jump, breakdance, roll, shuffle, but move yourself to the next phase with love and appreciation in your heart! Never take for granted how you use your time because if you love what you do with your whole heart, miracles happen. I am living proof! My name is Kiki and I love Coasterville...and I am proud of it.