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Saturday, July 30, 2011

TIMELINE FLEXIBILITY

     Most things that happen in my life do not happen according to my time-scale. They happen when they happen and I scramble to keep up, or else wait, and wait, and wait, trying to maintain enthusiasm and faith. In the past, I have tried to prepare myself and prepare my life situation for the arrival of things, and to clearly understand the "right time"... to be single, to be married, to change jobs, give birth to children, move across the country, even lose a loved one to the mystery and finality of death.
     But so much for my plans and ideas. I get splattered by all the things that happen without any input at all on my part, and parched by all the things that don't happen that I am emotionally invested in having happen. Things occur according to a greater plan I guess, that has nothing to do with my need to mark things down in a weekly planner.
     Better understanding this concept, I am learning to stop making such vigorous plans. If a situation forces deviation from my agenda, I can roll with it much better than I once could. I don't need to impose my schedule on life. I can shrug and be flexible. I can smile and say, "Ok" to the changes in my visionary timeline. I can be open-minded enough to entertain the possibility that things could work out even better with the new plan. Maybe it's an upgrade. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. That's what I am going to choose to believe.

I free my future from the imposition of a planned-out timeline and all the things I think I want to see unfold. I trust in the happenings of my life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

GOD'S GOT IT

          I don't understand how things always seem to work out, but they do. What is needed is provided. What seems impossible to overcome is overcome. Fear is faced. Loss is grieved. Darkness becomes blessing, and hope, as we have always heard, really does spring eternal. Perhaps it's fortitude and courage and human ingenuity that gets us through, but more likely it's the grace of God.
     I love miracle stories, and I have experienced some of them myself; small miracles, and big ones too. Things don't ever turn out the way I think would be miraculous, but even better. Solutions to problems come entirely out of nowhere. My little fantasy plans and designs are utterly swamped by God. Trying to "figure things out" is futile, and over-rated. Accepting the gifts of the unpredictable and living in the air and space of all possibility is the most satisfying place for me to be.
     So why do I lose my faith in things working out? I get caught up thinking I have more power and more control and more responsibility over things than I do. The trick and the test is to get comfortable in the waiting and seeing part of life's process. When everything seems impossibly discombobulated and messed up, being without any clear information and having to live on blind faith is humbling at best, and terrifying at its worst.
     But life has its way of working out against all odds. So going forth, when faced with the unknown future, instead of freaking out and trying to micro-manage and control all the people and details in my life, I am going to watch with patience and curiosity. No doubt I will be amazed and delighted as it all unfolds.

I need not fear the future, but welcome it with curiosity and an open heart and trust in the unexpected, and in goodness that passes all understanding.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

     As parents I think we can take responsibility for our childrens' manners; whether they say please and thank you, whether they offer to help when they are over at a friend's house, and somewhat for their dietary inclinations and attitudes towards exercise. But if they struggle emotionally beyond reason, if they have terrors and negativity beyond the ordinary, if they cannot make friends or keep friends or function with any confidence at all in the world, much of that is beyond our parental responsibility even if we want to fix it for them with all of our heart and soul.
     Our wanting to "fix" them does not even mean they are necessarily broken. They are who they are, come here as we are to learn lessons, to age gracefully or to die young, to be wildly successful, or sick and addictive, or both, or a little bit of everything. Letting go of our children in healthy ways is no easy business. Because we feel they belong to us in some way, it seems our job to change them, help them, mold them, encourage them, do all that we can to assure that they suffer as little as possible.
     But even with all of that, all of our desire and effort and our good intentions, they go their own way, and feel how they feel, and do what they do. Perhaps our real job as parents is not to mold our children as we think they should be, but to unconditionally accept them as they are, and love them for all of their faults and struggles as well as their gifts. Loving is something we can always do, no matter what, even from a distance, even if we are pushed away and treated with hostility. Their problems are not always our problems. Even if they try to put their stuff on us, we do not have to take it on.
     Instead of constantly looking for ways to help, improve, suggest, fix, and educate, perhaps we would do better to simply observe our children as they navigate their days and celebrate their journeys; to laugh with them and enjoy their company and be available should they seek our advice. It feels almost unnatural and certainly challenging beyond measure to let them be, let them live, let them struggle, and let them grow up. But that's what it's really all about, and in the end, as parents, that's
where our journey leads us, and where we are all headed whether we like it or not.

I back off and allow my children the space they need to figure out their own lives. I stop running interference and pushing my position. I trust them to know what's best, and am available to be of service in any way should they honestly seek my help.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SMALL PLEASURES

     I can get so caught up in future possibilities for happiness that I miss the small pleasures of the day. Small pleasures abound. Each experience has its own rich world of sensation, of sounds and smells and sights and feelings that are comforting, and beautiful even, each in their own way: the dark morning, cold water on my face, the taste of breakfast, the emerging light and the unfolding of the day, my clients' victories, the shared human journey of time passing, and my own energy rising and falling like the tides.
     If I don't enjoy these small pleasures, and all the others like them, I miss out on life's bounty. I miss out on the gifts and rewards, the deep satisfactions. I put them off instead of enjoying them now. If I get lost in the thoughts of past or future wrong-doings and backed up with fret and worry, I lose the pleasure of this day.
     I will be aware of my traveling mind today and commit to bringing it back to the present moment and the experience of each thing. It will launch away again, no doubt, but I commit to bringing it back, and bringing it back again. As many times as it travels, I will bring it back.

I am mindful and present. I enjoy the day and all of its experiences. I am grateful for the unexpected blessings of life's small pleasures.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FACING THE NEW

     I think it's a natural human reaction when faced with something new and unfamiliar to be suspicious and feel a certain sense of fear and even dislike. Something new- a new routine, a new arrangement of furniture, a new way of doing things, can't possibly be as comfortable as the old way. But the only reason the old way is comfortable is because it's familiar and "known."
     Understanding this, I would think I could calm myself and not feel threatened by the un-familiar, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I feel an urgent inner desire to grab for control, to somehow make external adjustments to make me feel better. Whether I'm successful or not, the truth is that in the end, no matter what, I will adapt. I don't have to feel afraid or grab for control. I can be open to the new and welcome it as it is. I will get to know it slowly and find my way. We will find our way together. It will slowly become familiar and comfortable in its own way. I will learn to love its gifts and accept its limitations. Over time, through the passage of adaptation and familiarity, what was once unknown and unfamiliar becomes the new "old and faithful."

I face the "new" in my life with courage and faith. I trust that in time it will become familiar and soothing, and that it will serve its purpose in my life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

GRATITUDE FOR THE BODY

     So many of us are at war with our own bodies. As a personal trainer I see it everyday in my clients, and I experience it in myself as well. If we cannot be happy with our bodies with a few extra pounds and feel a certain kindness and affection for our flesh and limbs, then it's unlikely we will be able to be happy even once we lose the extra weighht. We may continue to want even more perfection. It's a widespread trend.
     We seem to think we're never good enough physically. We are either too tall or too fat or too thin or too muscular or not muscular enough, or we don't like our arms or hips or chest or chin. It's a rare person who doesn't have something physically that causes a sense of frustration and unhappiness. Maybe it's achy knees or a tight neck, or a nose that is too big or earlobes too long.
     Our bodies perform miracles for us everyday. The liver alone has over 500 functions, and our lungs do their thing, and our hearts! And legs that sit us down and stand us up, and our backs! and our eyes! and our ears! Where is our thank you? Where is our love and respect? We abuse our bodies with diets and excess and not enough sleep and negative thinking. We tell our beautiful physical selves that we are ugly and never good enough.
     Let's change our approach. Let's shower some kindness on our bodies instead. Let's appreciate them for all that they do- their functionality and strength and the curves of our bones and muscle. Let's be grateful for our hands and fingers, our skin and eyebrows and ankles, for our thighs and bellies, for our very breath! Thank you, body, for standing by me all these years, even when I have not stood by you.

I appreciate my body! I stop criticizing it and directing anger and frustration and hatred toward any part of it. I think loving thoughts instead, and feel grateful for the blessing of my physical being.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

EMBRACING INSTABILITY

     I am not all one thing or another. I am mixed up with gratitudes and fears and certainties and confusions, with healthy thoughts and sick dependencies, feelings of hunger and feelings of satisfaction, a big old smorgasbord of life happening in my body, my emotions, and my mind. And yet, even experiencing all of this mix-mash in myself, I have some thought that other aspects of life, both things, and other people, should be always one thing, essentially satisfying to me, and then feel upset when they are not.
     What pleases me today may not please me next week. Sometimes, I become consumed with a song and listen to it over and over and it feeds some part of me, and then a month or so later if it comes on I will change the station... sick of it. Relationships can be like that, and places we live; jobs, towns, books, opinions, even chaos and drama. What is earth shattering today is no big deal next week.
     And physical things, too, have their own kind of changeability and unique personality. There is a "soul" and an energy in everything. In a house, for example, there may be features that are graceful and open, and others that are clumsy and squashed. Like me, a house cannot be all one thing or another. It too is a mix-mash. For me to expect it to be "perfect" in some particular way depending on some particular mood or expectation of mine is ridiculous. What is "perfect" is inconstant, what is "perfect" is the ever changing nature of everything.
     I believe the point of my life is to grow and change and evolve, so anything that is static and unchanging does not serve life's purpose. I may think I want some sort of perfect predictable stability, but I don't really. What I want is experience and challenge and all the rising emotions in me that are always bubbling up and receding away to teach me, and then remind me, and then teach me again, that nothing is absolute, that everything comes and goes. The more comfortable I am with the changeability and inconstancy of life, and the clearer and calmer I am about the nature of things and the nature of myself, the more peace I will experience.

I accept the variability of life and am grateful for the fact that everything changes and passes and nothing comes to stay in one particular way forever. I rejoice in the process of my own evolution!
    

Friday, July 22, 2011

CHOOSING RETREAT OVER SURRENDER BY PRESSURE

     Where is the line and how do I know when to stand up when others are thrusting their agendas on me, and when to let it go? I guess it's a question of picking my battles. Where am I willing to commit my forces and risk injury to protect an idea or a principle or my physical safety, and where am I willing to surrender and not fight? Not fighting is often the winning position, but I seem to travel so easily from surrender to doormat. The truth is that I don't want to fight or be a doormat. I want to be respected. I want people to not push my boundaries, but that's wanting the world to be what the world is not.
     As always, I suppose the happy serenity answer is an inside job, and is driven by what motivates me. If I say yes to something externally, I damn well better mean yes on the inside too so that I am not in conflict with myself. That's where I get into trouble and get uncomfortable, when I agree to do something to get someone off of my back or to appease them, but it's nothing I really want to do at all, and the only reason I am doing it is because someone guilted me into it. That's sickness on my part, and peace with a pricetag.
     I give in to pressure too easily. I want to remember to slow down, and if I feel pushed and defensive, I need to buy myself time for retreat and regroup. At the very least, then whatever I decide is my decision and not a reactive agreement to deflect a combative situation. Today, I will pause when I feel any heat from others. I will breathe and consider and be sure to speak quietly and not get all hooked in and explosive. If something is asked of me and I am not sure, I will say so, and express my need for time to consider and reflect. Then I can come back to it thoughtfully and be in accordance with my whole self, and be clear about where I stand on the issue, and why, and stand up or surrender with understanding instead of weakness.

I commit to myself to not be reactive and popped about emotionally by others like a pinball. If I feel attacked, or am unsure, I use the option to retreat and consider thoughtfully before expressing where I stand.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN OTHERS JUDGE US

     It's a challenge to divorce ourselves from what other people think about us. We wonder. We fret. It seems so important. What will this one think? What will that one think? We can't possibly please everybody, but why do we even want to? Why does it matter so much? We want others to think we are all these great things and to approve of our decisions and choices. But the truth is that what they think is a reflection of who they are and where they're coming from, and really has nothing to do with us at all.
     Are the ones who judge us focused on the negative in their own lives, or the positive? We need to look at the source. Are they cautionary? Non-supportive of risk-taking ventures? Are they critical of anything that is non-traditional? Or the opposite? Are they bitter, and resentful? Do they hold grudges? Or are they grateful and open-hearted? Do they lack confidence? Are they loud? Do we even like them? And do we apologize if our opinions and choices are different? Do we feel shameful or guilty?
     What power we give to others to determine our worth! Let's take our power back! Let's have the courage to be who we are without apology. Let's choose what suits us and not what we think might win the approval of some other. Let's honor our truth and know that if others judge us harshly for one choice, chances are they will judge us harshly for whatever we choose. It's their judging that makes a statement about them far more than the judgment itself. Let's live free and confident. Let's release ourselves from the bondage of what others may or may not think about what we do and the way we go about things.

I free myself from the opinions of others. Those who love me will rejoice in who I am and whatever choices I make, and those who don't, won't.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SMALL CHANGES

     Like acorns that grow into Grandaddy oak trees, the consistent commitment to small changes in life make a big difference over time. Dietary change in the direction of better health can shift moods and eliminate pockets of bodyfat. Ceasing to whine or yell or explode emotionally when faced with a traffic jam, or a difficult person, brings comfortable energy to the fore and sends hair trigger reactivity on the run. We become calmer all over. Parking farther away from our destinations so that we have to walk a bit, and taking the stairs when we can, begins our path to physical fitness. Stopping cursing, saying more please and thank-yous, adding a single stretch to the morning routine and one less cup of coffee- all of these things change the quality of a day's experience.
     We all have our habits in life that make us cringe, and some more than others, but we need not have them at all. We can weed them out. We can recognize when we have picked them up and put them down instead. We can catch ourselves and stop. And if we stop enough, we will train ourselves to not begin at all. Some behaviors are best made extinct. We need not act on everything we think of. Sometimes, silence and non-action are the most powerful and healthy actions there are, and used consistently, in the right way over time, they can grow us in bounds like giant oak trees.

I recognize when I behave in ways that make me feel badly and stop behaving in those ways.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ENOUGH TO GO AROUND

     Sometimes when we meet people we allow ourselves to be impressed with them in a way that blows reality all out of proportion. We make assumptions based on our own insecurities, that they are somehow better than we are, or more worthy of love and attention; that there mere presence in our lives makes us smaller and less important. We compare ourselves to them and feel inferior. They seem so smart, or funny, or pretty, or handsome or likable, so talented. Next to them, we are nothing but a mess.
     But often, these first impressions do not play out. In further experience and interactions we begin to see that we may have overblown things, that we were mistaken in some way, that they are not so great as we thought, and maybe we are not so terrible.
     I'd like to not compare myself to others in the first place, and to know that if someone is good at something I'm good at, his being good doesn't somehow make me less good. It makes us both good in our own unique ways. I want to celebrate everyone's gifts and life contributions and not feel threatened. I want to know that I am just right as I am, and that there is enough love, enough appreciation, enough respect, and enough recognition to go around. The more there is the more there is. I am tired of believing in limited supplies.

I trust in the abundant universe and that there is enough of everything necessary and delightful to go around.

Monday, July 18, 2011

LIVE AND LET LIVE

    It's an interesting dynamic when we hold ourselves to a certain standard of behavior and then feel irritated when others do not hold themselves to the same. If we are particular about keeping our house clean, about being on time, about being reliable and doing what we say, about paying our way and paying our half, about eating the just-right foods and being disciplined about the health of our bodies, etc, it is entirely our problem if we feel that life is somehow unfair because others don't care about these things the way we do. How we live is our choice, after all, just as it is theirs to do things differently.
     Perhaps, hidden in our choosing, is a sense of obligation and "should" that we put back on ourselves. Maybe we feel that we have to do the right thing and feel burdened by it, but ultimately, if we're honest, we don't have to at all, even if it is the "right" thing.
     Being irritated with others for choosing the "wrong" thing is ridiculous. It changes nothing and makes us miserable. We all must behave the way our insides drive us to behave. If we truly don't care, then we don't, and if we care maybe too much, then that's the way it is. If we want to be comfortable and happy, we must learn to live and let live, to stop trying to control what other people do or don't do. We must learn to shrug and smile and say, "Oh, well. It might not work for me, but it seems to work for her, or him."
     We can recognize that some others have a different and distasteful-to-us approach to things and choose not to be around them, but to be around them and be constantly harping and poking and pushing and trying to get them to change the way they are is useless and angst producing on all sides.
     I accept others as they are, with all of their human-ness limitations, imperfections etc, and I accept myself the same way. Life is too short and too precious for any other approach.

If other people prioritize life differently than I do, and have different standards of conduct, that's ok with me. What I do is my choice, and what they do is theirs.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

STRONG AND STEADY

     Life has a way of getting busy. It's not unusual to be operating in multiple directions at the same time, and multiple emotional dimensions as well. When faced with lots of life going on, it's easy to become speedy energetically, to talk faster and drink a little extra caffeine and be "jacked up."But perhaps, a better attitude for the business of life is super-calm. It's worth considering. From that space, we can make our decisions from an earthed and thoughtful position.
     There's something addictive and exciting about handling multiple situations at once. It's challenging and jazzy; phone calls here, meetings there, business, family, the day's to-do list. This multi-tasking may be thrilling on some level but it burns us out. For the long haul we need strong and steady. It's a mindset. It's a decision not to be drawn off course. It's focused and grounded and sustainable and smart.
I catch myself getting frazzled and stop. I need to be strong and steady for the long haul.

Friday, July 8, 2011

STATE OF PLAY

     I believe in each of us there is a desire to be playful. As a culture we suffer from too much seriousness. We are accomplishment-based, and stress-based. We pack more in, and over-fill the day. We do more, and more yet again. We live on the constant cusp of burn-out.
     Play is light and silly, strain-free. It doesn't take itself too seriously. The truth is that we can be playful even in the process of work. It's an attitude and an approach to the job. And we can touch the sense of play in those around us. It waits patiently until it gets invited to come out. Then it smiles hopefully and almost bashfully, unsure. Is it really ok to be silly? Can I play? Yes! It's good for the soul. Sing at the top of your lungs and dance like crazy. Wobble your tongue back and forth in your mouth and make a tongue wobbling sound. Howl like a coyote. Skip. Be expansive. Smile a lot and laugh from your belly.
     Life itself is silly and it supports the energy of silliness, even in times of great duress. Life wants us to play and have fun. It wants us to giggle. It wants us to tip like a teapot and puff up our cheeks with air like a chipmunk, and spin in a circle and jump for joy.

I let go of some of the seriousness in my world today. There is more than enough of it. I relax and allow myself to be playful.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

STICKS AND STONES

    
     Names and unkind words have a way of sticking and sinking in. When parents say to small children, "You're bad. You're clumsy. You're messy. You're shy." The children have a way of absorbing this information and storing it as fact. Let's bring ever higher awareness to spoken words, to the way we talk to others, and the way we talk to ourselves. It feels so much better all the way around to focus on the positive. "You're so responsible! You're graceful, smart, pretty. You're so good at organizing things. You're beautiful and creative. You have a wonderful sense of humor."
     Ah- it's a whole different universe that these words and thoughts occupy, and that's the space where I want to hang out. I don't want to contribute to the hurt feelings or the harm of anyone, not with my actions or my words. There is enough harm in the world already.
I look for the positive in everyone I encounter today and spread compliments instead of judgments.
 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SIMPLICITY

Straightforward
Clear
Simple
Near

No need to over-complicate the day

I keep it simple and focus on what is right in front of me

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BEACONS

     I like the idea of "beacons of hope," and I believe such beacons spot our world. To me, they are country church steeples and shiny barn roofs in stretching afternoon light, little soft serve ice cream stands covered in Christmas lights, and groups of people laughing together free from self-consciousness; an old couple holding hands, bubbling brooks, and the first fresh fall air after summer humidity; traffic as it loosens and flows again after being jammed up, the smell of barbecues and woodsmoke, hot bread with soft butter, and a good long hug from someone I love.
     These things and others like them are beacons to me because they remind me of life's soft curves; that it is not all hard work and the achievement of goals. they are symbols of pleasure, relaxation, contemplation, and love. Seeing them evokes vacation mode in me, the recollection of spiritual satisfaction, and sensory delight.
     Maybe life is designed the way it is so that any time we stop being so busy that we cannot see anything, and actually take a look around, there are reminders... everywhere... of small pleasures and the very real satisfaction they have to offer us.

I look around today and identify the beacons of hope in the landscape of my travelings.

Monday, July 4, 2011

INDEPENDENCE DAY

      Independence Day: a time to consider freedom from oppression and a declaration of independence from those who claim they have the power to regulate our lives without understanding us at all, or our dreams or needs. What new nation in ourselves can we give birth to?
     To a greater or lesser extent, I believe we are all oppressed by fear, resentment, guilt, and shame. These tyrants tax us terribly. And we pay up and carry on, growing our debt and our tax base with ever more extreme forms of misbehavior and the induction of chaos in our lives.
     Let's pay attention and stand up. Let's learn to say no and take responsibility for the ways we give away our power. Let's take it back and live free, free from emotional debt and guilt and toxic relating. Let's write a manifesto in our hearts for faith and forgiveness and doing the next right thing. Let's stop trying to control the things and people we have no control over and live right-sized, and in peace.
     It's possible, but we must declare our desire for it, for freedom from fear, from oppression, from whoever and whatever is keeping us down. We need to bring awareness to the reality of our lives and rise up inside to own our independence. We're worth it, and freedom is worth it.

I deserve to live free and I'm willing to work for it. Whatever it takes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

THE POWER OF BREATH

     Most of us breathe no deeper than our chest. Our range of air is from our nipples to our noses, but there is a whole other depth available to us. A focused breath can turn our energy into a powerful laser-beam we can direct as we please. Like a gathering roll of thunder, we can build a breath within us and bring it to the outside as a slow and solid force creating a field around us that shows in our eyes, that says to others, "Stand back." Or, we can explode it forth as a burst of movement that increases our physical strength tenfold.
    Or a breath can be a letting go and release of tension. Letting air escape in a long "aaaaahhh" sound is seriously decompressing and a bit silly too, so it relaxes us and fills our spirits with a sense of play as well.
Breath is a wave that stimulates our spine and nerves. It is meant to travel from inhalation all the way down our vertebrae to the "sacred" sacral bone, and then travel back up. We rob ourselves of life force if we chop it and scatter it half-way down.
     I bring awareness to my breath today. I breathe deeply and fluidly. I let the breathing air travel the length of my spine both ways. I appreciate it and do not waste it in choppy hyperventilation.

I breathe fully today, with awareness and gratitude.

Friday, July 1, 2011

THE SIMPLICITY OF ENLIGHTENMENT

     I have always been rather academic and intellectual, but I am becoming less so in a healthy kind of way as I age. As a young adult, I was all about the complicated and the convoluted. I was fascinated by the obscure. The tormented artist appealed to me, and the druggie hippie, the idea of vision quests and peyote buttons. The more dark and twisted a situation or person was, the more significance it had in my world. I was on a quest for understanding, for intellectual understanding and some kind of resulting enlightenment. I was constantly searching for deep thought, profound meaning, and the real truth. As a result, I often missed what was right in front of me.
     A few years ago, sitting at a traffic light, I had a moment that was terrible and wonderful all at once. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps everything I had ever thought about enlightenment was all wrong. Maybe it wasn't something I could achieve at all, or capture by hunting like big game. I had always thought I had to travel an arduous and punishing road to earn my understanding, but perhaps not. Perhaps it was available to me anytime and anywhere. Perhaps it was less achievement and more willingness. I had spent years tunneling down rabbit holes when the answer I sought, the very thing, was possibly simple beyond reason. Perhaps it was and ever is right here and right now where I am, simple and accessible.
     I choose that view today and it brings me peace and the frequent experience of joy. Today, I understand enlightenment as absolute presence and pure awareness, without intellectualism or analysis or thought. My mind is quiet and my spirit and senses awake. I am alive, and open to the experience. I am filled and complete and want for nothing. I am ok, you are ok, and the world is ok. When the commentator of my mind speaks up again, enlightenment is lost, but I have touched it and felt it and I know I can return.

I catch myself when I have lost the moment in noisy mind projections and come back to the present where all is well.