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Friday, September 30, 2011

THE REAL LOVE ADVANTAGE

    It's an easy thing for those I love to take advantage of me, and sometimes, some of them do, and I let them. And sometimes, I set boundaries, and do not let them. But the purest love I know is the one that has the ready power to take advantage of me, and chooses not to. It is the most surprising thing; to be respected and considered, to be protected from the "taking" principle entirely and given to instead. And not by the induction of guilt or payback, but just because.
     What a gift and a blessing! I am startled by it every time. It's the real deal. It's trust and generosity and the antithesis of self-seeking. And the rewards of such love and such loving rain gently down upon the lover and the beloved both, and grow appreciation and grace, and ever more kindness. It's the snowball effect of love. It's simple and hugely rewarding from every angle, yet somehow counter-intuitive for most of us. Our egos grab at life and want to "get" things, as much as possible, hoarding for the comfort of self.
     But just for today, lets give to others and not worry about what we get or don't get. Let's give without attachment or agenda. Let's give because it feels good, and because we can. Let's leave our egos at home as we go out into the world, and smile broadly from our open hearts.

I consider the feelings of others. I am not worried about what I need to get, but concern myself with how I can be most giving. It feels good, and is its own reward.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DRESSING WITH DELIGHT

     There is something magnificent about little girls when they wear whatever pleases them most out into the world. They think nothing of flaunting a pink tutu, or a fancy dress with petticoats, or a princess costume with feathered slippers or sparkley red Mary Jane's. They wear these things, and enjoy the attention they get, and feel beautiful within themselves, and not at all self-conscious.
     We become self-conscious as we age. We learn to want to be dressed approprietely. We want to look thin. We become self-critical of what we wear and how it fits us. We choose our clothes differently when we are forty than when we are four, and the feelings we have wearing them change too. As adults, even if we find something that makes us feel beautiful or particularly handsome, we are always a bit unsure. It is not enough that we love it ourselves. We care what other people think, and it has to pass their test too.
     Let's take a lesson from little girls, and little boys too, in their superman capes and army fatigues. Let's adorn ourselves in the way that pleases us most. Let's decorate our bodies with delight. Let's feel our beauty. Let's know it. Let's be it! Beauty, it seems to me, is how we wear ourselves more than what we look like. Let's wear ourselves with confidence. Let's enjoy our bodies and faces and the wonder of our physical being-ness. Let's drop our self-consciousness and dress ourselves with joy!

I feel the beauty of being who I am, exactly as I am- imperfect physically, but perfectly me!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FORGIVENESS AS A DAILY PRACTICE

     Sometimes we have to forgive others just for being who they are, and forgive ourselves the same- for being impulsive and blurting out words that would have been better left unsaid, for being confused and not understanding, for being mis-emotional, for being afraid and acting out. Our journey is ripe with opportunities for ill-timed responses and bad ideas, for mis-interpretation and offenses taken, for unintentional rudeness and over-stepping our bounds.
     And it's all ok, so long as our intention is good, and even if it isn't. Forgiveness is the best survival tactic I know of. It fills us with compassion and wipes the slate clean of resentment. It gives us a fresh start. We are deserving of it, and so are those with whom we live and work. We are all emotional and reactive. We are all capable of making a mess. We have all been selfish, unkind, judgmental, and afraid. We have all been wrong about something, or someone- over and over and over. Why should we expect anyone else to be less so?
     Forgiveness is the balm and the salve for all of our chapped and wounded emotions. Frequently, regularly, daily, we must forgive some other or forgive ourselves, or both. It frees us and relieves us and returns us to feeling good. Forgiveness returns us to being the right size.

I forgive myself for my limits and imperfections, and I fogive the limits and imperfections of all those I encounter. I am willing to live and let live.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SWEET SADNESS

     Sometimes I find the very experience of living to be sad, but in a sweet and beautiful kind of way. There is so much hurt and misunderstanding and judgment and carelessness, and all in the same mix as nobility and grace. As humans, we can be so reckless, so clumsy, so fragile, and yet we are capable of the highest acts of kindness and such big love. It's the juxtaposition of the two that I find sad and beautiful all at once.
     If we tune into it, there is a shadow of pain in each of us, even in our happiest moments; the scars of past wrongdoings, the disappointments, the woundings. And the earth feels that way to me also, scathing and polluted with man's mistakes and abandoned dreams. But there is a beauty in our errors and our imperfections. There is camaraderie and a way to relate. There is the echo of human limitations reverberating over the earth like a base guitar, or a frame drum. And it is not horrible or scary, but rhythmic and humming, comforting, the vibrational energy of effort expended and if-at-first-you-don't-succeed.
     I am aware of my own hurt and the hurts of those I love. The sadness I feel for these inevitable hurts is braided with understanding and a soft kind of light. But there's enough hurt in the world already to last forever and onwards. I don't need to contribute to it, and I don't want to. I want to spread kindness and my own kind of joy. I want to be an instrument of healing and love. I want peace and am willing to be peaceful, but I am also willing to experience the sweet deep sadness of the human condition. It's all of it that makes it whole, after all, and not the easy parts only.

I choose to be kind and spread joy. There is enough hurt and suffering on earth without my adding to it. I commit to do no harm.

Monday, September 26, 2011

MINDGAMES

     I can play out an entire drama in my head. It may be triggered by some external situation, but the drama itself is not external. It's all in my thinking. I create a plot, an expectation or fear, something that could happen, and then I stage the first act. How would I react if such and thus actually did happen? How would I feel? How would it effect my relationships? How would others in the play react? What would it mean?
     And then, I go deeper still: act two. I build resentments. I suffer. Others suffer. There is the need for confrontation and a desire to escape. And all of this plays out on some level under the surface while I go through my days smiling and working and enjoying myself, getting things done and sleeping and waking.
     In subtle pockets of idle mind time, the plot in my head thickens and develops. Not infrequently, my body reacts to the story line as if it were real. I get headaches, feel tension. A cold starts to come on. And when the mental noise becomes loud enough, I suddenly realize what's happened. This is the beginning of act three: resolution. I remember that none of it is actual, and that all is speculative, but nonetheless, something within me has been clarified. I have worked through something. I have understood what bothers me, or what scares me, and I move forward a bit more evolved. I feel better within myself, and relieved that I am on the other side. I sigh deeply.
     And then I have to laugh at myself, because I feel as if I've been through something big, but nothing has actually happened! I'm sure it has it's purpose, and I'm quite sure I'm not alone in this kind of internal drama, but what insanity! It's a good reminder to keep my sense of humor and not to take myself too seriously.

I don't get so caught up inside my head that I forget what's actually happening in front of me. The hooks of my thinking will hang me if I let them. I keep my sense of humor and remember that it's just thinking.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

HONORING THE TRUTH

     I create a lot of un-necessary hardship in my life by trying to convince myself that I can be ok with something I am fundamentally not ok with, and that I can alter the way I think about something by a sheer force of my will. If only I were a more evolved person, surely I could find a way to be ok with almost anything; if I were more spiritually fit, if I were more relaxed. But try as I might, the result is not what I hope for. My body acts out what my mind will not acknowledge, and I experience aches and pains. I clench my jaw. And ultimately, I get sick.
     If something does not sit comfortably within me, I may not be able to change it. I may be uncomfortable with it for a very good reason that I cannot pretend away. If I want to experience peace within and peace without, I have to be honest about the discomfort I feel. I need to speak about it. I need to own it. I need to stand up and honor my truth. I cannot run away from it. I cannot turn a blind eye. I cannot act as if it is not my truth because it's scary to face. If I do, it will squeeze itself out sideways one way or another, and ultimately manifest in some kind of suffering.
     It is not my job or responsibility to be a martyr. I don't have to suffer so that others can enjoy. There is room to accommodate all feelings on all sides. There is a place for each position to be heard and acknowledged, worked with, and considered. If I don't want the suffering, I have to find the courage to be honest, with myself, and with everyone else. It's the only answer in the end. It's the only dignified way to live. I have to listen to the voices of my soul. They are there for a reason.

I honor my gut feelings and the whisperings of my soul. I do not ignore them in hopes that they will go away. I have the courage to feel what I feel and to speak honestly from the heart.

Friday, September 23, 2011

WHAT IS RELAXATION?

     Being in a relaxed state has never been my strong suit. I do well in physical action. I am efficient and productive. I take pleasure in my work. But when I am busy mentally instead of physically, I feel tension rising in my body, creeping tightness in my neck and shoulders. I stiffen up. I notice edgy energy awakening within me. It's better when I am in the company of others, especially those who ground me, but left alone I notice that I am high strung and wound tight.
     But I want to relax. I have always wanted to be able to relax. I want to wear life like a loose fitting garment and let worry and hardship run off of me like dripping rain, but I can't force it. I have to let relaxation come and welcome it when it arrives; take note of its presence- often in a sudden awareness of light or beauty or quiet. I am grateful to be able to experience meditative moments.
     It occurs to me that I wrestle with the very nature of who I am and what I find relaxing. I make judgments about what should be relaxing to me, and then when it isn't, I feel more stressed than ever, and frustrated. Relaxation, I suppose, is relative. Walking relaxes me, and conversation after dinner, and washing dishes, and driving in the afternoon.
     But if I'm honest, the truth about me is that I am a bit of a type "A" personality, intense and fiercely driven to stretch ever further and to explore ever farther. So much in life excites me that my frequent response is to get charged up and juiced with possibility rather than going at it slow and easy and taking it as it comes. I'm better at that than I used to be, but still a work in progress to be sure.
     For years, I have believed that I could learn to become this easy-going kind of relaxed person, but maybe even wanting that is a betrayal of the very gifts I have been given. I have electrical passion in me. It burns like a hot, low fire and ignites quickly. I rally and then I rally again. And it's ok that this is the way I am. It comes with its own kind of blessing.
     Relaxation may be as individual as we are, and it's definitely variable. What is relaxing to me one day may not be the next. But one things holds steady, no matter what. I am most relaxed when I am fully engaged in being right where I am, wherever that may be, and when I have a sense of gratitude and complete aliveness. I am savoring what is and not rushing to get to something else, or mentally straining in any way. That's relaxing! That, for me, is pleasure and rejuvenation and relief.

I relax into the rhythm of my day. So long as I do not struggle or strain, I can feel at ease no matter what I am doing. It's ok to like what I like and to be who I am.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ACCEPTING WHERE WE ARE

     It's amazing to me how we can injure ourselves in our sleep. I imagine everyone has woken up at one time or another with a brutally stiff neck, unable to turn, or with a spasming back, or aching wrists, or something or another. It's an interesting irony that we can twist ourselves into these physical knots so unconsciously.
     Truth be told, I believe we do the same thing to ourselves emotionally, although it is far less obvious. Completely without awareness, we attach ourselves to mental positions and get stuck there. Our rigidity creates pain and tension, but we don't know how to correct it because we don't know where it came from or how it happened. We suffer our emotional discomfort no less than we suffer a stiff neck; as hapless victim; as one who has been wronged.
     Although time and loving attention to the problem are the only guaranteed correctors I know of, we still want to get angry at our physical aches and pains as if that might help. And emotionally, it's more subtle, but essentially the same. We get angry at something external that we think has caused our suffering. We point the finger. We blame others. We blame our pillows and our beds. They are contributing factors, but not, I think, the ultimate cause.
     We must take responsibility for the way we find ourselves on any given day. It is us. We are the source of both our injury and our healing. We have pushed ourselves too hard, or become consumed with catastrophic thinking, or simply fallen asleep in a position that has wrenched us. Resisting whatever the facts are only increases the discomfort. Let's accept where we are today. If we are in pain, let's acknowledge it and treat it with kindness and compassion. Let's not feel irritated or vengeful. Let's accept that it will pass and do the best we can to be loving with it as long as it stays.

I accept where I am today. I do not struggle against what is. If I am in pain, I experience the pain. I have love and compassion for myself, and I trust the process of my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CAUTIOUS, NOT TENTATIVE

     There's a difference between being cautionary and being tentative. One implies wisdom, the other, fear. To approach life, and risky situations, with a certain amount of care, and slow movement, and with our eyes wide open, is one thing. But to hold back because we are afraid we will get hurt is another thing entirely.
     I prefer caution. It's a safer bet in the long run. When I am tentative I am halting and stammering, and in some way I actually increase my risk. Hesitation interrupts life flow and creates a jam-up of energy, a stop-gap in the works of forward momentum, and an opportunity for injury.
     We are so disabled by our fears, on every level. Let's move through the day with care and intelligence. And if we find ourselves sticking and hesitating, let's acknowledge the fear we feel but move forward in faith anyway. Let's trust the day and our full range of experience, and not miss out on anything by holding ourselves back.

I am careful but not afraid. I pay attention and recognize danger, but I do not create it by hesitating and halting. I move through the energy of the day smoothly and with full awareness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BEYOND THE PHOTO

     Sometimes photographs capture a moment, and sometimes they do not. Live action is so full of emotion and perception and temperature and subtle movement and the language of our eyes. There's often a sense of magic as well, and inexplicable feelings of wonder. The best photographs evoke these many dimensions of life, but most miss the mark entirely.
     And it's strange to see ourselves in pictures. Surely we look better than we seem to appear in most of them. Do we really have that double chin, and look at the horrible posture and the fatness! The picture must be destroyed! Mostly, what we see in pictures is ourself. We see our beauties and flaws and hardly notice anyone else in the image. A "good picture" is a good picture of us- one that we like. And if it's acceptable of whoever else is with us, all right then.
     Photography definitely has its limitations. So much of real seeing has to do with energy and light and life, with spirit and connection and enthusiasm, with tone and personal history. We look forward to looking at pictures of our burgeoning spirit, and we're sure the camera will show our beauty and our feelings of ripe joy... and then it does not. We feel confused and disappointed. Surely what we felt was real, but here are the pictures... here it is in black and white. It seems so blah.
     All kinds of lessons are packed into the perusal of photographs: the difference between what something actually is and what it appears to be, the limitation of sight, the impermanence and changeability of all things; expectations, disappointment, color, lines, the art of the imperfect, the way we experience ourselves and the way others experience us.
     The ultimate lesson for me is one of letting go. Sometimes I look beautiful in a photograph, and sometimes I look thick and ugly. I guess we all do. It's the big old mix mash of life and angles and moments and moods. They come and they go. It's not one thing or another. It's all things and the nature of change. And the purest memory I have of any event I carry not in my photo album, but in my heart.

I recognize the limits of my vision and don't get too hung up on external appearances. What matters most is what I experience underneath my skin.

Monday, September 19, 2011

LISTENING

     If we are honest, I'd be willing to bet that unless we are exceptionally aware, we hear what we want to hear, no matter what is being said. Often we do not even wait for a person to stop talking before we begin our response, because we know in advance what our response is going to be to what we are sure they are saying. How arrogant of us to be so sure we know so much! And yet, we all do it.
     Let's commit to listening. That's what we all really want anyway, and need. We long for others to really listen to us with interest and their complete attention. And in return, we can listen to others with our full attention. We learn by listening, and we can so easily brighten someone's day with our simple quiet focus directed their way. Let's try it! Let's catch ourselves wanting to interrupt and think we know everything and stop. Let's become silent within ourselves, and curious, and learn to listen from the heart.

I really listen to others today. I listen to my children and my spouse and to all of the people that I encounter. I listen with curiosity and compassion. I listen with an open heart.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

THE PRESSURE OF TIME OFF

     Sometimes I take time off entirely, from work, and from home obligations and responsibilities also. It's my time to fill as I please. I look forward to it. I have plans in advance, but I'm willing to do something completely different if the mood strikes. But rather than spacious relaxation, I always seem to pack my free time with too many activities and end up feeling pressure going from one thing to the next, and feeling panicky as time runs out. And so, instead of being pleasing, my pursuit of pleasure ends up being stressful. I think we do the same thing with weekends and vacations and anything that is supposed to be "fun." We over-plan and over-obligate and over-load, and end up exhausted instead of refreshed.
     This weekend, and going forth, I will remember the sense of tension I feel when I over-fill my time off, and do less, or do nothing- sit and watch people and linger and really relax and give myself the time to be still and free from time pressure and commitment. If I don't relax, I kind of defeat the purpose. I end up more jazzed than usual, and stressed in my head, and tight in my body, instead of rejuvenated and restored, which I need, and which would unquestionably serve me better.

I bring awareness to the way I spend my free time each day and keep it free, of stress and pressure and mental strain. I let my recovery time from work recover me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

THE GREAT EQUALIZER

     Strip away the jewelry and haircuts and fancy clothes! Strip away the bank accounts and expensive cars! Strip away the divisions of class and culture and all the levels of education! No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all the same. If nothing else, our bodily functions equalize us. We all must eat and sleep and relieve ourselves of waste. We all belch and have gas. We get hurt. We get sick. We get constipated and have the runs. We all bleed red when we get sliced open.
     We put on our wardrobes and waltz through our days pretending that we are above the lowness of digestion and elimination, but we are not. We may hold our noises in and tip our noses at those who do not. It's funny really. We have embarrassment and shame surrounding the very nature of our bodies. It makes us uncomfortable to discuss our functions, and yet, our bodies are the most accessible way for us to understand how alike we are.
     But we reject the obvious. We think we can somehow be above our human-ness. We think we can be above other humans... but in the bathroom, behind the closed door, whether it be a hole in the ground that is lively with flies, or the Plaza Hotel with gourmet soaps and linen cloths, we are all the same. We can dress it up any way we like but it doesn't change the facts. And if we can get beyond our egos for just a moment, and put aside our entitlements and righteousness, our wealth and feelings of being "better-than," or "less than," we may be able to see and clearly understand the great comfort and promise of that simple reality.

I accept that I am fully human, no better or less than any other human, so I have compassion, and I keep an open mind.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

RETURN TO BASICS

     The simplest ideas are often the best ones, and the ones that grow and endure and become strong over time. Two and a half years ago, at the gym where I work, a man suggested that we start a basic stretching class, something less fancified than yoga, which, for a man like him, was distasteful because of the outfits and mats and bare feet and yoga attitude. Good old basic stretching was what he wanted.
    So we did it. The class began in the middle of the gym floor with a handful of folks. We did range of motion moves and static stretches, and stretches with resistance bands, and a couple of breathing exercises to raise our energy. I threw myself into the instructor role with my usual gusto, and a sense of creative adventure and fun. And though we have added additional stretches over time, the basic format has never changed.
     The man who suggested the class stopped coming because of time conflicts with his work, but a group of faithful attendees began to feel the benefits in their bodies from the class. They spread the word, and we soon outgrew the gym floor. And then, by popular demand, we added a second weekly class with the exact same format. Many people come both days and swear that our simple stretches and movement exercises are changing their life.
     Our high-tech, high-speed world is complicated and overwhelming. As our stretch class proves, we don't necessarily need more fancy theories and intricacies of movement. What is basic and repetitive is soothing to our scattered souls. We feel comfortable knowing what to expect. It's empowering and wholesome. It's simple but not easy. Within the realm of safe predictability, we lose our self-consciousness and feel willing to go a little farther than we have gone before... and we improve.
     I think we have a tendency to think that fancy is better, and that the more complex something is the more important it must be. But maybe not. Maybe the basics are the ticket and the key to real happiness. Maybe what's simplest is what's most profound, and maybe what's most accessible is the very thing that we are seeking... only it is so close that we cannot see...

I remember the basics and don't over complicate things. I stick to what matters and let the rest go. I stretch and have fun. I keep my life simple and feel good.
   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

STRAIGHTENING UP WHATEVER'S MESSY

     It's hard for me to feel at ease if there are discombobulated elements in my life; decisions hanging in the balance, paperwork in disarray, or a too-long list of duties undone. I accept that loose ends are part of my journey, and that I don't ever get to a point of "arrival" where everything is exactly how and where I want it to be. But still, things in my world require mental and physical organization on a regular basis.
    I do best when I have a plan, when I have time and intention set aside as necessary to stay on top of the pile. I am most comfortable when everything is in its proper place in the file cabinet of my mind. I have files for things to get done that simply require my time, and I can chip away at these. And I have files for next-step action on lifelong projects that I promise myself I will get to when I can. There are small decisions and life's daily chores and errands, and monthly bills and daily correspondence. And then there are the messes that need straightening up immediately or they will fester and mold; the  potential wreckage that requires clarity on my part, and bigtime decisiveness.
     I cannot skimp on any of it, or I pay the price. I must regularly organize my life at every level. If I do not, I suffer with irritability and foul temper, and the constant noise and rattling of a fretful and overwhelmed mind.

I take care of all of the little things that are causing me irritation. I make decisions that bring clarity and freshness to the messes of my life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DEALING WITH UNREASONABLE PEOPLE

     Young children, and certain people of all ages, can be infuriating beyond reason. The whining, the attitude-laden "no" to a simple request, the snide, unexpected taunting, the illogical behavior, excuses, lack of willingness to go along and get along, refusal to consider other points of view, irrationality, and defiance: these are some of the delightful attributes of self-centered individuals, no matter their age. In dealing with such people, there is a sense of disbelief. Seriously? we wonder. Are they kidding?
     And when we discover that they are not kidding, that they really are that small-minded or unbending or contrary, we have a choice. We can get furious and fired up and defiant ourselves. We can get pissed off and try to bend them. But they don't bend. Or, we can calmly and reasonably negotiate, but there is a blankness that meets our efforts, crossed arms and a pouty face that tells us, "I don't care."
     We can beg, plead, jump up and down, raise our voices, whisper, stare, stomp our feet; but the more out-of-control and frustrated we become, the more they seem to smile at us, a small, evil smile, like they have got us now, and indeed, they have.
     There's nothing for such a battle of wills but to stop battling, to retreat and regroup, or to simply walk away. In reasoning with the unreasonable trying to bring it around, we lose every time. If we remove ourselves from engagement to reconsider our approach, we keep our serenity and nobility intact.
     I don't know why certain people and children are so frustrating to deal with, and so unreasonable, but they are, and I must accept that if I want to be happy. I can't change the behavior of others to make myself feel better. But I don't have to become unreasonable with them. I can cease the struggle. I can let them be. And without me to push against, they lose all the wind in their sails, and it's a lonely ride. They'll try to bring me back again and again. And I can walk away as many times as I need to. I can hold my boundaries for interaction with such insanity firm.

I recognize unreasonable people and situations and choose not to engage. I let them be, and keep my peace and serenity intact.

Monday, September 12, 2011

FACING THE WORKDAY

     Sometimes anticipating the day of work before me, my spirit lags. I feel unmotivated and unsure. How will I ever get through it? It feels daunting. I feel physically incapable. And then I go through the motions I go through everyday to prepare myself. I gather myself together mentally and stretch my limbs. I eat breakfast. I listen to the news. I post my blog and read the day's meditation. I observe the rising daylight and listen for birds. I do my longevity exercises. Blood starts moving and my body and mind awaken and perk up.
     I face my first client with a smile. Sometimes they are dragging, and I understand how they feel. I carry us forward together with the sheer energy of propulsion. And before I know it, wiothout realizing it, we both feel better. And as the day wears on, I feel better yet again. Working with people, motivating them and getting them to move and strengthen, motivates me, and moves and strengthens me. I enjoy what I do and the people and personalities I work with. Every day is freshly challenging and freshly rewarding.
     I'd like to skip the lagging dragging feeling of rising and facing the day that sometimes comes. It's not useful or helpful. Knowing it always works out, and that I feel good doing what I do, surely I can quiet the complaining mind. It makes it harder on me to let it yap on and on. It drags at me and tugs me down so that the effort to gather myself up is greater.
     Let me arise with a quiet and open mind. Let me face the day with curiosity. Who knows what might happen, what adventures, what joys? I am willing to show up for the trip. I am willing to let it unfold and enjoy each part of the process, starting with the splash of cold water on my face.

I trust the workday to deliver exactly the right mix of pleasure and challenge. I do not limit myself with dragging, tired thoughts. I keep an open mind and face the day with mental and physical freshness.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

THE ERROR OF ASSUMPTIONS

     It's easy to project motivations onto others that have nothing to do with reality. Just because I think something does not make it a fact. I might think that someone is offended or jealous or angry because of some fear of mine that they might be, and concoct a whole storyline around my fear, and take on the guilt from it, and shame, and feeling like I need to apologize. And it's all in my head and nowhere else.
     The only way to know what's really going on with someone else is to ask. I believe relationships of all kinds suffer from our assumptions. We assume that others are hostile or weak or incapable or disinterested. We assume it's their lack or our fault. We assume they have bitterness towards us, justified anger, or that they are somehow un-redeemable and that they deserve resentment from us.
     And none of it is reality except in the space between our ears. We manufacture blame and cruelty, even adoration. What if we stopped? What if we stopped making assumptions about others and asked them instead how they feel, what they think, what's their motivation? And then listened to the answer without judgement or assumption. What is it about us that thinks we know the real truth, in spite of what we are being told?
     I want to stop making assumptions, especially in a negative direction. If someone's behavior seems curious to me, I will ask about it. And in the meantime, I will not put my interpretation on the situation. I will let it be what it is, and not pretend I know what's what, until I actually do.

I resist the desire to make assumptions about anyone or anything until I have the right information from the legitimate source. I do not assume that I know what motivates others, and I do not take on guilt or bitterness based on my speculations.

Friday, September 9, 2011

OUR WEDDING

     People seem to want to know all about the wedding. They are happy for me and want to share in my joy. It feels almost like thievery to not be willing to share a little bit, especially with my faithful blog audience.
     It was beautiful in all of the ways I didn't expect. The air was thick and unmoving; the afternoon full of love and tears. To have come to the point of right marriage after years of hardship and struggle and uncertainty seemed surreal. The blessing of the occasion was exceptional. It felt like too much blessing to be deservable. It was so much time in planning and over so quickly, in flashes: the song playing... "Like a Rock"... Sienna carrying flowers from the field; Nick, with his heart wide open, tearfully proud to walk me down the aisle, Gruff, waiting for me, solid and strong as ever, so handsome in his frock coat and vest; friends, family, and neighbors to witness and participate in our commitment to love and to each other; laughter, sweat, tears of joy; softening light and wandering through the renovated farmhouse, restored to beauty by our vision and hard work; beef cut with disposable knives, horseradish sauce, asparagus, cold water and dabbing napkins for my brow; cutting the cake and tasting the creamy sweetness, kisses, heartfelt toasts...
     In Nick's toast, he told a story of Gruff transporting a too big tractor around curvy West Virginia roads in a rainstorm and how he felt afraid and thought it might be best to stop, to get off the road. It was scary and dark and the trailer was lurching from side to side. He suggested this course of action to Gruff, who turned to him and said, "Don't worry, Nick. We'll get through it." And they did. And we will too, all of us, get through the storms and heat and whatever comes.
     Our wedding was the fulfillment of a hope and the promise of a journey to come. It was humid and authentic. It was tearful and joyful. It was too short and just the right amount of time. It was for us and for everyone who came. It was birth and restoration both. It was the middle and the beginning all at once. It was raw and honest and straight from the heart.

I commit to the ongoing journey of authentic love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SHOWING UP FOR BLESSINGS

     I cannot plan for the most powerful, moving, and beautiful moments of my life. I just have to show up for them. Anticipating some great event, I have fantasy visions of how I will be touched and inspired by certain happenings. I can see them in my mind; the dance, the mountains in the background, the breeze in the trees. I can imagine them as if they were real, and I feel sure that they will be. And then the event comes and goes and my fantasies remain. There is no breeze at all, the mountains are barely visible in the haze, and the dance gets interrupted. But something far greater has taken place. Unexpected moments have unfolded like flowers rising up to the sun, and their beauty has moved me and surprised me and changed me forever. I stand delighted in the wake of all that has come.
     I am blessed with what I cannot foresee. But understanding this does not stop me from scheming and speculating and orchestrating. I want to think of every possible action I can take to assure the outcome I desire. I try to guarantee magic by fretting and over-thinking and planning details. But the magic comes in spite of me, and from unexpected distances, and sideways. It comes from the least likely source. It whispers or comes banging and rattling. It makes itself known by tightening my chest, the exhilaration of overflowing emotion, tears, laughter, tingling skin. It makes itself known by all of them together or one at a time, by the power surge of love and gratitude and the sheer inexplicable beauty of fragile humanity. It makes itself known by all of the things that move me to the experience of absolute joy.

I show up for life. I open to my blessings and stop trying to manipulate the future. I rejoice in unexpected happenings and all the ways that they make me feel.