Intense emotional upheaval over the past several months (more like years culminating in extremely intense emotional experiences over the last few months) left me feeling “empty.” Funny thing is, that in this place of “emptiness” there is a peaceful quiet space.

Being empty allows me to experience life as both an observer and participant. I am nothing. Emotions and experiences flow through me.

I am present. I am empty. Unattached to outcomes but immersed in the experience of now.

The noise has been silenced . The stillness exists and fills the empty space. How is it possible to be both full and empty at the same time?

It’s as if I have been awakened from the dream that heretofore I called life. Nothing is real.

Reality is monochrome monotonous and mundane. It dulls the senses and does nothing more than disconect us from the present.

If we are not present – then we are lost. So we seek to find that which has existed within us all along: the “presence.”

It is this presence that allows us to experience. It is this presence that allows us to grow. It is this presence that allows us to be both empty (with nothing) and full (with stillness) at the same time.

In this space there is no need for time. In this space there is no need. In this space there is no want.

This presence is powerful.

The mere “word” emotion brings with it connotations of joy, sadness, anger, passion, fury, rage, love, hate, etc. They are all connected to our “thougts” about our experiences.

If we are thinking about an experience, then we are detached from the present. If we are detached from the present then we are not experiencing the moment. We are instead experiencing our thoughts about the moment, which, while we were thinking and contemplating, has passed. Not only do we miss the moment, we divorce ourselves from the powerful presence within.

So, we seek “experiences” attached to our “thoughts” and in doing so, create a “reality” that does nothing more than add to our confusion. This is the madness that we have conditioned ourselve to accept.

This is not real but rather an extension of the falsehoods that do nothing more than feed the fears that fuel our thoughts about a reality within which we lose the very essence of whom it is we are.

We are nothing. We were never meant to be anything beyond that.

I am empty.

The quiet silence fills the void. The emptiness is universal unification. This is our connection to the universe and also to one another. ©

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Love is…

Looking at love realistically, we understand that those who have it are often dissatisfied with the ways in which in manifest.  Love is messy.  Love is loud fights.  Love is late night arguments.

Love is as terrifying as it is terrific.  Love is scandalous.  Love is savory and sweet.  Love is often why we can’t have nice things.  Love is verb. Love is an action word.  Most of all, sometimes, love will fail.  It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t really love, it just means that (in the words of the Tina Turner song) love had very little to do with what happening at the time.

Love is boastful; have you seen the number of wedding/ engagement posts on social media? Love is, at times a little envious; ask anyone who sees other relationships progressing to marriage while their’s stands still. Love keeps no record of wrongdoings, EXCEPT in situations where you’re trying to prove a point.

I am certain that whomever wrote that part of 1Corinthians 13: 4-8 wasn’t referring to the love that exists between people.  Not only does love keep records, love gets really angry when the other person’s account of what happens doesn’t match yours.  Love gets down and dirty because ultimately, it is love that we all seek.
Love is not always patient. We want what we want when we want it.  Love isn’t always kind.  Sometimes, unkind things are said out of fear of losing the love we have.  Love can be selfish as evidenced in the initial stages of any relationship. The more time we spend together – the more time we spend together.  Love is a game changer.  Love is like Bruce Lee’s one inch punch:
  So the next time you’re feeling frustrated, a little down and out, and angry, know that most likely, you are loved.

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Unsupported Support…

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We are the unsupported support. We  provide support services to those deployed in far away places.  We are the keepers of their secrets; at times, they are the keepers of ours as well.  We become part of the “far away family” that only those familiar with long term deployments can relate to.  We celebrate their successes, share in their sadness, and stand side by side with them in places others would dare not go.  We create sacred and safe places within which they disclose the deepest secrets and fears.  We maintain the integrity of the moment and when they introduce to us their demons, we welcome them with open arms.  We provide normalcy in places where abnormal becomes the norm.  We normalize the experience of disbelief and despair.  We walk with them through the battlefields that remain active within them.  We mourn their losses.  We deactivate the demons that fuel rages, OCD like behaviors, and drinking binges that only a select few understand. We are the unsupported support.  We reap the reward of beneficial part of their breakthroughs.  When we can, we see them safely thru to other side of the images that, before us, they could not escape.  We provide the peace of mind that acceptance provides.  With us they are not judged.  With us they nothing more than individuals who did what what they had to do in less than optimum conditions. We support them in their darkest hours and become the light by which they find their way home.

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Turkish Taxi…

The taxi driver insisted that I sit in the front seat. As we exited the airport area I immediately noticed the run down buildings on either side of us. A combination of different stages of renovation; some were bare concrete, some had been partially knocked down, and others were painted bright pastel like colors. I assumed that the buildings still standing had stronger, more solid foundations. Perhaps the others were simply outdated and/or too old to remain useful. Oddly enough each one, in its own way, added to the uniqueness of the area.

I noticed a man, wearing a rumpled white button down dress shirt that was more out than tucked in. His blue jeans were loose but even as he walked under the light, the slight bow of his legs was very noticeable. The bright reddish orange glow from the cigarette he held in his hand seemed to set the pace for his walk. Occasionally, he would look up, take a drag, look down again, and then continue walking. The backpack and small suitcase on wheels that he pulled along slightly behind him, made me wonder if perhaps he lived nearby. He didn’t seem to be in any sort of rush. Maybe he was going to surprise someone? Maybe he was going home to an empty apartment? Maybe someone had simply forgotten to pick him up from the airport? Who knows? I watched this man, in the side mirror until I couldn’t see him any more. As I meandered through the many metaphors in my mind, I exhaled a little bit. I was almost relaxed when the taxi driver said something. I was lost in my own thoughts and (since I don’t speak the language) I didn’t try to figure it out.

Suddenly, all of the buildings seemed to become one big blur. We went from a cruising along slowly to warp speed in all of what felt like a few seconds. This man who, obviously thought we had to have been there yesterday, loved driving with lightening speed. He was laughing (probably at the terrified look on my face ) and saying something (again) that I didn’t understand. I think I almost saw a very large Mosque but cannot be sure because it went by in a flash. When he finally slowed down to “too fast” I was beyond relieved. When we stopped in front of the hotel, I remained seated. Not because I wanted to spend any more time in the taxi, I just needed to wait until my legs stopped shaking. I used the weight of my backpack to steady myself as I paid the taxi driver. Ironically, the very thing that I  complained about earlier ( the weight of my backpack as I lugged it around the airport terminal), was now the only thing that kept me grounded.

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Pack Light…

Pack light…

It doesn’t matter where I am seated, watching the other passengers rush to exit the airplane is something that I enjoy. This trip was no different. As soon as they were able, damn near everybody, stood up. Some were standing in isles, some were doing a half stand, and hanging on to the back of the seat in front of them. It always makes me laugh a little inside. The door to the exit hasn’t yet been opened but there they are – awkward stances in all – holding on to carry on’s with all their might, staring eagerly ahead. They are like children waiting for the recess bell to ring. Just like that, the door open and they’re off. Everyone, except of course me…the people watcher.

Everything about this trip had tested my resolve. From realizing that I would have to pay an additional three hundred dollars to check an extra bag to the trip (literally) down the stairs. The back pack that had been my pride and joy, acted as a constant reminder of what happens when we refuse to let go.

We are burdened down by the things we chose to hold on to; either because we think we need them, or simply because we don’t know how to let them go. That “trip”down the stairs from the plane was, for me, life’s little metaphor. Figure out what you really need and take only half of that with you. Leave the rest behind or you will stumble, fall, and/or get caught up in your own stuff.

Technically, my back pack landed on Turkish ground before me. I think (what was left of) my pride did too. I collected myself and headed toward the little shuttle – only to be told by someone who’s expression was everything but friendly, to move over to the other side of the runway. It isn’t that I understood him. Clearly, he thought I had a hearing problem because he began saying the same thing over and over louder and louder each time. Finally, he began motioning, pointing, and making gestures with his hands, until I began doing as I was told.

I made my way over to few other people who were standing off to the side of the plane. Since none of them spoke English, no one tried to make conversation. Still, however, standing there in silence gave me time to collect my thoughts. Being there with them, was also much better than standing alone. When they moved, I moved. When they stopped, I stopped. Gave new meaning to “following the crowd.” I was laughing to myself and wondering (since they were the only other people there), if this meant that I was finally part of the “in-crowd” when the airport man began saying something. After he finished speaking, they started to walk towards the glass doors, so I did too.

Three very large, very heavy, and very, very, overpacked suitcases waited for me in the baggage claim area. I was more than thankful for the attendant. He put my luggage on a cart, pushed it outside, and waited with me until he was able to summon a taxi. Such a simple thing, but for me, it meant feeling less alone. He made conversation, and although his English was very bad, and my Turkish non-existent, I realized that I was just happy to have someone to talk to. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes but in those 10 minutes the tenor of my trip changed. I began to feel proud of myself for having made it this far.

The attendant said something to another person who was standing there, and within minutes, a taxi arrived. He spoke with the taxi driver in their language. I only know this because I recognized the name of my hotel when he said it. The taxi driver popped open the trunk, of what looked a like a toy car, and then began to struggle with my suitcases. After quite some time, a great deal of effort, and the airport attendant’s help, they were finally able to secure my luggage.

Another one of life’s little metaphor’s; when you refuse to let go other people sometimes struggle with the stuff you hold on to.

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Getting there….

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By the time I boarded the plane from Istanbul to Adana exhaustion had become my constant companion. I don’t remember falling asleep. I only remember the flight steward shaking my arm to wake me up.

Standing in the passport line only to be told by the guard that I needed to go get a Visa then return was only the beginning of my frustration. He never made eye contact with me. It was almost as if I were invisible. He looked at me, but he never really saw me. To be looked at and not seen is troubling. This man had more regard for the pen in his hand than he did for me. In his eyes, I was nothing more than someone he needed to tell to move one. I stood there, stunned, frustrated, sweat dripping profusely into my eyes, so when he waved me away with his hand, I was more than ready to go.

On my second trip through the passport line, I was even more aware of the different people. Everyone seemed to be in a rush. People spoke amongst themselves, but no one made eye contact with anyone they didn’t already know. The line was much longer this time, so I amused myself by attempting to make eye contact with people who appeared to be trying their hardest to avoid it. That’s when saw her. Long flowing black linen covered every part of her. The space for her eyes was so small that I almost couldn’t see them. I wondered if she had seen me. The moment that she looked up, I looked away. She was isolated. There, in a crowd of at least two or three hundred people she stood completely still. Not looking, not shifting her weight. She was a silhouette, standing among people, who, like me, did their best not to acknowledge her. Everybody looked at her, but no one really saw her.

The passport/visa line took up 3 of the 6 hour layover and for that I am grateful. When I was finally able to get through to the airport terminal, it occurred to me that I was completely lost, so I found a chair and sat down. A group of Americans from different states were waiting for one more couple’s flight to come in. I sat back and listened and immersed myself in the sounds of English. (Note to self – when deciding to venture overseas again be sure to check out Ex-Pat communities).

Finding my way to the correct terminal was a feat that I was (and still am) proud of. I found Starbucks, the bathroom, and an excellent place to sit, read, and people watch. I made up little stories in my head about the people who passed by. The image of the woman I had seen earlier was still quite clear when, three women, covered in flowing black robes with just enough space for their eyes to be seen, stood briefly in front of me. It is important to note here that in addition to her robes, one of them had on gloves and scarf too. This time, however, I looked. This time, I saw them; standing there, heads held high. Their pride was very apparent in an extremely humble sort of way. Their posture said “this is who we are, able to make a statement without ever saying a word.” There was strength. There was dignity. There was respect. It is a moment that will remain with me always.


Tyler Perry’s Acrimony….

Sad to see such a waste of a truly talented actress.

Taraji P. Henson must have agreed to do this movie as a personal favor. She’s smart, talented, successful, in-demand and (in my mind) has earned the right to “just say no.”

Ms. Henson must be reminded that movies like these diminish your ability to shine. You meant well, did the best with what you were given but we all know “you can’t make a dollar out of fifteen cents.”

Tyler Perry – where does one begin? Mr. Perru used to make movies worth seeing. He was unique in that he embraced and owned the negative stereotypes AND used them to his (and the viewer’s) be benefit. There was a time when we couldn’t wait for T.P.’s next flick. Sadly, however, that time has passed. The storylines are all the same. The characters recycled from a “somebody’s done me wrong – bitter until the affluent Prince/Princess unknowingly comes along and saves them from ultimate self-destruction” happily ever after (heretofore lost person finds themself) ending.

Tyler Perry is a talented genius who, for some reason appears to be locked in self imposed (creative) exile. What happen to the man who believed so wholeheartedly in his vision that he slept in his car? Safety and security are wonderful. It must be amazing to be in his position but doing so seems to have changed what I, and others like me, admired the most: real life ability to relate and seeing past stereotypes. T.P.’s movies forced us face demons. His storylines gave us platforms to discuss real life experiences and created cross cultural connections that healed and strengthened all who dared to go there. That’s the T.P. that I miss. That’s the T.P. whose films were worth waiting for. That’s the T.P. who’s films I look forward to seeing again