An Affair To Remember

My sister and I chuckle at people who preface a story with, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this.” We’ve observed that usually what follows is a complete verbal diarrhea. Unnecessary, dramatic, dishonest, critical, and hurtful. We’ve vowed to no longer participate, and attempt to stop others in mid-sentence before they continue throwing up.

As we begin Season III of Viral Mindfulness, I’ve been jostling with several thoughts:

“I’m afraid to tell you.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“What will they think?”
“Will I offend?”
“Is it premature, too raw, or too silly to share?”

Alas, the shadows of mind! I’m becoming more aware of the propensities and stories of my mind, and learning to not believe them. I’m certain you can relate. Let me state the facts.

This year, my sister and I read Brené Brown’s new book, Rising Strong. It’s awesome, and she highlights the fact the we’re all very talented at telling the beginning and end of our stories. While ironically skipping the middle, where all the juicy, messy, vulnerable and important shit happens. We skip it because we don’t know how to talk about it, plus it requires vulnerability and authenticity.

For thirteen years I’ve been completely removed from God. I understand my reasons, and know that many of you support the path I took in losing my religion as a gay man wrestling with a Mormon God and its community. What I didn’t know until this Summer, I had actually abandoned any idea of a Higher Power, Divine Grace, or Creative Intelligence. I didn't know it was an option to re-define God according to my understanding of Him, Her, or It. Truth be told, I was pretty angry, and my trust in God was bruised and damaged. I was unplugged from the Divine.

It didn't dawn on me that separation from a power greater than myself was the primary cause of chaos in my life, and consuming my serenity and peace.

Things have changed and I'm thinking bigger. :) Insert the Hallelujah Chorus!

It’s the time of year, and exact week, that feels like a bridge for me. Crossing with nostalgia and gratitude, from where I traveled, I'm looking onward with excitement towards new horizons of fresh possibility. Several years ago I began choosing one word to simplify my unearthly list of New Year's intentions. It’s been a fruitful exercise, and interesting to see how a guiding-star in one word can actually govern three hundred and sixty five days of my year.

2013 Devotion
2014 Brave
2015 Thrive

Some of you were with me in 2011 when I launched Bless Your Virus. I resigned from my primary career as a Clinical Social Worker and moved to California in the Spring of 2012 to set up shop near my grand piano, family, and the ocean.

Devotion continued, and carried me to Viral Mindfulness and you. In subtle ways you actually saved my life. Our connection provided a canvas for bravery, transparency, service, and honesty. I was able to teach from my heart (and messy middle), sort out much, and set the foundation for 2015. The year in which I’d actually move from living to thriving.

I found an invitation which ignited a willingness and courage to move beyond what others were teaching of “God”, and find my own experience. This is when I felt inspired to start my days at the Wetlands in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. In order to cultivate a relationship with a divine power greater than myself, I needed to be in nature, with the sunrise, exercising, moving my body, and witnessing a creative intelligence all around me. Little did I know that Grace and Creative Intelligence would deliver so much more.

This season we’re going to discuss Creative Intelligence. I’m giving you permission to cheat on everything and everyone else to explore this magnificent relationship with your Divine. For me, it’s truly been an an affair to remember. I often refer to Her as Divine Grace (DG). On difficult days I choose FG (F@#*ing Grace), because this cuts through my fear, puts a smile on my face, and make the Divine accessible. On those occasions I cannot lift myself from the tears of the shower floor ….. I'm learning to call on MFG!!!! (Mother F@#*ing Grace). 

Season III: A Winter's Mindfulness.
Creative Intelligence will follow three rivers of thought:

  1. A Divine Creative Intelligence.
    Within, below, above, around, in between, throughout, omnipotent, omnipresent, i.e. 
    It needs to be bigger than you. 
  2. The Dance of Creativity.
    Your hobbies, activities, practices, dreams, desires, rituals, and challenges.
  3. A Community of creative intelligence. 
    Your people, your tribe, your mentors, your students and strangers.

Two New Features Just For You

As we move into another year, I'm offering two new features at Viral Mindfulness. First is your invitation to be a Founding Member of my company. I’m very grateful for your support and dedication over the past few years. Will you continue to help me build Viral Mindfulness? My work is to spread compassion, creativity, mindfulness, music, and meditation. And challenge people to make sit happen in their lives.

As a Founding Member you’ll be on my Board of Trustees. You’ll help me make important decisions over the next few years. And I will finally have a small group of intimate members, where I can share deep and honest meanderings of mindfulness, without hesitation, in a password protected area, for founding members only. I no longer desire to put all my information online, at my website, for anyone to use. I will still offer plenty of authentic and helpful information for visitors. But now, I need a private space to discuss openly, the details of my book, candid conversations regarding my recovery from drugs & alcohol, relationships with men, my sexual healing, lessons with the Divine, my beautiful Smith Family (I refer to them as my Blood Tribe), HIV & AIDS, and full access to all of my sketches and artwork. (Which include some nude drawings from figure study classes I’ve been taking in LA).

It will be a shared and sacred space for you to make comments, and perhaps reach out and get to know other founding members. As a Founding Member, you will have priority VIP access to all future programs, opportunities, and live events. 

Your biggest responsibility will be to keep your heart and mind open as wide as the ocean, and show up here, online, at my website, with questions, comments, and input. Especially when you’re inspired. Vulnerability and authenticity is encouraged. If any people in your immediate circles are in need of one-on-one coaching, I'd like your consideration as a referral.

Drum Roll Please

For the second offering, I'm opening up my sketchbook online. I will regularly share new and current sketches, in tandem with small bits of mindfulness. I will also begin to curate ideas, tips, and work from other artists. And the very best part, this blog is called a SKLOG. Isn’t that awesome? I love it. Not a blog or a vlog, it’s a sklog. I made a short video about it!

Here’s your mindfulness challenge for the week.
(I’m not kidding, please try it).

Sit down with your cell phone for 15 minutes. Turn it on airplane mode or silent. Shut the door, go into a closet, under a blanket, or pull over and park your car. 

In this exercise set down your expectation to accomplish something. Don't look for your goals or try and figure something out. This exercise is about surrendering and letting go. You're clearing out space to listen, and simply be in cooperation with the present moment.

Once your timer is set for 15 minutes, listen and observe. Each time you notice yourself trying to do, or figure something out, gently come back to your awareness of what’s happening right now. If you’re feeling strong emotion, or noticing rapid thinking ..... observe. Just be aware of it. Continually guide yourself back to your awareness or breath. Know that your timer will rescue you, and pull you out in perfect time. Go! Make sit happen.

One Last Thing To Chew On

I want to share a final thought with you. Consider reading this right before you sit down and complete the above mediation. A friend, from my community of creative intelligence, sent this beautiful piece, written by the prolific American poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estes. He asked me to read it several times, and then read it again. He encouraged me to share it with my Monday Tribe. So here it is:

We Were Made For These Times, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

All my love to your mindful week. I’ll see you in the New Year. And of course, soon, I’ll be revealing my word for 2016. In fact, let's start our Winter Watercolor Giveaway. If you can guess the correct word for my 2016, consider yourself entered to win this season's original watercolor. More details coming soon!