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Thursday, June 30, 2011

THE DEEP

     Everything changes: moods, energy, stability, health, attitudes, beliefs. Behavior changes and the way we feel about things, and people. Life and love, hardship and reward, all ebb and flow like the tide. Goodness and joy swell in an out. Whitecaps of fear and anxiety ripple and fume.
     But below the fickle surface of waves and tides, flotsam and jetsam, is the deep, the quiet, and the source of all life. It is essence. It is inside each of us. We share it with all living things. It is indescribable, profound. It is life and spirit and endless calm security: the universal oneness of all beings.
     Beyond all surface change, beyond all the impermanence we experience, there is that which does not change. It sustains us and inspires us and roots us deep so that we may grow comfortable with our circumstantial human lives. They are the game and the dance. They are the distraction and the illusion of importance. But what actually matters most is unseen and quiet. It is the reason for all of it, but it does not show itself in obvious ways. It beckons in our dreams and longings and it whispers us to trust. It is universal energy. It is indestructible. It is love and life. It is no thing and all things at the same time. It is deep and shallow, both hidden and ever revealed. It is paradox and simplicity. It is all encompassing freedom. It is readily available but we must pay attention. We access it wherever we look with our hearts.

I trust that I am bigger than the changing tides of my life. I share a powerful connection with all that lives.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SELF PITY COME AND GONE

     I somehow got tangled up in self-pity the last few days, and it's a dangerous space because it consumes all that it comes in contact with. It's violent and destructive and internally uncomfortable. Happily, I have recognized the problem and am climbing my way back into the light, but it has made me stop and consider. What is self-pity really all about? How and why did it happen here lately and what purpose does it serve? And what happens if it cotinues its rampage unchecked?
    From where I sit now, I see that it's a claiming of victim status. In self-pity, I have no responsibility, only rights. I have the right to complain and be miserable and make others miserable because I am martyr extraordinaire. Life is harder for me than anyone. I am stretched to my limits but unwilling to stop. I have the desire to complain and no interest in the business of correcting what's amiss. I "have to" do this and I "have to" do that. All is burden and heartache and weight of the world. I seem to want sympathy, but I don't really. I only want whining entitlement. You would too if your life were like mine. That's the way the thinking goes. It's stuck in the problem and has no interest in the solution. It's the perfect excuse for whatever kind of misbehavior I may covet.
     Even writing about it gives me the heebie jeebies. It's sick and infectious. Poor me. Especially when with only the slightest twist of the head I can see the other side of the coin. While self pity is blind and petty, it's antithesis is visonary and abundant. All is well, all is possible, and blessings abound. Getting stuck seeing only the one side is maybe just something that happens in life. Possibly I am too quick to dispell judgment and make myself bad or wrong. I am simply human. I got stuck in self pity and now I am restored to gratitude and the fact that my life is my responsibility. If I am miserable, there's something for me to look at, and an attitude adjustment may be beneficial to my peace of mind. And that's that; nothing grandiose or dramatic: problem identified, peace restored.

I remain on guard for self pity. It comes silently and lingers. It looks for its opportunity to grab me and hold me down. I see it coming and refuse to engage. I choose gratitude instead.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TRAVELING HAPPY

     Today my gratitude is for my car. It travels me safely all over the earth and doubles as a complete and secure home away from home. I can park it in scenic spots and work on my computer, or recline the seat for a nap. It has perfect and necessary cubbies and containers for holding chapstick and hand lotion and coins for the tolls and my phone. I have a commercial free radio which I can blast or listen to quietly. I can stay informed by listening to the news, or go country or classic rock or acoustic. I can sing, move gently to the music, or completely boogie down in my seat. I can talk on the phone, say my prayers out loud, or sit in absolute silence with the road passing with it's steady whirrr beneath the circling tires. There's usually no one in my car but me. It's my private and personal space.
     I eat breakfast and lunch while cruising down route 66 back and forth to the Shenandoah Valley. I see the sunrise and the changing expanse of the sky and the views. I travel daily from the mountains to highrises and back again to the mountains. I see animals and changing foliage and so many different aspects of life. I open the windows and let the summer wind buffet me, or close them and cruise in humming quietude.
     Our vehicles are such miraculous things that we mostly take for granted. What an incredible luxury that we can hop in our cars, turn a key, and go anywhere. Our cars mean freedom and adventure and distance and reliability. The ones we choose and the way we keep them reflect our personalities. Our cars are so much more than rubber and steel. They deserve our appreciation. Without them our lives would be smaller, and limited, more pinched, and less full of beautiful American vistas.

I express my gratitude for my car today, and recognize the incredible freedom it gives me. Maybe I wash the windshield, or vacuum it out, neaten the catch-all compartments, give it an all over bath, or fill it up with gas. I do something to say thanks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

ACCEPTING LIMITATIONS

     I sometimes underestimate the effect of hunger and exhaustion on my spirits. If I am hungry, and this is physical need-to-eat- kind of hunger, not emotional hunger which is rooted in something different, I feel on edge. I am shaky and irritable and I feel almost frantic, fearful, and negative, as if nothing is happening fast enough or the way I want it to and I just might explode if things don't change pretty quickly. I know these are hungry symptoms because they are utterly resolved by eating, and I am almost immediately restored to calmness inside and a certain sense of emotional stability and groundedness.
     Physical and mental exhaustion are equally dislodging, but manifest differently. I get misemotional and overwhelmed. I feel as if there is just too much to do and I cannot possibly do it. I feel drained and empty and frustrated. I am willing in some way, but limited by my physicality, which makes me angry. I am not very graceful about accepting my limitations. I want to be able to do everything and be everything and make time for everything, and do it all without needing to eat or rest.
     Certainly there is a part of me that enjoys taking care of myself and relaxing and dining on all of the succulent variety of tastes, but I want to do it on my terms. There's something about being forced to eat or rest out of necessity because I have hit some kind of wall that makes me feel weak or something. I resisit my own human-ness.
     It's ok to have limits. Although I have always done it, there's no real percentage in pushing myself to the edge of the envelope and beyond. What am I trying to prove? Today, I accept my limitations. I eat when I need to and stop physically when my body starts to whine. Going faster and farther and faster still and filling my life and my days with more things and activities and more yet again gets me nothing but misemotional and frantic and living on nerves. I can make a better choice today. I can be kind to myself.

I commit to not overdoing in any way today. I commit to reasonable and calm and grounded. I accept my limitations and am ok with not being able to do it all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK

     It can be a crush to my ego to hear through the grapevine what other people, people who don't know me, think about me, to get the bird's eye view of the way I am perceived from a distance. I always find it startling. The external perception is so different from the way I know myself to be. I have been told that I am intimidating. I have been told that I look angry and mean when from the inside I feel myself to be pleasantly observing my surroundings. The other day, as I was walking, a stranger said in rather a scolding manner that I should smile because I was outside, as if, what was wrong with me that I looked so cross on such a beautiful summer day? She startled me. I felt like I was smiling, at least, I was smiling on the inside.
     I am perceived as tough and masculine. Someone once described me as, you know, the one who looked like she would beat you up. When this got back to me I was horrified. Really? Me? I believe the people who know me and live with me and work with me closely would be as hard-pressed as I am to understand these outside opininons. I believe we all feel I am rather a burst of light, a sunshine girl, extremely sensitive, but unquestionably strong, and definitely loving. So I guess that counts for something.
     But what am I supposed to do with these external perceptions? I could try to change, and I have done that in the past, but it feels inauthentic. I can turn my sunshine directly on the people who have expressed fear in regards to me, and they seem to dissolve their position once in closer contact with me. But I can't even begin to know all of the people who have opininons about me, and I certainly can't manage the way everyone thinks. I work in an environment where it's almost as if I am on stage. I am boot camp inspirational. I encourage and push and exercise fiercely if I need to do that to motivate my clients. But my clients don't think I'm mean, even though it's them that I am pushing. I believe they know I have nothing but love for them. They feel my love and that's why they keep coming back.
     It bothers me that people think I'm tough and misperceive me, but it seems riduculous to resist it. I cannot change the way I am fundamentally. Perhaps it's best to quietly carry the knowledge that if they knew me better they would perceive me differently and just be ok with that. But it's a good reminder for me to consider the way I form opinions about others from a distance. I'm sure I have volumes of my own misperceptions as well. So, today, I'm going to take the lesson and give everyone a break. I'm going to figure that we all have a soft under-belly, and none of us is as rugged or tough as we seem.

I trust that we all have more depth and sensitivity to us than is immediately apparent from the outside. I keep an open mind and am willing to give everyone the initial benefit of the doubt.

Friday, June 24, 2011

WHY WORRY?

     A worried state of mind gets us nothing worth having. It gives us grey hair and wrinkles and a living sense of fear. Why do we worry? It seems almost like a form of preparation. We prepare for disappointment and disaster. We brace ourselves for certain horrors and try to prevent them in advance. We make our plans and then we fret over all of the unlikely possibilities.
     But things often turn out better than we think they will. And even if events do go south, they rarely mess up in the way we expect or have planned for. What if, like a child waiting for a surprise from a loving parent, we expect good things in our future, instead of trials and stressors and punishment? What if we trust that no matter what happens, it will somehow end up blessing us, and what if, no matter how chaotic or disastrous a situation appears, we know that it comes to teach us something that will ultimately result in our happiness, or our ability to better cope with life? Isn't that what always happens anyway, hindsight being twenty/twenty and all that? So why do we worry? It's a demonstrable expression of our lack of faith.
     Today, I challenge myself not to project in any way, to have faith that the future will be exactly what it's supposed to be. I know that some things will go better than hoped for, and some things may seem worse, or turn out differently than planned. But today, I choose to free myself from worry. I'm going to trust that all is happening just the way it should, and that I will be taken care of no matter what.

Worrying is not worth my time or effort. I trust the future and let go of my fear.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TRUE LOVE

     It seems to me that we have a cultural misunderstandning of true love. We think that if we meet the right person, that person will make us happy, take care of our needs and wants, and be our unending source of bliss. But I have learned the error of this thinking. It's all wrong. What I thought was his job is actually mine. I am the one solely responsible for my own happiness and the fulfillment of my needs and wants, for the pursuit of my dreams and the answering of my soul's callings. It's not up to anyone else.
     True and lasting love can happen only between two people who are fully responsible for themselves in this way. There is no obligation to make the other "happy." It's not possible in a long term kind of way. The burden is too great and the dependency that grows is too sick. Instead of dependency, there is freedom in true love, and allowance and appreciation and celebration. Neither partner needs the other for completion or happiness. There is friendship and enjoyment and support that can be counted on. The relationship is a choice and a pleasure, not a duty. It is two whole people supporting each other as each pursues his or her own dreams and happiness. The relationship is spacious. There is room for aspiration and growth and exploration of each partner individually and both partners together.
     There are individual goals and communal goals, both important, both valued, neither swallowed up by guilt or demands or excessive neediness. There is balance and flow and communication. Love does not insist. It encourages and respects and appreciates. True lovers reflect each others' happiness like mirrors. It is the result of self-acceptance and wholeness, not its cause.

 I have to be happy with me and ok as I am before I can be happy with another. True love happens when I recognize that I do not need it to be whole.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THE CHANGING NATURE OF "COOL"

     I came across two teenage girls in an out-of-the-way parking lot, sitting on the pavement and smoking cigarettes. Heavily bassed music pumped out of the window of their parked car. Sitting there, one on the curb, the other on the blacktop, smoke billowing from them in clouds, they were the epitome of "cool." Much like them, as a teenager, I was heartily drawn to being cool, but as life grows us, cool changes... or maybe we do.
     It used to be about doing things that I wasn't supposed to do, that weren't for my highest health or my highest good, and doing them with a certrain brazen sense that I could somehow get away with them without having to suffer any consequences. What made me cool was the attitude that I knew my choices were dangerous, but I chose them anyway. Being cool was saying "I dare you" to danger. I felt powerful and untouchable. I stood up and dared life to slap me, and then, eventually, it did. The wake-up call always comes.
     What's cool for me today is different. It's recognizing that consequences happen and that I can work with them. No more pretending that I am bigger and badder than cause and effect. Today, I build things. I play with causes to create positive effects. I change my habits and behaviors to feel better and then even better still. Sky's the limit. Being cool today is knowing who I am and refusing to pretend otherwise. It's working with the reality of my strengths and weaknesses to be the best and happiest me that I can be.

I've outgrown the defiance of teenage "cool." I don't need to pretend anything. There's nothing cooler than being authentically myself.
  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TAKING A WALK

     A walk is something that can be done for it's own sake. It's good for the body and the soul as well. Restorative and expansive, a walk opens the mind and shifts the perspective. Leaf growth, wild rasberries, birds and chipmunks, the occasional deer or fox or ground hog, squirrels, rabbits, and the fresh air cures whatever ails me. I like the lengthening and relaxation that occurs in my limbs as they stretch and stride. Shoulders loosen, kinks release, tightness and discomfort that come from being sequestered too long indoors and sitting in cars releases, and I am soothed and refreshed.
     A walk doesn't have to be a long and arduous undertaking. It's not like jogging or "exercise" specifically, though some people think of it that way. It's simpler than that, and smaller. It's getting some fresh air. It's stretching the legs. It's moving the body and opening the mind to things beyond technology. It's a return to nature, even in the midst of the city. There are always trees, or flower boxes, and the sky. Fifteen minutes in the presence of the sky can change the quailty of any day.     
     Being outdoors is our natural state, and it is abandoned too readily for temperature controlled spaces and interior walls. We lose our perspective indoors. We foget who we are and our spirit shrinks. We miss something vital and healing and inspiring and glorious. We miss the weather and outdoor smells and the changing energy of the air. Those who work outdoors are connected to the earth and the weather in a way that most of us miss, and blessed though they may not know it to feel the subtlities of clouds and breezes, heat, and freezing cold sharp on their cheeks. But the rest of us can take walks. We have access to sidewalks and paths in the woods and fields and roads. On any day, in crisp winter as much as the heat, it's available to us. We need only answer our soul's call to get out and get moving, to propell ourself through nature and enjoy the sights and sounds and breathing the fresh air and the rhythm of our footsteps.

I will make time for a walk outside today, even if it's only for a few minutes. It opens my mind and restores my soul, and reminds me of who I am.
  

Monday, June 20, 2011

LISTENING AND SPEAKING WITH CONSIDERATION

     If we are knowledgable on a subject, it's difficult to sit back and let others speak when it is being discussed in a group. Something in us wants to be the expert, to blurt out information, and to appear wise. Something in us wants to take over. It's an excellent opportunity for humility and grace.
     It's a very different energy when we share in a communal way with a quiet sense of of give and take as opposed to thrusting our ideas and what we have to say on others. The latter attitude might come from a lifetime of not feeling heard, and might be rooted in fear. Perhaps we feel as if we must push and jockey for position and time and attention or our point of view will not have a chance.
     But it does, even if we remain silent. When we finish other people's sentences, when we answer questions that have not even been completely asked, when we interrupt, we lose credibility and effect. Better to listen and wait. Better to consider. Better to be responsive, not reactive. Better to trust that there is time and space to explain the way we see things and that we do not have to speak loudly and aggressively in order to be heard.

I listen completely to others and do not jump the gun in order to share my perspective. I relax and trust that there is time enough for all that needs to be said.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

WEARING OUR BODIES

     Would we be entirely comfortable wearing a bathing suit in front of the people we work with? What about our extended family? How about our friends? Strangers? Does it depend on the situation? Are we more comfortable in a bathing suit at the beach or some foreign resort than we would be at someone's personal pool? I believe more people than not feel shy exposing their bodies to others.
     There's something severely unsure about revealing ourselves physically. We have body doubts, fear of judgment, cellulite, stretch marks, big bellies, big butts, too much hair, or not enough. We are too tall or too short or too skinny or too something. In my experience, most people, no matter how beautiful a body they have, suffer with these doubts and discomforts. Rare is the individual who is 100% assured in a state of public undress. We are not what we think we are supposed to be. We seem to fall short somehow: not surprising, perhaps, given our culture, and the bodies we set up to emulate.
     I'd like to be free of my physical self-consciousness. I'd like to be truly ok with the way I am, in any and all sitautions. I'm much better than I used to be about the way I am on the inside, but physically not so much. It doesn't seem to be about losing weight or building muscle. I have done that. It's about changing my attitude about bodies in general, and mine in particular. Our bodies should be our friends and our allies, a source of pleasure and pride, not something we want urgently to reshape. We all worry too much about what other people will think of our curves and imperfections. It's so much easier in clothes where we can hide and drape ourselves, but expose us in a bathing suit and all of our small shames flare up.
     Can we learn to wear our bodies with appreciation? Can we celebrate our legs that move us and climb us up stairs and sit us down and curl us around our lovers? Can we enjoy the stature of our shoulders and hang our torsos from them with pleasure and ease? Can we embrace our flat bellies or muffin tops knowing that behind that skin and muscle is the miracle of our living flesh: our organs and digestion and detoxification? Can we give thanks for our backs, for our eyes and ears, our chest and ribs, and the beating heart that pumps and pumps and pumps? Let's make an effort. Let's take joy in the way we move and function and fit in the physical world. Just for today, let's be ok with our bodies just the way they are.

I have the courage to appreciate and accept my body as it is, and fill it joyously with my living spirit.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

SADNESS FOR UNEXPERIENCED JOY

     Sometimes it's just appropriate to feel sad. There is so much waste and misunderstanding in the world, so much hurt and cruelty, so much deception and rage. The sadness I feel is for the loss of potentiality for the way things could be. Individuals get stuck, utterly stuck, in a wrong way of seeing that imprisons the spirit and blocks the light. We all know people like that, people living behind bars of their own making. And any of us would be hard pressed to help them understand the situation they are in and free themselves. It's beyond them. They are too busy pointing fingers and blaming the world. They are miserable and it's our fault.
     I've tried all kinds of approaches, but in the end there seems nothing for it but to keep on loving these people and living in the light ourselves. We cannot bring them peace or show them their error. We cannot make them see the world differently than they see it; that change has to come from inside of them. We can smile and forgive and have compassion and send out prayers. We can refuse to take ownership of the polluted thoughts they try to send our way. We can be pleasant, but stay on guard.
     Still, it's sad. I want everyone to experience the joy of living. I want everyone to breathe in the air of this beautiful earth and feel the love and share the hope and laugh with silliness and dance just because.

 I believe that change is possible for even the darkest of souls, but know that it doesn't happen for everyone. I work on my own light and share the love I have.

Friday, June 17, 2011

SAYING NO

     No is a powerful and important word and most of us don't use it near enough. We grow up thinking we are supposed to be everything to everbody all of the time, even when we're exhausted and torn up from life, maybe even especially then. And if someone asks us to do something and we actually can't do it because of an impossible-to-correct conflict, we apologize and possibly feel guilty. "I'm so sorry!" we exclaim. We fall all over ourselves.
     But we are not meant to be doormats or lackeys. We are not meant to spend volumes of time pleasing other people and doing their bidding. We are not meant to consistently do more than our share. That's as distorted as doing nothing, or doing consistently too little. The thing is to say yes when we mean yes, but not to say yes when we really want to say no. Each of us is a limited resource and we must learn to protect and preserve ourselves. Otherwise, we burn out and become endangered, sick, and no good to anyone including ourselves.
     Choice is our gift and our blessing. We must learn what to say yes to and what to say no to in our lives. Today, I say no to toxic people and energy vampires. I say no to excessive portions of food, sloth, whining, judgment, and anger. I say no to yelling and cursing and resentments and fear. I say no to unreasonable demands on my time and I say no to guilt. I say yes to self care and genuine generosity and the experience of the present moment. I say yes to high integrity and hard work. I say yes to love; I always say yes to love! And I say yes to vegetables and communication and early to bed. I say yes to smiles and the weather and maybe more than anything else today, I say yes to my option to say no.

Without guilt or feelings of obligation, I say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no. I am grateful for my ability to speak up for myself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GIVING ADVICE

     We love to give unsolicited advice. We love to make suggestions about all the ways people can improve their lives, and then feel shunned and even resentful if our suggestions aren't implemented. We think we know what's best and what's needed. We like to point out fault and error and show off our smarts and vision. And we are sure, in doing this, that we do a great service to all those we encounter.     
     And yet, if someone gives us unsolicited advice, we are offended. We feel condescended to, not trusted to make our own way, and annoyed that anyone should be so nosy. When other people interfere with us, they should mind their own business, but when we interfere with others, we are being helpful. Or... maybe not.
     I think it's good practice to refrain from offering our opinion and pushing our helpful suggestions onto people and their life choices. If someone wants to know what I think or what I would do, chances are that she will ask me. Then I can share my point of view, but even then, once I share it, I have to leave it alone. What other people do with my thoughts and suggestions is none of my business. Truth be told, there is much in the world that is none of my business, and much that is less my business than I think. I can unintentionally perpetuate much harm under the guise of being helpful.

Unless I am asked directly to share my thoughts on the details of someone's life, I will stay out of it. It is none of my business unless I am asked to participate.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS

     What is the measure of success in the life of a man or a woman? Does it have to do with the size of my house or the salary of my job? Am I successful if I have a certain level of education, and even more successful if I have an even higher level? Is someone with a PHD more successful than someone with a Bachelor of Arts, and someone with a BA more successful than a high-school drop-out? If I have more things, does that make me more successful? What about if I have more friends? What if I am super creative? What if I'm smart? Pretty? Handsome? Envied by others for my money or talents? Do those things make me successful? I guess it depends in part on who you are asking. Success can certainly be relative.
     To me, a successful man or woman is one who has achieved a certain level of self-acceptance, and a certain level of life acceptance; one who is peaceful inside, and kind; loving, forgiving, and compassionate. A successful man or woman can be counted on, is self-reflective and willing to change, able to see more than one side of things, open minded, and open hearted. Human success is about spiritual enlightenment, seems to me, and not the accumulation of physical things. In my estimation, an angry and bitter individual is not successful no matter how much money he has. And likewise, a man with peace in his heart is successful no matter how much money he has. We can be successful with or without money, with or without a big job, with or without high levels of education, but we cannot be successful without love in our hearts and kindness and integrity in our souls.

In so far as I express love and kindness in my life, I am a success.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HAKUNA MATATA

     We all worry and fret over things just around the corner. We are full of what ifs and wonderings. And then we turn the corner with rising trepidation, we pass the thing we fear, and promptly drop it from our thoughts; nothing to worry about once it's over. We look forward to the next corner and fret anew.
     But what if we didn't? What if we refused to get all twisted up and stopped trying to figure it all out and guarantee perfect outcomes? What if we trusted the path we are on so much that we decided not to worry, that we trusted that everything would be exactly right and exactly as it should be? What if we remembered that God is always in the mix and our personal path is less about making it happen than it is about letting it happen, and enjoying it happening however it turns out?
     For me, there is great relief in that, and I am getting better at it. I have learned from experience that things have a way of coming together, discombobulated as they may seem. There's a place for all of the loose ends to belong. And the things that don't work out perfectly add to the enjoyment and experience. Often they are the things we remember most fondly.
     So today, if I have something I'm worried about and I want to make it turn out a certain way, I will recognize that I am caught up, like being on a hook, and let go. I will disentangle. I will free myself. I will turn to what is right in front of me and remember that it's the surprises in life that make it life, and make it interesting, and make it fun. And I will trust the future and trust the surprises and tust the journey of my happenings.

I stop worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow and enjoy today. I let tomorrow take care of itself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

MOTHER ADJUSTMENT

     When my kids were little, I loved the motto of their school: respect yourself, respect others, respect the environment. That covers most of what matters, seems to me. And I need to remember it today, and apply it anew. They are sixteen now (twins), and showing distaste for my life and the way I live, which is appropriate, but still a bit hurtful. It reminds me of the early teenage years when I was freshly an embarrasment to them. It came as a bitter pill to swallow after being the sunshine, the comfort, the loving source of all things good, and home in every sense of the word, to becoming an annoyance, a burden, and a constant reason for deep sighs and many "whatevers."
     Like the whole parental journey, it's a mixed blessing. They are growing up and finding their own independence, which I want for them, but I still remain "home" in a holdout kind of way, and will continue to for a few more years, so we are neither of us yet "free." But we don't fit anymore the way we once did, and I believe we each have an unrelenting itch that my choices and my pleasures crimp their style. We don't entirely approve of each other. There is suspicion and disbelief on both sides: how can you do that?
     It is their time to be out in the world exploring all of its features and having grand adventures, and it's is my time to grow roots at last. I enjoy the small, simple pleasures of my life these days. I have been adventuring forever, and am less interested in it than I used to be. In a very real sense, for them I used to be the adventure. Now I am home port and a free meal, tolerable in small doses, but essentially uninteresting.
     So we are teetering together in the same home space, but looking out in far different directions. And it's ok. We are right on time. It will shift again as the years carry us onward. For now, I simply need to remember their old school motto and follow it, and encourage them to follow it as well.

I respect different outlooks, different journeys, and different states of mind. We are all right where we are supposed to be.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

EVOLUTION AND MAINTENENCE

     Life is a daily experience; each day a complete cycle. And each day, if we hope for happiness and health, we must rise and set like the sun, appropriately nourish ourselves, move our bodies, stimulate our minds, and spread our love. There is no arrival point for everlasting satisfaction, no stasis, and no goal line. And there are definitely no quick fixes. Everything is either evolution or maintenance, one or the other. We are either growing taller or growing stronger. Evolution gives us height and maintenance gives us depth, roots, groundedness, and stability. Maintenance gives us steadiness so that we can grow higher still.
     If we do not take proper care of ourselves for a day, there is no great harm done; it is an inconvenience more than anything else, completely survivable. But stack a number of days end on end and we cannot help but suffer terribly with declining energy, ill health, and erratic emotions. It's so much easier to keep up than to catch up. So I've always heard and so I believe.
     Our culture promotes achievement in every aspect of life. There is a low-lying widespread suggestion that intimate relationship happiness depends on finding the right person, and once we do, like magic, all of our problems should end... but the very nature of life is problematic, so finding the right person is only the first step. It's the evolution, the achievement of height, and then the relationship health, like our body health, depends upon daily maintenance. Are we willing to communicate? Forgive? Accept and allow? Celebrate differences? Compromise?
     And just so, the plethora of diet books would suggest that we can achieve our ideal weight through some specific time limited plan and then ride off into the sunset happy with our bodies forever. But we have all experienced the fallacy of that dynamic. Body satisfaction requires daily attention. Learning to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves and relax and fully express all that we have to express are daily exercises. "Diet" in every sense of the word is a way of life. So let's commit to doing all the things daily that make us feel good. Let's be willing to expend some effort for the reward of good health. Surely, we are worth it.

I am willing to exercise myself daily in every way: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, and the reward is my ability to experience exceptional health and joy in living. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

THE GOLDEN RULE

      The "Golden Rule" as we all know it is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But what if I get motivated to action by someone yelling at me, does the Golden Rule mean I should yell at others to motivate them? What if I'm dealing with an individual who has been emotionally and verbally abused her whole life? Might she prefer gentle words of loving encouragement and expressions of faith in her abilities?
     I think the idea is to be thoughtful of others the same way we would want them to be with us, to consider not necessarily what we would like in a given situation, but what someone with the particular background, history, temprament, etc of the "other" before us might like. I must be willing to resist imposing my goodwill. Perhaps the Golden Rule could be stated another way: "Do unto others as they would have done unto them."
     An example of this in action might come from the traditional handshake. I was taught that firm is best, but it's uncomfortable to be at the receiving end of an over-squeeze. It's happened before to me, and more than once. I shake firmly, but my partner seems to be out to proove some point. Just so, if I shake firm with someone who has a dead fish hand, I overpower her. The thing to do is match the other: soggy for soggy, firm for firm. That's not the standard practice, but that's the nature of do unto others, seems to me. Real compassion and kindness requires a reading, a sensitivity, and a bit of creative imagination. It's not the thought that whoever I'm dealing with should appreciate what I'm doing because it's right or best, and what I would want, but rather to ask and consider the questions, what does he want? What does she want? What are the signals here, and how can I best be of service?

I pay attention to others today, and treat them the way they want to be treated. I do not thrust upon them my own ideas of what's best, but listen and look for signs that tell me what would be most helpful, most needed, and most appreciated.

Friday, June 10, 2011

ACCEPTING CHANGING MOODS

     I know this about myself; if people I love are unhappy or struggling or overwhelmed or confused or angry or dark or fearful, I want to fix it for them. But if I'm honest, nothing is really broken, and there's nothing that needs my fixing. The less than perfectly happy attitude of others makes me uncomfortable, partially because I feel like it's not ok for me to be happy unless everyone else is, and I want to be happy, or at least, have the option to be happy. I'm also extremely uncomfortable in what I perceive as brooding silence. And yet, if I'm in a funk, don't even try to cajole me out of it. Don't tease me or tell me everything is going to be ok. I know that everything is going to be ok, but I'm in a funk anyway.
     What's crazy is that somehow I've developed a belief system that tells me it's not acceptable to be down, no matter what. I was raised with the rally philosophy: rally at all cost, chin up, and all that. Being sultry or self-pitying or depressed wasn't tolerated in me when I was little, so maybe what really goes on in me today is that I am not willing to tolerate it in others. Snap out of it. Get a grip. Get over yourself. I'm not allowed to be down so neither are you, and if you are, go off and do it in private.
     But sometimes it can't be helped. Sometimes we all just need to be in our funks. It's part of the process of working through challenges. We always come out of them eventually and maybe faster with less external poking and prodding. I want to let the people I love be where they are today without offering my urgent suggestions for changing the way they feel. However it is, it's ok. And if I let it be ok for them, then it's ok for me too.

Shifting moods and energies are part of life. I accept the ups and downs in others and in myself as well. It is not my job to provide the ups or fix the downs. They arise and fall away all by themselves.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ALLOWING FOR VULNERABILITY

     Through cancerous growth of negative thinking and lack of communication, we can completely lose track of people in our lives, even those we once held dear. It's easy to impose on others our own interpretations about what motivates them, and what they mean by a certain look or perceived attitude. But just because we think it and interpret it doesn't make it correct. These walls of misunderstanding can become fortress like and impenetrable, imposing, and guarded by silence.
     Sometimes in restaurants I see couples who are together but do not seem to see each other. They do not speak except in monosyllables. Often one or both of them is distracted by a cell phone, and more involved with the small electronic device in front of them than their living breathing partner, the person they married, presumably because of common interests and great love between them. But no love is visble here, only barriers to love.
     What opens people to people, no matter how strong the walls between them, is conversational sharing and the exposure of individual vulnerability. This is what's going on inside of me. Here's what I'm feeling and thinking. Here's what I'm afraid of and what I long for and all of my insecurities. Such honesty allows the other to see us anew and re-awakens love and compassion... but it takes two who are willing. Open communication is not safe or possible with everyone, but where it is safe and possible, it is absolutely necessary.
     I have spent my share of time in angry awkward silences of misunderstanding and hostility and I have no further interest in them.It is too simple and too cleansing to speak up. Let's talk about it today, whatever "it" is. Let's have the courage to be vulnerable. Let's connect with others and laugh together over misperceptions. Life is too short for tense meals and impenetrable walls.

I commit to communication today. I am willing to listen with compassion and to share from my heart.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

THE EFFECT OF OUR ENERGY

     I'm not sure how aware we are that our energy affects other people. If we are stressed out, on edge, rigid with pressure and have to's, we spread tension. Likewise, if we are spacious and relaxed, easy to laugh,  serene, secure, and at ease, we give others permission to loosen a bit in our presence. Sadly, I think it's easier to get ramped up by someone's grim determinism than it is to let go of our stuff when we see someone else relaxed, especially if we have a tendency toward tension ourselves. We may even mock and criticize someone who seems to feel no pressure, or get irritated... look at her! Who does she think she is? Doesn't she know there's a crises here and it's no time for fun?
     I want to bring ever higher awareness to the energy I send out, and to be a source of pleasantry rather than angst. If I am not feeling it; if I am hungry, angry, tired, or sore, then perhaps just by acknowledging that to whoever is sharing my space, I can minimize my negative impact. I can send out a warning flag of information. "I feel grouchy. I need to eat something. I had a tough day at work and need to decompress. I need some time alone. I'm not sure why I'm so touchy, but I recognize that I'm being short with you. Maybe it would be better if we did this later." The alternative is to unconsciously bark and sigh and complain and abuse, putting all of our stuff onto others, maybe even allowing ourselves to believe that they are the ones responsible for our ill behavior, that our foulness is their fault.
     Today I will recognize the impact of my moods and my energy. I will be honest about the fact that the way I am affects everything and everyone around me. If I snap or am darkly moody or rigidly push others with my intensity, I will make every effort to catch myself and change my approach. I have a role in how I feel and the space I occupy. I want to spread joy!

I am willing to be cheerful and pleasant today. I am willing to be a source of happiness and peace.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

HAPPINESS

     "I just want to be happy," is a common response to the question, "What do you want?" And the truth is that happiness is actually accessible to us and largely within our control, but we put it "out there" and base it on life's conditions. If only this and if only that, then I could be happy. And sometimes, if we push enough, or by some serendipitous situation, we do get what we think we want. And low and behold. It does not make us happy.
     So we look out again and think of something else. It's not what I thought. It must be that other thing, that thing over there. That's what will make me happy. But it won't and it can't because happiness is not generated from goals achieved or even dreams realized. It's something that arises inside of us. And once we tap it, we no longer require expensive toys or fancy houses, or to be popular or wildly successful or whatever it is. We are simply happy to be alive and to experience whatever is in front of us. We are ok with who we are, and who you are, and the way the world is.
     Happiness, much like age, is a state of mind and a way of being. It is not something we can achieve or capture. It is something we already are, and if we want to experience it, we must open to it, and allow it, and clear the blocks to it that grow daily from our pride and our egos. It is simple pleasure and total acceptance. It comes from the joy of being and the delight of sensation. Like the Charlie Brown book suggests, happiness is as simple as a warm puppy. It is a cup of tea, a glass of cold water, a smile from across the room, a hot summer evening, the feeling of socks and soft sheets and hugs, views of mountains, and a job well done.

I open to happiness today, and simple pleasures. I am ok within myself. I am happy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

CHANGING LIGHT

     I find the changing light of days to be one of the most soothing and powerful invitations to pleasure that exist, and the most readily accessible. I am carried by the changing angles of the sun and shadows, dawn and light rising, morning brightness and glare shifting seamlessly into noontime blasting, and then the slow progression back into softness as the sun lowers and the afternoon idles past. My body lets go levels at a time as the days brightness dissolves into the comfort of dusk and the cover of darkness.
     Revolving suns and moons are a blessing and a tool for energy regulation and spiritual renewal. I am grateful for all of the subtle shifts in light. It is a constant reminder, as well, that we are all of us shifting and cycling from brightness to dusk, from crisp freshness to murky mist, from noontime to midnight. We are related to the cycles of the sky. We reflect each other. And the sunrise always comes.
    
I will bring awareness to the light today, and appreciate the way it moves and changes. I will notice the light around me, and the light within me as well.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BITE SIZED

     Most life projects and tasks, goals and journeys, visions and evolutions are all too big to digest at once. I believe we are meant to take small bites. We can break things down into steps and easily accomplish piecemeal what seems entirely impossible as a complete structure. After all, that's how life happens, isn't it? One small effort at a time one day at a time?
     What is overwhelming me today and how can I break it down into more managable bites? And perhaps more importantly, why do I feel the need to be such a glutton? To push beyond my comfortable limits, as if that proves something; what does it really prove? That I can overextend and go beyond comfort to the point of pain and distraction, that I can live on nerves, on edge, that I can teeter indefinitely at the end of my rope? Good for me.
     The other option is to feel satisfied with bite sized accomplishments in the direction of the bigger picture and be pleased with reasonable, steady progress and each small gain. In that case, I can still maintain my peace and have the pleasure of experiencing long distance energy and a sustainable pace. I used to think it was the thing to burn hard and fast, to live aggressively which I considered to be passionate, and to push it to the end of every possible limit for as long as possible. The trouble with that approach is that I burn out eventually and become good for nothing and a shell of my own vitality. There's some exhilaration in the racy speed and high intensity, but not so much fun in all of that, and certainly no relaxation, truth be told. So today, I prefer steady and bite sized. I find I get alot more done, and enjoy the doing of it all the more.

I take my time today and stop the rush and the push. I enjoy making reasonable efforts in the right direction and feel the satisfaction of steady, sustainable progress.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

THE ROAD OF RELAXATION

     Perhaps relaxation is a state of mind more than it is anything else.  Perhaps it is the simple result of an internal emotional cease-fire and not determined by some tropical setting or hot stone massage, although such things unquestionably encourage us to stop wrestling inside of ourselves and appreciate the view and the moment. Relaxation is the ability to enjoy what is, exactly as it is. It is the release of pressure that has built in us over the unknown future or what remains undone in our day. It is the art of receiving what's in front of us, whether it be a sunny highway filled with traffic, or a friend struggling with her own life stuff, or a summer evening on a porch swing with a breeze.
     Our culture does not encourage relaxation, though it pushes and forces it on us with aggressive solutions and suggestions. Relax! It becomes almost a demand, like standing in a field and calling loudly for wild animals to come to us. We must create within ourselves the environment and spaciousness for relaxation. We must encourage it gently. Like the Field of Dreams, if we build it, relaxation will come. It's a letting go and surrender of controlling how it will happen. It's trusting the process of life and the journey we are on, taking in the sites with all of our curiosity and wonder. And remembering and appreciating what a beautiful adventure this is.

I am willing to let go today and invite the energy of relaxation into my interior space. I trust the journey and appreciate the sites along the way.

Friday, June 3, 2011

THE OTHER SIDE OF JUDGMENT

      It bothers me sometimes that there are people out there who have made unwavering judgments about me that do not accurately reflect the truth of who I am. Some of these people I know, and some I do not. Among other things, I have been told that I am intimidating, incapable of healthy decision making, sickening with positivity, a liar, a bad person, a lousy friend, and a disappointment as a daughter. I do not believe any of these things to be true about myself in any kind of absolute way, but what does seem true is that sometimes other people have a plan in mind for me, something for me to do for them or be for them, and when I have followed my own path and spirit instead of their suggestive demands, they have been understandably displeased. In their displeasure, they judge me. They are frustrated that they cannot control me, feel hurt by my lack of interest in their vision for my life, and so, for them I become an awful person in some way, which is no doubt easier for them than having to consider their part in the dance.
     Being human and each of us struggling as we do with so many things, we rarely want to understand another person's point of view, and as a general rule, we are not particularly good listeners. It is less effort to make others wrong and attribute to them heartless characteristics and negative qualities than to ask questions and search for common ground, though the common ground does exist. We all have our gifts and our personal fears. We all have less than snow white motivations at times and the ability to harshly judge. We all do the judgment/conviction two-step, and some more than others. But all this determining judgment backfires. It makes for a world of suspicion and darkness and criticism, we live blocked from the soothing and sustaining warmth of love.
     Just for today, let's leave judgment alone. Let's not take on the judgment of others and feel resentful and misunderstood, and lets not slap our own opinions all over those who we encounter. Let's live today in a spirit of acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness. Just for today, let's live and let live.

I accept all those I encounter today with their human-ness, limitations, and imperfections that I may live free from resentment and experience compassion and forgiveness, and I accept myself in the same way.
 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BEFRIENDING OURSELVES

     A recognition that things in my life need to be changed up and adjusted is uncomfortable and unsettling. New routines are discombobulating, and when I am discombobulated within myself I become needy and pathetic feeling. I figure that no one could possibly love me, especially the people who really do, so I feel entitled to lash out at them in anger, or smother them with my insecurity. I seek reassurance in others by pushing them away, and in my old routines that no longer serve me. I am left flat. The only real reassurance available to me comes from the inside out.
     Life, it seems to me, is a continuous process of befriending ourselves. We are so changeable and fragile. A stranger's comment, a pang of self-consciousness or embarrassment, an unbecoming reflection in the mirror or a few pounds in the wrong direction on the scale can completely topple our assurance. We must be kind and compassionate if we hope to recover our calm center and groundedness. We must be loving with our vulnerabilities and honest about our lost feelings. We must ask why?
     Why do I feel so out of sorts? Why do I feel needy? Unattractive? Afraid? Usually, the answer is pretty understandable and it's ok. A bit of gentle coaxing and sympathy for the self goes a long way toward easing up on the pressure for perfection and the desire to blame others for our discomfort. And then we can make the changes we need to make, or have a good cry, or ask for help, or spend some time quietly and peacefully in solitude. We can give ourselves the time and space that we need for healing. Simply allowing ourselves to be where we are is a huge relief.

I am willing to give myself a break today. I am understanding with my challenges and worries, and I allow myself to be exactly where I am.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

THE BUBBLING PAST

     In my experience, things bubble up in life and we are drawn backwards to deal with difficult happenings from our past. I believe that they come up when we are ready to face them, when we can understand and process them, and when we're ready to be free from the lingering hold they exert over us without our even knowing. Something has evolved us to the point of being capable of letting go at a new and deeper level..
     So it's unquestionably useful and often necessary to go rooting around in the past, but the trick is to do it with limits and purpose and to not get stuck there. Sometimes, rather than processing old pain, we are searching for information, or looking for answers to long standing questions. And sometimes, that which we seek is readily available. And sometimes not. But focusing too much of our energy on the past can be a potentially dangerous proposition. Hunting for self-pity and excuses can become addictive, and serves as a present day responsibility cop-out. We all too easily experience ourselves as victims of the past.
     All of our real answers, all hope for happiness and all fulfillment and joy is right here and right now, in the present moment. Going back in any way, either wistfully, or with an invesigative air, cannot fundamentally satisfy our needs and longings, no matter what. Only the present day can do that. And too much of the past makes us sick and musty. As it crops up, we have to let it go and let it be, and return to the experience of this day and this time.

I watch out for the past and the future, both of which can grab me and hold me captive. I stay where I am and appreciate the now.