A proclamation of my love for steaaaam

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve posted on my blog. It feels good to be home :’).

Quick update: I started law school this week (and boy was I unprepared). I thought I could just roll off a plane after being in Africa/Dubai for two weeks and start law school the next day- LOL. Needless to say, I was fighting an uphill battle with jet lag, exhaustion, stress, and a complete upheaval of my life ahead of me. I made a lot of mistakes in the battle, like cutting my hair off (more on this later), but I also did a couple things right. For the sake of my ego, I’m going to write about those today.

1. I took a steam for the first time in years.

My dad is the biggest advocate of steams EVER. I had a steam room in my childhood home and his answer to every cut, bruise, sniffle, and breakup was to “take a steam”. He would put eucalyptus in the steam head for me and all my problems would melt away. Of course, when I became an angsty, parent-loathing-teenager, I had to stop doing everything my dad told me to do and I forgot about the incredible healing properties of a steam room until a Buzzfeed article reminded me.

I barely experienced any jet lag and I’m convinced taking a steam everyday was the action that put me in front of it. When I started feeling sick, it totally drained me out. It was also incredibly relaxing after my morning workout and was the perfect bridge from hyped-up-gym-energy to focused-law-school-energy.

2. I accidentally meditated in the steam room.

The day after I returned from my trip (the day before I started law school), I was sooo tired but I hadn’t moved my body in weeks. I forced myself to do thirty minutes on the treadmill and some light weights. By the end of it, I was ready to take a sweaty nap in my bed and deal with life later. I sat down in the steam room for a moment and took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and realized I had gone a few minutes without sleeping or thinking a single thought. It was the easiest mediation I had ever done.

Since that day, I have meditated in the steam room every single morning. I truly believe in the benefits of meditation but I am the first one to admit that it is HARD sometimes. It’s hard to stop yourself from thinking without thinking “stop thinking” the whole time. Life moves quickly, there’s always something going on, and it’s so shitty to feel like you’ve failed at a meditation. If you’re like me and it’s something you struggle with, I highly recommend trying it in the steam room. There’s something about steam that makes the process of getting into the meditation so much easier. I don’t feel like my body is anxious to move or that my mind is trying to cockblock my zen. I love it.

3. I bought a humidifier and essential oils.

Ever since my doctor diagnosed that my body was attacking my thyroid and gave me a medical excuse for my exhaustion, moodiness and freezing hands (best excuse ever), I’ve been trying to minimize the dangerous chemicals that I ingest every day. The theory is, if my body is working so hard to filter all the unnecessary bad crap out, it will be too busy to work on the problem with my thyroid. At least I think that’s the theory? More on all this stuff later when I become a pro…

I looked at the ingredients in the fragrance that comes out of my Air Wick plug in, the stuff I literally breathe in all day long, and I was shocked. Talk about c-h-e-m-i-c-a-l-s!!! So, I decided to get a humidifier and put essential oils in the water it mists, like they do at my yoga studio. It may have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I use a lavender essential oil and everything about it is perfect to calm my nerves while I’m studying. The sound of the water, the sight of the mist, the smell of the oils… I have a longing smile on my face right now just thinking about it all. I know that mist is not the same as steam but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to group them together in the same family.

4. I finally unpacked the steamer my mom bought me six months ago.

Let me preface this by saying, I do not care one little bit if my clothes are wrinkly. I will remain forever frustrated by people who freak out about a wrinkle on their t-shirts. I will also remain unashamed when my boyfriend looks at me with disgust because I picked up the wrinkliest shirt ever, that my cat was probably commandeering as his bed, and wore it out to dinner. I unpacked the steamer because I was sick of having boxes all over the place and I wanted to give it a home. To my surprise, it was super high-tech and my fascination prompted me to give it a go because I love when simple things are overly complicated and I needed to know more!

I filled it up with water, grabbed the basket of clothes I had just washed, and tried to figure it out. (I think it’s important for you to know I was simultaneously listening to an episode of Oprah’s podcast with Alanis Morissette as the guest) I WAS INSTANTLY DOMESTICATED. I fell in love with the sound of the steam gargling first, and its capabilities second. I saw myself in the shirt I was working on. As the steam was applied, the wrinkles relaxed and it was returned to its natural shape. That’s how I’d been feeling in the steam room!!! I officially had a physical metaphor to apply to the steam-room-epiphany I’d been living. I was hooked.

 

 

When you’re reading cases for 90% of your time, it really is the little things that keep you sane. Heck, even if you sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing 90% of your time, it’s still the little things that keep you sane. Steam has officially become a “little thing” for me and I wanted to share it with you all.

Happy Labor Day 🙂

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From Starbucks hater to gold carder

I’d like to share a thought with you all, about Starbucks. For as long as I can remember, I felt Starbucks was the corporate enemy, the coffee shop on too many corners in too many places, too much like McDonald’s or 7-11.

The problem, for me, was that it tasted the same everywhere I went. My green tea latte in Costa Rica was identical to my green tea latte in Las Vegas. It was all too off-putting… For lack of a better word, it wasn’t “special” enough for me.

Lately, however, I realized that I’ve begun to rather enjoy beverages with the green siren logo. So I asked myself why- what was I suddenly liking about Starbs that is compelling me to choose it over other places?

The answer came beaming over me like a light as bright as the one my dad used to turn on to wake me up. I liked that I could MAKE my drink special, even if it didn’t start out that way. I liked being able to order a venti green tea latte with light foam, 6 scoops of matcha, almond milk, unsweetened, at steamed temperature.

There is nothing more liberating than having the freedom to order something EXACTLY how I want it without being judged. Starbucks is the Nike ID of caffeine!! And even better, I can order it all on my app so I NEVER have to say my obnoxious order out loud! NEVER!

Oh how I love you, Starbucks… You are as special as I am. 😃

My friend, the soldier

Of everything I had the privilege of doing in Israel, the most impactful experience was befriending eight remarkable young members of the Israeli Defense Force. Even with a language barrier and 7,364 miles between our homes, I had never met a group of strangers that I felt so instantly at home with. Each of these soldiers was so loving and kind that our first encounter did not feel like a meeting, it felt like a reunion.

Five of the greatest days of our lives went by. They were spent in nonstop laughter.  The Israelis taught us their language, culture, and values and we embraced their lessons with loving excitement. We were family (we ARE family). I felt so connected to them that I almost forgot what made them different. I almost forgot that they are soldiers.

On their last day with us we went to Mount Herzl, a cemetery for many brave soldiers who lost their lives protecting the Jewish state. Many of the soldiers in our group had once known the bones that laid under our feet. They were their friends. This was a reality for them that most of us would never understand.

I looked around at the graves and I noticed two things. I noticed that each grave had an ended life inside of it but a flourishing life above it. From the top of each memorial was a little garden, each one different from the next as each human was different from the next. I couldn’t believe how beautiful of a perspective the families and friends of these brave soldiers were able to take. The love, appreciation, and strength in their hearts that compelled them to keep these plants alive and in turn, the memories of their loved ones alive, was astonishing. The second thing I noticed was how young these soldiers were. Pictures of men and women younger than me smiled at me everywhere I looked. They lived young lives, but they lived meaningful lives; and when they passed on, they did so with meaning as well. All throughout my time in Israel I have heard the quote, “Live for yourself and you will live in vain; live for others, and you will live again”. I looked around at my soldier friends and I realized that this value was all they knew. They were born to live for others, and it shows in everything they do.

As I thought about this and looked around at their faces for what may be one of the last times, a darkness that I’m not proud of fell over me. I was sad, scared, and angry. They did not choose this. They were forced into this at a young eighteen years old. They aren’t paid well. They are just kids; they cost less and they’re easier to control. I felt like the people who I had come to love like family were being exploited like slaves.

At that moment, my friend Or walked over to me. I expressed to him what I was feeling and he understood. He told me that there are two ways of thinking about it. One is like slavery. He said you can think, “I don’t want to dress like this, I don’t want to do this job, I don’t like my commander, I don’t want to be here”. But then my friend, the soldier, looked at me and said, “But meeting you all… and seeing how much you appreciate us… it makes me want to keep serving”.

I cried. I cried for him. I cried for Israel. I cried on behalf of all the Jews in America who take Judaism and safety for granted. What had we ever done to make him proud? Or anyone in this cemetery proud?

Since I arrived in Israel, many callings have been made present to me. I feel I have been called to remember and teach the lessons of the Holocaust, preserve my Hebrew culture, keep my Jewish commitment to God, and stand up for the country of Israel. Each of these is an active calling. Remembering and teaching the Holocaust requires me to research and understand things I have never thought about so that I can teach the truth of the events. Preserving my Hebrew culture means reading the Torah and questioning the purpose of God’s commandments so that I can use them to bond with my Dad like we used to and incorporate the traditions into my own family one day. Keeping my Jewish commitment to God is choosing to be the best human I can be, every single day, in every situation. Finally, standing up for the country of Israel, asks me to remember the history of my people and envision the tomorrow that we are fighting for so that I can be an advocate of Israel’s protection back home. This is what I can do and what all Jews can do to make my friend, the soldier, proud.fullsizerender-1

As You Are Me

To be completely honest, I don’t remember why I first started blogging… I can guess that it was probably motivated by a selfish desire to exert my opinion without backlash or conversation. I was very unsure of myself so I wanted to utilize a medium that wouldn’t challenge me. I was also afraid of being weird. I didn’t want to be the girl ranting on Facebook that my friends used as a topic of critical conversation, so I started a website.

I don’t care about being weird anymore. I idolize the Facebook ranters. I only feel authentic when I’m spilling my beans. But I still care about failing. I realized recently that I had never EVER done anything hard. My luck had always gotten me by without any effort, so I trained myself to run at the first sign of struggle and to keep justifying my actions until I believed me.

After thinking about my unchallenged life, the huge disservice I was doing to myself became clear. Frederick Douglass (and every other hero who made it to our history books) said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”. By sheltering myself from my struggles, I was also sheltering myself from my growth. Even with my blog- I did it in a way that felt easy. I kept things hidden about myself and I only wrote when I felt like it because a schedule (aka accountability and commitment) felt too stressful.

I want to be accountable to my readers and I want to be committed to my goals. I want to write because I see a need in the world and I have an awareness of how my skills may contribute to a solution.

The problem that I notice more frequently than any other problem is how unfamiliar we are becoming with each other. As globalization and innovation allow the world to grow more and more connected, our standards and traditions cause us to grow further and further apart. In 2016, exceptionality is quantifiable. When I say this, I mean that being able to count and measure one’s followers literally allows us to see who is praiseworthy today. The most followed people right now are Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Kim Kardashian on Instagram and Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna (honorable 5th place mention- Barack Obama- bless up) on Twitter. It is not my goal to judge our judgment. It is my goal to bring attention to the effects of our judgment.

Most of us are aware of the unrealistic expectations these idols cause. Those are not my concerns. Unrealistic expectations are always created by people who are “exceptional”. My concern is that social media platforms have given us a medium to create an image for ourselves like we have never been able to do before. With instant editing apps, the ability to engineer how we represent ourselves, and the capability to filter out “undesirable qualities”, we are less and less able to recognize ourselves in others. Social media is such an integral part of our lives. We rely on it as an accessible, minute-to-minute snapshot of the world. But while we can control others’ opinions of us and they can control our opinions of them, we cannot run from ourselves. We still know we’re imperfect.

So, where’s the problem here???? The problem is that I know I’m imperfect and you know you’re imperfect but we cannot recognize our imperfections in anyone else. This causes us to feel isolated and alone, regardless of how quickly the world is “coming together”. No one is talking about their problems, pains, and vulnerabilities. We put our best disguises on and in doing so we hide the similarities on our faces, the very things that connect us, the very things that make us HUMAN…

From now on, I will have a structure for my blog. I will put the time into it that it deserves. I will risk failing and embarrassment. I chose As You Are Me from the line in “I am the Walrus”, “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”. I am getting rid of “@EdenBernstein” and introducing “@AsYouAreMe”, in the hopes that you will see yourself in me. I will tell you about my mistakes and my struggles. I will show you my face. I will show you how I am human.

I hope you will show me your face, too. I hope that the beauty in our similarities will outweigh the fear in our insecurities. ❤

In defense of the social chameleon

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of a social chameleon is:

Someone who changes the way they interact with people depending on who they’re with. (Thanks Boone Wheeler)

If you are not a social chameleon, yourself, then surely you have crossed paths with someone who is. We have all had that friend who seems “different” around certain people from the way he or she behaves around us. This frustrates and confuses us. It can seem dishonest and inauthentic. It causes us to question our nature, his or her nature, and the nature of our relationship.

 I am a social chameleon… and I’m sick of catching a bad rap.

The way I see it, there are three types of us. There are the people who are unsure of themselves, the people who intentionally behave in an unnatural way to achieve their corresponding goals, and the people who selectively express inherent characteristics depending on the situation. I happen to share tendencies with all three types.

First, let’s talk about the people who are unsure of themselves. And by those people, I mean all of us. No matter how strong we think our self-identity is, how can we ever be sure of anything? Our survival depends on us being adaptive. We are programmed to change, just as everything around us is. A fixed point of view and way of being will only constrain us. When someone is exploring all that they are and behaving accordingly, we should respect their honesty and strength.

The second category of chameleons I referenced are the ones who change their behavior, in a way that is counterintuitive to them, in order to achieve a certain goal. I sometimes fit into this category as well. The idea for this post came to me during a journal entry as I was questioning the authenticity of my behavior. I have been doing a lot of learning and making a lot of changes recently. In light of this, I have been experiencing some criticism from those closest to me. They are unfamiliar with my behavior and they see my changes as phony. Sometimes they are! But phony is not always bad. It is not my natural reaction to always take the high road. I have to work at my responses every single day in order to achieve the goal of harmony in my relationships. It is not my natural goal to only surround myself with uplifting people. I have programmed myself to occasionally crave chaos and to enjoy the challenge of helping those who does not want to be helped. I have to fight this natural urge and behave counterintuitively in order to achieve the goal of self-progression. I can give you a hundred more examples but the moral of the story is that being phony is often an essential part of changing our habits for the better. If you are thinking, “but the social chameleon I know is not fake because they want to be better”, then I have a response for you too. We are all resourceful in our own ways. Before assigning judgment, ask yourself how you might do the same thing and approach your relationship with understanding.

Finally, there is the group of us that shows some of our personality to some people and other parts to others. This type of social chameleon gets it. We are multidimensional, conscious, responsive, resourceful, and reciprocal. If you know someone like this, you should learn from them. He or she has had enough experiences to be able to connect with a variety of people and also has enough awareness to know when to share what. This special collection of people is also respectful enough to know when not to share certain things. We are great at reading others, reading situations, and responding to energy. For this type of person, being a social chameleon will prove to be a great strength.

Love is nameless

Over the weekend I attended a retreat in Huntington Beach. It was led by one of my favorite thinkers, Eckhart Tolle, and it centered around living a life of presence. I was able to hear some brilliant speakers with varying perspectives and despite their differences, I noticed that almost all of them spoke about the consequences of “naming things”.

Names are extremely reductive and realizing this has completely changed the way I look at life and language.

When you reduce a person, place, thing, or idea into a single word, it completely detracts from its essence. Words are generalizations and they eliminate the wonder of all that they represent.

I first noticed this idea with author and Buddhist practitioner, Jack Kornfield. He spoke a lot about meditation, which is something I have consistently struggled with. In the past, I have always fallen victim to the relentless voice in my head and have never been able to silence my mind. This is not a problem exclusive to meditation for me. I am constantly unable to enjoy the present because of the narratives my mind is telling me.

Kornfield provided us with an awesome visual this weekend that has already helped me to overcome this, and boy does it feel good to have some inner quiet! He said:

While you are in meditation, notice the thoughts that come up and name them. Then, watch them dissolve away like clouds under the sun.

This works for much more than meditation. It is a strategy that I am trying to use as frequently as possible in my daily life.

When you assign a single word to a complex situation or emotion, it loses so much power. You are able to understand that you are familiar with the word, you have seen it before, and you know how to process it.

For example, if you are someone who is constantly thinking about the future and worried about uncertainty, you probably create a narrative that is far beyond what is necessary. You imagine every option and outcome you can think of (none of which are “real”). You obsess and stress about potential problems and you let thoughts of your future take you away from your present. Every time you find yourself in this thought pattern, name it. Think, “This is fear. This is anxiety. This is nervousness”. You will realize that you have felt all of these emotions before and instead of going through an extensive script, you can acknowledge your thoughts and feel them dissipate.

That is the benefit of utilizing names. There is also a major detriment.

Eckhart Tolle gave an example that I felt illustrated the next concept very well. He told us a story about a hummingbird. One morning, he and his wife were standing on the porch of their home in Canada when a hummingbird flew over to them. It stopped right in front of them and seemed to stare at the couple right in their eyes. Eckhart explained that many people would have made the connection in their minds that it was a hummingbird and then would have stopped wondering about it because it was a bird they were already familiar with. This is a major de-emphasis of one of God’s creatures. In doing this, the need to know more is eliminated. As Eckhart so perfectly stated, “If you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see the bird again”.

It is our human instinct to look at things and analyze their functions and any potential harm that they could pose. Love is about so much more than that. Love is looking at the hummingbird and thinking about its past, where it came from, how it flies, the way it is colored, how it interacts with the rest of the world, in what ways it is similar to us, and the infinite amount of other properties that make a hummingbird what it is.

This same way of thinking applies to all people, places, things, and ideas. When you call me “Eden”, you are not thinking about my soul, my family, my childhood, my hardships, my joys… You are assigning everything that I am and have ever been to four meaningless letters.

I find this to be extremely applicable to relationships, as well. When I introduce somebody to my best friend, I give her a title. I call her my roommate or my best friend. These words do not even come close to encompassing all that she is to me. They do not explain all of the times we have cried together, laughed together, or grown together. They do not account for her gifts, her strength and resilience, or her compassion. I think about my dad, my mom, my step-dad, my siblings, and my past relationships. No combination of letters could ever illustrate their essences and when I get locked into using a single word I often forget the true miracles that they are.

 Whether it is a chair, a meal, or a person, try to start looking at things without naming them. The wonder that becomes present when familiarity is gone is one of the best ways to feel gratitude and love.

Heartbreak and closure redefined

I recently had an extremely healing experience with closure and although it was highly personal, I know that the benefit of sharing my story should transcend my fear of opening up to you.

I have been doing hypnotherapy and it is by far the most incredible tool that I have ever discovered. It is a great way to correct old habits and develop new ones because your subconscious mind is in sync with your conscious mind. I have only just begun and it has already facilitated so many miraculous changes in my life that I plan to write about very soon. Today, however, I want to write about the closure that I was able to give myself during my last session.

Even if you are not a believer in hypnosis, you can still use this technique. Bear with me.

If you know me, you know that I was closed off to the idea of a romantic relationship for a really long time. After spending a couple years in an unhealthy relationship, I promised myself that I would not waste my time or anyone else’s time until I knew that I was where I wanted to be professionally and emotionally. I viewed men as distractions and the half-year that I spent in Costa Rica taught me so much about the world that I had almost forgotten about love. I even went as far as to have a gold, Cuban style bracelet made with the word “patience” on it in Hebrew, which served as a reminder of the promise I made to myself (in front of my ancestors- because I am Jewish and Cuban) that I would not be lead into love.

While in Costa Rica, I took all of the energy that I had previously spent on others and I dumped it all into myself. I was in the best shape of my life, I had learned so much about the world and my place in it, and I discovered my passion for writing. I felt more stability than ever before.

Only a few weeks after I returned to the states, I met someone. Despite every block I had put up, it felt right. It felt like God was guiding me to him. He spoke my language like no one ever has. Every day with him was the new best day of my life. It was the first time I ever felt real love.

And then it was gone. He was gone.

At the time, I did not have the understanding of love that I do now. I felt like he rejected me after I had shown him my soul. I missed him. It is crazy how quickly and intensely we can develop tunnel vision. When I pictured my future, I could only see the many ways I wanted to love the same man over and over again.

After coming to terms with the end of our time together, I was unable to think about him without feeling horrible.  I spent about a week in bed. I had lost my enthusiasm for life. What was once the most positive experience I had ever had quickly became the most negative one.

When I finally picked myself up, I needed constant stimulation. If I had a few seconds in my head, my thoughts would wander to him. I felt angry- at myself, at him, and at God. My chest would tighten and my anxiety would consume me.

At the end of my last hypnotherapy session, the amazing lady that I am working with asked me if I had gotten closure about this relationship. I told her I had not. She asked me to close my eyes.

“I want you to picture his face”, she said. I realized I had not seen his face in so long. My heart was racing. It felt too real. I saw his beautiful eyes. They always looked like they were searching for something and no matter what his mouth was saying, I could always see his essence in his eyes. They were so stunning.

She asked me to picture what I would say to him. At first I was angry. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to explode and I wanted an explanation. But then she directed me to think about all of the gifts he had given me. This man had taught me how to be open to love, how to feel love and how to give it, he taught me about the things I want in a relationship and the things I do not want, he inspired me, he gave me the strength that developed from getting through my first real heartbreak, and I would not be the same woman I am today without him.

I thanked him for everything. I pictured what he would say back to me. He thanked me too. It felt so good to hear his voice.

I gave him a hug and I felt his warmth. It was a symbol of my forgiveness. I forgave him, I forgave myself, and I understood why God sent him into my life.

In this moment, I realized that closure is nothing more than changing our response to a past event. We feel like we need closure when there is an unresolved, negative feeling about something. But all we really need is the will to change our thinking.

 It was weird letting go of my sadness. It had consumed me. I did not know what I would think about if I was not sad. Speaking for myself, sometimes I forget that it is okay to be okay. Each day since this moment has been better and better for me. I feel whole again. I can find true happiness in my days. I can look back at what I had with him and remember it for its beauty, while still understanding the lesson that it gave me. I have allowed myself to accept that people flow freely out of our lives, the same way they flow into them.

It was really difficult to write this piece and I hope that it reaches someone who needs it. If anyone wants to talk deeper about this or learn more about hypnotherapy, please feel free to contact me. This stuff is not easy but it is easier when we do it together 🙂

The split screen that split my patriotism

It is forty-two minutes into the first debate. I had to pull out my laptop to distract myself from the pit in my stomach.

I have spent a lot of energy standing up for Donald Trump supporters. I believe in democracy and freedom of speech and I think that internet users should strive to create a safe environment where we can all exchange our ideas.

But the concern I feel watching this debate takes precedence- even over my patriotism.

I got a CNN alert today telling me that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are virtually tied in the polls. How can this be? How did Donald Trump destroy his republican opponents so brutally? How is he holding up against Hillary? Why are we still standing for this?

I used to think it was because of entertainment. I hastily reasoned that Americans enjoyed seeing his outrageous behavior on the television so much that they encouraged his candidacy. I thought that we had been so socialized to crave stimulation and that we struggle so hard with keeping our attention focused, that a candidate like Trump was the inevitable product. But the desire for entertainment is not nearly a strong enough motivation for what has happened. No.

It’s fear, racism, sexism, and twisted idolization that has fueled Donald Trump’s entire campaign.

The more I think about it, the more I realize what a genius strategy that is. Fear is such an incredibly powerful emotion. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is theorized as the second most important need for human beings. Donald Trump is making us feel unsafe and when we are fearing for our safety, we are not able to move on to fulfilling the rest of our needs (belonging/love, esteem, and self-actualization). Our entire world is flipped upside down when we are scared and that is exactly what Donald Trump is hoping for. In a period of globalization and technology, we have no shortage of tragic news reports. These are his tools. He plays these up, terrifies us, and cashes out on it.

ALLLLL of that aside, my problem with Donald is not Donald. My problem with Donald is that there are way too many people in this country that like him for the wrong reasons.

There are men who are terrified to see a woman lead the country. They are so scared of egalitarianism and changing power dynamics that they hate Hillary. There are white, privileged Americans that are terrified of immigration and the impending “majority minority”. They have been WAITING for someone to come along and “make America great again” (as if it’s a terrible thing that women and African Americans have rights now). If America is not at one of its greatest periods right now, when was it great? When there was slavery? When women were property? When? Tonight Trump said, “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell”. Yes, Donald, yes they are. And you are encouraging it. You pestered and humiliated and BULLIED the first African American president for five years to turn in his birth certificate to prove he was an American. You were SUED for racial discrimination. Do you realize that you are running to lead forty-three million African Americans?

But even worse than that…. There are men sitting at home rewatching Charlie Sheen YouTube videos and thinking about how awesome it is that macho Donald loves “winning!”

This guy had Dr. Oz read his testosterone levels on television. And people dug that. People truly, truly like this disrespectful, dominating, hardheaded, money hungry archetype. BECAUSE IT REPRESENTS SO MANY AMERICANS. People identify with him and idolize this behavior. And that is what makes me sick. When I think about the rest of the world, I cannot fathom another country having a potential leader like Donald Trump. The rest of the world is so pervaded by pain, human rights atrocities, and disease that they do not have the luxury of understanding a petty candidate like Trump.

Rant over.

Understanding your dad as your love guru

Male or female, your relationship with your dad is the most impactful relationship that you will ever have.

It is the relationship that teaches us how to love.

“Luke I am your father”, says Darth Vader. NOOOO! For some, Luke’s response gives us the right emotions… But feelings aside, our fathers are in every cell of our beings.

Growing up in a patriarchal society, we are all socialized to pay close attention to our fathers. We observe how they portray gender, how they act in relationship with their partners, and how they act in relationship with us.

For boys, fathers become teachers. They show you how men are supposed to act.

Is it okay to show emotion? When and how much? What should the power dynamics between men and women look like? Is fidelity important?

Sometimes we try to not become our parents but we become them anyway…

At first thought, it is natural for many of us to resist this. Our parents certainly are not perfect and learning from your father does not always mean that you will mimic him. While you are observing these traits, you are judging them. Some things will teach you what NOT to do but most will be the very observations that shape your core. My best friend always tells me, “the things we don’t like about our parents are actually the things we don’t like about ourselves”.

For us girls, fathers are the expectation setters. They are our first loves and we are programmed to choose men who resemble them. We strive to replicate the familiarity of that love and we repeat the relationship patterns that were embedded in us at a young age. The way they love us and the way they love our mothers and/or their partners teaches us about the love that we want to receive. We observe how they demonstrate love, how they handle conflict, and what their views of fidelity are. They shape our femininity, too, by demonstrating gender and power dynamics in the household.

I’ve also found that the tensions and insecurities we have with our fathers often transfer over to our romantic relationships. “Daddy issues” are not something to joke about and men can have them too. They are deep-seated feelings that guide many of our thoughts and actions. For people who experience reoccurring relationship problems, the solution is often found in an understanding and resolution of problems from childhood.

The way fathers love their children matters. Women, choose wisely! Men, love with intention!

Spiritual struggles and the downside of being someone who pushes others

Once I started to understand the law of attraction, it was hard not to center my life around it. In the beginning, there was a lot of instant gratification. I severely altered my energy and the whole world seemed to shift into alignment with me. I got addicted to this. It felt like magic. I told the universe what I wanted and it delivered. I never took this for granted. My sense of gratitude consumed me, which made me feel even more fulfilled.

After some time, however, I started to notice a “funnel effect”. I wasn’t attracting as many people or experiences as I used to. I spent more time by myself over a three week span than I had in years. I started to feel lonely. Was my energy broken?

I recently read two books. Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss is pretty much all I’m talking about right now. Long story very short, it’s about past lives and what our purpose is while we’re here. From this book, I learned that my purpose is to learn and to change. While I am here, I am supposed to become more enlightened and go through the necessary experiences that will bring me closer to my best and higher self. This often involves suffering. The second book I read was a book about Bodhidharma, a buddhist monk. Bodhidharma says there are four ways to “enter the path of enlightenment”: suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma. I won’t talk about seeking nothing because I’m not there yet. Practicing the Dharma can be translated as practicing the behaviors and virtues that provide cosmic law and order (doing the right thing). Suffering injustice is huge. As ancient as Bodhidharma and as modern as Brian Weiss, the teaching of injustice and hardship as opportunity is so valuable. Adapting to hardships is what is most applicable to me- learning to allow your life to unfold the way it is supposed to and embrace it without resistance.

Putting these books in the context of my concerns with the law of attraction, I realized that because the things I want most are unshakeable bliss and self-improvement, I am attracting exactly what I am supposed to be attracting. Having more solidarity than I have been used to has already given me so much. It has taught me how to love and take care of myself the way I would for others. It has forced me to think (a lot) and it has allowed me to get to know myself. I feel more peaceful and patient than ever before and I am learning how to love being alone.

With all that being said, I still think there is something to the “funnel effect”. When your inner light is shining bright, you will only attract people and experiences that match yours. It becomes about quality rather than quantity. The things that come into your life will be fewer but they will be more meaningful. When you are operating at your best, you will not be able to accept anything less.

Another thing I wanted to touch on is that throughout this journey, I have learned how terrified people are of change. I am a catalyst. I always have been. I show people things about themselves because I have conversations that matter and because I am not afraid to reveal the deepest parts of myself to others. It has been hard to realize that this is not always welcomed. Sometimes your light is too bright for others. Sometimes the energy and the love you give will be towards someone who is not ready to receive it. Sometimes your balance forces a mirror in the hand of someone who is not ready to look. You cannot take this personally. While some of us may understand the beauty of discomfort, others need to be comfortable.

For those of you on this great journey with me, you know exactly what I mean and it sucks. Relationships will change. You will feel misunderstood. You will struggle with wanting more for people than they want for themselves. That’s ok. Continue to love and accept as best as you can and allow people to flow freely in and out of your life.