I Feel Like A Weirdo

The More
Radiohead – Creep (cover) by Daniela Andrade

I recently stumbled across the song “Creep” by Radiohead and boy can I relate.  I’ve often felt completely out of place in this world, feeling lost and frozen.  My overactive mind spins the webs of connections between past experiences, relationships, decisions and perceived future to create a story that feels so real.  It feels like this story makes sense, that I’m a weirdo and a creep.  All of the “facts” seem undeniable and irrefutable so why even argue with it?  Why not just accept the fact that life sucks and figure out a way to just step out of it?

I thought about the “stepping out” option many times over the decades and the main thought, the main reason I’ve always stayed around was because of my family and what I know it would do to them if I made that choice.  This has kept me alive up to this point. The reason is sound and workable, but even that reasoning has limits and loses its power over time.  The mind will find a way to rationalize why it really doesn’t matter to my family either.  Where does this leave me?  Am I out of excuses?

I’m writing this because I want you to know that I’ve thought all of these thoughts, I’ve created all of the scenarios of why I don’t belong here, I’ve imagined all the reasons why no one really cares.  And finally here is what I’ve discovered.  All of the shit I’ve been making up and believing is a big fucking lie!  The world I’ve imagined is just that, an imaginary, twisted, false, narrow minded, nightmare.

Now, for those of you who are feeling pretty shitty about yourself or your life, I want you to know you are currently under a spell.  Yes, you read that right, you are under a spell that was cast by you and by many in your life, and you know not of what you are thinking.  Your mind is been hacked by the repetition of negative thoughts, experiences and the environment of doom and gloom news, movies and other media.  It’s all just a bad dream that has no basis in what is really true.  If you only knew a small fraction of who you really are, you would laugh about the ridiculous notion of what your mind has cooked up!  You are much largerand much more significantthan your human mind can even fathom, and that my friends is the really shitty part of growing up in the human mindset we’ve been lead to believe is true or real.

Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby,
Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.
                  – Mother by Pink Floyd

What if I told you that everything you know is not what you might think it is?  Much like the movie The Matrix, we live in a made up construct that has rules that we (I mean everyone) have developed over time.  These rules include language, social structure, traditions, what we can wear after Labor Day, etc.  If you think about it, when you were first born, just out of the womb what did you really know?  Some say we know everything we need to know. Some say we are just an empty shell waiting to have knowledge poured into us by our parents and teachers.  I don’t really know whose right, but I do know that we can breath, blink our eyes, cry when we are in pain, and we learn through our experiences.  You’ve likely heard of stories of people being found in remote jungles or forests that have thrived quite well without the modern day structures of language or drive through coffee shops.  Even so, they have developed a structure to live within. Even though it may not have been “given” to them by others, it does still exist to them.  The difference between the person in the remote jungle and someone growing up in south Minneapolis is that the person in the jungle is more likely living as close to a true version of who they really are.

The Matrix – The Pill Scene

What you might consider as real is really just a dream.  Your perspectivehas been trained to see the world around you inside of a framework that you’ve created over time. There is nothing inherently wrong with this idea, but the important thing to remember is that you created it and you can also change it.  This means that whatever shitty life you feel like you’ve been given or fell into, you have complete control over what you think about it and how you react/respond to it every day.  

I’m reminded of a storyof a man who had a job working in a toll-booth (obviously years ago) and every day, people would see this man dancing inside this small booth all while doing this job.  One day a woman was so curious that when she stopped to pay her toll fee, she asked him, “Why are you dancing?”, and the man replied, “I’m having a party. One day, I’m going to be a dancer and my bosses are just paying for my training.”  This story has always stuck with me over the years because it’s a lesson in how we can decide how to look at and see our own circumstances.  We can decide how we are going to view them and how we are going to feel about them as well.

Google Images Search for Neuroplasticity

There are a few ways to look at how you view your life.  One of them is the scientific perspective that over time with repetitive thoughts and emotions, your mind creates a common pathway for the “energy” of your thoughts to travel and come to a normal endpoint or reaction.  This is known in the scientific realm as Neuroplasticity, which is “The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.  It allows nerve cells in the brain to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment”.  From this perspective, it only makes sense that if you repeatedly think or are exposed to negative thoughts or beliefs, the brain will simply follow suite and create the necessary pathways to accommodate this thought process.  

Consider this, when humans were first walking the earth trying to figure things out, our brains began to develop from a more primitive (survival) method to our current human abilities. We learned to create and express ourselves all while still holding on to some of those primitive survival modes.  This primitive “mode” is sometimes called the “reptilian brain”.  The whole purpose of the “reptilian brain” is to survive and to avoid harm.  So when you are exposed to a trauma or threat of some kind, that part of your brain builds the necessary pathways to make sure if you ever get into that or any similar situation, you would be ready.  This sense of “readiness” puts us into a fight or flight mode, which served us well for thousands if not millions of years.  Now, fast forward to modern day man where our traumas are a whole different level of threat to us. Most of them are not life or death level concerns; however, that part of your brain doesn’t know any difference between the threat of a saber toothed tiger and the bully at school who is relentless about making your life a living hell!  Eve so the reaction and purpose of this is the same, to keep you alive and prevent you from harm.

Google Images Search for Reptilian Brain

The good news is that with our new super fancy brain, we now have something we didn’t have before: awareness.  Awareness allows us to supersede the reptile mind and make a different choice.  It allows us to decide to train our minds and brains to create new neural pathways simply by choosing and practicing. There are likely many methods to do this, and some of them are through guided mediations, daily journalling, affirmations, daily positive mindful rituals, etc.  Choose what is best for you and give it at least two months to create a new “habit” in your mind.  I read recentlythat it takes 66 days to fully create a new habit, so get going!

Another way to consider your “life view” is from the perspective of generational trauma (including past lives and current familial lineage). You may have even heard of the idea of coming into this life with a particular plan, a purpose that you wish to experience or even having a karmic debt to pay. I believe that karmic energy is always seeking balance and if you’ve experienced trauma (or if you created the trauma) in your life. This can create an imbalance that needs to be rectified in this life or in a future one.  All of this is just another path that gives you the opportunity to grow and expand beyond the narrow, or possibly ignorant, view of life you had before.  

In my own experiences, it’s those times when the Universe has presented a situation (giving me the opportunity to step up and grow) where I’ve run away from the opportunity because I was too afraid. What I’m learning is that the fear I’m holding on to is directly related to one or more experiences in my life where I felt un-safe or like I was not enough.  As I grow older, the events where I experience anxiety are becoming not only more frequent, but also from things that are less and less dramatic.  I’ve been doing work around this phenomenon by working with a coach, reading about various strategies around my own anxiety and keeping an open mind about all the possible reasons I feel the way I do.  I believe people who feel this same way have been “trained” to cover up the pain by using some sort of coping mechanism like prescription medication, recreational drugs, meditation, sex, alcohol, etc.  Basically utilizing external means to cope with the anxiety rather than to discover its true source.  I have used several of these methods over the years only to be in the same place I was before.  But you know, that is just part of my journey.  I had to go through each of those things in order to grow in my own awareness around my issues.

I’ve learned that my anxiety is not about me being broken or not enough.  My anxiety is simply a “language” of my physical and mental bodies trying to tell me that something needs to change.  When I’m out of alignment with my true path or purpose, the Universe has a way of sending you little (or not so subtle) messages to help you course correct.  It’s really up to you to listen to what you are feeling and then dig into the source to find the best path to healing.  

Sometimes the feeling of anxiety isn’t from trauma.  In my case one of the big things I found was that my body was overloaded with Candida which was causing and manifesting other kinds of chronic illnesses including respiratory, joint pain, depression, gut issues, mental focus, etc.  I learned to listen to my body and then take the necessary steps to resolve as much of these issues as I could with alternative methods. Many of the steps I took had to do with adjusting my diet and discovering what my body needs or does not want.

Some other steps I took included working with a personal coach and healer who helped me develop daily practices including gratitude, forgiveness, self love and setting boundaries.  The healer was trained in several modalities that helped remove “stuck energy”, allowing my body and spirit to be released in order to heal. This was a really important step to help me feel lighter and more focused.

Another avenue I’m working on is learning more about my own past lives and how they are connected to the anxiety I feel now.  It was fascinating to learn that in a past life where my father was highly abusive to me. He found every opportunity to belittle everything I did and make me feel unsafe.  In that same session I saw how I began to treat my own son in a very similar way.  This showed me how the pattern is just handed down, generation after generation, lifetime after lifetime.  The cool part of the session was when my coach had me imagine what my father’s life was like.  Why was he so unhappy and mean?  I saw a vision of him also being physically abused by his father.  This perspective allowed me to have empathy for him and to open my heart to send him love and forgiveness.  In this simple act of forgiveness, I felt a great weight lifted from my own heart.  I felt that some of the lost power from this generational trauma was reclaimed to me!

It’s interesting to see that you can see how these practices and experience are directly in alignment with developing new healthy neural pathways I mentioned earlier. It’s important to harness the power of the human mind and body to truly know what needs to be changed. We are discovering every day through our advancements in science that many of the old traditions (where some people find them “whoo whoo”) actually have truth backing them up by science.  Don’t you think that’s pretty cool!?

At this point you many be wondering why I’m telling you all of this and what does it have to do with you and your issues?  I’m telling you this because I think it’s a powerful way we can collectively grow beyond the negative cycle we find ourselves in.  Not everything I said in this piece is going to resonate with you.  Heck some of it my even piss you off, but that’s okay.  My purpose of sharing this is to plant a seed.  I hope to create an opening for a slightly different perspective on your life and your purpose.  I believe that down deep, we all know what we love to do and what we are passionate about.  We’ve just gotten stuck in the limiting beliefs that were handed down to us in one way or another.  You have the power to break the spell you’ve been living under.  Perhaps you will help free some of the other people in your life to wake up to who they truly are and what their truth really is.  When you take your power back, you have the opportunity and duty to help others gain their own power.

I invite you to step back from whatever belief system you have and just for a moment, consider one of the perspectives I’ve presented above.  Try it on for awhile to see what you might discover for yourself and about the world around you.  I’ve found that traveling and putting myself into the world of others has really helped me shift my perspective on many things.  You can do the same right here and now and not even leave your neighborhood.

Dwight J. Raatz
April 7, 2019

Force of Habit

The More

The other day Melissa and I came home after a day out shopping and doing errands.  After parking the car we started gathering our things and Melissa went into the house carrying the first load.  It took some time for me to arrange what I needed to haul in but then I headed for the house as well.  Upon getting to our door, I turned the knob and found that the door was locked!  Realizing that I did not have my keys, I managed to use my elbow to push the doorbell to our apartment.  In a couple minutes, Melissa pulled open the door apologizing and said, “Oh sorry!  Force of habit!”.  

The “force of habit” got me thinking.  How many of us do things habitually every day without even thinking about them?  I’d guess that there is a high percentage of things we do that are mostly “muscle memory” or habitual actions.  Habits aren’t necessarily bad or abnormal, and I say that they are good things if the habits are healthy. Habits enable us to function very effectively in many situations all while allowing our minds to contemplate and resolve other more pressing issues.  I believe that these cognitive abilities are part of why we has humans have been so adaptive in surviving on this planet.

In thinking deeper about the “force of habit”, I started to consider some of my own emotional habits.  I thought about how many times I’ve slipped into anxiety about a situation and I have really no idea why I ended up there.  Or when I find myself in a sort of dissociative state where I’m replaying something that happened until I’m in a full blown state of depression.  These things seem to happen to me even without much intent or proper cause.  What if these two states of emotion are more about being a habit and less about being mentally or physically ill?  

As I’ve been growing in my awarenesses around my depression and anxiety, I’ve been noticing that their cause isn’t just from once single source.  I’m finding evidence that mine has been related to physical stresses, emotional trauma, energetic sensitivity and even past life events that have carried forward.  I’m realizing that working through the issues of these emotions is not necessarily solved by doing one thing.  I believe we all need to be open to all possibilities that may be a source of whatever we are struggling with in our lives.

In doing a very quick and informal Google search on creating habits, it says that it can take about 2 months to create a habit.  While this might be true for some things, I believe that a habit can start as soon as you decide it should exist.  Granted it might be a bit bumpy at first, but I think it can be done rather quickly if sufficient intent is placed on the habit.  I think the human mind is so powerful that once we decide something and fully commit with a clear vision, we will implement this change almost immediately in our lives.

Recently I committed to myself that I wanted to evolve my habit of anxiety into a healthy state by the time I turn 54 years old (coming in May 2019).  What I found is that this simple act of seeing the Vision or end point, Deciding, and then Committing (VDC) to it, everything starts to shift into accomplishing that goal.  I’ve found that articles I read, people who talked with me, and communications I receive, all started to move me in that direction.  The other part of the VDC is connecting it to honoring yourself.  If you honor yourself through committing to the goal, then your chances of reaching it multiply rapidly in your favor.

The “habit force” is just another tool in your arsenal that you can now use and leverage to fulfill whatever dream or goal you have.  Consider it’s power and how it can help you, but remember what Stan Lee said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Use it wisely my friends.

Dwight J. Raatz
February 26, 2019

Adventure in Paradise

For the past few years my wife Melissa and I have travelled during the Christmas holiday week.  It has been a convenient time since it is a bit slower for both of us as clients are busy with their own holiday events.  This year we decide to venture to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. 

It is intriguing and fascinating traveling in countries where language is a barrier in communication. It seems that when we are in familiar surroundings we

can oftentimes become lazy and complacent with our communication. This can lead to being more disconnected from the people your communicating with and ultimately becoming isolated within your own “world”. When you are faced with a language barrier, you can’t help but being totally present with the other person.  You have to be thinking in each moment how you can best express yourself so that you will be understood. This might involve a combination of using some of the local language you’ve picked up, facial expressions, body language and of course smiling. Lots of smiling :-).  

Traveling has really been a great teacher for the practice of being present, but you don’t have to travel to get this experience.  You can “travel” down the street to the local diner or even just going to the grocery store can provide you with opportunities to engage with people who may have some kind of communication barrier with you.  Those barriers could be physical, intellectual, learned (like language), or even in emotions or beliefs.  Opportunities to be present with others, what they need, and how you might be able to assist are all around us every day.

We booked an AirBnb that was a shared space rather than having the whole apartment or house to ourselves.  I was intrigued by this as it reminded me of some hostiles I’ve stayed in and the host sounded like a lot of fun when we initially reached out to ask some questions.  In my past travel experiences living in a shared space, I’ve always met amazing people from all around our beautiful planet, and I hoped this trip would be no exception.

One of the things I’ve come to expect with traveling is the unexpected and I try my best at rolling with any issues that come my way.  Traveling is always a challenge, even in the best of circumstances.  While this all sounds very wise and easy, it really isn’t that way for me.  If you know me at all, you know that anxiety has been an ever present part of my life for years and I’ve done a lot of work around expanding beyond this limitation.  Traveling, as you may know, can make you a bit anxious at least at some level.  For me, it usually starts a few days before the trip and continues in varying levels until at least a few hours after arrival, once I know I’m safe at my destination.  For this trip the anxiety dropped off almost immediately after landing.  We had arranged with our host to have a taxi waiting for us and sure enough, after we made it through the gauntlet of transportation and tour experience “opportunities”, we found our driver outside holding a sign with my name on it!  We were greeted with a smile and immediate assistance with anything we had to carry.  Then as if that wasn’t enough, our host was even there by chance and stopped to talk with us about our next steps in getting to her condo!

Getting to know our housemates was one of the best experiences of our trip.  We met people who were currently or originally from Russia, Great Britain, France, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Andorra, Switzerland and Spain.  And this was just who we met and lived with for a few days!  I loved to hear stories of their lives, their goals and dreams, and what they have experienced in their own travels.  There is a kind of kindred spirit that develops among travelers that spend even a short amount of time together that can live in you for a long time.  The effort you spend on getting to know that person living next door, down the block or on the other side of the planet can change your life and make the world a much better place.

Our AirBnb host was amazing at giving us ideas about areas near the condo that were interesting to visit.  Some of them were beaches,restaurants, tours and hiking locations.  One of the places we decided to travel to on our own was Macao Beach and to Montaña Redonda mountain.  We decided to go on an adventure of our own and explore these places.   On previous trips we’ve talked about renting a little motor-scooter and use that to get us around rather than renting a car or using a taxi. So we thought it would be a brilliant idea to rent a scooter for this trip so we headed out from our condo in search of a motorbike. Little did we know what we had in store for us emotionally or physically.

If you’ve ever been to Punta Cana, you will see motorcycle taxis everywhere.  They are kind of like vultures buzzing around the unsuspecting prey.  If you stop walking too long they will converge and pester you to give you a ride somewhere.  “No problem mister.  No problem, I will take you.”, they repeat.  It can be dizzying at times to stay focused and repeat back, “No gracias!”. But this time we had an especially persistent guy on a motorbike stop and ask what we needed.  We tried several times to avoid him but he stayed on us.  Finally we said we were walking to find a scooter rental place. He lit up and told us to hop on and he would take us.  “No problem.  I will take you. Free taxi. No problem.”, he repeated.  Finally I looked at Melissa and said, what the heck, should we do it? She said, “Sure, let’s do it!”   Much to my surprise we hopped on this tiny motorcycle with three adults and off we went!

It was a bumpy ride, but in a few minutes we were at a little cycle rental place and cigar rolling shop.  Don’t ask me how these two things go together, but on this day they did.  The taxi driver quickly introduced us to the shop owners and he also began doing a bit of translating for us.

“No problem.  I will take you. Free taxi. No problem.”  

At first it felt good to have someone helping us, but this however went away quickly.  The rental fee was a bit more than what we were told to expect by our host and we didn’t have the exact pesos to pay so we needed to exchange some US dollars.  We agreed to make the exchange and I handed over a $50 bill.

One of the men took the bill and walked toward a local shop.  The taxi driver told us he was getting it exchanged, however he was gone a lot longer than I would have expected.  This was the point where my anxiety started to kick in.  I thought, we were just taken for 50 bucks and there wasn’t a thing I can do about it.  The taxi driver then walked toward the same shop and we just stood watching.  A few minute later, they came back holding several bills of the local currency. In the meantime I had done some quick calculations and knew about what I should be getting back.  Then the driver started standing closer and talking quickly about the exchange rate and how the shop needed to take some for the exchange.  But when I looked at the amount I knew it wasn’t even close to the right amount.  I said loudly, I want all of the money back first, then we can rent the motorbike.  The taxi driver said something to the guy who did the exchange and then he pulled out of his pocket 350 pesos of our money and handed it over.  I gave the money to Melissa and asked her to count it as I couldn’t focus with my anxiety rising quickly.  The taxi driver persisted and got closer to me and talked even faster.  My mind was swimming with anxiety and anger at this point, but I felt a bit better once she said the amount worked out to be correct.

Feeling a bit more in control with all the money, and hearing the man say, “No problem. You want to rent right?  What’s the matter?  No problem.”  Finally I looked at Melissa and asked, do you still want to do this?  She nodded her head and I said okay to the man.  Quickly they took the money I gave them for the rental and the taxi driver actually reached over and pulled 200 pesos directly out of my hand saying something like, “And this is for my time.”  Free taxi, but I guess no free translation services!

Wanting to get out there as soon as possible, we collected our helmets and found the bike we were to use.  Unfortunately, my anxiety was in full blowout mode at this point and I could hardly speak.  I waved Melissa to get on the back, gave her some initial instructions on how to be a passenger on the bike and off we went.  I don’t remember much of the next 20 or 30 minutes other than stopping to check my directions (thank god for the local SIM card in my phone and being able to use Google maps to navigate!).  The road, the drone of the motorbike and the amazingly beautiful landscape passing around us was soothing and meditative.  I was focused on our goal to get the Montaña Redonda as our first stop and about an hour and a half later we arrived at our destination.  The bike’s tachometer worked, but not the speedometer or trip-meter, so it was a bit challenging to get a sense of how far we had travelled.  In checking the maps later, it looks like we traveled about 45 miles.  Let me tell you, two people on a small scooter for that kind of distance is not advisable in any way.  Take my word for it, rent a car or at the very least two motorbikes!

“To the west we saw a lush valley with more hills, mountains and trees as far as you could see.  It was simply beautiful. ”

We were advised by our AirBnb host that the hike up the mountain would cost five dollars each to access, but what she didn’t tell us is that you had to pay rent to park your motorbike and they would relentlessly hound you to pay them in excess of $40 to get a ride to the top! This being confusing, we once again relied on our host for confirmation and advice.   She suggested paying the $5 and just start walking and likely someone would come along and pick us up for maybe 100 pesos ($2.00).  So off we started walking and sure enough in about 10 minutes a huge truck came lumbering up the washed out, rocky and very steep road.  When we stood aside to let it pass and it stopped and the man asked if we wanted a ride.  We asked how much and he said, “No problem, no charge, get in.”.  Well, fool me once is what I was thinking about this offer, but he persisted and started to open the cab door.  We said okay, but decided to ride in the back of the truck.  The man shrugged his shoulders and we climbed in the back for what had to be one of the roughest and brutal rides I’ve ever experienced!  We should have ridden in the cab because sitting in the very back of a huge rocking truck causes one to be launched up in the air and jostled around relentlessly for what seemed like forever!

In reaching the top, we felt elated to have reached our goal.  We got out and offered the man 200 pesos for his trouble, which seemed to surprise him and he looked very grateful.  My anxiety was subsiding and the natural surroundings really helped me to calm down quite a lot. We spent about an hour at the top taking photos of the surrounding landscapes.  There were lagoons to the east of us and further out we could see the ocean.  To the west we saw a lush valley with more hills, mountains and trees as far as you could see.  It was simply beautiful.  There were little shops at the top, a small cafe and some cool swings you could ride which made you feel like you were swinging out into the vastness of the sky.  

We even saw some people with broomsticks that would put them between their legs and then jump while someone took their picture hoping to look like they were flying!

When it was time to go, we caught another ride to the bottom of the mountain with some locals in a small club-cab pickup.  This ride was much smoother as we were able to sit inside and listen to the man and women in the cab talking amongst themselves.  It was curious not to understand a word of their conversation but also to know that what they were talking about was likely no different that what you and I would chat about in the same situation.  We gratefully payed the man 200 pesos for the ride and then found our motorbike waiting for us.  Since our time was getting short, we decided not to journey further on to Miches to see the beach we had heard about there.  We did decide to head back and stop at Macao Beach on the way to have lunch.  Our timing needed to be fairly precise as we did not want to be riding a small motorbike on a busy highway at night, so off we went!

Did I mention that riding on this road would be like riding on a two-lane state highway anywhere in the US, except this road was in perfect condition and you were almost completely alone on the road 90% of the time.  We were surrounded by the beauty of the rolling hills, mountains and rivers and we felt grateful to be heading home back to somewhat familiar territory.  We had been on the road for about 10 minutes when I started to notice the motorbike making some strange noises.  I glanced down at the instruments and the gas gauge showed it to be a bit over half full and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  Then slowly, the motor was running slower and slower and Melissa said, “What’s wrong?” and I said, “I have no idea, but we are coasting!”.  We slowed to a stop on the side of the road and started to assess the situation.  We looked all over the bike and could not find a gas cap, but figured it must be under the seat.  We poke and prodded around every edge and side and underneath and found no switch or lever to let us open the seat cover.  We stood there completely confused and quite speechless.

Just when we were going to have to decide what to do next, a man driving a small motorcycle came driving down the road going the opposite way.  We looked up at him but I did not expect him to stop. He apparently had glanced at Melissa and she waived to him and sure enough he slowed down and turned around to where we were stopped.  This man looked like a 30’s something professional of some kind.

I only say this because his clothes were a kind of business casual and he wore small plastic bags around each of his shoes (I assumed in order to keep the bugs off) and bound at the ankles.  This man spoke zero english so we spent the next ten minutes or more using body language, pointing and trying in earnest to pick out any words we could from what he was saying.

Strangely, he pointed to us and to the bike and at first I thought he was telling us that we needed to push the bike.  I assumed at this point he was going to help us and we’d have to push it and follow him, but he insisted that we sit on the bike and then, for some reason, he would stick his foot out in front of him.  It looked he wanted us to get on and put our feet up, but this made no sense.  Confused, we simply decided to do what he said and get on our bike and put our feet up.  

The next thing we knew, he drove up behind us on his motorcycle, stuck his foot out and started pushing us!!  I was incredibly shocked that anyone could even do this on a motorcycle, but off we went!  Luckily the road was sloping down hill and even the small dirt path off the highway was sloping in our favor (and his).  He pushed us for about 5 minutes until we arrived at a very small village where we got off the bike and started pushing (since the road was now going up hill).  He kept pointing and saying, “Mecánico, Mecánico”.  We looked up the road and started pushing the bike toward where he was pointing.  The man yelled at a few other people and they all began to walk by us and pointing to a small home on the side of the village’s main road.  When we stopped we could see what appeared to be a birthday party happening for what looked like two twin girls.  There were decorations all over the front of the home with Minnie Mouse posters and happy birthday banners with a big number “4” on it.  The girls were all dressed up in pink, white and black and the family was eating boiled crab.  They looked extremely happy from what I remember.

I messaged our AirBnb host letting her know what was happening and she said were on quite the adventure and that Dominican’s can fix anything!  We watched as people gathered around us and the mecánico figured out how to open the seat of the motorbike and verify that we were indeed out of gas.  About then, a young girl perhaps 12 years old walked up and asked us in clear English if she could help.  This girl’s english sounded like she could have been from Minnesota or many other cities from the US.  She seemed pretty relaxed as she ate her crab and translated to us what was happening.  She said the man was getting some gas for us and also where we could find the closest gas station on our way back home. 

They were able to spare about a 1/2 gallon of gas and when I asked how much I owed, all they asked for was some money to cover the gas.  I turned to the man who had rescued us off the road and tried to give him some money, but he refused.  When I pressed him to please take it, he looked at me with compassion and smiled his appreciation for me asking, but refused again.  I was overcome by emotions and I reached out and shook his hand and repeated, “Gracias, Gracias, Gracias”.  I held myself together long enough for us to turn the motorbike around and head back to the highway before I began allowing all the emotion out by crying and taking deep breaths.  We drove for another fifteen minutes or so before we had to take a detour off the main road to find the town of “Las Lagunas de Nisibon”, where we found the Texaco gas station and filled up to the very top!

“I held myself together long enough for us to turn the motorbike around and head back to the highway before I began allowing all the emotion out by crying and taking deep breaths.”

After getting back on the road, we both were feeling better and more confident.  We drove for another 20 minutes until we saw the turn off to go to Macao Beach.  The beach was a bit off the highway and we had to drive through a small village and out through some open areas until we reached the ocean.  The beach was stunning but very windy that day.  As we were walking the beach looking for a place to have our lunch, we ran across our housemates who had spent the day at the beach and were just leaving. They suggested that we walk around to the far end of the beach were the wind wasn’t so strong.  It was a nice area to observe people playing in the water and we witnessed a photographer taking pictures of what appeared to be a young couple’s wedding vacation photos.

Since it was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to be home before it was dark, we headed back to the motorbike and observed groups of people in various degrees of celebration.  Some were local families at the beach, some were groups having some kind of tour experience, some where couples on vacation and there were also singles just hanging out.  It was interesting to think about how in each case we were all in the same exact place, but we were all having very different experiences and will take away vastly different memories.  I was especially delighted by a couple young entrepreneurs hanging out where people came off the beach to leave.  When they saw that we were trying to clean sand off our feet to put our shoes back on, they rush over to us with little brushes and started to sweep off the sand from our feet. They were laughing and having fun but I also knew this was one of the ways they made money for themselves and likely their family.  It was funny, after I handed one the boys 200 pesos (thinking they would split it) the one boy said, “What about me?”.  I pointed at the other boy with the money and that boy said (with laughing smile), “No you didn’t work.” and started running away laughing with the other chasing him.

As we got closer to Bravaro the highway became a four lane road (think interstate highway), and the traffic was really building.  We had observed many other motorbikes riding on the shoulders so I did the same.  As we drove we saw a large vehicle stopped along the road on the shoulder, blocking our path.  I started to slow down and was looking in my mirror to see the cars looming behind me in the full lane.  I glanced ahead calculating the distance I had and the chances I’d make it off the shoulder in time to miss the vehicle and not get run over by the following traffic.  To add to my challenge, there was a pavement ledge between the shoulder and main highway lane that I needed to “jump” in order to go around the car ahead.  The time came and I made the turn to jump the curb and the small motor bike tires grabbed onto the ledge and jerked the motorbike to the left and I immediately tried to compensate and not crash.  In the next few seconds, I’m not really sure how we survived.  The bike jerked from left to right several times as we went onto the lane, then back to the shoulder before we swung around the parked vehicle and narrowly missed it!  I mean really, can this trip get any more stressful, holy crap!

As the sun was lowering on the horizon, we rode bumper to tire to bumper on the streets of Bravaro snaking our way back to our condo.  When we finally arrived home and approached the gated entrance the security guy jumped out and waved us to drive in and park.  I was amazed because, how did he even know who we were, but he smiled and showed us in and where to park the motorbike.  As this point were were tired but feeling okay.  When we walked through the apartment door, we saw many of our housemates hanging out in the living room all smiling at our arrival. They had heard from our host of some of our adventure and we filled them in on the rest.  Their reactions shocked me because I really felt like I’d been raked over the coals that day and was shot.  They listened to our story and smiled and said things like, “Wow, you really had an adventure you’ll remember.” or, “You guys are so brave and amazing!”.  I was momentarily speechless at their pride for us and how they viewed the same events in a more positive way.  As we walked back to our room and cleaned up for the evening, I reset my thinking of the entire day and decided that we are really amazing, and that despite the challenges we did it anyway.

After everything that had happened and being completely out my comfort zone and out of my element, I survived.  I was completely bare and vulnerable in multiple situations that day.  We were bullied by the motor-taxi driver, nearly had some of our cash stolen by the rental guy, rented a motorbike with no instructions on operation or who to contact if we had issues, drove a very small motorbike almost 100 miles round trip, road up a washed out road to the top of a mountain, ran out of gas, and nearly crashed our motorbike avoiding a car on the side of the road. Any one of these things are challenging, but having them all happen in the same day is insane!

When we ran out of gas we were completely helpless and at the mercy and compassion of one man and his small village.  I had no choice but to let go of my control. Keep in mind that this is not an easy thing for me to do and honestly, I’m not sure if I could have learned this on my own in any other way.  I now believe this day was hand crafted by the Universe to help me grow and to show me that I can let go and be safe; that being bullied or taken advantage of doesn’t mean I’m weak; and being vulnerable to life can be a blessing.  I’d been repeatedly shown compassion by many people and all I needed to do was trust and accept. These were all powerful lessons that I will take with me on our next adventure.  🙂

Time to celebrate our adventure!

Dwight J. Raatz, January 2019

I Am Not Important

The More

I was born in 1965 in a small town in southeastern North Dakota.  My family and I lived on a small farm where my father was a second generation farmer on the land my grandfather had homesteaded in the early 1900’s.  My father had taken over the family farm about the time I was born.  He diversified his efforts at making a living by milking cows, raising beef cattle, pigs and chickens.  We also farmed several sections of land where we raised a variety of grain crops.  For me, my childhood experiences were by many standards, unremarkable.  I am the youngest of 5 children. I can never remember feeling like we were poor or rich.  I always felt safe, cared for, and I really can’t think of a time that I needed anything.  I will admit that being the youngest child, with my next oldest sibling being about 5 years older than me, I did tend to get more things from my parents than my siblings.  I don’t really know if it was because my parents had more disposable income as I grew up, or if they somehow felt differently about buying things at that time.  I don’t remember being a needy or a complaining child in any way either.  Life just seemed to go on and on and I was mainly an observer of it.  I can’t really recall interacting with my siblings or my parents in any great depth, other than working on the farm or at the evening meals.  With the age difference from my four siblings (each of them being about a year apart in age), I tended to spend most of my time alone from what I remember.  I was often wrapped up in listening to music, reading the encyclopedia, or later on, playing with any sort of electronics I could get my hands on.  Other than the occasional teasing from my one brother, I didn’t experience any real trauma as a child.  Or at least that’s what I thought anyway.

 

In one way or another, I believe that we all are searching for some sort of peace for our lives.  From my observations, some of us have similar struggles, but at times, very different perspectives on our struggles or even how to resolve them.  When I think about the various ways people experience trauma, it really has a broad spectrum.  Depending on how you look at life or your belief systems, trauma can even begin pre-conception.  Most certainly it can be agreed that trauma can begin in the womb with exposure to various drugs, physical abuse, or even environmental factors. I believe that even the feelings and emotions of the mom and dad toward being pregnant can cause trauma to the child before they are born.  Then moving forward, you have the actual birth itself being the first standard trauma that everyone has (no matter how well the pregnancy and birth went).  If you can imagine spending 9 months being completely carefree and supported in every way, then suddenly forced into the world to deal with gravity, breathing, hunger, bowl movements, you name it.  Heck, that’s pretty traumatic right?

 

No matter what your traumatic experiences have been, they play a part in how your life is shaped, the person you become, and how you view the world.  Some of us have very good support systems and/or families that are highly aware and conscious of their bodies and emotions.  This can help you to grow up more balanced and you naturally have various ways to release the tensions of trauma through physical activity, deep conversations, and overall support from those you love.  This however is not so common from observations of my little corner of the world. So what do the rest of us need to do when we experience trauma?  Well, some will stuff the feelings, some will act out in various ways including anger, depression, anxiety, self mutilation, danger seeking, drugs, over-working and various other destructive methods.  Then there are others who have tried more “positive” avenues like therapy, psychics, energy healing, meditation, religion, athletics, etc.  It seems to me that most, but not all, methods tend to start with the mind when trying to find peace.  The mind is indeed an important place to focus the healing practice, but only when you approach that healing from a positive perspective, that is focused on releasing tension in both the mind and body.

 

It’s very interesting to think about all of the classes I’ve taken and methods of “connection” or rituals I was shown.  While many of them are important and relevant, I could never really understand why they had to be so complicated (e.g. having to speak a mantra in a particular way, moving your body in a particular manner, vocalizing in a particular tone, etc).  I believe that there is purpose to these methods and they can even be valid depending on where you are at in your journey.  I kept going back to my childhood, sitting in church and thinking, why does this all have to seem so complicated and wrought with possible ways to fail?  I just could not believe that an “all-knowing” being that created us from dust, would even have a need for us to do anything complicated let alone be worshipped.

 

Like many, I’ve done a lot of the abovenegative andpositive methods for finding peace for my mind.  As I look back at many of these methods, the focus seemed to be outside of my body and mind, as if the solution was “out there” somewhere.  I can remember going to several psychics searching for one of them that could just reach inside my mind and flip the proverbial switch to allow peace in and the rest to go.  I even got to the point where I saw so many different psychics, I would consider myself a junkie.  As I spent a lot of time and money, I realized I was getting more and more angry that “they” weren’t fixing me. I realized that I was looking for the solution outside of myself.  After about 10 years of trying many avenues, I finally began to see that the solutions have always been inside of me.  I know this is not news really, as I’ve heard that kind of thing for years, but I never really believed it.  This was until I was introduced to a method of healing that is based on a very basic human function, breathing.

 

When I was introduced to Rebirthing Breathwork, I initially thought it was just another fad that sounded interesting.  However, on the very first session, I experienced an unexpected shift and release out of a seeming nowhere. At this point I knew I was hooked and I needed to know more, so I signed up for a year long training course to become a certified breathwork practitioner.  It’s been about three years since first learning the technique and I’ve been through many sessions myself and I’ve coach many people in their own sessions.  As time went on and life happened, I got distracted and stopped for several months from doing any sort of healing practices on myself and others.  Then I got an invitation from my teacher to attend a workshop called “Loving Relationships” with Sondra and Markus Ray.   This workshop was focused on improving all of our relationships, but more specifically our intimate personal ones.

 

One of the first exercises we went through at the workshop was to do sentence completion related to the negative thoughts that run through my mind.  The idea was to determine our personal primary negative belief that we have underlying our thoughts.  I started out with, “I’m not enough”, then, “I overthink and worry”, then, “I am a fake”, then, “I’m not important to anyone”, then, “I’m not important enough to be loved.”.  As I looked at what I had written it struck me that my primary negative belief is, “I am not important”.  This really resonated with me as I could see it was at the very heart of many symptoms I’ve experienced over the years.

 

When I was very young, probably under the age of 20, I don’t know if I ever thought much about feeling important to anyone or not.  When I look back and try to remember how things were during that time, I recall being connected to a very small group of friends more so than being connected to my family.  My friends seemed to fulfill that part of my life that wanted to be acknowledged and valued.  They would seek me out to do things.  They went out of their way to listen to me, try to understand and to relate to me their own stories.  It wasn’t until I went to college and afterwards when got my first career job that I started to notice how very disconnected I felt from my family.  When they would ask me how my life was going, I would tell them about my job or what I’m learning and I felt that they would just stop listening.  Sometimes they would say something like, “I just don’t understand [insert whatever topic I was presenting].”  I found that the harder I tried to explain my life, my career, my spiritual growth, or my thoughts, they would become more and more disconnected.  Finally it got to the point that I just stopped trying.  I just gave them what they wanted to hear, which usually meant saying something like, “Oh yes, I’m very busy at my job.  Lot’s of projects to work on.”, and that was it.  This was very common in all my interactions.  I became very skilled at giving a short answer and then turning the conversation around to focus on them.

 

Things seemed to progress over the years where I would start to attribute people not acknowledging me in one way or another, as me not being important.  This belief infiltrated my relationships with my wife and kids, my employer, my social friends, you name it.  I got to the point that I felt numb to even wanting to feel connected to anyone, or to allow love to be given or received.  It was easier and safer to protect myself than to be hurt by allowing someone into my heart.  So it went on like this for over 30+ years.  I was living my life, but in a very closed way.  I was quick to have anger, which I directed inward.  I had cycles of good days followed by many fraught with anxiety and depression.  I worked hard at keeping all of this bottled up inside of me.  I tried desperately to “protect” my wife and kids from all of this, but they suffered from the side effects despite my best intentions.

 

All of my thoughts around not being acknowledged, respected, smart, good enough, you name it; all came down to feeling or thinking that I am not important; not to life, family, friends, employers, or neighbors. If I were to cease to exist in this very moment, the overall rhythm of life would only experience a very small, mostly unnoticeable bump in the road.  This feeling was pervasive in my life making me feel very lonely, depressed and angry.  After the weekend workshop I made a promise to myself that I would start again with my own healing practices and I made an appointment with my coach the following week for a breathwork session.

 

When I went into my Breathwork session with Deanna (my coach), I really didn’t know what I was going to focus on. We started out by talking for at least an hour about what I was dealing with lately, I talked about my desire to be heard by others, feelings of being disrespected, and having no path for the future. Since I didn’t feel at the time that I had anything specific to breathe on, I decided to choose my primary negative belief (or primary personal lie), as this seemed like as good as anything else.

 

The breathing was done the same way we had at the retreat I attended. My mouth was more open, and with a relaxed jaw and with a fuller breath.  I began to breath in the specific cyclical pattern for Rebirthing Breathwork, having no pause at the bottom or top of the breath.  This makes your breathing a bit faster than normal.  My breathing seemed unremarkable as my mind flitted from one topic to another. As I saw each thought come up in my mind, I would just release it using the rhythm of the breath. This process went on for some time until I could feel “the flip” happen.  The “flip” is that moment where you move from consciously breathing, to a more automatic rhythm and your body takes over breathing.  My breathing became faster yet and my body started to cramp a bit, and my jaw and hands got stiff, which is normal in this process. Deanna was there to keep me on track, telling me to relax my jaw and open my mouth more, and to breathe through the cramping. I’ve definitely been in worse shape for cramping when I first did this technique, but I’ve since learned to recognize and release that tension.

 

At some point I relaxed more and I could feel my whole body, or what felt like an energetic representation of my body, began to rise up off/out from my physical body.  The sensation was similar to a heavy vibration that encompassed my whole body.  As the vibration lifted, I could feel my physical body become more still and relaxed.  Somehow I knew I needed to release this “representation” of myself, so I really amped up my breathing even more.

 

At times I became distracted by visions or dreams and my breathing would slow down. When this happened, the energetic “self” started to descend back into me. Deanna would coach me to focus and get on track again which would push the energy further and further out. Finally I felt that the release or separation was far enough away that it could no longer come back unless I willed it to. In those final moments my breath pushed it far enough away and I could feel it disconnect and vanish!

 

As I came out of a sort of trance I was in, we began to talk about the experience I had where I described each detail as I’ve written here. Deanna shared with me how she also could sense the release I was describing. Now that I’m writing this and processing more, I now know that the release was a sort of shield or armor. I had no idea what it was at the time, I just knew it needed to go.

 

At this point I felt like I was done and the session felt complete as I was relaxing on the table. Deanna was telling me how I had done well. Then, what felt like words from another source or dimension , Deanna said, “You are so important Dwight.” At this moment time stopped, and I could feel this transfer or a gift of love energy enter into my body and spirit. I felt shocked and very surprised by the feeling. It was like something I’d never felt or experienced before. I can only describe it as being very thirsty and you take that first mouthful of cool water and you feel it wash over your throat, chest and finally your whole body. In that moment, my breath caught in my throat and I felt a sense of laughter or joy that came out of me. It was just a moment, because directly afterward came a huge cascading feeling of a perfect mix of pure joy and sorrow flooding my whole body.  In those few moments, I felt like for the first time I had allowed myself to feel love, to feel my amazing importance, and it was so powerful I didn’t know what to do with it.  I was sad that I’ve been without this miracle in my life. I could feel the pain and sorrow releasing and joy receiving. The sorrow was from knowing that I’d starved myself from feeling love. My body and spirit were, what I can only describe as, being released from a concentration camp, a starved, emaciated skeleton of a person walking out of the wire gates of the prison. This flood of emotions manifested in my body by letting loose with sobbing, short breaths and a sense of fear of the letting go. My voice came with the sobs in short bursts as I fought the release, but Deanna coached me to let go and breathe!  At that moment I had to decide.  Was I going to trust that I was safe by letting go?  Was Deanna safe to do this with?  What would happen to me if I let go? Would I be able to come back or would I be lost in the emotion of this?  In that split second of thought, I decided it no longer served me to keep holding on.  I needed desperately to grow and to release the pain, and this was the moment.  I trusted Deanna and I trusted this process.  The breathing allowed me to let go of the last blocks, and to even sob harder than I can ever remember before in my life. I had no idea that all of this wastrapped inside of me.

 

As the exchange of released emotion and the taking in of love happened, I simply surrendered to it all. Deanna coached me along and I remember having my left hand over my eyes and forehead. I could feel the tears and sweat all over my face. My right hand was on my heart and I could feel Deanna’s hands on me. I reached for her hand and held on, feeling the connection to Earth and to humanity through her. I could hear her repeating the phrase, “You are so important Dwight.”, over and over in low soft tones. I remember my breath flowing and all of the tightness in my chest releasing more and more. It’s so very hard to explain in words the release of the pain and emotions.  It’s hard to describe the thirst I felt for allowing myself to feel love.  It’s hard allow myself to feel this vulnerable with anyone.  What would they think of me now after seeing me completely lose it?  Would I appear to be weak, not a man, not more in control of my life?  I believe many of us feel this way when faced with letting go of emotions and the possibility of being embarrassed or even ridiculed for doing just that.

 

I began to calm and felt the wave ending. I relaxed and wiped my face and blew my nose. As I laid there, I felt an amazing peace in and around me. We talked a bit and about the experience and I tried to express what I felt, but mostly I was quiet. Then Deanna started to say the mantra again and again, “You are so important Dwight.”, in continued low and soft tones. Thinking that I was done with the session was silly because the whole thing just cut loose again! I could feel that there was more that needed to be released and my body knew it, and apparently so did Deanna. This cycle was shorter but even more intense than before. For the first time in my life, I can actually say that I not only sobbed, but I wailed with sorrow and joy. I used my voice to transmute that feeling and energy. This final wave subsided after a time andI was finally done. I lay there completely spent.

 

It’s very hard to describe my session in words. The big releases that I had were nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I know that I’ve never in my life allowed myself to be so raw, to be so vulnerable to the feelings I was having in those moments.  I only know that this was a life changing moment for me.  I had made a big step toward my own personal freedom.  I’d allowed myself to feel love and know that I needed and wanted this to be more prevalent in my life.  This is a huge thing for me because I’ve found the concept of love to be somewhat of a mystery. It’s not a that I didn’t understand it at all, I just never really “felt” love to any huge degree from what I remember. I knew enough of love, to realize that I was missing something.

 

In the moments and minutes that followed, I did some more processing with Deanna, drank water and talked. I found it difficult to move my body.  I felt like I was trying to force my very essence back into my physical body.  It was hard to coordinate my muscles to even move me out of the room and the building out to my car. Since I’d had some experience with doing this in the past, I knew I needed to be extra careful as I drove home. Breathwork like other types of healing practices can cause you to be in an altered state and even feel as though you are “out of body” at times. It’s important to spend time re-integrating, and a good way to do this is by drinking water and eating a small amount of food. Dark chocolate is one of the recommended foods to eat, but anything that is organic and unprocessed.

 

I know this is not the end. I know there is more, but for now I’m in a really good place. I feel blessed and loved. I’m ready now to move forward into the days to come full of love!

 

– Dwight Jon Raatz, 10/11/2017

 

(Edited 11/21/2017)

Submit

The More

Have you ever committed to something and the moment you do, things begin to change?  For me, I can reason and think about actions I might want to take, but nothing much changes until I submit and commit.  By submit, I mean that you take an action or step that commits you toward the goal or destination you have decided to attain.  This action is something that you can’t easily change your mind after submitting.  In my case, I recently went on a trip that involved quite a few things outside of my comfort zone because it was out of the United States and involved traveling to a retreat in the middle of the Amazon jungle with no connection to the outside world.

As I was on the retreat center’s web site and I filled out the payment forms, the moment I clicked the submit button to send my payment, I could feel things change and shift.  This was even compounded more when I booked the hotels and flights.  There was no changing my mind, no going back.  I committed to the journey and the Universe started to manifest my wishes.  I felt different immediately, lighter, more free, nervous, excited, focused.  Debate or worry about going on the trip ceased and a new perspective started.  I only had to decide what I wanted and it began to form immediately.  This has me wondering about all of the other things in my life that I’ve “thought” about, worried about, not decided.  I think about all the time and energy that I wasted in the space of indecision and worry that came to nothing in the end.  I can see how it’s better to make a dozen different decisions than to worry and think about one decision that takes forever to decide (if at all).  Deciding is an action that sets in motion a whole myriad of other actions and releases a flood of energy that is fully dedicated to making what you decided come to life.  If after making the decision you see that it isn’t working, then you decide something different and again set in motion more actions and energy.  The first decision loses it power and dissipates into the void (or some might say that the first decision continues on to create an alternate reality) and the new decision begins to take form.  It’s the indecision that blocks energy which can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, and other forms of dis-ease.

Submit to me also means to release.  Once you have “filled out the forms and clicked submit”, you have decided to do something and then released that decision out to the Universe to become manifest.  In my act of submitting to the retreat journey, I sent out to several organizations my intent to act and it was up to them to fulfill my intent.  At that point all I needed to do was show up!  Yes, that’s right; you can do the act of deciding and acting on that decision, but it really takes many subsequent actions to fulfill the intent for my part of the agreement.  Each subsequent decision and act continues to build a momentum of energy that culminates once you’ve reached your goal or destination.  Then the energy can resolve and complete to satisfaction, self-assurance, joy and even love.

If you’re feeling the anxiety and pressures of life holding you in place, the best thing to do is start making decisions and lots of them!

Dwight Raatz

The Darkness

I’ve been to that place of darkness. I’ve been lost there many times and felt the despair and utter feeling of hopelessness. I wandered the darkness with nothing to hold on to. No sense of direction or purpose. The only thing that kept me moving was not wanting to add more to the pain by hurting you.

The only thing that saved me from being lost to this life forever was the love beacon that stood by me and followed me everywhere. Why did it care so much, why couldn’t it just leave me alone to disappear. I am tired of fighting, weary of the struggle to breath and listening to my heart laboring. I wanted the pain to stop. I know that it’s selfish, but it is about the survival of my soul from hell.

This physical body of mine, this imbalance in my mind causing the living hell I was in. It was about survival and freedom from the torture. My soul yearned for the light. The darkness of my mind was the shackles of hell that bound me, torturing my soul. The only freedom seemed to be death of this physical form.

It’s not about you. There is nothing you’ve done and there is nothing you can do but wait and be patient. Send love to me, send energy, send me a detour route showing me away to the light without leaving you. If I find a way out and death is the answer, it’s not about you. It’s not about your failure or what you should have seen or done. I only wish I could have spared you the pain of my actions. But I know you are stronger than I. I know you will go on and live even in sorrow. I know you will find love and support to move on with your life. If I find a way out, it’s to be free of the hell of my mind. It’s to give life back to my soul. It is who I truly belong to and we will be together again.

I’ve been to that place of darkness, but I have found a way out in this lifetime, for now. I know I need to share my journey, but I dare not peer back into that place too long. I fear it will swallow me back up and I will be lost again. I dare not, even though I must. I must for you. You are why I’m still here.

Dwight Raatz

A Starting Point

I thought it was a great idea to have a “Make an Offer” garage sale.I mean whenever you have a garage sale, people will normally look at whatever you’ve priced your item and then make you an offer for a lower amount.So, I thought why not just skip the pricing step and just go to hearing what they would offer.Besides, it’s way easier not to have to price every stinking item in the pile right?

Well the “Make an Offer” sale didn’t work out too well.People would pick-up the ceramic coffee mug, turn it over a couple times and then ask, “What do you need for this cup?”I’d respond with, “Well make me an offer.”Then they would shake their head and say something like, “Oh I don’t like these kind of sales.”So, then I would end up saying, “How about a quarter?”They would then usually nod and say okay.And so it went on like this until I would just tell them a price right off.The upside is that they usually agreed immediately.I found it interesting that very few people would actually haggle on the price.Come on people, you need to haggle.

So what does this have to do with anything?Well, I was thinking about how the sale customers didn’t know what to offer unless they had a starting point.I suppose that some of it might have been that the people didn’t want to offer too little and offend me or it is a cultural thing.Moreover I think that most people need to have a point of reference to be able to function in most areas of their lives.For example, when you drive on a newly paved road that hasn’t been painted with stripes, you have a general idea of where to drive; but when it is painted it feels much safer and you feel more at ease when driving. You have a point of reference or boundaries which makes your decision making “engine” kick in and move you through the situation.

I was thinking about how when I’ve been faced with a mountain of work tasks to complete and feeling a bit frozen and overwhelmed with what to do.If you are in an employment situation your boss will (sometimes) give you the starting point or priority task so you know what to do first and then what is next.If you are self-employed, this isn’t so easy because you (as the business owner) have to prioritize and self-motivate to move through the tasks in an order you think will work best.This starting point is what makes the cascade of decisions fire and for you to take action.So, if you walk into a garage sale where there is a huge variety of items with no prices, it actually makes it harder to decide to buy something and you may just leave with nothing.

When I look at the various decisions I’ve been faced with in my life and I focus in on the hard decisions, I think most of the reason they were hard is because I didn’t have a point of reference, guidelines or a starting point (I was on my own completely).When I compare this to the flow of energy in the Universe around me, this decision point (where nothing is actually decided yet) is an energy blockage or the proverbial finger in the dam holding back a flood of possible outcomes.I can feel the tension of these decisions build the longer I procrastinate and then once I decide (for good or bad) the tension releases and the flow continues to its natural outcome.The problem comes in (for me) after the decision when I start to regret the decision or berate myself for making a bad one.This once again becomes a blockage of energy or natural flow.I’ve found recently that no matter the initial outcome, it’s the longer term result that you want to wait for because the flow of the Divine Universe will take you to the best possible outcome that your intention desires.It’s important to not focus on the initial decision, but rather your goal and the flow will guide you there every time.Along the way, you need to be open to the possibilities and opportunities presented to you and to embrace their meanings and gifts.Be aware of the Universe speaking to you from all sides (people, nature, words, song snippets, wildlife, bumper stickers, billboards, etc).The things that catch your attention are there on purpose, but it’s up to you to relate their meaning to what is happening to you in your life at that time.You must see the perfection of its synchronicity and patterns over time and seek help with its interpretation if necessary.

Step into the flow and float with the waters of the universal energy.You will find that you may get exactly what you desire, just around the next bend in the river.

Dwight Raatz

Ironing the Dish Towels

A friend of my suggested that I write more about my own experiences with depression and anxiety in my life and how I’ve dealt with it.I’ve hesitated for quite some time to look back at this state of being mostly because, well, writing about depression can be… depressing.But I’ve decided that perhaps some of what I can share might help someone else step out of that space and move onto actually feeling in control.So, with that here it goes…

As I’ve said before, I am not a doctor of any kind and have no formal education around psychology or psychiatry.I am however, an expert witness of anxiety and depression from my own personal struggles and triumphs.I’m not going to be so bold as to tell you that what I’ve done will work for you.But what I do know is the fact that you are reading this and if you have struggles with anxiety and/or depression, you have come a long way to making a permanent change in your life for the better.If you know of someone who struggles from these issues, I hope that this can give you some ideas on what you can do to help them.Just remember – you do have the strength to last another day.

I’ve written at length before in my blog post “Understanding my Depression” about how anxiety and depression started in my life, so I’m not going to cover that here.What I’d like to talk about now is some revelations on not only how I combat it, but how I see other people deal with it (even if they don’t realize that’s what they are doing).

I see anxiety and depression (AD) now as being very similar to constipation.AD is a blockage in my system that creates a downward spiraling, self fulfilling outcome of more AD.Just as your bowels can be constipated in the lower/large intestine and can cause a backup in the rest of your system so it is with AD.The very first and most basic step in combating AD is to create movement in your life.Movement can include a variety of things like physical, environmental, sensory, etc.You need to take one step, then another and another.If you feel so overwhelmed with your circumstances and have a storm of immobilizingthoughts causing you to freeze, say to yourself, “Excuse me – I’m going to interrupt you right here.” and then take a walk.Change your environment in some way.Walk around your room to start with and be sure to look at every part of your room.Look at everything and think about each thing you see, identify it, remember where it came from and think about what you can do with it, then move onto the next item and the next.

The next most important thing to remember is to breath!This seems simple right?Well most people do not breath properly.You need to take deep cleansing breaths.Breath in through your nose way down into your belly.Breath until you can’t suck in another morsel of air and then hold it for a few seconds, then let the air out slowly through your mouth.Once all the air is out, hold that position for a few seconds before taking the next breath.Do this process at least three times slowly and you will feel a burst of energy and be very much more connected to your body.

Anxiety and depression (AD) is constipated energy in our body and we can remove this blockage by breathing and movement.I also consider these actions to be a distraction from what we are lamenting over at any given AD moment.It is this art of distraction that will set you on a path of moving out of the AD state.It has also been proven that by getting more exercise, we increase a naturally occurring chemical in our system called serotonin.Serotonin has been linked to helping many people with AD moods.

I’ve often wondered what people did in the “old days” before medication or even knowing what AD was in order to deal with these feelings.In watching people and some of the older generations, they seemed to deal with hard times by keeping themselves busy.This “busy action” is the distraction that would pass the time and also make them feel good about accomplishing something worthwhile.I would often shake my head as I watched my mom ironing the dish towels, underwear and bed sheets wondering why did she do this?I know that culturally this was sometimes an expectation of the dutiful wife, but I also think it became a sort of mundane task therapy.It was a way to have time to herself and to be distracted from some of the stresses of life.

The real lesson here is give the mind something different to focus on rather than whatever issue caused you to slip into that state of anxious uncontrollability.This movement is a rhythm that brings you into a state of harmonics with the universe around you.This brings peace and creates a space for you to untangle webs that clog your mind.

Dwight Raatz

Denial and Manifesting Your Future

For myself (and for some clients I’ve worked with), I have oftentimes busied myself with my life as a way of pushing away depression and anxiety issues that have come up. Issues could involve broken relationships with friends, family, lovers; traumatic life experiences, etc. For awhile this kind of methodology works and has even been recommended by my parents, mentors and teachers. While they don’t specifically say that you can deal with the issue by pushing it away and bury it in a busy schedule, ultimately that is what is being done.

If you deny that something specific has happened in your life, like an emotional trauma, and you think that by denying it, it will not be real and go away – you will fail. It will always come back to you and demand resolution. This “demand for resolution” could come about by anxiety, depression, sickness or disease, and any number of things. Just like when the body is registering pain when you burn or cut your skin as way of telling you to pay attention – there is something wrong here; depression and anxiety are ways of telling you that there is unresolved “pain” here. The problem, of course, is being able to recognize this for yourself.

As I’ve written in earlier entries, awareness of your anxiety and depression is the first step. Being able to feel the onset of these things is a critical part of healing them. Once you have done this, you are on the road to mastering this part of you. Yes, this “condition” is a part of you and the sooner you accept this, the faster you will be able to give it the proper attention needed. Oftentimes I think people see anxiety as a leech attach to their body, a separate invader of sorts that needs to be cut away and destroyed. What it really is, is your mind and body telling you that there is something wrong that needs to be healed.

Think of your anxiety as a very young child afraid of the dark. This young child may have read a scary book, watched a scary movie or been told a story by their older sibling of the “boogie man” living in their closet or under their bed. This child only has the perspective that these things are real and out there to “get them”. The child is looking for someone to assure them that they are safe, loved and to expose the stories for what they really are, an illusion. You need to be that person who loves your young child and teaches it the truth known from your life experiences.

As part of my search to resolve my anxiety I have tried many things. I’ve had tremendous success with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) in sessions with practitioners trained to use this. From what I’ve experienced, I am asked to identify myself at the age when the “issue” happened and then using visualization, I actually verbally counsel …my own self (like a mentor mentee) as the “adult” that is wiser about my life. Knowing more about the truth of what happened with understanding, forgiveness and love. NLP has made a huge change in my anxiety to the point where it barely surfaces anymore, and when it does it is manageable and easily resolved. I also do a lot of energy work now with clients and this has also provided a huge shift in my awareness and love for myself.

If you are focusing on manifesting your future to have less or no anxiety or depression, you can only do this by continuing to search for the resolution. It cannot be achieved by denying that it exists.

Dwight Raatz

Accepting My Anxiety

I recently recorded a voice note to myself that was about how I’m coming to realize how I’ve “overcome” my anxiety.  I spent so many years trying to “get rid of it” or push it away or deny it.  What I’ve finally realized is that the anxiety was ME.  It was a part of me that I was trying to remove or feel ashamed of.  I was denying myself and this is why it would never stay away very long.  It kept coming back to tell me, “I am afraid, I don’t know what to do, I’m lonely, help me”.  This awareness of it being me was the turning point for me.  Through a couple different sessions with others (I think they used NLP as a tool, but I’m not sure), I was able to identify two critical points of time in my life and recognize the fear and shame I had for myself as a young boy and later as a young man.  My “current self” became the counselor to my younger self.  The main ingredients to the resolution of this fear is LOVE, Awareness and Forgiveness.  I gave these gifts to my younger selves and that was the final straw that made my house of fear and anxiety come crashing down.  It’s now up to me to continue to recognize these events as they happen and to know that I am a good person and lovable.

Dwight Raatz