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Monday, October 31, 2011

SAGE ADVICE :)

     Often we have good suggestions for our friends and our children. We offer sage advice from the lessons of  our experience, and watch with pleasure and gratitude as our suggestions are taken to heart and positive change happens. But when it comes to our own lives, we are too close or too involved or too defensive to see the value of applying our own advice to the situation.
     "Don't over-think it," is something I say to my clients as I watch them struggle mentally with the introduction of a new, but fundamentally simple, exercise. The idea was reflected back to me recently when I was all caught up in my head trying to figure everything out, and it was spot-on.
     We get our brains so involved in the situations at hand. We expend time and effort and struggle trying to understand all of the possible implications of a thing, and the future, and the meaning, and on and on. We over-think ourselves into stalemate and anxiety.
     Let's relax, and trust, and quiet our minds. Let's open to intuition and faith and be willing in every aspect of our lives to wait and see.

I don't over-think my life. I relax, take a deep breath, and live it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

GRATITUDE FOR THE FALL

     I love everything about the fall. I love the colors like light and the way they start so slowly and then spread and spread and spread until the world is awash with luminosity and fire. I love the fresh mornings and chill evenings, the first sweaters, the warm covers, the clear air. I love the smell of woodsmoke and hot cider and wet leaves.... and dry leaves... and decomposing leaves. I love the sounds of the rustling autumn wind, and the Canadian geese flying south, and coon hounds in the darkness.
     I love the way sidewalks and lawns and the edges of streets are lined with red and gold and bright orange. I love the change of palate, the desire for root vegetables and hearty stews. I love the preparation for Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and winter coming. I love fall mornings and fall evenings. I love the stretching afternoon light. I love the daily changing of individual trees and the constantly shifting visual landscape. I love the way fall makes me feel vibrantly alive! It's cozy and fresh at the same time- invigorating and comforting. Old growth is released to the breezes with grace and beauty.
     Perhaps, if I bring awareness to my journey, the changes I make in my life and my behavior might be as luminous and spectacular as the trees in fall.

I notice all the sensations the fall season awakens in me, and feel gratitude and joy for the colors and sounds and smells. I celebrate the wonder of leaves.

Friday, October 28, 2011

THE NEED FOR FRESH STARTS

     We can see a thing partially and believe we are seeing it whole and absolute. We can make decisions based on our limited vision and feel good about them, and wise. But when the truth reveals itself to us, when elements of the situation that we have not seen become seen, there is no way to un-see them and return to our innocence and naivete.
     In this way, our thoughts and opinions about things can swing wildly from one side to the other. What seemed like a solution is suddenly a problem. What was right is now wrong. The promise of positive evolution turns out to be stagnant and corrupt. And things can move in the opposite direction as well, from negative to positive, but it's less likely. Mostly we see things as better than they really are, and more ideal, because that is the way we want them to be. Our wishful thinking blinds us to reality.
     But once we have clear sight, it's important to be honest. It's ok to admit that we've made a mistake, and to turn in a fresh direction. We are human. We are supposed to make mistakes. Inordinate amounts of suffering in life occur because we refuse to admit our errors, and stubbornly insist that even if something isn't exactly what we hoped it would be, we can still live with it. We convince ourselves that we can make it work... even if it's fairly obvious that we cannot.
     I believe our evolution in life is largely demonstrated by our ability to recognize when we have misjudged a situation, and gotten ourselves into something that is not good for us. And then, once recognized, the speed with which we are able to cut our losses and walk away seems to measure our maturity. We waste so much time and effort resolutely trying to force things to be ok and to make things work that clearly aren't and can't and won't.

It is appropriate and ok that I make errors in judgment and mis-steps and big mistakes. As a human being that is what I am supposed to do. That's how I learn.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

GOING WITH THE FLOW

     When we are relaxed and moving through our days without pushing our will on things, there is a fluid energy in us that allows for the flow and rhythm of life. If we are consumed with trying to manage situations and guarantee outcomes, the energy we engage is forced and rigid by comparison.
     When we are young, we are taught the value of effort, the ethic of hard work, and how to set and accomplish goals. But we are less frequently instructed on the disadvantageous results of trying too hard. It's a challenge to understand the concept of work without strain. Instead of muscling our way through things and towards our dreams, we can open to the flow of life and the grace of God and let these things move through us instead of pushing our way against them.
     We must surrender daily on so many levels if we want to experience ease and pleasure in our lives. If we are constantly pushing and pushing, we will suffer. We do best to allow and observe first, and then contribute appropriately as currents and the energy of the situation permit. Instead of being our own kind of force-field, we can learn to recognize our part in the nature of things, and identify what might be dangerous, and what might be successful. With practice, we can see and feel the direction in which positive energy seems to be moving, and then make a decision to go with the flow.

I open to the naturally flowing energy of people and things and stop trying to force my agenda. I relax and go with the flow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FRIENDSHIP

     There is no substitute for spending time with our best friend. Comfort food cannot do it, and neither can movies, naps, walks, massages, or even reading a good book. To exchange knowingness with another is beyond comparison and occupies its own unique place of delight in life: to share a sense of humor and the light and expression of our eyes; to hug, to tell stories, to be quiet and just occupy space and time together, to prepare a meal, to watch the sunset, the moonrise, to sit on the porch...
     My gratitude is for my best friend today, and for all of my friends. They are a blessing in my life, and they enrich my days and my weeks and my whole life experience. How vacant would be this journey without others to share it with!

I am blessed to have friends, and super-blessed to have a best friend. I show my gratitude with generosity and compassion and all of my love.

Monday, October 24, 2011

KEEPING EMOTIONALLY CLEAR

     What I experience in my day is whatever energy and perception is inside of me. If I am dark and brooding, the world appears dark and brooding to me. And if I look out with a loving heart, I see beauty everywhere. A rainy day can be depressing or cozy depending on my outlook.
     If I observe myself being impatient and critical with myself or others; if I feel bitter and resentful, or angry, or jealous, that's a pretty good indication of my level of internal restlessness, and it's a safe bet that I am in need of some attention and self-directed love and care. It's been my experience that in such a situation, there is usually one thing that has triggered the avalanche of darkness, and I am blocked from seeing it or understanding it until I pause long enough to look. But once I have taken the time to see clearly, and once I have touched the primary issue, all of my defenses collapse and it's possible to be relieved and happy once again.
     It seems to me that a peaceful and satisfying life requires regular self-reflection to identify whatever issues are blocking us from the light. And then we must be willing to address the issues and change our behavior in relation to them, or our attitude, or both. Quiet and peaceful living is possible, and desirable. It does not come from money, or the perfect job, or the perfect relationship or anything external. It seems to me that it comes from the willingness to make frequent internal adjustments to clear our spirits of the emotional gunk that accumulates, to recognize congestion in the works, and strip it clean whenever we need to, and to start fresh, as many times as we need to; to open to the glory of good living, and simple pleasures, and love full-up in our hearts.

The world does not have to be a certain way for me to be happy. It can be however it is. The quality of my experience is up to me and my attitude and my willingness to keep from lugging around old and damaging emotional junk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

THE POWER OF MOVEMENT

     Movement cures many ills. Stiff muscles, distracted minds, pain, fear, and anxiety are all eased by the motion of our limbs. We can walk, stretch, dance, climb, jump, hula-hoop, golf, swim, bike, skip, hammer, build, run and twist. We can do anything. Our options are many. We are only limited by our imaginations.
     But no matter what we choose, and no matter our level of intensity, as the blood increases its circulation, and we feel the rising warmth of expending energy within us, the rigid edge of us softens, and our tightness releases. We become long and fluid and able to let go of physical tension which, in turn, eases mental tension.
     Movement helps us discharge worry and stress, our uncertainties and frustrations, and too often, we forget that. We sit and clench and gnaw at our problems and become increasingly annoyed. We recreate with cocktails and television but these are false solutions. Our bodies long to move. A quick stretch, a brisk walk- these can alter the entire day's attitude. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. We can wear whatever clothes we have on. Let's just stand up and raise our arms and bend to the side. Let's wiggle a little, and shake, and be playful for just a moment. Let's take the time to move our bodies and relieve our minds. We're worth it, and the result is worth it.

If I find myself filling with tension and strain, I take a break from whatever I'm doing and move my body somehow. I stretch or walk or do a set of jumping jacks. I smile and enjoy the feeling of my blood circulating. Relief is as close as the movement of my limbs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

WAKE UP CALL

     Little creeping irritations infect a day like termites. They eat at the support beams of good humor. Lack of good sleep, or overindulgence in food or drink the day before, can contribute to our sensitivity and our sense of angst. Full of sighs and poor me thoughts, we are bloated with dissatisfaction, and annoyed at all kinds of small things that ordinarily wouldn't bother us.
     If we find ourselves tending in this direction, it's a ringing alarm to wake us up and snap us back to honesty. Somewhere we have gotten sloppy. We have pushed too far. We have drifted back into thinking we can get by on less self-care than we know we need. We have skimped, or sloughed, or discounted ourselves somewhere, and there's nothing to do but to acknowledge that we are paying a price for our own poor choices and get back on track.

If I am struggling with life physically or mentally, I review my recent past and look for whatever may have caused or contributed to my present discomfort. I am honest about my review and willing to make better choices going forward so that I can feel better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHECKING IN

     Every so often it's useful to pause and consider the condition of our lives. We get so caught up surviving day to day and handling all that's in front of us, that we sometimes lose track of the bigger picture. It's useful to take stock, and look where we are, and appreciate where we've come from. It's useful to ask ourselves some tough questions and be willing to answer them honestly.
     What needs to change in my life? What am I giving too much of my time to and where am I not giving enough? What can I do without? What can I not do without? What's essential? How would I live differently if I thought I could get away with it and still pay my bills? Am I happy? Am I healthy? Do I have bad habits? Am I angry? Resentful? How am I behaving? What am I putting off? What am I doing right? What brings me joy? Do I have a purpose? Am I creatively fulfilled?
     These type of questions and others like them are worth asking. The least they do for us is to bring consciousness to our living journey and remind us that we have choices, and that we are not stuck, even if we feel stuck. There are endless possibilities for change. Our lives are our gift and our blessing. We must treat them with great care.

I do not ramble unconsciously through my life. I stop occasionally and take note of where I am, where I've been, and where I'm going. I check in with myself, and am willing to make honest changes where changes are needed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FAME

     When I was little I wanted to be famous. But in the context of real life, what does it really mean? Fame is fleeting and relative and variable. An individual can be famous in a town, a school, a country, a family, in certain circles, for a generation, etc. But even those who are world-wide famous and famous across centuries are not known to all. The bottom line is that whether we are known in big circles or small circles, we touch the lives of those who we are meant to touch, and we are touched by others in the same way.
     I have my heroes, as we all do- authors and actors and artists and charismatic leaders and spiritual teachers and good friends.We do not need to be famous to be heroic. Like everything, it's not about figuring out the path to fame and then pushing some agenda. It's about the regular practice of stillness and listening for guidance. It's about following the thing that calls to us. If God wants us to share our experience with large crowds or a few individuals, we will feel the pull in the right direction. If we are led to fame, so be it; then that's our path, and if we are led to quiet, private lives and sharing intimately with only a few, then so be that. The thing to remember is that much as we might want to manipulate it otherwise, it's God's plan for us, and not our own.

I do not seek fame. I listen for the call of my spirit to action, and pay attention to my inner guidance so that I can clearly identify where I am supposed to go from here, and the next right step to get there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TOO SORRY

     It's important and useful to say, "I'm sorry." If we own our mistakes and acknowledge when we have hurt the feelings of other people, whether intentionally or by accident, it allows the energy of forgiveness to permeate our lives, which is healthy and freeing. We can more easily forgive others their wrongs if we are honest about our own, and a certain allowance for all of us being human and doing the best we can makes for flexible living and generous loving in all of our relationships.
     But we can take it too far, and many of us do. Some of us apologize for anything and everything in an effort to keep the peace, and we are accommodating and people-pleasing to a fault. But over-apologizing is seriously problematic and detrimental to our self-esteem. It is falsely humble and makes us un-necessarily pathetic. I know because I am one of these over-abundantly "sorry" types from way back. It's some sort of defense mechanism or survival tactic. We hope for appreciation but invite anger and abuse instead, much like a cowering dog.
     I'm better than I used to be, but if my vigilance is lacking, I fall back to the "sorry" space without effort and with great ease. I'm sorry for the weather and the traffic and that someone else is unhappy, or hungry, or unsure. I'm sorry that it's early or late, or if I am even the tiniest bit less than perfect. It's ridiculous. I'm grandiose in the way I take responsibility for all the misery around me, none of which is mine to own. I want to stop being so sorry habitually, because truly, I am not.

I am willing to take responsibility for things in a more right-sized manner. I am willing to reserve my "sorrys" for legitimate wrongs, and keep myself from spilling empty apologies all over the earth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

HOPE THROUGH SHARING

     It's easy to hold our feelings and our fears inside of us. We can be mysterious and unreadable. We can be stoic. But if we do not share ourselves with others, we separate ourselves from the very thing that brings us our greatest comfort, and we end up isolated and feeling all alone. We suffer needlessly.
     If we open up, if we have the courage to speak about our challenges, others will come forth who have been there before us, and made it to the other side. Their stories are our hope. We realize that we are not alone, and that we don't have to go through anything alone, whether it be joyful, or scary, or both. And experiences shared are what this journey is all about- getting through things together- getting through whatever comes... and whatever goes. It's a lonely road if we don't open up. Even happiness is diminished if there is no one to reflect it back to us.

I speak up and let others know what's going on with me. In this way, I open myself to the blessing of other people's experience. There is always someone who has been through what I'm going through and their story is my hope.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN CARE

     Sometimes we have to stop everything, retreat, and lick our wounds. It's the right thing to do. Many years ago, I was walking with a group of people on the frozen wave caps along the edge of Lake Michigan, and I went through the ice up to my thigh on one leg. We were fairly close to the house where we were all staying, and there was a flurry of brief concern over my situation, but very quickly, once it was clear that I was fundamentally ok, everyone's attention turned elsewhere. I was left alone to deal with my wet and freezing leg. Instinct kicked in. I knew I needed to get inside and into the shower as quickly as possible. I had a kind of urgent concern for myself, and attended to the comfort of my poor leg and foot with tenderness and great care. I still remember that it felt good to take care of myself properly in that way. And when we are pushed to it by some drama, I believe we are all likely to do the same.
     But in everyday living, not so much. We are quick to discount ourselves and our wounds. We are willing to suffer and ache and be martyrs, or to be tough beyond necessity. We push beyond reason, live on caffeine and not enough sleep, eat poorly, repress our feelings, stay in abusive relationships, speak unkindly to ourselves, and even go so far as to hate ourselves, our lives, and our circumstances. So when, on occasion, we are forced into self-care and self-attendance- after surgery, after injury, I believe there is something to remind us in that. We are our own caretakers. How are we doing at that job?

I treat myself tenderly today. I am gentle and loving and I attend to my needs with care. I speak kindly to myself, and I refrain from criticism and harsh judgment. I am my own best friend.

Friday, October 14, 2011

GETTING THROUGH THE TOUGH STUFF

     We get through things in life. We are faced with difficult situations, some our own, and some happening to those we love. We are faced with extreme and sudden accidents, tragic deaths, slow, debilitating diseases, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, baffling mysteries, and incidents of all kinds. And somehow, against all odds, we make it through them. We make it through our distaste and our sadness and our rebellion and our fears. We summon up the courage to face what we do not want to face, and once we have taken the first step, the next step is revealed to us.
     We can't possibly imagine the higher-up steps, those further along the journey, until they are the next step; until they are right in front of us. By the time we get to them, they are not so fearful after all. They are the obvious next thing, and the next, and the next. Our path is revealed to us piecemeal. And that's how we get through everything; never more than we can handle, and one little bit at a time. We can try to take it all at once, hoping to get through it more quickly that way, but in spite of our anxiousness, everything happens in it's own time.
     If we want peace, if we want inner calm and a sense of well-being as we go through the things we go through, we will not push the river; we will not insist upon seeing or understanding more than life reveals. We will not let others influence us negatively with their un-helpful opinions on our situation. We will wait and trust. We will enjoy the day and let the future come how and when it comes.

I do not take on more than the day and the moment require. I am equal to the situation I am in. I don't have to take the next step until I have to take it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ONE DAY AT A TIME

     We've all heard the expression "One day at a time," and there is great wisdom in it if we stop to consider what it really means. I like to think of it as sun-up to sun-down. It's a cycle, a process, a moving through, and a closing out. The sun rises and the morning light spreads. We wake up, have our breakfast, and begin our day.
     The morning is the time to set our intention and our pace, to say a little prayer, and express a willingness to participate positively in the hours of daylight before us. And then we get moving. And if our mind resists what we are doing, we can bring awareness to our thinking. We can quiet ourselves and return to the task before us. In day-tight compartments we have no room or need for projecting into the disaster or success of the future, and no need to dwell with nostalgia or guilt on the past. In the day we can live free from worry. We can live free from fear and grasping. We can be content with and open to whatever the day presents. We don't have to manipulate it and manage it. We can allow ourselves to be surprised by the way it unfolds.
    And then, as the afternoon wears on and the shadows lengthen, we can appreciate the slowing down of activity, the energy shift to evening and the preparation of supper. We can sit and enjoy the meal with our families. We can talk about the happenings of our day, and laugh at ourselves as we share our adventures. We can wash the dishes without whining and enjoy the feel of warm water on our hands. We can sit and drink coffee or tea as we wind into the darkness. And then we say another little prayer before we go to bed, a prayer of thanks. Thank you for another day of living, and of life experience.
     It's a rich and simple way to live. It's stress free, and it's mentally and physically healthy. Day-tight. Sunup to sundown. One day at a time.

I live in the day. I do not allow myself to become mentally distracted by projecting into the future or fretting over the past. I call my mind back to the present moment every time it wants to stray. I am free from worry. I am awake and aware.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TIME FOR DREAMS

     Life keeps us so busy that it seems impossible to find any time to follow our dreams. We are always putting them off to the future, when we hope to have more time. But there is never more time than there is right now. As much of it as we have, it is easily filled with earning a living and maintaining our bodies and our households. That's a full time adventure right there, and add to it our daily investment in relationships with the people we love, a few pages of reading a good book, driving back and forth and round about, a walk with the dog... It's a busy life we live.
     I suppose we have to prioritize our dreams and make time for them. It's never just going to appear. Everything else seems to come first. We have to set aside a few minutes, or an hour, each day. We have to commit to some kind of regular and attentive dedication of purpose, or we will grow old and die with our dreams unrealized. We have to decide what's most important and allocate our hours accordingly. If we do not, the tyranny of the urgent will dictate our journey for us.
     It's so easy to blow off dreams. They seem so impossible, such a stretch... they are dreams, after all, even if they call to us. It feels foolish and indulgent somehow to even try for them. It's so much easier to shrug and doubt and be all sour grapes before we have even begun. It will never work anyway, we tell ourselves, as the years tick away and we have yet to begin. We are kidding ourselves to think we can do whatever it is.
     But how can we ever know for sure unless we give it a real shot? And how can we do that if we won't even give it a few hours in our week? It's too easy to make excuses and they are readily available. But excuses don't make dreams come true. Focus does that, and hard work, and dedication, and God's grace. If we do our part, God will do God's part. Our dreams are worth it. Let's give them a chance.

If there is something I want to achieve, I am willing to make a little time every day to work towards it, and I trust that if I expend good effort consistently, I will realize some kind of positive result.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

THE WAY OF THE BOOKSTORE

     It's happened three or four times now. I have made plans around a Borders Bookstore only to arrive and find the store empty, closed, and utterly abandoned. Gone are the cozy aisles of books, the chairs planted around the floor, the coffee shop and tables, and mostly, the feeling... the feeling of being surrounded by the written word, and photographs, and maps, and so much information and knowledge and wisdom and inspiration. I drive away feeling disappointed and a bit lost. I remember when Borders opened. What a concept! What a delightful place to spend an afternoon, or an hour. It was a place for answers and for comfort. It was mind candy at every turn. I am sad for the loss of Borders Bookstores.
     It says something about our culture and the current of our societal flow that they went bankrupt. Are real books doomed like telephone booths? Will they become exotic and outmoded, old-fashioned and unpopular; replaced entirely by Kindle? I hope not. For my part, I will seek them out. I love the feel of the paper, the turning of pages, the book cover, the back, the copyright and publishing information, and the whole thing, three dimensional.
     Maybe we are too dramatic. Maybe we are too quick to dispose of the old. We chuck it carelessly without considering the bigger picture ramifications. It's interesting to see phonographs and LP's return to being fashionable. They have cycled back around. Maybe there's room for the handmade and the old school to keep their place alongside the high-tech. I believe that we need them. The imperfect human in each of us enjoys the authentic and the rustic and the earthy, no matter how internet savvy we are. Slick computer screens and power buttons and rechargeable batteries can only bring us so much satisfaction. They bring us speed, and convenience, and access to everything we could find at Borders right at our fingertips; but without the character, and without the coffee, and without the cozy feeling of sitting in a chair, turning real paper pages, and being surrounded by aisles and aisles and aisles of books.

I appreciate the aspects of my life that have nothing to do with technology, and value them highly, and guard them. And I appreciate the technology in my life as well, but recognize its limitations in the human scope of things. I can enjoy both, and use both, and experience balance in my life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

THE STORY BEHIND ANGER

     I think there is a tremendous amount of anger lurking in our world. There is an angry energy in so many people, even if they are not yelling or otherwise acting out. It's in the way they drive, or in their facial expressions, or how they move, or in some sarcastic comment they make and pass off as humor. There's a sense in people of being victims, of being done to, of life being exceptionally difficult for them. They are singled out for hardship... or think they are. Anger is a defensive position. It lashes out to protect itself. But who wants it?
     I don't like to be angry and I don't like to be at the receiving end of anger either. I don't like raised voices, silent brooding, or violence of any kind. And yet, I have anger within me. I feel it sometimes, lurking, just the way I feel it out in the world.
     It's a cover story for fear, I think. When I feel afraid, it's because I have no power, and no control over something, and I am short on trust. I rage at whatever it is. It's my way of trying for control. But instead of getting angry, I can ask myself honestly, what am I afraid of? And if I can answer the question, maybe the anger will dissipate; maybe it will shift to tears as it dissolves, or pure exhaustion, or a great big laugh.
     While never intentionally putting myself in the path of anger, I can have a certain amount of compassion for myself and others when it crops up, understanding that it has a direct link to fear. Anger, as I see it, is a cry for love and a cry for faith more than it is anything else, and it is healed by understanding and patience and a soft, firm voice, or by walking away. It is never extinguished by retaliation, or lashing back, or more anger in return.

I do not contribute to the anger of the world. I let go of my fears and have compassion for those who are blindly raging against their own.
    

Saturday, October 8, 2011

THE LURE OF WHAT IF...

     "What if" are dangerous words and we over-use them, sometimes silently, in our own minds, and sometimes out loud. It's all speculative, all conjecture, often fear inducing, and sometimes panic inducing as well. We wonder what if disease? What if death? What if destruction? What if pain and suffering and abandonment and betrayal? We seem to travel most frequently to the possibility of catastrophe and disaster.
     But we can get lost in the other direction as well. What if fame and glamour? What if we win the lottery? What if we rule the world? Whether we "what if" on the up side or the down side, it's a losing game. We rob ourselves of the moment and of being right here and right now. We fret and worry over the unborn and the unlikely. We fantasize away our lives.
     Lets catch ourselves at the "what if" game and bring ourselves back to wherever we are. Let's wake up to the day, the moment, the heat of the sun, the energy of our bodies, and the light of fall. Let's shut down the fantasy projector in our minds and look around us where we stand. Let's breathe in and breathe out with consciousness. Let's be careful gardeners of our own messy minds.

I pay attention to what IS not what IF. I free myself from worry and projection.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

LIFE

     Life is so much a journey from one thing to the next. We have a sense that all will be well and we will be ok, and be able to breathe and relax and have fun and take a break from it all... just once we get past this- one- thing... whatever challenge we are currently dealing with. But if we could only find a house to buy becomes getting approved for the mortgage becomes fixing it up, then moving, then adjusting, then the car breaking down, the new job, the illness, the parental issues, the test results, the weather, the unknown. It never stops. There is always something to challenge us and grow us. We survive one thing and here comes the next. I have wasted so much time wanting to be on the other side of difficult things.
     Let's stop projecting beyond the challenge we are facing and find a way to be ok now, no matter what is happening. Let's surrender to the moment and the small joys in front of us, to the unknown, the unseen, and the unexpected. Instead of feeling exasperated and overwhelmed with now what? let's be ok with whatever. Let's say ok. Let's welcome what comes and be willing to experience it... even if we don't understand why...

.I stop waiting for hardship to end and accept it as part of daily living. I accept the path of life with all that it entails. I am willing to take it in stride.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ECONOMIC FEAR

     Money remains one of my spiritual stumbling blocks. I live with a certain amount of financial fear and it weighs me down. The subject of money makes me tense. I feel as if I live teetering on the edge of economic destitution, and that my stability is precarious at best, which is not really true, but it's where my catastrophic thinking takes me. Every time it seems as if I can get ahead, some unanticipated expense comes along and washes me back.
     This gives money tremendous power in my life. It becomes a kind of God, to be awed and feared both. I allow my financial state to affect my mood and my ability to enjoy the day. And yet, I have lived long enough to know that I can survive economically in this world by a certain amount of creativity and hard work. It's not a fancy life, but it's solid and satisfying.
     I'm tired of giving money the power I give it. I want to disempower it. It want to let it be what it is- a form of currency, a method of exchange- and no more and no less. My bank account does not determine my worth. I know in my heart what true riches are, but I brush them aside and easily discount them in the face of bills to pay. I let the bills rule me and scold me and make me feel small.
     Going forth, I want to let money be money and keep my perspective. I am willing to bring attention to my attitude and work on it. I'm going to catch myself losing peace over life's expenses, and keep my sense of humor. I'm going to let the coffer fill and empty as it does, and watch it with a certain amount of curiosity instead of fear. From privilege to bankruptcy, I have always had a roof over my head and food to eat. There is enough. I can be happy with more... or less.

Money does not have the power I give it. My happiness is not determined by my bank account. Today, and every day, I make sure to enjoy the real riches of my life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

GATHERING WISELY

     One of my favorite things to do is to collect small, pretty, growing things that catch my eye while I'm out on a walk. Grasses, wildflowers, weeds, berries... the selection changes with the seasons and my mood. Winter batches are some of the best. Once home, I arrange the day's collection in small vases and place them around the house. And these vases restore my soul every time I look at them. The colors and textures inspire me. They remind me that there's more to life than the petty frustrations of daily living in the modern world.
     Some of the arrangements last for a long time, and some of them appear wilted and sorrowful after only a day or two. But even as they wilt and change there is beauty in the color and the lines. I like the shapes and shadows, the dropping leaves and fading brightness. This simple practice brings me great joy.
     And much the way I collect these small branches and flowers, perhaps we all choose what we gather and bring home from our wanderings in the world. Perhaps we choose consciously, or perhaps, unconsciously. Do we bring home anger and violent thoughts and arrange them on our faces for the people we love to feast upon? Or do we bring home uplifting happenings and amusing tales from our day? What do we notice? What occupies our attention as we walk past?
     Let's bring awareness to the things we pick up, and to the things we carry into our homes when we return there from work, or from other adventures. Let's choose wisely. Let's be sure to gather and carry those things which inspire us to restoration and joy.

As I go through my day I gather positive experiences and pleasant interchanges to bring home to the people I love. I collect the things that restore my spirit and fill me with joy, and the rest, I pass by.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NO GOING BACK

     Change is unsettling. There is a desire to back paddle to what we knew, and where we have just come from. Even if we didn't like it, it was familiar. Something about the unfamiliar feels dangerous, as if it has the power to topple us entirely, to disintegrate all that we have spent so long getting in order in our lives and in our minds, like the tower-building-game, or houses made of cards. We have invested so much work in getting right with our current situation, and then the whole thing shifts in a moment, in a second, in a day. It is the collapse of all we knew, and a flat landscape, a fresh start. Not knowing how things will play out or how the change might make us feel as we go through it is almost nauseating. It seems as if we are being thrown into a wash cycle and that we will spin and spin and never stop.
     Yet much as we might want to retreat and go back, we cannot. A return to the old as it was is no longer possible. We have glimpsed other pathways, and lived them briefly, and we will never be the same again. There is nothing for it but to plunge onward, to fumble as we must, and to accept that we are likely to feel uncomfortable for a while. If we bring enough awareness and courage to it, perhaps we can embrace the uncomfortableness, and have fun with ourselves and laugh as we bluster through our adjustment the best we can.
     Patience has never been my strongest suit. I am action oriented, quick thinking, efficient. I find it excruciating to dip, and wade, and slowly meander through life situations. I want to be there already. I want to understand what's required and get it done, then move on. Yet change requires great patience, and a whole lot of letting go. I am allowed small moments of clear seeing peace but live through hours of blind discomfort, not understanding, wanting to fix how I feel and knowing there is no fix, only the process, the process... the process of letting go of the familiar and grieving it, my wrestling mental journey with its new expectations, the faith, the fortitude, and all of my fears.

I accept the path of change. I allow myself to be emotionally messy, and frequently confused. I am unsure going forward, but there is no other way to go. I step forth with all the courage I have, and trust in my faith.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ATTITUDE DETERMINES THE DAY

     Attitude really is everything. If I have a pleasant, receptive attitude, I can enjoy my entire day. I can travel through it and let it unfold. If I don't burden myself with hostile, dark thoughts and a sense of being "done-to" by life, it all goes smoothly. If I trust whatever is happening; if I accept myself and however I am feeling, and the circumstances that surround me, I can have a great day, every day!
     I can make my whole life an adventure instead of a chore, an opportunity instead of a sentence, a curiosity instead of a judgment, and a blessing instead of a curse. It's possible. It's available, and there's only one requirement. I have to get out of the driver's seat. I have to let go of my grasping desire for the way I think things should go, stop trying to force everything and everybody in my chosen direction, and just let it all be as it is: people and the weather and traffic and my physical state, all of it. If I am willing to allow whatever happens to happen without fighting or whining, I can feel relaxed. If I let whatever runs the big life show to run it, and just watch and participate however it gives me joy, and be curious about what I don't understand but trust in the greater good, and stop grabbing for things and start saying thank you for whatever comes instead, I can be happy. I can be at peace. I can be right where I am supposed to be, and enjoy myself being there.

I welcome the day! I do not fight and struggle and push my agenda. I let it all be what it is, and take pleasure in the experience of the hours passing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

THE PLAN FOR OVERWHELM

     When I am overwhelmed with things to do, what helps me most is a plan. I take a few minutes to list everything on a piece of paper and look at it. Some things on the list I simply do not have to get done right now, and I cross them off. My priority is for right now. Still, the list seems impossible so I break it down further.
     There are always things I have to do, things I want to do, and things I need to do. The needs have to do with self-care and cannot be skipped, though some of them may not even have made my list; things like meals, and breaks, and sleep. I have to include them somehow in my plan or I will not be able to sustain my momentum. On the "have to" list, I prioritize most to least urgent, and if I am really crunched for time, I let go of my entire list of "want-tos."
     I resolve to let perfectionism go and accept in advance that I can only do what I can do and no more. I'm not expecting miracles. Contrary to what many of us believe, we don't always have to do our very best work... sometimes we just have to do the work period. I start on the most urgent "have-to" and set a reasonable "stop" time. I commit to stop even if I'm not finished, and move on to the next thing. A little bit of everything is better than a lot of nothing.
     The plan helps me focus and gives me a scaffolding on which to balance. It supports me and directs me, and somehow or other, everything always ends up getting done.

I stay calm when faced with too much to do. I take a few minutes to make a list and to make a plan. I do not skip meals or skip sleep. I take a deep breath and begin.