Ghosts should be minded and NOT feared

We are afraid of the boogeyman, even though i believe we don’t really know who or what he is.  One of the most comical scenes in any movie is when Michael Myers surprises his next victim by wearing a sheet with eyes cut out.  He wore glasses on the outside of the sheet in an attempt to fool his victim into thinking he was her boyfriend.  But what that scene really did was show how we really don’t know of what we are afraid.  Our visions of what we should fear drive us and, while people may not admit to being afraid of ghosts, it is exactly our ghosts that limit us and keep us hoping against hope that some force will emerge in our lives and “save us” from the boogeyman.  But even Michael Myers knew that those primal fears are irrational and even a bit funny.

Ghosts aren’t to be feared, really.  They do their thing, really, and for the most part leave the physical world alone. However, people like me learn to read their messages and then are stuck with having to do something with the information.  Since I tell stories, when I do find a ghost (rather, when a ghost finds me), i have to tell his or her story. I’ve known about this for a really long time, but I haven’t been all that willing to admit that i have this mission.  I’ve come to understand that we all have that ability, it’s just that we ignore and dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into our world view.  This is true, especially when it comes to things of a spiritual nature.  We are often herded into religious frames of reference that can have value, but more often than not exist to control us and make us even more afraid.  Sure, people like Jesus of Nazareth did all they could to teach humanity how the supernatural world works, but then we take his message and box it into what WE think it should be.  Therefore we wander the physical realm like ignorant robots spewing things from our mouths that weren’t our own thoughts in the first place.

I’m not out to be believed. I gave up on that years ago.  If I’ve learned anything over the years of following my writing path it’s that people seek to reinforce their own opinions, regardless of their origin and don’t do much to escape or fold in new learnings such that they own the space between their ears.  The majority of people with whom I’ve come into contact are stuck in an endless loop of reinforcement that they don’t want broken.

So why do I continue to chase windmills as though they’re dragons?  Because I will leave the physical world someday and there needs to be a record of this path of mine such that future generations might actually find the record and realize that past, present, and future are all integrated into one single flow within the supernatural realm and perhaps my descendants, direct or indirect will actually see that someone knew about this integrated time.  In the physical world, time dominates almost all of humanity’s actions, but in the supernatural realm, it doesn’t even exists, which is why when ghosts give us messages, we don’t believe them: Since time doesn’t exists in their world, they approach they physical realm out of context and without context, messages seem like random coincidences that have no reality.

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Our divine energy can manifest greatness!

I don’t understand why people simply don’t understand that divine energy flows within them, through them, and with every other living entity on this planet.  This divine energy can manifest greatness, if we’d only learn to recognize and use it.  But we are stubborn animals who simply choose not to see this immense gift.

I try to teach this concept in various ways and means, but I sometimes can’t help but wonder if I’m getting my point across.  Sometimes it seems as though I’m sowing seeds on dead sand.  But then, someone shares a story with me about how they’ve actually used their divine energy and I’m reawakened to my mission.

It wasn’t a grand use; it was rather simple. This person wanted a new job, but feared that his former employer would sabotage his efforts, as he had in the past.  It seemed that he and his former boss parted on less than friendly terms and his boss would provide a horrible reference which would derail his job hunting.  This person couldn’t hide his experience, as it provided the bulk of his accomplishments.

So, when he learned that he was a finalist for his new job, he instantly wanted to call his boss and beg him to stop giving him a bad reference.  He wanted to lash out and scream and even threaten his former boss.  But instead of doing anything to send out negative energy, he prayed for his former boss.  He prayed in thanksgiving for the opportunity to have learned from his former boss and he spent an hour visualizing himself working at his new job.  He did all this and suspended his fear and anger…

Not only did he land the new job, but he was told that the reason he was offered the job was because of the strength of his former boss’s reference.  In sending out positive and divine energy, he was able to manifest that energy into something real and tangible.

It works if we use it.  But first, we have to believe that divine flows through us and through all living things.  We need to trust it and in doing so, we can manifest our greatest version of ourselves!

Is there such a thing as Writer’s Anonymous?

There wasn’t a lot left – a couple of drops, really. But it called to me and awakened something inside of me. Not really lust, not really gluttony, but more of a memory than anything else. It was a drop of liquid that held a vision of a whole other life; a life spent spiraling and searching for an ethereal reality that couldn’t exist. Still, that vision of life was there, dancing in those few drops: A version of a life I thought I wanted.

It was a romantic idea, really. Hemingway did it; Steinbeck did it. I could go on but the image of the tortured writer spending endless and countless days scribbling thousands of unintelligible words into tattered and worn notebooks until he had another Old Man and the Sea or another Grapes of Wrath was a vision of a perfect life to me. Only I wasn’t like those glorified scribblers. If I spent an afternoon hunched over a bar sipping tequila, my pen might move from time to time, but then, the next day, I’d review my previous day’s work and see that it may as well have been written in Aramaic. There was no way to know what the hell I wrote. Maybe I wasn’t really writing anything; maybe I was just moving a pen in various lines across notebook pages.

But damn, I wanted to be a tortured writer on the hunt for the perfect set of words that would become my legacy. I wanted so badly to be just like those writers who lived their lives on the edge of reality and lunacy. It was a lust greater than any man could have. I figured that living on that edge would make my writing life somehow more real.

So when I saw those couple of drops of tequila lingering in a mostly empty shot glass, I saw that distorted reflection of who I thought I wanted to be and realized that the edge of sanity I sought wasn’t all that great a place to live. Alcohol may bring lunacy, but it doesn’t help with writing. I saw in those drops that attempting a writing life, in and of itself, creates lunacy; it simply isn’t easy parsing through millions of thoughts with a net that only holds a hundred or so at a time. It’s like fishing for plankton with a net suited for landing giant catfish. But what the hell, I keep at it, which is the lunacy and irrationality of the writer.

I remember this one time, after spending hours at a little dive, I scribbled enough words to fill more than 20 pages of a notebook. At some point, I placed the notebook down somewhere and went to take a leak. When I was done, I searched the joint for my damn notebook – but it disappeared. It was gone and I wasn’t even drunk. I threw back, MAYBE, two or three shots over the course of an entire afternoon, but somehow, that notebook went threw some notebook-rapture-vortex and entered into another dimension of sight and sound. Wherever it went, though, I wasn’t there. I was more than angry about losing that notebook; I drove home in complete grief over the loss.

This thing called a writing life is a bad habit, alcohol or no alcohol. I can’t quit – hell, I’m not even sure I want to leave it. Writing transports me – in my own parlance: I am a compulsive writer. Maybe I should start a “writer’s anonymous” group. “Hi,” I’d say at the start of my testimony. “My name is Juan and I am a goddamned writer.”

The group would chorus back to me, “Hi Juan!”

The problem was never the alcohol. The problem, if there’s one, is that I write because I have no other choice. When I’m sitting in my rocking chair wondering if the grandkids will ever visit me, I’m certain that if I can still hold a stupid pen, I’ll write a poem or a verse about how much old age sucks. I’m certain that I’ll still be fishing for plankton in my mind, even if I’m senile, I’ll be grasping at some great collection of words that I won’t fully capture.

Or maybe I won’t. Maybe my WA 12 step group will cure of my writing addiction. I don’t drink or drug. Don’t gamble much. Writing is my only remaining vice. I wonder if my writing glass will ever be down to 2 drops. On second thought, no I don’t. My name is Juan and I am a goddamned writer.

You can learn a lot from fishing (4 photos 1 video)

On a recent warm day filled with early morning meetings, I had my fill of nonsense and wanted to get as far out of cell range as I could and headed for the Pecos River.  I can’t say I was too hopeful of catching anything; recent runoff has been strong and the water levels haven’t been conducive to good fishing.  But catching fish wasn’t really the point of this outing. What I wanted to clear my head and simply hit my internal “reset” button.

fishBreakWater

I found a nice little spot where the water was slow and deep and on my very first cast I pulled out a nice rainbow trout.  The problem was that I barely hooked it and in securing the fish, I lurched onto my rod and broke it in half.  It seemed like a perfect way to end a week filled with addiction stuff and suffering.  However, I wasn’t ready to turn around and go home.

I remembered that I had duct tape and a ball point pen in my car.  So, I opened the pen and removed the ink tube and cut a 3 inch piece. I then placed the ink tube into the rod and then connected the broken pieces (effectively, the ink tube was a dowel that held the rod together from the inside).  I then taped the rod together with the duct tape and resumed fishing.

pecosRiver2

At first, I was hesitant.  Although my repair job seemed to hold together, I wasn’t exactly sure it would hold up under the weight and resistance of an actual trout.  My first cast with the broken rod was a delicate affair: I actually held the top d of the rod with one hand and kept my other hand on the base of the rod.  But I really couldn’t feel anything.  It seemed that my hand placement diminished the rod’s sensitivity, plus I was focused on the rod and not the line.  So, I reeled in the the hook and casted normally and help the rod normally and WHAM! a huge bite.

myBrokeRod

Not only did the repair job hold, it seemed to make the rod more sensitive with the extra flexibility.  Within 30 minutes, I had caught my limit and came home.  I cleared my head and caught enough trout for a nice dinner.

The thing of it all is that I’m always telling people that it’s not really about what happens in life, it’s more about how we respond to what happens.  Had I simply accepted the broken rod, I probably would’ve been in a worse mood and felt like a doofus.  Instead of accepting it, i fixed the rod as best I could and ended up catching a stringer full of fish and forgetting the bad juju I absorbed throughout the week. While I realize that it’s a much smaller scale, I do think it bears sharing with clients that they can accept life’s issues OR they can use them as a means of something from which they can learn. I don’t know what will come of what I learned, but i do know that I learned that I can catch fix with a broken rod.  The Pecos River has met its match…..

stringerOfish

Take Jack for example: An honest Recovery story

How do we honestly assess our failings and move forward with dignity?

To be clear, there is no easy way to take a hard look at ourselves and accept our failings and weaknesses. Looking at the “bad” things we’ve done and not internalizing the shame that can results from the reflection is not an easy proposition. But, in order to move towards a healthier place, it’s imperative that we not only look at our behavior, be we also need to reflect upon the circumstances in which we behaved.

Take “Jack,” a forty something Hispanic male who recently entered into recovery from an addiction to alcohol. When Jack entered treatment, he knew he wanted to be rid of his addiction, but the shadows from a divorce and from his subsequent alienation from his children hung over him and caused him to be a very shameful person. Jack is a talented and capable person; before his addiction took over his life, Jack earned a decent living as an auto mechanic. However, the more he slid into alcoholism, the less he was able to work. After the loss of his family, Jack pretty much gave up on holding a job all together. A DUI conviction forced Jack into treatment. Jack wore his shame like a suit or armor.

While I do approach treatment from a strengths perspective, I also recognize that if we do not assess our actions, we can are prone to repeat harmful and unhealthy behaviors. This is not to say that we should wallow in our past mistakes; we shouldn’t. However, we need to see that our actions tend to be the result of inaccurately processing our external circumstances. For Jack, he thought that having a beer after a hard day’s work was rewarding. He failed to value his family who begged him not to drink so much and as often as he did.

Jack was lucky in that he qualified for Vivitrol treatment. The Vivitrol helped with his cravings (may have been placebo effect, but who cares) and he was able to significantly scale back his drinking. As he did, he was able to see that he was mirroring behaviors he saw in his father. Jack felt that it was “ok” to drink in spite of his family’s concern because his father acted as he wished without regard for his own family. It wasn’t that Jack was a jerk; it was more that he thought he was acting in accordance with how a father was supposed to act.

As his thinking became clearer, Jack was able to mourn the loss of his marriage and find solace in the fact that his children were being cared for by someone who was strong enough to act on their best behalf. While he saw that his drinking led to significant loss, he also saw that he did not value his family or his work enough to make appropriate changes towards health. Once he corrected his erroneous thinking he began to act responsibly towards the people and activities that he really valued.

Jack’s been sober for almost five years now. He never mended fences with his ex, but he was able to salvage his relationship with his children. He found dignity in looking at his failings because he was able to recognize the context in which he failed was a result of his own upbringing. I think that this recognition neutralized his behavior; though Jack did feel guilty, he was no longer was ashamed of himself

Therefore, I think the way to look at our past failings is to understand them in context and then correct processing that led to the failures. Then once we understand the context and have corrected our thinking, we can then live with full knowledge that we have the power to change our behavior in context.

Share your story so that I can better understand my own life

Here’s the thing: People’s stories are valid.  But more so, people’s stories are important and must be shared if a life is to become meaningful.  We are all just future ghosts, and what we leave behind on this planet defines, really, whether or not we even existed.  And although it may not seem like it’s important, everyone’s life is part of a tapestry and if someone is missing from that tapestry, we simply can’t get the full picture of our own lives.

That’s right: I can’t possibly understand my own life in full if you don’t allow me to understand yours.  While it’s easier to understand people’s perspectives if they share at least some of my own beliefs, when someone doesn’t share my view it’s really difficult to even begin to empathize with them because if they don’t share their stories, then how can even begin to understand that part of my own life that may appear in conflict with them.

So, if some right-winger states an opinion that I think is utterly stupid, but I don’t know the person behind the opinion, then I can remain in conflict with the person even though there may not be any conflict at all.  For example, I have a friend who says all kinds of mouth-garbage with which I simply can’t agree (for example, she really believes that Santa Fe’ s unisex bathroom ordinance is “evil”).  However, I know her story with me and she pretty much echoes her husband’s view of the world.  In truth, she has close friends who are all kinds of colors and sexual orientations and so I can accept her rantings as echoes, not as her own truth.

What’s more, is I know several people who completely disagree with everything I write and teach.  However, they share their stories and so when I hear their perspectives, I hear that perhaps my own opinion is not as formed as it needs to be (or maybe I don’t exactly understand my own writings as well as I should).  Regardless of how much I agree or disagree, if I didn’t know people’s stories, I would have no way of really measuring what I know or believe.

So, share your story in some way or another.  Without it, there’s simply no way I can learn.

When stupidity is tolerated, ignorance turns into hate

While I do think that people are entitled to their opinions and I respect everyone’s right to express those opinions, what I don’t support is ignorant beliefs that interfere with people’s health.  When I hear people say things like, “Addicts are losers” or “Gay people are going to Hell” or “Anybody with a mental illness is just crazy” I can’t help but think that there’s something sinister afoot.

Ok, maybe sinister is a bit strong, but I do think that when stupidity is tolerated, it grows into a mass of ignorance that causes people undue stress just for being alive.  Someone who’s addicted probably faces struggles and challenges as a result of his or her addiction, but those struggles should be seen as limiting factors that can be transformed and overcome.  Someone isn’t a loser simply because they’re addicted.  If we, as a collective community, continue to allow judgment of those with addictions, we are creating the very environment in which Addiction as a disease prospers.

When we hate anyone for any single reason, we really only hurt ourselves. Right now, there’s a huge anti-gay bias that appears to be gaining momentum. This bias is no different than any other judgmental attitude. But for me, the topic of sexual orientation is as personal as a topic can get.  I don’t want ANYONE asking about my bedroom behaviors and I really don’t want to know about anyone else’s.  Whomever someone chooses to share physical intimacy is his or her choice.  I don’t care much about the argument of whether or not someone is “born that way,” all I care about, ultimately, is that someone lives to the best of his or her ability.  If anyone has to live with the idea that there’s something wrong with him or herself because of whom he or she is interested in sexually, then that idea is nothing but an unnecessary interference.  Plus, I don’t want to hear what the Bible says about the topic of homosexuality; the Bible also says that if a girl is proven to not be a virgin, she can be stoned to death.  The last time I checked, I think we’d all frown on women being killed for not being virgins.  The Bible shouldn’t be used as an excuse for hatred when really, there’s no excuse to limit a person for any reason.  We are all worthy to love and be loved.

Also, the idea that mental illness just means someone’s crazy is especially irritating to me.  Mental illness is diagnosable and treatable condition just like any other illness.  Mental illness can have biological and/or environmental bases, but it’s real and we as a community of people should seek to understand the way mental illnesses function so that we can share the resource or humanity with anyone who is struggling with something that he or she may not understand.  I struggled with Depression and sought to learn its nature and I continue to learn about how to best teach others how they can overcome it.  People may say I’m crazy, but that label hasn’t ever really worked for me and I’m certain all it does is make whatever mental or emotional illness a person faces much worse.

In the end, people will hold on to whatever stupidity they need in order to justify their hatred for others.  I pray for those whose ignorance breeds hate; I hope that God’s true love and light enter their calloused hearts because that’s the only way they’ll see that we are all worthy of love and respect and no one deserves to live in a world that hates them

Negative thoughts our own worst enemy

jblea1016.com

In many ways, I can’t help that think that people are somehow programmed to reinforce their mistakes into actual defects of characters. This reinforcement then permeates every aspect of our lives. But mistakes are things we do from which we should learn, not things we do that come to define who we are. Yet, our mistakes become powerful chains that bind us to visions of ourselves that make us “ok” with life circumstances that we just don’t deserve.

When people stay in situations in which they aren’t comfortable, to me, it usually indicates some type of limiting factor that buzzes and exists in our own minds. These limiting thoughts entrap people and prevent them from moving forward in their lives.

What’s especially strange to me is when someone knows where he or she wants to be, but then remains trapped in a circumstance. For example, I know people who will…

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Am I crazy, or am I haunted?

It sounds nuts; when I hear myself say it I know I sound like a crazy guy who probably should be committed to a facility that can watch me 24/7.  Regardless, though, I really can’t help but feel like I’m haunted.  Really.  Like in the ghost story kind of way; I literally mean that ghosts visit me.  I don’t know why they do, nor can I say that I’ve seen them, but I really do believe that I’m haunted.

I have a suspicion why they do: They want/need me to find them so that I can somehow provide them with peace.  They aren’t mean and they aren’t scary, but they remind me that they are still with me and that they need peace.  I really wasn’t 100% aware of this stuff, but the more I research land grant history, the more I learn of souls who were not given laid to rest in peace and so want to be released form their shackles.

The reason I research history is simple: I want my family’s land returned to us.  The US government took it, basically felt bad about it, and then gave it back.  Now, it wasn’t that simple, of course, but the land grants and land reclamation process is complex and time consuming venture of mine that i don’t will be resolved any time soon.  But in researching the history of the land, I stumbled across the first of what has become several ghosts that probably aren’t at peace.  In my digging, I found out that, not only did my great-great grandmother, Maria Dolores Quintana, hang herself in 1916 or so, but I also found out that my great-great grandfather, Jose Inez Quintana, spent time in the NM Insane asylum for what was labeled, “Exhaustion” both before and after   Although he wasn’t charged with any crimes associated with Maria Dolores’ death, but the circumstances are fishy as heck to me.

I’ve tried to find out where Maria Dolores is buried, but there’s simply no record of her death or of what became of here body.  Various priests have told me that in those days, if someone committed suicide, he or she could not be buried in scared ground.  So, although over the last few years I’ve left it alone, her story ALWAYS comes back to me and will not let me go.

There are several other of these cases that have literally come to me in hair-raising ways and i have no doubt that the reasons behind their ignoble deaths are not fair to the deceased.  I think the ghosts come to me so that their legacy isn’t carried on in present time, although NM’s heroin suggests, to me anyway, that the legacy of ignoble death not only persists to this day, but is acting through the various deaths attributed to heroin and other opiate overdoses.  I am haunted, but I hope to find answers such that I can give the lost souls peace.

Parental attitudes towards substance use impact teens

jblea1016.com

The Metlife foundation recently sponsored and released a study about teen’s drug and alcohol abuse patterns.  The key finding in this study is that Hispanic teens are forty precent (40%) more likely to abuse drugs/alcohol than their Caucasian and Black peers.  The study attributed two (2) things to this increased likelihood: 1) Hispanic teens are less afraid of drugs than their peers; and, 2) Hispanic parents are less likely to monitor their teens; activities than other parents.  The study goes on to say that its findings place a heavy burden on Hispanic parents to become more engaged with their kids and provides some links aimed at Hispanics about drugs/alcohol.

Now, whether or not this study is right, I think it only makes sense to understand the culture of all teens.  Really, all teens tend towards being heavily influenced by their friends.  Really, belonging is  such a strong need during adolescence…

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