The Role of a Muse
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I have a muse, and his name is Tim. He encourages me to pursue my dreams, and he continually checks in on if I'm making progress towards my goals. He focuses on why my projects will come to fruition and celebrates my small successes, rather than focusing on why my dreams seem farfetched or what setbacks I might face. He gets excited by my ideas, and he listens to me (really listens to me) when I talk about articles I want to write and thoughts I have about the universe.

He also happens to be my romantic partner and best friend. How lucky can a girl get?

Tim reminds me that anything is possible, and he encourages me like no one else ever has. From Tim, I've learned how to encourage others. Tim is my muse; he is a muse, and I am eternally grateful.

Jessica Leon
Express Gratitude for Your Partner
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One of the things I know for sure about love is that the only way we can cultivate a close, loving connection with our partner is to express gratitude for him or her on a daily basis. It's not enough to show our partner through actions (such as making breakfast, or buying gifts, though those both of those things are terrific); gratitude needs to be spoken aloud - and continually - because unexpressed appreciation is the root of many problems in a relationship, such as miscommunication or, just simply, growing distant from one another.

A Course in Miracles uses the term holy relationship to describe a spiritual partnership in which two people remind each other of the truth and focus on the other's positive attributes, choosing to see, and thus elicit, the best from their partner. It stresses the importance of not just having gratitude, but expressing it.

Often, we feel that our partner should know how we feel; because we said it once, or twice, or even one hundred times, it doesn't need repeating. However, this is the furthest thing from the truth.

Humans crave appreciation and love. We seek approval from others, especially from those we love the most. Rather than wait for holidays or birthdays as the time to praise our partner, it would serve us to celebrate him or her every day; it's a simple idea, but it can really shift our relationships for the better. 

Jessica LeonComment
The reaction you elicit from others mirrors your unconscious feelings about yourself.
You receive the exact amount of love you give to yourself. 

You receive the exact amount of love you give to yourself. 

We project our unconscious thoughts and feelings of ourselves outward, and they come back to us in the form of feedback: other people's opinions, judgments, and thoughts of us.

If we believe ourself to be beautiful and carry ourself as though we are beautiful, often, someone will comment on our beauty, saying things like Did you do something different? You look so good! But it's not our actual physical appearance, it's the energy we bring, it's how we show up in the world.

Conversely, if we show up insecure; if we look in the mirror and think I could really use some makeup, we will hear that echoed back to us in the form of coworkers or friends saying things like, You look tired. Are you sick?

That's true in every circumstance: How we feel about ourselves is always mirrored back by the feedback others give us. We we put out comes back. The metaphysical truth is that we are all connected; there is only one of us here; one consciousness. The concept of duality is an illusion.

So if we're getting feedback that's negative, it's our energetic job to realign, to shift our perspectives, and to choose different thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that align with love, peace, and spirit.

 

Jessica Leon
Give Up the Thought System of the World
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We live in an insane world- one filled with hatred, violence, and fear. Our thoughts and beliefs (the ones we learned from childhood through schooling, parents, and the media) echoes that insanity. We are afraid; we feel we are not good enough; we look in the mirror and criticize ourselves; we think other people are smarter than us, or have more than us; we say things like life just isn't fair.

We're wrong.

We think and believe these things because we have been taught them, not because they're true. We hold on to limiting beliefs because they've been so deeply ingrained in us, and we must choose to let them go. When beginning our spiritual path, we can choose to give up the thought system of the world.

That is where we begin.

We put down what our parents told us, what television told us, and what magazines told us, and we feed our minds new information. We read Rumi; we study Buddhism; we find spiritual books that call to us - books about transformation, how to cultivate peace, how to fill our lives with joy. We read Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Gabrielle Bernstein, Wayne Dyer, Gary Zukav, Osho, or any other teacher with whom we resonate.

Imagine this is earth school. We need new curriculum.

Everything we've ever learned is wrong. We are good enough. We are worthy of love. There is a beneficent God (organizing, creative force in the universe) that wants nothing more than our joy, that is rooting for nothing other than our enlightenment - the realization that we are spirit inhabiting a body, not bodies attached to a particular identity and ego story.

But we've been thinking the wrong things. We'v been watching reality television and telling ourselves that it's real. We've been watching movies and telling ourselves that that's what love looks like - Pixar's version of Prince Charming on a horse.

We're wrong.

I was wrong for many years. I hated myself. I was filled with rage. I blamed others. Until I realized that I was taught to be angry and negative; my behavior was learned. My beliefs mirrored what others believed. 

I got so fed up with being unhappy that I began to seek for something else, and I read every spiritual book I could get my hands on. I filled my mind with thoughts of love, peace, and joy. I realized that I had been insane; I didn't need to look different or be different. I was love. I was enough. I could be peaceful. I could choose to be happy, even if everyone around me complained and expressed fear and worry.

I was willing to give up the thought system of the world... and I found something else: a new thought system, a new way of being - how to be in this world but not of this world. 

Jessica LeonComment
What exactly is New Age?
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The other day, a colleague at work asked me what I meant when I identified as New Age. So, like, you don't believe in church? she asked. I love church, I responded, but I love all places of worship, just like I have an appreciation for all religions. 

She got me thinking...what exactly do I mean when I call myself New Age?

The best way to explain the New Age spiritual movement is to compare it to the punk movement of the 60s, insofar as it encompassed more than just the music: It was about the attitude, the ideology, and often, people who identified with the movement dressed similarly, shared similar views, and chose to live their life a particular way.

The New Age movement is similar. There are different practices, modalities, and even differences in specifics of beliefs, however, there is a core ideology, I believe, that all people who identify as New Age believe. So, here are the top 5 core principles of the New Age community:

1)We create our reality with our thoughts.

Most people are familiar with the law of attraction, made popular by the movie The Secret. New Age folk take this even further, believing that we create everything we experience, as our external reality is a mirror of our internal reality.

2)There is more to life than what we can see (or what empirical data suggests).

In contrast to the philosophy of David Hume (founder of empiricism), New Agers believe that we possess more faculties than we are currently aware of (such as intuition, clairvoyance, etc.), and there are dimensions, beings, and forces that we cannot see with our eyes.

3)We can commune with God directly.

We don't need to go to a place of worship to receive guidance, but rather, we can receive messages from the divine through meditation, prayer, or other spiritual practices.

4)We are extensions of the divine.

Not only can we commune with the divine (God), we are extensions of God, and as such, we have the ability to imagine something and create it.

5)It doesn't matter what you call God...you can say the Universe, the Dao, or even Theodore (if you like).

There are many names for this creative, loving force we call "God"...the name is irrelevant. Most New Agers like the term "the universe."

 

Jessica LeonComment
Sometimes, You Just Need a Good Cry
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I have a confession: I'm a big crybaby. Like, a BIG crybaby. I am extra sensitive, extra emotional, and extra empathic, which, usually, results in me weeping, snotty-nosed, and often, for no apparent reason. Today, I cried an inordinate amount, and there was a reason: resistance, mainly the resistance I have to bureaucracy. I have spent most of my life with an anti-mindset - anti-government, anti-institution, anti-"the man" (whoever the man is), and it has manifested and bubbled over in my life in great waves of resistance.

Today, much of it was released in the form of tears. I cried and cried, and then I felt so much better. I cried because I try so hard to be a good teacher (and I love my kids), and I cried because I have the misperception that I am "in" an institution that makes it hard to be of service to those kids (of course, I'm wrong). So, I let it all out, and I felt cleansed - purged.

Tears happen when we've been unconscious of our resistance and we allow our judgements/negative thoughts/emotions to build and build until we need to release it all in one great wave. 

So here is the energetic work: To see the areas that trigger us, the parts of our lives that feel tough, and to stop our negative emotions/judgments/beliefs before they get to a place that feels like a damn that needs breaking. Now that I am a witness to my resistance, I can be sure to focus on the positive, to shift to appreciation, and to work on releasing limiting beliefs about institutions. 

What areas of resistance can you release?

Jessica LeonComment
How to Consciously Create
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I just finished reading a section in The Way of Mastery entitled conscious creation. One activity described in the section asks the reader to pause in the midst of ordinary activities (drinking a cup of coffee, doing dishes, etc.) and think about how he created that very moment through the power of his thoughts; further, the reader is asked to reflect on how good that moment is, delighting in the experience, however simple.

I attempted this activity today, however, I was met with my own resistance, as I sat in seven hours of meetings at my school. Yes, I created this moment, I thought... but what I lacked with the second part Look at how delightful this is! I'm a powerful creator.

I love the practice: pausing, becoming present, and moving into recognizing one's own power and delighting in it.

It's a continual practice; mindfulness requires somewhat of a reset button. If we fall into the depths of unconsciousness for a few hours, there's always the next day - a new chance to wake up and recognize that each moment truly is a miracle, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Jessica Leon
Why You Should Do Nothing!
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The second axiom of the book The Way of Mastery is I need do nothing. What? I need do nothing? Are you for real? What exactly is this spiritual text advocating? That I sit back and prop my feet up? That I take no action to manifest my dreams. Well, not exactly...

The basic precept is this: We have all been brainwashed in such a way that we have a series of beliefs that impinge upon our ability to manifest what we truly want - beliefs like:

I need a reputable job.

I need to be a certain weight to earn love.

I need to have a certain amount of possessions.

I need the latest iPhone.

I need to act a certain way to fit in.

I need to make my family happy.

You get the gist. And so, once we believe (consciously and subconsciously) that we truly need do nothing, then we can manifest what we really want...we can manifest our heart's desires.

The practice is this: Twice a day (morning and night), repeat I need do nothing. There is nothing that I have to do. I need do absolutely nothing. Root it in your subconscious. Focus on what you want to do, not on what you feel you need to do.

Jessica Leon
Wide Open Spaces
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This morning, I had a meltdown. I blame the NYC marathon. 

Driving home from Tim's house (in New Jersey), I was rerouted through Manhattan, and then, when I made it to Bay Ridge, finally, it was impossible to get within two miles of my apartment because most of the streets were closed off for runners. So, I parked two miles away and carried my weekend bag home, cursing NYC and the marathon the entire way.

Of course, it's not the NYC marathon's fault. This is what it is: There has been a strong desire within me for more space; I can feel the pull of expansion.

And when we have not yet allowed a desire, it feels like we are going upstream against jagged rocks. 

The spiritual teacher, Abraham Hicks, says that our desires have created a vortex (which is, essentially, a multiverse in which everything we want has manifested). My vortex contains SPACE and lots of it: a bigger living space, space to stretch, space away from people, space to expand, to grow. This strong desire has been pressing on me. I don't want to live in a crowded city. I am longing for expansion. I can feel it, like an ache, like a splinter under my skin.

"GIVE ME SPACE!" my ego yells. 

So now, the metaphysical work: tuning to space; imagining it; feeling it; allowing myself to play with new possibilities. Where else could I be? There is a more spacious and expansive multiverse out there, just waiting for me to line up with it.

I am imagining wide open spaces. I am allowing the feeling of it: like a great exhale - peaceful and easy, like wings opening and stretching, like paint falling off the edges of a page, like infinity, like the cosmos, the clouds, like thunder, like the ocean, or the mountains. 

I am not craving space. I AM SPACE. Let's see what manifests.

Jessica Leon
Instructions from The Way of Mastery
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I just began reading The Way of Mastery, a spiritual text that is published by the Shanti Christo Foundation. It is another text channeled from Jeshua, like A Course in Miracles, and it is the next logical book for me to read after finishing A Course of Love. 

What I enjoy about these texts is that they give very clear instructions, and my life improves as I follow each instruction. Each instruction is simple; in A Course in Miracles, most of the instructions are prayers. The first instruction from The Way of Mastery is to become present for five minutes every hour and to acknowledge that you are creating this: your thoughts, the circumstance, the people around you. Further, it calls for you to declare just how powerful you must be to have created everything in your life (regardless of whether you deem it good or bad). 

We must believe that we are powerful creators. We must have a deep knowing that we are extensions of God, and as such, we have the power to create - with our thoughts, our vibrations, and our beliefs. We are always creating.

Jessica Leon
The feeling of... EXCITEMENT
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I got a chance to hang out with a bunch of 11-year-olds today. We went to Eataly, Mario Batali's food emporium (of sorts) in Manhattan, on a class trip. We took the train (three trains, to be precise) from Brooklyn, and we arrived, we were given samples of focaccia and mozzarella, and then our guy, Ryan, taught us how to make ravioli.

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What was special about today wasn't the trip (it was, actually, quite exhausting), or the pasta (though I do love carbs), but my time talking with one of my students, an 11-year-old girl who brims with excitement. Every day, she is exuberant about life. She gets excited by the stories we read, the assignments we do, her favorite pair of sunglasses, or the fact that she has over 140 followers on Instagram.

I asked her what she wanted to do when she got older, and she responded that she plans on opening up her own dance studio in Los Angeles. Her eyes sparkled in a way that was reinvigorating, in a way that suggests that anything is possible.

Her alignment with the truth, that if we envision it we can accomplish it, is rooted so firmly in her being. It was magical to witness.

I made me wonder what I'm excited about... it made me think about the frequency of excitement...the excitement we feel when we dream, when we wonder, whether we're fantasizing about future jobs or places of residence, or whether we're just super, duper excited about our awesome new pair of shades. Excitement is a powerful emotion to actively tap into... It's a result of tapping into the creative energy stream of creation.

Jessica Leon
How We Block Our Blessings
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In the new age community, there's a lot of talk about resistance and how the universe wants to shower us with love, happiness, and abundance, but we are so mired in resistance, so unwilling to let in blessings, that we never receive them.

So what exactly is resistance? 

Resistance is any thought or emotion that we have that is contrary to that of our soul/source.

A Course in Miracles, a spiritual text that is a sort of psychotherapy curriculum complete with prayers and processes for unraveling our egos, explains that every thought we have, emotion we feel, and action we take is from one of two sources: fear or love.

Well, resistance is any thought or emotion that we have that is derived from fear.

However, resistance can be sneaky. Most people imagine that unless they're walking around like a human version of grumpy cat, they're not resisting anything. Often, I think that. I marvel at my positivity and willingness to accept peace... but is that true? Am I always aligned with my spirit? Absolutely not. Resistance creeps in, and I have become quite adept at detecting it, even when it is wearing one of its many disguises, some of which I'll list below: 

Resistance comes disguised as.... JUDGEMENT.

When we judge people or circumstances, our thoughts are coming from a fearful place, a place of separation. Our spirits never judge people; instead, our spirits look for reasons to join and celebrate others.

Resistance comes disguised as... LIMITING BELIEFS.

We can block our blessings by confining them. We say things like, It's hard to get a job at that location, or, Good men are hard to find. The universe can only deliver to us that which we truly believe is possible.

Resistance comes disguised as... WISHING THINGS WERE DIFFERENT.

This is the most common way we express resistance: by wishing people or circumstances were different. It doesn't serve us to resist the present moment. All things are perfect just as they are.

Resistance comes disguised as... NOT LETTING IN LOVE/JOY/ABUNDANCE.

This is the sneakiest form of resistance. We resist blessings. We say no to experiences that we know would be enjoyable. We push people away. We don't feel we're worthy of that opportunity, so we sabotage it. We eat healthy for a week, work out, and feel great, and then we binge eat for two days and ruin our progress. We upper limit.

So what do we do when resistance shows up?

1)We practice mindfulness. We can be conscious of our resistance.

2)We make room for it. Rather than punishing ourselves for negative thoughts or emotions, we become present to them and allow them.

3)We affirm the opposite and make different choices. We can do this numerous ways. I'm a fan of mantras and prayers. We can witness our fears and make the choice that scares us anyway.

As we become present to our resistance and learn to accept, and then finally, transmute it, we will receive the blessings and joy we've been keeping out of our lives. It's all within our reach.

 

Jessica Leon
Persephone & Hades: How Myths Play Out in Our Relationships
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Our lives, romantic and otherwise, are informed by myths, archetypes, and symbols. Rooted in our collective unconscious are narratives; we play out stories; we come, as characters when our souls choose to incarnate, ready to learn from the roles we assume. This concept has been explored (in varying ways) by spiritual teachers such as Carl Jung and Carolyn Myss.

One myth that I relate to is that of Persephone: Goddess of the underworld and bringer of Spring. Persephone was kidnapped by Hades (the darkness), and her mother, Demeter, cried and lamented at her loss. As a result of Demeter's grief, the flowers fell from the trees, and all of life froze over; fall and winter came. Until one day, Demeter struck a deal with Hades: Persephone would stay in the underworld for half the year (and rule as Hades' queen), and for the rest of the year, she would return above ground to be with her mother.

The purpose of playing out the role of Persephone is to reclaim one's power and find one's independence, particularly from a maternal figure in our life.

Persephone, who, of no volition of her own, was thrown into the underworld, has to learn how to become a leader. She has to rise above and become a queen. She must walk through her shadows, the shadows of her past and the dark parts of her life, in order to find strength and step into her power.

Needless to say, I dressed up as Persephone for Halloween... Tim was Hades.

Jessica Leon
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I have come to learn that there is part of me that has an idea of how everything should work out and how everyone should behave. Part of me knows exactly how everyone should feel about me, how they should respond to me, and this same part of me puts everything into groups, fits everyone and every circumstance into a box.

And it is because everything is put into a box of should be/shouldn't be, good/bad, worked out right/didn't work out right that causes us pain.

Pain is the result of thinking something or someone should be different.

I give everyone and all things freedom in my life: freedom to be who they are and what they are.

So here is the mantra: I am willing to release everything. I am willing to release everyone. I am willing to let things be as they are without judging that they should be different.

When we let things exist just as they are, we don't resist them; we don't confine them, and in doing so, we find peace.

I am willing to release everything.

Say this as you run. As you walk. As you brush your teeth. As you eat your oatmeal. I am willing to release everything. Just the tiniest bit of willingness will set you free. 

Jessica Leon
Everything Has Led Us to This Very Place

Sometimes I think about how my life is nothing like what I imagined it would be. For years, I had a vision of moving to the country, getting married, and having babies. I imagined a quiet life, a big family, and the traditional things people hope for: a mortgage, a backyard, and a dog.

At 33-years-old, I live in Brooklyn, in my one-bedroom apartment, and my only real attachment in life is my Vitamin blender and Keurig Coffee Maker (I have a thing for appliances, I suppose). Looking back over the past decade, I can remember times I got so emotional over the end of romantic relationships, moving back to New York (after I split with my boyfriend of 6 years and had to leave Philadelphia), and changing schools (too many times).

But here's the thing: Everything I went through, everything I deemed as negative (at the time) led me to this point. What didn't make sense at the time, in retrospect, led to something even better. Every disappointment taught me a lesson, helped me to grow, and forced me to expand, even if I couldn't see it at the time.

I am happier than I have every been. I am in love. I am surrounded by positive people, and I have developed a spiritual practice that gives me a deep feeling of peace every day, regardless of external events.

Everything has led to this moment, to where we are right now. Everything we are facing today is for the purpose of evolving our consciousness, of expanding. 

It's important to keep this in mind, particularly as challenges arise (because they will), as people come and go, and when it just feels like too much to face another day. We will look back, and everything that feels difficult now will be something we went through that led us to a brighter place. Everything is pointing us upwards.

Jessica Leon
The Idea of "Happiness" is a Lie

One reason why we're unhappy is because we're following an illogical belief system; one of two, actually - both, equally illogical.

EITHER:

We listen to the belief system of the world, which tells us that if we're a good person, we'll get what we "deserve"...if we work hard enough...if we're kind enough... pretty enough... smart enough... we are promised everything if only we are "enough." And so we strive to be enough, and even when we feel like we met these imaginary expectations, often, we don't receive what we are promised. Life doesn't work out the way we had hoped. We face illness, separation, loneliness, and hardship. And so we feel as if life is unfair. 

OR:

We are a student of metaphysics. We meditate. We pray. We study "A Course in Miracles." We receive mantras. We are generous and loving and kind...and THEN...then we believe we will be promised the contents of our heart. "But I did my affirmations. I visualized for an hour. I meditated! Why am I still manifesting CRAP!."

And then we become unhappy. Because both of these belief systems are wrong. It doesn't matter how good we are or how pretty or nice we are, life just IS. It doesn't matter how much we visualize or pray or sit by the river and chat, STUFF HAPPENS.

There is a divine order. And it is chaotic and messy and, often, can't be interpreted at all. It just is.

Why did that bad thing happen. To quote the wise spiritual teacher Carolyn Myss, "because it did."

Jessica Leon
Small Potatoes
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If we observe our thoughts, the ones with which we identify, the ones that tell us we're not good enough, or this circumstance will never get better, or things should be different, what we will find is that they are rooted in fear. Not only that, but our minds dramatize everything, focusing on how everything that is transpiring in our lives is catastrophic.

My ego says people should behave a certain way. My ego judges them for not living up to my expectations. My ego craves perfection. My ego demands that my life look a certain way, whereas my soul looks at everything from a completely different perspective. It says that everything I deem as negative is small potatoes. It says nothing matters. It says chill out. It says put your feet up. It says you're doing marvelously! It says all is well. It says nothing has to be figured out right now. It says you are blessed. It says life is a short vacation, enjoy it! 

Everything is small potatoes. Say it a million times a day. Make it your mantra.

This is small potatoes. Frustrated at work? This is small potatoes. Your husband driving you crazy? This is small potatoes. In a creative funk and emotionally ate enough food to feed a tiny village? This is small potatoes. There's nothing worth losing your peace over. There's nothing for which we should exchange our joy. Small potatoes. It's all small potatoes. Every. last. drop.

Jessica Leon
The World is a Mirror

External reality is a projection of not only everything one thinks, but also, everything one rejects: every thought, belief, and emotion that one does not accept within oneself is projected outward and enters one's realities through others. 

Everything someone says to us, we are saying to ourselves.

Everything someone does to us, we are doing to ourselves.

Every action that is part of our reality, in whatever manner, is a part of ourselves - often a part that we disown and are not looking at.

It is a radical idea; to use one of my favorite terms that Joel Osteen uses frequently, it's "far out." Absolutely. We don't want to see our ugly bits, so we project them out: our greed, our hatred, our anger. Our repressed parts meet us in the "real world," taking on the form of others - what they "do" to us or say to us, how they treat us.

The only way we can shift is to shift our internal reality. First, we shift our internal world, then our external world shifts. It is a metaphysical principle. The external world is merely a mirror of our internal consciousness.

Yesterday, my boyfriend told me that I have no life. "No life." Ouch. Right away, my ego looked for all of the proof as to how I clearly do have a life: I have a career; I have wonderful, positive friends (whom I don't see as often as I'd like because I don't enjoy commuting to Manhattan on the weekend); I have lots of family members who love me; I have hobbies, like writing, running, and making jewelry; everyone at my workplace loves me. Does that not count as a life? I suppose, in comparison to him, I don't have a child, nor an ex-husband or ex-mate.

I suppose I never filled the traditional role of wife or mother. I never took a child to amusement parks and threw birthday parties and gave birth. Maybe at the age of 33, this is an anomaly. Maybe because I prefer, mostly, to sit by the water, read, and be silent, this is a great aberration from the lifestyle of most people my age.

Ah well.

And so, while my ego says that my boyfriend said something stupid, the voice of my inner-being knows that he just said something to me that I thought (some part of my conjured), and there is some thoughts in my mind about how I don't "have a life."

And there is also some acceptance for me to do regarding how I don't WANT a life. I don't want to go to amusement parks, or to video arcades, or to baseball games. I'm a fairly simple person, truth be told. I don't want traditional. Even when I imagined that I would have a family, I always thought we'd be a bunch of hippies, and I'd name my son Rivers, and we'd go hiking on the weekend and lay in the grass and have picnics.

I never really wanted traditional. The truth is, I'm anything but traditional.

Of all the places I could be, I like to sit by the water and stare at the sky. I like to close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I have let go of all WANTS. I am only accepting.

I am accepting that I don't have a traditional life.

I am accepting that I am an unconventional person, and my beliefs are unconventional, certainly.

I am accepting that the words of others is merely the expression of some part of myself that I don't want to see, that I project outward.

I am accepting it all - and that whatever I choose in this short, fragile existence, is all perfect.

Jessica Leon