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Books I've Been Reading
  • Life on Earth: Understanding Who We Are, How We Got Here, and What May Lie Ahead
    Life on Earth: Understanding Who We Are, How We Got Here, and What May Lie Ahead
    by Mike Dooley
  • The Japanese Art of Reiki: A Practical Guide to Self-Healing
    The Japanese Art of Reiki: A Practical Guide to Self-Healing
    by Bronwen Stiene, Frans Stiene
  • What's Your What?
    What's Your What?
    by Julie Moret
  • California: Then and Now®: People and Places
    California: Then and Now®: People and Places
    Pavilion
  • Security is a Thumb and a Blanket (Peanuts)
    Security is a Thumb and a Blanket (Peanuts)
    by Charles M. Schulz
  • The Voice of Rolling Thunder: A Medicine Man's Wisdom for Walking the Red Road
    The Voice of Rolling Thunder: A Medicine Man's Wisdom for Walking the Red Road
    by Sidian Morning Star Jones, Stanley Krippner Ph.D.
  • Myths of the Cherokee
    Myths of the Cherokee
    by James Mooney
  • What to Do When it's Your Turn (and it's Always Your Turn)
    What to Do When it's Your Turn (and it's Always Your Turn)
    by Seth Godin
  • Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison
    Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison
    by Gary Tillery
  • Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See
    Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See
    by Bill Shapiro
  • Beatitude Golden Anniversary 1959-2009 (Beatitude Literary Magazine, Volume 50)
    Beatitude Golden Anniversary 1959-2009 (Beatitude Literary Magazine, Volume 50)
    by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings
    Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings
    by Shel Silverstein
  • Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You: A Journal
    Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You: A Journal
    by Robie Rogge, Dian Smith
  • PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God
    PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God
    by Frank Warren
  • The Field and Forest Handy Book: New Ideas for Out of Doors (Nonpareil Book)
    The Field and Forest Handy Book: New Ideas for Out of Doors (Nonpareil Book)
    by Daniel Carter Beard, David R. Godine
  • American Girls Handy Book: How to Amuse Yourself and Others (Nonpareil Books)
    American Girls Handy Book: How to Amuse Yourself and Others (Nonpareil Books)
    by Lina Beard, Adelia Beard
  • The Secret Language of Birthdays: Your Complete Personology Guide for Each Day of the Year
    The Secret Language of Birthdays: Your Complete Personology Guide for Each Day of the Year
    by Gary Goldschneider, Joost Elffers
  • American Splendor and More American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar
    American Splendor and More American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar
    by Harvey Pekar
  • I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
    I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
    by Amy Sedaris
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story
    A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story
    by Donald Miller
  • The Growing Edge
    The Growing Edge
    by Howard Thurman
  • Mind as Healer Mind as Slayer: A Holistic Approach to Preventing Stre
    Mind as Healer Mind as Slayer: A Holistic Approach to Preventing Stre
    by J.K
  • Kindred Spirits
    Kindred Spirits
    by Matthew & Terces Engelhart
  • Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality
    Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality
    by Thomas Moore
  • 1000 Ultimate Adventures
    1000 Ultimate Adventures
    by Lonely Planet
  • Last Words
    Last Words
    by George Carlin
  • Seriously...I'm Kidding
    Seriously...I'm Kidding
    by Ellen DeGeneres
  • Cash: The Autobiography
    Cash: The Autobiography
    by Johnny Cash
  • It Happened in Oklahoma (It Happened In Series)
    It Happened in Oklahoma (It Happened In Series)
    by Robert L. Dorman
  • Lost Austin (Images of America)
    Lost Austin (Images of America)
    by John H. Slate
  • Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
    Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
    by Gregory Boyle
  • Milk and Honey
    Milk and Honey
    by Rupi Kaur
  • Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately
    Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately
    by Alicia Cook
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Tuesday
May222007

Chosen Ones

the homeless man on the corner said i'm one of the "chosen ones". he said he can tell so, because of my smile.

standing up on the corner, he proclaimed, "beautiful smile on this one. beautiful smile. she's one of the chosen ones."

i feel chosen. i feel special.

i woke up this morning to a cool ocean breeze through my open windows, and the sounds of various birds singing their chorus. finding my journal on the bedside table, i began listing the things i'm thankful for, 

"thank you, Lord-
for my wonderful family, friends, and boyfriend.
thank you for your Grace and for reminding me that it, alone, is enough.
thank you for your Peace, and that you left it for each of us.
thanks for giving me the strength and energy to make the most out of this opportunity.
thank you for the ocean breeze.
thakn you for the birds singing outside of my window.
thank you for late night phone calls, and early morning wake up calls.

i love you, Lord.

thank you for blessing me.
thank you for loving me.

in Jesus' name I pray-
amen."

because it was only 6:45am, i decided to go for a 15-minute run on the beach. i was amazed at the activity that abounded outside my walls. surfers suiting up, and running out to the ocean, to catch an early morning set. joggers and dog-walkers all smiled as i passed by. a few of the homeless were stirring, and starting their days, as well. i saw the man who proclaimed i was one of the chosen ones. wiping last nights sleep from his eyes, and tying his bootlace, he looked up with his dark, mysterious eyes. around the corner, a couple was riding a tandem bike, and a cat scampered across the alley.

many of the things i see, i wish i could share with elliott, or mom, or misty, or michelle, or.....

but, then i remember...i CAN share them. and, i will. over coffee, or a phone conversation, or on the back of jeff's boat, in a few months time.

so much to take in here. so much to see. much to be thankful for, and even more that i feel like i can learn, affect, and change. i want to add to the positivity in the world. i want to increase the good vibes, and i want to make the most of this experience. 

if a simple smile can make me a "chosen one" then i want to smile more.

being outside of your element, increases your awareness. this much, i know. but, thinking back to humble, tx...and the world in which i've left for the time being, i know that i also saw similar things on my morning runs. also, i saw unique things, that only texas has to offer. 

each place has its own glory, and its own merit. it's up to us to find the beauty in it.

i encourage each of us to find the bliss in our own surroundings. please share with me the eccentricities you notice today. the funny, sweet, sincere, or amusing parts of your days.

i believe, that by doing looking at our worlds with a child's eyes, we WILL be adding to the positivity, and to the appreciation we hold for our surroundings. 

i believe starting the day, this way, is a beginning in that direction. we will be behaving and thinking as His chosen ones. with appreciation, amusement, and gratitude.

if you do the same...please come back and share your observations here...i'd love to read them.

humbly,
hillary

Tuesday
Mar202007

Self-Conception

"Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort." 
-Mister Rogers

I've been calling home more often, and visiting, too. Last year, I went an entire year before I went home for a visit, and by the time I did, my heart hurt. It had been entirely too long. But, it took a mistake like that, to illuminate the truth to me. I need my family. No man (or woman) should be an island. And, this is is not the only "truth" that has been revealed to me in the past year. I've been on a "self-concept mission". I declared it, privately, to myself in my journal in January. Now, I'm okay with sharing that this mission for self-conception will be an ongoing one...and it feels really good!

I have been questioning EVERYTHING. Analyzing my past decisions:
In the past, I've lost myself in work, money, obligation. I've buried myself in academic pursuits, literary goals, spiritualism. I've run away from intimate friendships, and clung to corporate ladders. I've sacrificed "self" for acceptance. I've chosen to accept hurt, and I've also chosen to grant forgiveness. I've made some beautiful pieces of art, and given them away. I've written some interesting stories, and shared them. My life is a collection of decisions that have been clear and sometimes convoluted; savvy and sometimes simple-minded. But, what I have embraced is this truth:

In my entirety, I like me.

In fact, I am learning to LOVE me. I say I'm "learning", because I know it will be a process. I'm still not as kind to myself as I should be. I still look for flaws, and capitalize on them in the mirror. I still doubt, and question, and negate my own positive forward motion, at times. But, I'm learning...and I'm growing, and like I said, I like me. I'm falling in LOVE with me.

I am a girl who sometimes finds it hard to listen, because I'm so busy trying to think of a solution to your situation. I always want to help.

I am a person who will laugh as loud as the situation demands, even if I'm told it's too loud for the situation I'm in. (Examples include, "G'yall, Miss Hillary...you sure do laugh LOUD." Mason, Age 12, at the movies in December.)

I feel and express love with my entire being. Those who have experienced this love can explain it better than I can, I bet.

I'm quirky, and soft-hearted. My feelings can easily be hurt, and I'm learning, again, how to protect them. Sometimes it feels like my emotions are in technicolor, and the rest of the world is in monochrome. I feel misunderstood, raw, incomprehensible. I'm beginning to understand that there are more people out there, just like me...and we sort of find kindred spirits in one another. I believe if you are reading this, you're probably in technicolor, too.

In the past I was brash, and loud, and self-righteous. I thought hateful thoughts, and I said hurtful things. I'd engage in competition, and try and "one up" ex-girlfriends, varsity adversaries, even girls on the dance floor. More recently, I've become humble, meek, and rather self-conscious. I believe there is a nice place of balance between the two and I intend to find it.

I don't envy, anymore. I used to...and I'd say I didn't. Now, when I find envious thoughts creeping into my mind, I convert them into positivity, by complementing the person, either out loud or in my mind. (Something like, "Nice work, lil' Mama...your body is BANGIN'"...when I see a girl with an outrageous bikini body, etc.) Then, I'll see it as proof-positive, that those sorts of things can be achieved and manifested in my own life. (Like, "See, Hill? You can have that sort of body, too....you just have to invest the time and energy to do so.")

Yesterday, I was flipping through the channels on the TV, just looking for something I could "ignore" in the background. You know, like a constant hum, that accompanies you as you work through your day? Well, I ran across one of those Christian Stations, and Naomi Judd was being interviewed. What she said was essentially this, "The number one cause of mental illness is not knowing who you are and you can't know who you are if you don't spend time honoring yourself, and living in the present." She said the way we should honor ourselves, is by devoting time to being "silent" and "in the Word". I have to agree. This is EXACTLY why I've been able to come to the epiphanies about myself that I have this year. 

Every morning, I've made a point to get up 2 hours early so that I can spend the first 30 minutes (to an hour) of my day reading a devotional or other uplifting material. Then, if I am moved to, I journal about my thoughts on the matter. Once that is finished, and while these positive and uplifting things are fresh on my mind, I pop in a DVD (lately, it's been Winsor Pilates) and I devote 30 minutes (to an hour) to my physical being. While I'm "going through the motions" I make sure to smile, or remind myself that what I am doing is healthy, positive, and good for me. The most gratifying part, beyond the self-concepts that are being revealed, are the health effects that are becoming evident. 

I have more energy.
I smile and laugh more often, even in times of mental stress.
My body is literally changing its shape. Not in a dramatic way, but in a subtle, personal way. What once was hidden is now being revealed. Lines and muscles are making themselves seen. 
I look in the mirror and smile at what I am seeing develop.

The other day, I actually looked myself in the eyes, in the mirror, and said, "You are doing such a good job. I am so proud of you." I made a point to stand there for a few minutes and just look at myself, right in the eyes. If you have never done this, it's fairly uncomfortable. I've only honestly done that a handful of times in my life...but, this is the first time I can recall looking into my own eyes and saying something positive and gratifying and true. I highly recommend it. 

We have to spend time honoring ourselves. Getting to know ourselves. Loving ourselves, and perpetuating that love to one another.

I like what Sark says about the matter, 
"Treat yourself as kindly as you do your Best Friend.
Drench your self in self-kindness! 

Women are very good at shining kindness outward, yet if you ask how kind they are to themselves, they often cry. 

Turn the kindness spotlight inward.

Before we can move to healthier ways, we must be where we actually are.

Radical self-acceptance is a connecting, soft, slow and compassionate way of being. We can help each other. 

When you see your "sister" beating up on herself, take her weapons away and just hold her."

I did this just the other day. My friend was making some sort of comment about how "disgusting" and "fat" she was, and I just flat out said to her, "Don't talk about my friend like that." We both laughed about it, but also saw the truth. I wouldn't accept someone else saying something like that about her...so, why should I accept it when she says it about herself?

Learning to luxuriate in where we are RIGHT NOW as we are RIGHT NOW, is a really lovely thing. Allowing ourselves to be quirky, emotional, excitable, loud, timid, shy, or even silly, is simply practicing the same sort of acceptance and grace that you grant to others. 

Yesterday, someone told me I was being too energetic. It hurt me, deeply. In the past, I would have internalized this, and saw it as "another flaw" that I needed to correct. And, in all honesty, the instant that this person said this to me, I became very quiet and withdrawn. The difference, this time, was that the place inside to which I withdrew, is now a much kinder place. 

So, instead of beating myself up for being too full of energy, and for vibrating at a different frequency, I kindly allowed myself to smile, and laugh and say to myself, "I like the energy with which I'm living. I like the vibrations I'm putting out. I'm proud of myself. I don't see any reason to change."

Because I like me. 
And, I am fighting to preserve the sweetness and the purity within. I'm not going to submit to self-destructive thoughts.

I like me, and I'm not afraid to sit quietly with myself and "have a talk". 

My quiet time is sacred, my personal exercise time is a set appointment. They are a set and solid part of my day. Nothing encroaches upon them. They are too valuable a part of my life, now, to lose. This "self-concept" mission has only just begun...and I seriously look forward to it every day, and "miss it" when I miss it! 

What sorts of things are you doing for yourself? What sorts of things are you doing for someone else? Take a moment and list all the things you do during the week, and write next to each one if that activity is for you, or someone else. Working is for someone else. Balancing the checkbook is for someone else. Driving in the car-pool is for someone else. 

Count up how much time you spend doing for other people. Helping other people. Listening to other people. Then, count out how much you really do for yourself. It doesn't take much to fill our cups back up. Just an hour or so. But, we really should do it. 

As Naomi Judd says, "I've had women tell me that when their daughters see them taking care of themselves, and being defined from within, and thinking for themselves instead of thinking about that silly culture out there, it's powerful modeling."

Let's make a promise to take care of ourselves. Let's set out on a mission to know ourselves. Let's begin to embrace our own uniqueness. Let's help one another do that. 

Let's begin a Self-Conception Revolution.

Sunday
Nov062005

here goes nothing... (nanowrimo 2005)


Category: Writing and Poetry
Okay, guys...here's the introduction of my second character. Let me know what you think. I'm beginning to think I may go in this direction: several different people telling their perspectives on Taci and what's going on with her, punctuated with chapters of the narrator and Taci's diary entries for clarification....so we can compare and contrast how different everyone sees things...here goes nothing. Chapter 2: Luke Taci was at her balcony, again. Like a sepia toned picture, aged with the passing of the years, she stands stoically, smoking her cigarettes night after night; just out of touch, out of focus. I see her there, quietly looking out onto the pool, with her face-full of eyes. As I swim my laps, I wonder what it is she’s thinking about. Someone as beautiful and full of life as Taci, shouldn’t be alone. I invited her to dinner, once. She graciously declined. I’m not sure what it is that she needs, and I’m unsure if she knows, either. Taci is unusual. A contradiction. Her looks resemble more of a Calvin Klein model than a Victoria’s Secret bomb-shell. Her olive colored skin, and steel blue eyes are rarely tarnished with make-up, save the occasional black eyeliner she’ll use to amp up the wattage of those electric blue eyes. Her long hair is perfectly straight and shines, as though she’s never bastardized it with chemicals or curling irons. A bohemian of sorts, it’s always a surprise to see what she’ll wear. At times, she’ll saunter down in paint covered over-alls, her hair in a knot on top of her head, other times, she looks like she stepped out of a photo shoot for Vogue’s latest gypsy themed story. She doesn’t frown, but always looks rather contemplative. If she catches you looking, she’ll flash a million dollar smile, accentuated with a humble nod of her head. She catches me looking, frequently. Each morning at the leasing office, we cross paths at the coffee bar. I take my coffee black, she drinks chamomile tea, steeped in silence. Her large smile illuminates the room, and she punctuates the space with her laughter at just the right moments. It seems as though the girls from the leasing office, and the regular coffee-bar residents line up to talk to her. Listening intently, as each of us take our turns telling her about our latest little events, she nods, and takes it all in. Looking at her now, silently suspended above me on that balcony, I realize, no one ever takes the time to ask her about her life. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will. I imagine she’ll probably reply with a sly smile and a quick, “Why do you want to know…?” I consider Taci a modern-day martyr. She descended into my world about a year ago, I don’t know where she came from, but I know it wasn’t from here. There’s a softness and an honesty to Taci that breaks my heart. You don’t grow up here, and maintain that purity. She is a rare import. The first day I met her, she introduced me to her husband. We sat out by the fire-pit and shared a bottle of wine. We talked about astrology and music. Her husband mostly sat, looking on at Taci as the light from the fire danced across her face. Occasionally, he’d reach over and place her hair behind her ears, all the better for seeing her expressive eyes as she knitted a web of intrigue that I’ve not been able to free myself from, since. After that night, I never saw him again. Sometimes, I’ll let my mind wander, and make up all sorts of story lines and plots as to what happened there. Perhaps he left her, perhaps he died, maybe they have some sort of pact only the two of them understand. I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone knows. Yesterday, the management of our loft complex hosted a pool-side barbecue, trying to foster a sense of community. Taci dropped in after I finished my third Jack and Coke, and left before I could finish my fourth. My memory is clouded, but through the broken recollections, I know that I said too much. This morning she didn’t make it down to the coffee bar, so I was accompanied only by my regret. I had been sober for 8 months, yesterday. But, the temptation was too much, and I gave in. Now, with a sour stomach, I remember why I had stopped drinking in the first place. I know it may seem wrong, but I watch her. Each evening, as dusk cloaks our windows in darkness, I lean out my balcony, and look across the courtyard as she plays out her life, alone. The life of a lonely, urban lawyer doesn’t afford luxuries like television shows, not at the hours I’d be able to watch. So, each night, when I come home from the office, I sacrifice my suit for board shorts, and I swim. The water is therapeutic for me, a catalyst for change. I’ve had many epiphanies during my lap-time. So many thoughts swirl about my mind, and when I’m swimming, they seem to sort themselves out. So, it’s only natural for me to feel connected to Taci. While the rest of the world sleeps, I swim, and Taci smokes. Last night, in my drunken stupor, I told Taci that I watch her, in detail. She diplomatically finished the conversation with me, retreated to her room, and closed the blinds. Damn.



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