Although this is common sense for us as we get older and wiser, it’s important we remind those who are younger and finding their way, our children, or nieces and nephews, teenagers, young neighbors, younger siblings, any youth we have influence on, to be picky and mindful about who and what they invest their time in. Every decision we make is an investment we make into our future. Cliche, but oh so true. The people we surround ourselves with, the activities we are involved in. I am trying to teach this concept to my teenager, and I try to use examples from my own life to illustrate the point.

As we grow up, we have the absolute, undeniable right to make mistakes. We have to! It’s how we learn. Mistakes are our beautiful, messy teacher. It’s how we carve out our own pathways. The youth who have fewer opportunities, or who lack guidance and better judgment, as I did well into my twenties due to familial and socioeconomic situations, will invest time into people who may well lead them down some twisted rabbit holes and dark places. I am, in particular, speaking from a place of experience here. When I think of my ages of 17 to 25, I often cringe. Some of it was carefree and glorious. I am still friends with some beautiful women who I first bonded with during that time. A lot of intense learning experiences, and some epic adventures. Hey, it’s how and when I discovered the music of the Grateful Dead! 🙂  It is where I learned to dance, and not care if anyone was watching. In fact, let them stare. Not to mention the beginning of motherhood for me. But on the flip side, had I had parents around, I probably would not have chosen to get married at 19, or to allow myself to remain stuck in Arkansas for college, as my personality and interests were oppressed and limited severely, I would not have experimented with some of the drugs I did, with the people I did. Or bared my soul to certain people, or allowed certain people to stay in my home, or be around my child. I know now, I made a really bad investment for myself in some of these situations.

As I put myself out into the public more and more, with photos, opinions, and writing; dark people and situations that I unfortunately invested in as a youth, find their way back into my sphere. Ah, technology. I am reminded of the darkness that lies in addicts, and in people who live in underprivileged places with little opportunity, who are angry. They lash out because they want attention. It is sad, and it fuels a lot of why I am so outspoken about the dangers of conservative, Patriarchal, oppressed southern U.S. society. If only you could see what I’ve seen….. I had a tight knit group of people around me from the ages of 17 to 25, and some of them have risen and shine bright, but so many of them are toxic, and living in a toxic sludge, and sometimes to be reminded of it, brings out a panic in me. I had a nightmare recently that Eden had died, and I couldn’t afford living in Portland anymore, and the kids and I had to move back to the home we still own in AR, and it was the emptiest, most defeated feeling I have ever felt in my life. A dark blanket of depression. In my conscious, waking life, I realize that even if something were to happen to my partner, that wouldn’t happen, but I understand the panic and trauma and fear that lay underneath. An absolute aversion to going backwards, to retracing those steps. Yet, I have to face what investments were made on my part. Was it my fault? No, fault is irrelevant. But my life would have been easier had an adult I looked up to told me “Be careful who you spend time with, and what you do. Be mindful of who you give your energy to. Be picky and selective of who you share your body and love with.” I wish someone would have said “Hey, you don’t have to go that direction, look at all these other options.” No one in my life ever said this to me, and it wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that this lesson solidified in my heart.

I enjoy talking to people about my extremely rough childhood and young adulthood. When acquaintances ask about my family, or past, I enjoy opening up. I enjoy owning up to mistakes as a very young woman. I have found so many times over, that it is therapeutic to others to hear that you can be the phoenix, over and over again. Rise from those ashes.  From drug addicted parents, drug addicted friends, domestic violence, struggling as a single mother, what felt like a really hopeless future, to being the architect of your life. Succeeding. Children who are doing well and blossoming. Knowing comfort, stability, and happiness. The chaos of all the darkness finally STILL. The silence. Welcome the calm. The judgment placed on you by others being based in your talents and abilities, and not in your past, or their ignorance. Building it up  in beauty, love, compassion, detachment. There will always be people who won’t and can’t be happy with watching other people do well, and there is nothing we can do about that. Um, haters gonna hate, right?? 🙂 I haven’t always walked and straight and narrow…. I have spent much time wandering the treacherous and crooked path. So, those who hang out there on a regular remember seeing my face there too.

I also understand now, though, that I was made for success. It’s in my spiritual make up. My path was to rise and move forward. I am a leader, with a loud voice. I made terrible investments in broken things and broken people. Some really dark places. It was the mirror I needed, and when the past comes and roars its dysfunctional head, it is just a solidification of the lesson learned! I know all fully evolved adults have many anecdotes from their pasts to illustrate this lesson. I know they vary in drama, negativity, danger, sadness, and seriousness, but we all know why we should be picky about the people in our circle. We know why, sometimes, we have to choose to love people from afar.

Those of us who are the trailblazers and the spiritual adventurers, we can’t surround ourselves with small minds and small ideas. We can’t remain insulated. If we choose not to blossom, because we do not know how, we have to be ready for the painful sharp stabs from the arrows thrown by the tribe you are leaving, once you do grow your wings. They will tell stories about you beside the fire, true, and untrue. They will speak your name in unholy ways, and cause the ripple in your reflection in the stream. Keep going.

One of my favorite modern writers is Cheryl Strayed, and she says that her mother always said to “put yourself in the way of beauty.” That’s what I have been doing. I am investing in myself and my family, and the intense beauty that is around me. Knowing when to say yes, and when to say no, really are huge lessons, and a milestone in being a fully actualized adult. Knowing when to let words roll off of you, accusations, and negative energies. Knowing when to go slow. Knowing when to push yourself harder. How and when to admit defeat. When to let the illusion go. When to make waves. Knowing how to calm your stormy heart. Knowing how to laugh.

I am grateful for the intensity of karma. She slows for no one. She is a fair and just teacher. Just as much a universal law as gravity. The idea here of the lesson of spiritual and life investment is just that; the cause and the effect. Realize that those hazy moments and experiences and people will always be a part of you….so make sure you want them to be hanging around in your heart 20 years later. May we teach the young ones to feed their souls well. Make the mistakes worth making. Not the ones you don’t have to, because you didn’t get the message that there are other paths to be taken. Go for the giant heartbreak, because love is worth it, do something big that might embarrass you, but at least you bared your soul. Avoid the paths of unstable people, hate, violence, and self harm. Avoid getting arrested, unless you are changing the fucking world. Don’t mess with your consciousness unless it is mind expanding and you’re in a safe setting with safe people who love you. Let us invest in loving ourselves and others, and not tearing each other down, and most importantly, not ourselves. Because it is the person that doesn’t know their own worth, that makes the worst decisions. The most painful and devastating decisions I ever made came from a place of not feeling good enough, lovable, or worthy at all, and surrounding myself in things that followed suit. Things that got me in trouble.

Young people have to invest in themselves as an act of rebellion, rebellion against the status quo.