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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GRUFF

     I have met a good man, and will marry him on Saturday. He does not push his will. He refuses to suffocate others, or manipulate them, or overpower them. He is kind and giving, and has a sense of humor. He does not take himself too seriously, but is ever-ready to protect what needs protecting. His spirit is gentle, but amped with power. He is intuitive, allowing, visionary. He is gifted artistically. He can fix anything, create anything, understand anything. He is interested in solving problems. He is low drama and non-combative. He is an excellent communicator. He knows how to calmly share what's going on inside of him, feelings and fears and hopes and insights, and listen to what's going on inside of me. He trusts me to address my "stuff," and does not interfere unless I ask for his help. He knows who he is. He is strong and fiercely loving, but he lets go, and then he lets go some more. He honors my spirit and my calling. He lets me be who I am and does not try to change me. 
    
I am blessed to know what it's like to love and be loved.
 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NEW SHOES

      I have never understood the excitement over a pair of new shoes. I prefer old shoes, and always have. New shoes are too clean, too stiff, too slippery on the soles, or pinchy around the toes. They are awkward. They rub in strange places. They call out their newness in every way.
     It's entirely different with a pair of shoes that are worn-in. They are comfortable, and inviting. They happily enclose my feet in softness and perfectly fit the shape of my foot. They welcome the curves of my heel and toes. But the trouble is that much as I love them and wear them, I wear them out, so new shoes have to happen. They are a necessity.
     And life can be just like shoes. It can be comfortably worn-in, or it can be worn-out. Life can be brand new and stiff and pinching. It can be slippery. We can feel the pinch of the new and long for the old and familiar, ever knowing that it has lost its sole, that it has holes in the toes and paper-thin leather. So in the end, the only thing to do with new shoes is to wear them like crazy so that they wear in as quickly as possible. And just so with life... just so.

I accept the stiffness and the pinching of new life just as I accept the stiffness and pinching of new shoes. It doesn't take long before the leather wears and the soles get scratchy and all is comfortably worn-in yet again.

Monday, August 29, 2011

AGELESS ENERGY

     I really do believe that age is a state of mind as much as it is a state of the body. I know six-year-olds that are like old women, and old women that are like little girls. The adult-like children are serious and well behaved. They are scornful of laughter and silliness, which is something that the child-like adults embrace. Youthful old people have a sparkle in their eyes and a playful nature. They have a sense of fun!
     I'm not sure where or how we learn that growing older in years has to mean loss of mobility and spontaneity and common sense, and ultimately, loss of self-sufficiency. Whose rule is that, and do we have to buy into it? Why can't we be as vibrant energetically at eighty as we were at eight? Surely our spirit has the ability to be just as lively.
     Let's not be old before our time. Let's not become musty and inflexible in our thinking or our actions. Let's move and stretch and dance. Let's walk and read and enjoy life's simple pleasures, unafraid of "getting old" and unafraid of death. Let's lovingly accept our changing bodies and become ever-better caretakers of our muscles and our bones and our skin and teeth and hair. Let's remember the importance of play and play regularly. Lets have fun with our time and our changing energy. Let's celebrate life everyday that we live, and feel good and youthful and forever full of promise and hope.

I enjoy my vitality today. I am playful and curious and bright and alive. I release musty, old-age thinking and celebrate my lively spirit.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BEING HUMAN

         We are as different as our fingerprints. It seems as if there should be one path of rightness, but the truth is that there are many. There are multiple solutions to the same problem, multiple visions of the same future, multiple approaches to life, to love, to health, to fitness, to the achievement of dreams, and the experience of life's sadness, and each of them is rich with our personal creativity. We see things one way, our way, and we are blind to other perspectives. We need interaction with each other to expand our view.
     I work with people everyday, and it delights me to see the different ways that we are strong and weak and flexible and tight, to explore the magical properties of movement and range of motion and grace. And it opens my heart to hear of everyone's challenges and joys and fears and hopes: spouses, children, parents, sickness, body image, food compulsions, bad habits, good habits, insecurities, happiness, unexpected flexibility, and the evolution of self acceptance.
     We are each on an individual journey, but we travel together down the human path. It takes the company of another to point things out to us that we cannot see. It's a give and take process, a sharing adventure. It's unhealthy and uncomfortable to live in isolation. Solitude is one thing, but the complete avoidance of human interaction robs us of the richness of living fully. We need each other. We need each other for comfort and understanding and lessons and solutions, for insight and inspiration, for encouragement and loving kindness. We need each other for conversation, to test our limits and set boundaries, to realize how we are separate and how we are forever the same.
     This human walk is fascinating because of the unique perspective we each bring to it. It is endlessly creative and ever new. If we feel dull, we can strike up a conversation with someone we don't know, or don't know well. Asking questions and listening to the life adventures of another takes us out of our own small world and opens us to greater horizons. Let's reach out today. Let's enrich our lives with fresh perspective.

I am a grateful member of the human race. I give and take. I share my perspective and am open to the perspective of others. I grow and learn and experience joy from interacting with others.

Friday, August 26, 2011

THE LIMITATION OF LABELS

     We like identifying labels, and use them frequently. He's shy, and she's pretty but brainless, and that one there is insensitive, and the other one there is a loser. We are dyslexic and A.D.D. and single and divorced and depressed and Pollyanna. And with all of the labels that we slap on everyone else, and on all of our various life experiences as well: good, bad, lucky, tragic, easy, difficult, I think it's valid to consider how we might be labeling ourselves.
      For many years, I was a single mother of twins, but no longer. Soon I will be newlywed again. I am a personal trainer, an optimist, a love junkie, and a closet hippie. I am all of these things, but none of them really defines me. I am not always optimistic. I am not always anything.
     Let's bring awareness to the limitations of our labels. They cannot accommodate life's variables, and the variability of our own beings. Let's avoid the use of words like "always" and "never," and judgments that close doors on the possibility of change. Instead of declaring someone a "jerk," perhaps we can consider that he seems unhappy, or that maybe it's a trigger inside of us that makes us react the way we do; that maybe there's more to what we see than we can possibly understand. Let's cut the world a break and allow for the possibility that we don't ever know the whole story, even with ourselves. How we behave and the ailments we suffer from are circumstances of our lives, but they are not who we are. We can have issues and struggles. We need not be them. We are bigger and greater and full of more variation and changeability than any label can possibly encompass.

I will refrain from labeling myself today. I will refrain from labeling those I encounter, and the circumstances of my life. I will allow for all possibility. I accept that I have a limited view of things, and there's likely more to it than I can understand.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CHANGING LIGHT

     I am happily aware of the changing seasonal light and the morning chill of coming fall. As a child, I was impatient with the heat and humidity of summer. Being too hot made me mad. But I have come to love the warmth of summer mornings and evenings, and the overpowering heat of noontime. I have come to understand how quickly the summer passes. It is here and gone like a flash. I appreciate it now in a way I couldn't when I was younger and so easily grouchy with all of the things beyond my control that didn't suit me just right. So these days, I feel a loss and sadness for the summer passing away yet again.
     But I have always loved the fall, and it brings its own kind of blessing. It feels like renewal to me, and absolute freshness. It is crisp and breezy and full of delicious smells and beautiful colors. It fills me with hope and possibility, maybe even moreso than the spring. The spring feels full of purpose, and work in the garden, and lawn cutting. The spring is all about gearing up. But the fall is easy and gentle and settling in. It's slowing down and the restoration of routine. So I welcome it gladly. I enjoy the changing slant of the sun and elongated shadows.
     But it's not here yet, not fully. Fall is coming, but it's not quite come, and the summer ending, but not quite ended. I want to enjoy this transitional time. I want to enjoy the summer that remains and the touches of stretching fall light that signify what's to come.

I accept where I am today. I am constantly in flux like the sun and the seasons, and enjoy the beauty and rhythm of the ever changing light.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

EMOTIONAL PARADOX

     It's an interesting dynamic the way we can feel multiple emotions at one time: excitement and dread, fear and hope, love and hostility, courage and trepidation. Paradox seems as much a part of life as the changability of the weather. It's yin and yang, a little of this and a little of that, male and female, empty and full, dark and light. And I am all of those things too, inside of me, and out. I am enormous and tiny. I can't wait and I'm terrified to begin. I just ate and I am still hungry. I am alone and I am never alone.
     I guess it's just right the way it is. If I could only feel one thing at a time, my experience would be bland, much like a baked potato before the butter and salt and sour cream, or a soup with no seasoning at all. The multiplicity of emotion is like the pepper of life, the spice rack of our daily fare. So I'll take it, and enjoy the variety of each day's flavor. I have some peace, and a bit of anxiety, vibrant energy and bone tired exhaustion, tenderness and explosive strength. I have joy and calm and stress and frustration. I have happiness and fear. I have all of life's grand emotions, and the blessing each day to be able to feel them all.

I welcome the experience of my emotions today. I witness their variety, and the rise and fall of each one. I am grateful to be alive and to feel the range of feelings that I feel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CATASTROPHIC THINKING

     I sometimes engage in catastrophic thinking. With limited information, I imagine horrific future scenarios. I make assumptions that something that feels scary to me because it is unknown actually is scary... when it may not be. In my life, I have learned that what seems like the end of everything and total darkness can actually turn out to be a beginning instead, and a gift, a "blessing in disguise." But even knowing that, my faith so easily falters, especially when faced with something big and looming, something I cannot wrap my head around, that does not make sense to me in my right-side-up mind. I am afraid of things like mental illness and cancer and radiation and accidental death, things like cruelty and vengeance and abuse.
     Because I cannot understand these things, I do not trust them, and feel sure, when I encounter them, that they are come to take me down, or to take down the people I love. And some may fall, it's true, but in the great big God-scope of things, I trust there's reason to it, and lessons, and maybe even beauty. Nothing happens in isolation. Like the rippling circles from a stone thrown in a lake, each happening instigates other happenings.
     I don't like the idea of suffering, and I definitely don't like the idea of any of the people I love having to suffer. My catastrophic thoughts rush to the bigness of what's going on and my being unable to stop it moving, and the suffering that is bound to follow, and my wanting to avoid suffering at all costs. But so much of my own growth in life has come through difficulties and hardship, through facing the big deals and making changes, or accepting whatever the truth may be that I cannot change at all, and finding a way to make peace with it. So, in my own experience, bad things are not necessarily bad, and appearances can deceive me.
     It's not my job to know what's what in every situation, but only to trust in something bigger than me that does know, and wants growth for us all, even through hardship, and in spite of my petty objections. My choice, as always, is mine. I can surrender to believing in goodness and all-is-well-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things thinking, or I can be a victim, and survive miserably, jockeying for position and going forever catastrophic in my head.

I choose faith over fear today, and say no to catastrophic thinking. I trust in the positive growth that comes through struggle and hardship.

Monday, August 22, 2011

WHAT WE WANT

     The other day, in Target, I witnessed a young girl having a complete emotional breakdown over wanting something that her mother would not let her have. She was sobbing and squealing and whimpering, explosively raising her voice, and then breaking down into gasping breaths. Her mother, for the most part, was completely ignoring her. And the tantrum did not stop, but continued on and on and on. Her pain and misery echoed throughout the store- tough on the nerves of other shoppers.
     I watched her closely in the check-out line. Her face was red and blotchy. She was hanging on her mother and repeating over and over through her desperate sobs, "But I really want it, Mommy. I really want it." As if that should be enough. As if her wanting it badly enough, and expressing her desire tirelessly enough, complete with whining, moaning, I'm-going-to-die-if-I-don't-get-it kind of desperation, must surely guarantee her success in getting it. But her mother remained unmoved, and I'm sure the little girl managed to survive the balance of the day in spite of her terrible disappointment.
     If we're honest, don't we all get that way? We may not sob and supplicate ourselves, but internally we are whining and moaning no less than the little girl. Why can't we have it, whatever "it" is? We want it so badly. Poor us. Life is so unfair.
     And yet, we often want things, and even succeed in getting them, that turn out to be bad for us, and bring us nothing but grief. If we allow life to provide for us instead of thinking we have to figure it all out and know what we want, and grab for it when we see it, and fight for it, and moan and complain if we don't get instantaneous satisfaction, we might experience more peace.
     My life goes better when I stop demanding that it be a certain way and enjoy it for being whatever it is. When I try to manufacture outcomes, I set myself up for disappointment. If I let go of the reins a bit, each day holds its perfect mix of things I want and things I need. It only fails me if I have something else in mind.

I want what I have. I refrain from childish tantrums and internal whining. I am grateful for the unexpected blessings that come my way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

GROWING UP

     At times, I have discovered in myself a tendency to speak to my children in ways that I would never speak to anyone else. I make demands. I tell them what they are going to do and how it's going to be, and when I do this, they bristle, and resist me, and we find ourselves in stand-off mode.
     It shows a lack of respect on my part. Instead of asking for their input, or asking their permission, I discount their feelings and make some absolute statement about my expectations. That may fly when they are age five, or even nine, but it no longer has an appropriate application at age sixteen.
     So I need to adapt. I want them to be adults and I give them adult responsibilities, but I still want to treat them as "children," and they are willing to accept that role when it's convenient for them. But they can't have it both ways, and neither can I. They cannot flip-flop between being dependent children and independent adults indefinitely. It's time to step up. It's time to leave the shores of childhood behind. They need to grow up and so do I.
    
I let my young adult children be young adults. I treat them with courtesy and respect, and stop making demands and telling them what to do as if they were still small children.

Friday, August 19, 2011

INNOCENCE LOST

     It's an error on our parts to think we can get away with anything, that we can sneak something past ourselves or anyone else. There's no escaping the dues for our choices. They have to be paid. And perhaps the worst kind of betrayal is the one where we betray our own value system, where we use our logic to justify something that we know in our hearts is wrong. Even if no one "catches" us, per se, we have to live with our own feeling of internal seediness.
     It's been many years since I've felt that feeling, but I have teenagers, and they must learn their lessons the same way I had to learn mine. As a mother I can feel the internal betrayal feeling of my children as if it were my own. And my heart aches for them. I wish I could wash clean their decision making slates and take away from them that sense of, "Oh, no... what have I done?" and the oozy feeling of their consequences in play. But I cannot. I must let go, and let them choose, and let them choose poorly, so that they can feel their own sorrow and shame. It's greater punishment than any I could dole out. I can love and support them through it. I can listen and relate. I can hope that next time they remember how they suffered and make a better choice. But I cannot keep their dues at bay.
     It happens to us all sooner or later. Our innocence is lost. The pricetag is pain and suffering, but as with all things, there is reward as well. There is wisdom and more peaceful living if we learn and understand, if we pay attention, and connect the dots. We can choose better. We can feel satisfaction in our decisions and pride in our integrity. We can honor our values and the lives we live, and we needn't ever betray ourselves again.

I pay attention to my moral compass and live in integrity with myself. I quiet the voices inside my head that would justify misbehavior, and I choose to do the next right thing instead.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

THE POWER OF CONSISTENCY

     Consistency pays off. If I do something beneficial once in a blue moon, I am unlikely to experience any particular positive result. If I perform the same activity weekly, I might get a sense of limited progress. Twice a week would produce more prodigious results, and three times a week even more so. And if I were to do the same beneficial action every day, or even five times a week, for a year, my life could change profoundly in the direction of health and well-being.
     We tend to be scattered both in our thinking and in our approach to action. We dabble and play around. We try something, feel better, and then promptly stop. Or we look to others to motivate us, and if the other isn't there, we fall off course and lack the self-motivation to continuously propel our own journey.
     But when we are steady and consistent, when we make it habitual to do the things that make us feel good, then we feel good! Imagine that. We can experience positive results in our lives if we are willing to do a little bit of daily work for them. Let's step up. We're worth the effort.

I commit to consistency. I commit to positive daily habits so that I might experience positive daily results. I want to feel good, and I'm willing to make an effort every day in that direction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GRATEFUL FOR THE BASICS

     Sometimes I forget to be grateful for my most basic freedoms. When my twins were newborn, the apartment where we lived was three floors up. To go to the grocery store, I had to carry two car seats, a diaper bag, my purse, and any other additional outing requirements to the car, load everybody in with seat belts, and then keep them both reasonably entertained and distracted on the ride there. When I arrived, often I would sit for a few minutes in the parking lot contemplating what lay ahead of me: two carts, one for food, one for babies, what I might need to keep their hands busy, Nick's blankie, pacifiers, the list... And as I sat there, cars would whip into and out of parking spots all around me. Single individuals would come and go with ease and speed, utterly unencumbered. I remember sitting there watching them and thinking that they had no idea how easy they had it. I would take a deep breath, open my car door, and begin the unloading of the car.
     And a year ago, I had abdominal surgery, and discovered how challenging it could be to stand upright, and to walk without pain and stiffness and pulling. I had to move with enormous care and consciousness. I found myself noticing elderly people, and some who were disabled, moving at the same speed at which I was moving, slowly, and with care. I realized that most of my life, I moved too fast to even have an awareness of all of this slow moving activity. As a rule, I breezed past it, and around it.
     So it's important for me to remember, and to be grateful, that I can move as easily as I do these days, that I can swiftly get into and out of stores, that my children are healthy and grown up into young adults, that I can breathe without pain, that I have a car that runs and is reliable, a wonderful house in which to live, and satisfying relationships. And that's a mere beginning. Once I start my list, the gratitudes pour forth.
     I have heard people say, and really believe, that they have nothing to be grateful for, which is nonsense. Let's begin with the basics. We have functioning bodies that move us around. We have intelligence and creativity. We have hope and possibility and a world full of natural beauty. We have clothes and food and cars and houses. We have life and heart and dreams . We have the ability to love and be loved. We are each of us blessed beyond measure, if we can only see it, every moment of every day.

I am grateful today. I am grateful for the basics, and for all of the extras. I am deeply blessed, and full of thanksgiving.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BATTLEGROUND CURIOSITY

     When I am first introduced to a new task, I have a tendency to go at it a bit vigorously. I am eager, and want to be successful, so I throw my gusto at it, and all of my energy and enthusiasm. I exhaust myself in too much flamboyant effort. In this first shot, I quickly burn myself out and develop a slight distaste for whatever it is I'm in the process of learning. I retreat and regroup.
     When I approach it for the second time, and for each successive time, I become ever more steady. I develop a rhythm, and relax some as the movements and approach become more familiar. It feels less painful in this phase, and more sustainable. I develop a kind of affection for what I am doing. My instinct to battle and confront at first contact, to force and urge and push my will, is self-protective maybe, and has its purpose, but I cannot get comfortable until I let the process work me instead of the other way around. And by then it's an old friend.
     Everything in my life seems to unfold this way, as a face-off and confrontation first, and then a struggle, and finally, a settling in. I'd like to spare myself the initial fighting if at all possible. Maybe if I approach new things with curiosity instead of a desire to conquer. Curiosity feels gentle and friendly- a quiet exploration instead of a challenge and a compulsion to take down. I prefer the energy of curiosity. At least, I prefer the idea of it. I invite curiosity into my life. I welcome it fully. I am willing to pause and look instead of jumping in with both feet. I am willing to consider options and possibilities beyond my instinctual, historical, first blast of attack.

Let me be curious today, and thoughtful. Let me be free from all battling confrontation, with people, with projects, and with anything new that I may face.

Monday, August 15, 2011

THE PULL OF MOODS

       I'm not sure about the truth of the saying "opposites attract"- maybe sometimes. More often, it seems as if we attract exactly what we are. Grouchy begets grouchy. Selfishness begets selfishness. Consideration begets consideration, and on and on. At home, when our teenagres sit to eat, they help themselves to the biggest and the best of everything. Their approach is to grab for all they can before anyone else does. This attitude makes for a sense of urgency among everyone. We all end up feeling like there is not enough, like we are missing out, or getting less.
     Every behavior has a pull to it. If someone is feeling down and dark and encounters someone up and full of light, usually one of two things will happen. The down individual is lifted up, or the up individual is brought down. Gandhi's quote that we have to be the change we want to see in the world is apt here, in a daily kind of context. If we are miserable, we will bring out the miserable in others. If we want happiness, we need to be happy and spread happy. We can be aware of what pulls at us and wants to drag us down. We can smile at it, or walk away if we cannot affect a change. As with most things, it all comes to awareness in the end.
     I will be aware of where I am emotionally and what I am sending out, as well as what's coming in and influencing me. I may have more control than I think I do. Perhaps I don't have to respond to selfishness by being selfish myself, or becoming upset or irritated if the person I am dealing with is behaving that way. Perhaps I can face it all with a smile. Perhaps I can respond to most things with love and kindness, in spite of whatever darkness is exerting its pull.

I will be aware of what or who wants to pull me in some way that I don't want to go, and I will be thoughtful and kind no matter what. I will be what I want to experience.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

LOOSE ENDS

     It's a frequent happening in my life these days that I set out upon a task expecting it to take a certain amount of time, and it ends up being more complicated than I had anticipated. Like the handkerchiefs that come out of a clown's pocket, the seemingly simple job has layers of requirements and one part of it cannot be done until something else has been done first, such that lots of unexpected work gets accomplished, but the task itself can't wrap up the way I like it to, in short, orderly fashion. So something I think I can churn out in an hour ends up stretching across two or even three afternoons.
     Life is like that all over the place I guess, one thing being connected to another. It's tougher than it seems to separate one thing out and have it exist in isolation. All is process and slow development, and very few things can every really be checked off a list. One phase of something becomes complete, only for the next phase. Even with something as simple as groceries. It's a rare happening that I don't finish putting away everything I have just bought only to discover that I need additional things already... I should have picked up more butter too, or paper towels, or how did we get so low on milk? Or I thought we had more laundry detergent than that. I make lists. I am almost universally sure that I have marked down everything we need, and inevitably, there remains the thing that I have somehow missed.
     Rather than be frustrated with the unending life stuff that needs to be done, I can be amused by it. I can accept that "loose ends left hanging" are appropriate and normal. And I can accept as well that little bits of progress and accomplishment do add up over time to create vast change. I'm in the middle of it all, and from there, I have limited perspective. I can't see the next step of a process until I have taken the first step. I accept that though I might want a task to take one step only, or perhaps two, it may require ten or five or twenty. I can roll with it. I can smile and enjoy the crazy nature of the unseen processes of life, and trust that it's all unfolding just as it should, and that there is enjoyment to be found in each phase.

With good nature and a positive attitude I accept the way things unfold, not in one big sweep of clarity and accomplishment as I might prefer, but bit by bit and step by step, and right on time, and just as it's all supposed to be.

Friday, August 12, 2011

THE GIFT OF GIVING

     Many years ago I was struggling to make ends meet as a single mother, tough on the outside, and isolated from support and love on the inside. One day, on a recommendation from a friend, I took a fairly advanced yoga class. Though I was in excellent physical shape, it was challenging for me beyond reason, and I felt embarrassed. I had on the wrong clothes and my body wasn't flexible the way everyone else's was. At the end of the class, we all lay quietly in the dark room. Even there, I felt self-conscious and restless. I wanted to get up and get out. Unexpectedly, the teacher came up and covered me gently with a blanket. She snugged it under my chin and made sure my shoulders were covered. I was surprised by the loving tenderness of her act, and deeply moved by it. I was not used to being at the receiving end of such kindness, and I clearly remember the gratitude I felt. It made me cry on the way home, good tears, tears of having been blessed.
    I have slowly learned to receive tenderness and consideration from the man I love, but when it comes from other sources, I am generally startled and filled with a kind of sweet sadness. I don't expect it, and don't feel I deserve it, but here it is, like the yoga teacher all those years ago, and like my friend who has taken such care making CDs of music for my wedding. I feel the full effect of the gift, and of her kindness. It overwhelms me. That simply being me and simply being human allows me to receive such blessing and such joy opens my heart to love a little wider still.
     And I wonder, if  these acts of kindness, and others like them, have touched me so deeply, then perhaps my being kind and thoughtful to others gives them the same gift of gratitude and happiness. We can never know how our being loving and considerate can affect the quality of someone's day. It's a great reminder to me, and a powerful inspiration. Loving spreads love, and kindness spreads kindness. It feels good both ways and adds unconditional joy to the lives we live.

I give a little extra today on every level. I give a little extra time and consideration. I give a little extra thought to what I do and how I act. Never knowing the exact ways others may suffer, I am a little extra kind today, and everywhere I turn, I give a little extra love.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WAITING WITH ACCEPTANCE

     The pleasure of our wait is all about the attitude. We can wait impatiently and with irritation and tension filling our every nerve, or we can wait with curiosity. We can wait nervously and sweat from our palms, or we can wait without any sense of urgency whatsoever. We can fill the wait time with little doings, or no doings at all. We can clean out the car in a traffic jam and catch up on tabloid news in a grocery store line, or we can simply sit, or stand, and watch and wait, calmly, and with serenity.
     If we are impatient, what's our rush? Why are we full of discomfort and angst? Maybe we're hungry. Maybe we're tired of sitting, but we are where we are, and usually there's very little we can do about being there... if we are waiting... except for storming out in a big huff and not getting through something we need to get through. The truth in its most basic form is that when we are unhappy while we wait it is because we don't want to be where we are. We are resisting what is. It's the resistance that creates our tension, not the waiting itself.
     Acceptance is the answer. Stopping fighting whatever situation we find ourselves in will give us instantaneous peace. This is true with lines, with people, with ourselves, and with life. It's not the situation that's the problem. It's our not liking it. It's our wanting it to be other than it is. If we calm down and take a look around, and become quiet in our minds and listen, there is a certain peace always available to us, and it comes from inside. So whatever we are stuck in may not be what we would choose, but it has chosen us. We can resist it and be miserable and tense and angry and unkind, or we can go with the flow and trust that whatever it is will fill its time and place and then will pass away. It's our choice how we handle it. It's our internal state that pays the price if we resist.

I choose a patient, playful attitude for the day's situations. If I find myself getting tense and edgy, I take a deep breath and stop fighting what's happening. I look around and let it all be just what it is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MONEY MATTERS

     If I sit and contemplate the reality of money, of coins and bills and stock portfolios, it seems more conceptual and symbolic than it does real. It's paper and plastic and numbers on a screen, and yet, it determines so much in our lives, both how we see ourselves, and how we experience our world. Money largely determines how others perceive us as well, and the choices we are able to make. It dictates the things we do, and the things we purchase. But we never even put our hands on most of the money that we make and spend. It's all representative, the moving of numbers on a page from one place to the next... all controlled by the great, giant tracking system.
     And this whole system has enormous power to upset our equilibrium and potentially fill us with more fear on a daily basis than anything else in our lives, except perhaps the fear of death. If we have money, we are afraid others will try to take it from us, or that we will lose it in some way and become impoverished, that the stock market will crash, that our investments will not pay off, that we will not be able to afford the taxes on our second and third houses. And if we don't have money, we fear for our livlihood. We envision some kind of ultimate punishment if we cannot pay our bills. From a practical standpoint, we worry that we may lose our house or not be able to eat, and from a more psychological perspective it feels like we might cease to have any value whatsoever, or else struggle forever in a state of dirt and misery.
     But it's all fantasy! Our worth is no more determined by the balance in our bank account than it is by the opinions of other people. Our quality is in our character. We can be poor and noble. We can live a simple and clean life with very little income. We can be kind and express love even if we don't have fancy cars or huge savings accounts. And the reverse is true as well. We can be rich and noble, or rich and miserable. It is really not money that determines the quality of our lives at all, but the quality of our lives that determines the worth of our money.

I have given too much power to money in my life. I let go of my attachment to fears of economnic insecurity. I realize that I can be happy and healthy whether I have millions or I live hand to mouth. It's in my attitude and my character that my real worth is determined.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BOUNDARIES FOR THE UNREASONABLE

     I want to put my logic and reason all over the behavior of other people so that I can understand what motivates them and why they make the choices that they make. I also have a desire to be helpful if at all possible, to point out what seems obvious to me such that their suffering may diminish, such that unnecessary harm may be eliminated, and wrongful views corrected. And sometimes, reasonable communication is just the thing to clear understanding and get everyone on the same page, but sometimes it is not. It takes two reasonable people to reach reasonable conclusions.
     But there is a whole other category of people in the world- among them the mentally ill, the emotionally sick, and the active addicts and alcoholics. With these folks, no reasoning is possible. They are driven by internal demons so deep and convoluted that reality as the rest of us experience it is warped for them, and we are the ones who seem wildly unreasonable and impractical to them. And it is not their fault that they are sick, or even that they perpetrate the harm they perpetrate, but their behavior takes its toll nonetheless, whether they mean for it to or not.
     A handful of these individuals have always populated my world, and perhaps they populate everyone's world in some way or other. The question is, how do I have compassion and protect myself at the same time, without guilt, and without sorrowful consequence? I think the answer lies in establishment and maintenance of boundaries, and in the honest acceptance of the sickness with which I am dealing. Sick individuals abound. They hold jobs and have families, and may seem normal in the right setting and the right context, but they are not.
     I used to believe that I could heal them with my love. I want to make their darkness and blindness and sickness go away, but when I have tried, instead of healing them, I have become sick myself. Some who are sick may be healed, but it is certainly not for me to dictate who or how. That is God's territory. And I have come to learn that some individuals are beyond help. This fact I find extremely difficult to accept.
     But if I do not accept it and set my boundaries, these sick individuals will traipse all over me and toxify my days. I have to surrender them to whatever God looks after them, and keep my interactions and dependencies on those who have proven reasonable in my life, and those who help me to be healthy. I don't want to be a victim or a statistic. I don't want to be abused or unwell.

I protect my sanity and surround myself with those individuals who can be reasonable. With the rest, I set boundaries, and remain vigilant and on guard.

Monday, August 8, 2011

MARTYRDOM COME AND GONE

     Every so often, when I get worn down by a little too much life happening and all of the things I feel I have to do, I get into martyr mode. It's not a happy place, or productive, or particularly useful in any way whatsoever. It's quite dark, and full of budding resentments and hair trigger irritability. I feel myself there and resist it... don't want to be where I am and feel how I feel, but I'm unsure how to pull myself out of the martyrdom muck.
     I think the truth is that it's part of my personal alarm system... a code red that requires some attention. I'm burned out, and dried up, and it's my responsibility to recognize that and take the necessary steps to replenish my spirit. For me, what's usually required is some solitude. I get over full with people and all the love and care I have for them pouring out of me and their needs and wants and desires and ways I can be helpful, and I put my own needs and wants back and away, out of sight, to be dealt with later. When my martyr mode comes along with all of its internal angst, later has arrived. I must consider what I need, or I will spill my punishing frustrations all over the world.
     The challenge for me is taking the time I need without guilt, when there is work to be done and things to accomplish, when anyone I love might be struggling and need me to cheer them up, or listen, or encourage, or inspire. But I can't help with a dried up spirit, not really. I can only drive myself further into depletion, and then I'm no good to anyone.
     So it's ok to take my time. It's ok to need solitude and relish it. It's ok to love people, and its ok to need time and space away from them. If I honor my need, then I come back refreshed and rejuvenated, and we are all better for it. The martyr in me is quieted and I am restored to delight in my work and pleasure in my life.

I take the time I need, when I need it, for my soul's restoration. I take it without guilt and without apology.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

OBSESSIONS

     Obsession with anything creates a problem in our lives because it weights us too heavily to one psychological spot. Obsession with being too healthy makes us unhealthy in a way. We become inflexible with what we allow ourselves and easily judgmental of those who care less than we do about what they eat and how they live. Being obsessed with being healthy and avoiding sickness at all costs may even draw sickness to us.
     Obsession with being thin and body perfect leads to feelings of inadequacy if we cannot physically get to wherever we think we should be. Four pounds the wrong way on the scale can send us into self-hatred and feelings of worthlessness. Obsessiveness in intimate relationships generates clingyness and need in one partner and feelings of suffocation in the other. Obsession with being in control leaves us angry and bitter because there is so much that is out of our power range, no matter how hard we push.
     There's no payoff for obsession that makes it worth it. Being consumed with one thing or another to the exclusion of all else makes us old before our time, and closed to broader perspectives. It's an out-of-whack way to live: no balance and no internal peace. I choose fluidity and ease. I prefer life as a loose fitting garment rather than a straight jacket. I've been wrapped too tight for most of my life.

I let go today and free myself from all of my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical obsessions and addictions. I catch myself hooked in to circuitous thinking and hamster wheel action and stop. I return to right here and right now and give myself a break.

Friday, August 5, 2011

TRUSTING THE BODY

     I've observed that many people seem to experience fear around the functioning of their bodies. Fear is fixating. It locks us into a position of inflexibility and negative expectation. We become sure of the worst that could happen, and we become over dramatic. There is a sense that our physicality will somehow turn against us, that it cannot support activity at all, or any kind of raised intensity; that it will kill us or cause us pain, that it is safer and happier sedentary and still, and that healing comes through lack of use.
     In almost all cases, I disagree. I believe in therapeutic movement. I believe in the right kind of movement for each body, each imbalance, each structural deficiency, and each injury. I have fears surrounding economic insecurity, the happiness of my children, and the active and potential behaviors of other people, but the body is one thing I do trust. I trust it knows just what it needs, and speaks to us if we will only listen. I believe it has an innate ability and drive to heal itself, and that it will continue on vibrantly for a long time in spite of our neglecting and abusing it, but that ultimately it cannot thrive without care and appreciation. And that includes the way we think about it, and our level of trust in its strength and stamina.
     Constantly molly-coddling our daily physical conditions and over-blowing them makes for a body much like an overprotected child. Let's allow our bodies to romp and be playful and find their movement. Let's not limit them with the fear in our minds, else they will be small and wilted and lack courage. They will be ever-unsure and have no knowledge of their very real potential. Let's trust our bodies and work with them to achieve great vitality and great energy and strength beyond our wildest dreams.

I treat my body with appreciation and respect. I trust it to be capable and strong and self-healing, and to let me know what it wants and needs. I pay attention to what it has to tell me. I let it move and stretch and express itself.

 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

SAVOR THE DAY

    Being part-way through a process frustrates me on some level. I like to gulp my problems like a dog gulps his dinner, as if I could get to the bottom of the bowl. But when one issue is resolved, immediately on its tail comes the next one, and the next.   
     I want to find a way to relax throughout the process. I want to lose my urgent have-to-get-it-done right now right-this-minute edge. I want to enjoy my efforts while they happen instead of looking at some distant point on the horizon and believing that there, at that special place in the future when all the work is done, I will be whole and happy and completely fulfilled, and I can relax at last. Only trouble is, when the work is done, so is the journey. The journey is the work. When it's over, so am I.
    
I slow down today and remember to savor my life.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE POWER WITHIN

     The ability to pick oneself up by the bootstraps, to cultivate drive and purpose deep within and express it in productive ways externally is an art form no less than sculpture or painting. We are all capable of it, whether we know it or not. It's the creative fountain, the idea when all ideas have run out, and the enthusiasm beyond exhaustion.
     Let's dig deep today and wake up to our own inner power. Let's recognize that we carry our motivation within us, and that we can breathe it up at any time. We can accomplish great things. We can face what comes with assurance, knowing that we have a fire inside of us that's limitless. It's ours to ignore or explore as we choose.

I breathe deeply and draw upon my inner power.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SPREADING CARE

     It's a worthwhile practice to leave things better than we find them, and maybe to leave people better than we find them as well. Our presence can be a drain and a destruction on others and on the environment, or it can be like a gentle soaking rain, full of blessings and relief.
     It's easy to be hard on things, to break them and make a mess, to be careless and hap-hazard with the way we use them; to leave them lying around or not properly cleaned after use. And it's easy to be hard on people in somewhat the same way, careless and hap-hazard with our emotional output and consideration. It takes attention to be thoughtful, and I believe it requires a fair amount of self-respect as well. How can I possibly treat people and things with kindness and respect if I have none for myself?
     I will take good care of myself today, first and foremost, and then I can be caring with all of the individuals I encounter, and all of the things I encounter as well. I will leave every aspect of the environment I occupy today better than when I found it.

I am careful not to be a destructive force in the world. I commit to being thoughtful and considerate. Things and people are better for my encountering them, not worse.

Monday, August 1, 2011

DELIGHTFULLY ROUTINE

     I love my routines. I look forward to the predictability of the order in which I choose to do things, and the process I have developed over time for the inclusion of all of my daily duties. Routines stabilize me and ground me.
     And whenever something new comes along, it doesn't take long before routines are created around the newness, to accommodate it and hold it down in my world like tent stakes. I discover something I like and make the decision to add it to my daily and weekly experience. It quickly becomes an old friend, come to comfort me, and nurture my soul like the hug of a person I love.
     In short breaks between clients, I walk down a long bank of beautiful trees and delight in the ways they change throughout the seasons and in different shades of daylight, and the way they never change at the same time; how they stand like sentinels along the path. I do specific stretches and exercises every morning to loosen and limber my body, and different ones at night. My body looks forward to them and so does my mind. I say prayers. I pack my breakfast and lunch every night for the next day at work. I curl up in a certain way when I am ready for the night's long and healing sleep.When there is no structure, I create one like scaffolding; a place to hang my security and steady my boots.
     My gratitude today is for routines and for sensible ways of getting things done, for the comfort of repetition, the easy accommodation of ever changing demands, and the supportive structure of the daily maintenance of my health, my spirit, and my whole life.

I appreciate the routines I have created to make the daily activities of life as simple and enjoyable as possible. I appreciate all the ways they stay the same over time, and all the ways they change.