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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SEEKING THE FIX

     I find it interesting that when we seek pleasure by means of an external substance that seems enticing and romantic and full of promise, so often the very thing we seek as a solution ends up creating a problem for us instead. Initially, the enormous hot fudge sundae, or the pill, or the drink seems to be just the thing. There is a period of relief and gratitude- a momentary "aaahhhh," and a sense that all is well. But by the last bite of the indulgent dessert, a sickness settles in our belly from too much sugar and sweetness, and the booze and pills leave us head-achy, thick-tongued, and mentally fuzzy at best.
     So much harm occurs under the guise of "fun." We think if we can change the conditions of life with a little chemical help (and I think if we're honest, we need to count sugar in this category) then all of our worries will be over, but the external "fix" just ends up adding to our mounting list of woes. Still, it's not instantaneous. There is that momentary fulfillment of hope, which is why external pleasure seeking is such dangerous business. It's sneaky, and seductive, and insidious. But in the end, it does nothing but rob us of its spectacular promises.
     Real pleasure, it seems to me, comes from welcoming life however it comes and having the faith to trust whatever happens; finding beauty in each day's experience, and recognizing that if we are miserable, we have to make our adjustment on the inside. In the final analysis, there's no such thing as an external fix... at least, not one that lasts. "On the inside" is where it all happens. "On the inside" is the only place where real happiness lives.

I do not seek my happiness in external things. I recognize that happiness and good living are an inside job, and that inside is where I have to look for them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SOUL INCLINATION

     I believe we are meant to honor the inclinations of our souls. One soul dreams of lounging in a hammock and living life by the sound of waves, and another is driven to extreme productivity and corporate success. One soul envisions herself dancing in the ballet, and another wants to break the Olympic record for speed skating.
     Some dreams are fanciful and do not endure. They "go out" like spring fashions. But others do not "go out," and will not leave us, even if we make gallant attempts to ignore them, even if we insist that they go away because they taunt us with their seeming impossibility. These are the longings we must pay attention to. I believe they are meant to direct our path and guide the passage of our journey through life. There's something in us that is perfectly fitted to our dreams and visions, and we are meant to acknowledge it and express it and learn from the places it takes us.
     So often we drown our vision with negativity and sour grapes, with alcohol, food, drama, and despair. But why not step towards it, even if we are unsure? Why not believe in ourselves for a change, and believe in possibility and hope and even miracles? What do we have to lose by trying? And what if, by our trying, we actually experience success?

I let my dreams guide my steps. I am drawn in the direction that is best suited for the evolution of my spirit, and that most honors the particular gifts I have to share.

Monday, November 28, 2011

HEART

     We can do without coordination, artistic gifts, social graces, money, approval, and even intimacy, but life is a flat experience without heart. We need it. For a life worth living, we need that spirit within us that gets excited over possibilities and is tireless and scrappy and not easy giving up. It's heart that inspires us and heart that keeps us going when the chips are down. It's heart that makes us powerful beyond our widlest dreams and capable beyond all expectations. It's white hot desire and inner umph. It's The Little Engine That Could and Secretariat. It's the underdogs of the world that come from out of nowhere and blow our minds with their spirit and dedication and ability to do what they should not reasonably be able to do.
     But it doesn't have to be as grand and explosive as all of that. It can be as simple as living with enthusiasm, and living beyond the level of going through the motions. There are walking dead among us. They are dis-interested in life, and victims of everything that happens. They are darkness and oozing; energy vampires. They are parasites, and do not bring anything to their own life experience. They have no enthusiasm of their own, so they suck ours from us. They lack heart. Let's not be them!
     Let's get excited about something! There are choices and options and alternatives galore. The only thing that limits us is our imagination and age-old fears. Let's feel our fears and go forward anyway! Let's do the things that call to us! Let's give them a shot. We have nothing to lose and a world of experience to gain. Let's do it! Let's live with heart.

I allow myself to get excited about all of the possibilities of my life. If I feel stuck, I am willing to shake things up. I call on my heart to guide me. I invite enthusiasm and passion into my life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

GIVING THANKS

     It seems appropriate to take a few moments to actively practice gratitude on this Thanksgiving day, to acknowledge those things in life for which I am grateful, and to do something to demonstrate my level of appreciation. It is not enough to simply feel grateful, although it's a good start. If I appreciate my car, I can keep it clean, and properly maintained. If I appreciate my health, I can take care to eat well and get enough sleep, and to stretch and exercise and not over-do. The way I behave towards things and people shows my appreciation for them, or my disregard.
     If I declare my gratitude but do not demonstrate it through action, it lacks sincerity; much like saying "I'm sorry," for something and then repeating the behavior I have just apologized for. If I am truly sorry, the point is to change my behavior, and if I am truly grateful, the point is to express my gratitude in action.
     I am blessed in so many ways, but today, I am especially grateful for having a home. I have always had a place to live, and the locations and structures have been pleasant and frustrating in varying degrees, but never before have I felt the support of roots beneath me and solid love behind me that I now feel. And by contributing my loving part to those who share this space and this place, I demonstrate my deep appreciation. I cannot give enough love for all the appreciation I feel.

I give thanks for my life's blessings and show my appreciation through action.
  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GETTING SOAKED

     Every so often, I think it's healthy to get soaked in the rain. When I don't resist it, the rain feels cleansing. And it's a wonderful exercise in surrendering to just let it get me wet. I went for a walk yesterday and it was misting. The air was damp, but chilly and fresh, and invigorating. I imagined I could have been walking in England. I enjoyed the fog and the wet world smells. And then it began to rain with much steadier intention, and I had an initial reactive "oh no" response.
     I began by wishing I had thought to bring an umbrella, or a different coat, or a hat. And I considered that I was too far from home to be able to rush back and stay mostly dry. So there was nothing for it but to walk on and let the rain fall all over me and drip in my eyes, which I did. It was a wetness progression. My hair got wet first, and my face, and the front of my jacket. And then slowly, I began to feel it through my bluejeans, and seeping through my sneakers.
     I watched with amusement as Boss, our German Shepard puppy, leaped and splashed through every puddle and rivulet of water that he could find, and got himself covered in mud. Part of me wanted to make him stop so I wouldn't have to deal with cleaning him up, but I couldn't bring myself to discipline him for expressing his spirit and having such fun. I figured I could learn a bit about the whole experience by sharing in his joy.
     We collapsed together on a rug in the laundry room when we got home and toweled off. He shook and wrestled with me and bit at the towel. And when we were done, I gave him a treat, and I changed clothes, and ran a load of laundry. And I felt good. I was warm and dry, but I had been out in the weather and had experienced the full element of the afternoon. I was happy for my water loving partner, and that we had shared a rain-soaking walk.

I experience the outdoors and am not afraid to get dirty or wet. I catch myself saying no to something that sounds like fun just because it might be messy, and say yes instead.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

EVERYDAY HARVEST

     Complacency, entitlement, and boredom are kissing cousins, and all of them the enemy of gratitude and compassion. There are few postures more unattractive than complacency. It is disinterest at its loudest, a kind of jaded snobbery that belittles everything in its path. And entitlement is much the same. It seems to say, "I'm important and you are not." And it is the complacent and entitled who are "bored."
     Gratitude is never bored. Gratitude sees beauty and possibility in everything. It is expansive and all-embracing. It is satisfied and content. Gratitude has compassion for complacency and understands it as an unhappy internal position, a lingering view of deprivation. Gratitude focuses on abundance instead. It is big-hearted and forgiving.
     Let's walk the path of gratitude starting now and going forth. Let's want what we have and appreciate whatever comes. Let's be bigger than complacency, bigger than entitlement, and bigger than boredom. Let's celebrate the bountiful harvest of our every day life experience.

I wake every morning with fresh eyes and an open heart. I am full of wonder and gratitude for my life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

LOVE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER

     Although I do believe in shades of grey, it seems to me that fundamentally everything in life is driven by one of two emotions, either love, or fear. And I don't think that fear is the absence of love so much as it is love that is blocked by an error in perception. So, in the end, perhaps everything is simply love- everything. We are either expressing love or expressing our being blocked from love. We are like a channel or a pipeline, and when we are clear, love flows through us like light through a window. We feel hopeful and grateful. We feel joy and happiness. We are playful, and patient, and enjoying our life.
     And then we become blocked from love, all too frequently- by disappointment and dashed expectations, by hurt and pain and financial fear, by critical judgment of ourselves and others. When we are blocked, love cannot move through us, and we feel nothing but darkness and emotional murk.
     We are all varying levels of clear and blocked- some of us easier to clear than others, and some of us so accustomed to being blocked that it has become a way of life to be miserable. We are all like a garden and easily over-taken with weeds and vines and out-of-control growth. With attention and time, and the desire to clean things up, we can all be clear, but it takes regular maintenence and all the honesty we have within us. We have to be willing to look, and to see, and to cut things away. We have to pare back and uproot and fortify what we want to grow stronger.
     Let's be honest about what energy we are expressing. Are we loving? Or are we blocked? And if we are blocked, what can we clear away to open ourselves to the light once again?

I tend to my inner garden and I am willing to do some weeding and neaten things up so that I can feel clear and full of light.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

WHOSE RULE IS THAT?

     We all have a set of unspoken rules that we live by, rules that we have accepted somewhere along the way and never questioned. We do things a certain way because that's how we have always done them. We rarely stop to think if there might be a better way. It's another example of our unconsciousness in action.
     A friend of mine tells the story of a tradition in her family that lasted for generations. Whenever a ham was baked in the oven, both ends would be cut away making it rather squared off. When someone finally asked why hams were always prepared this way, no one knew. After a bit of research, it was discovered that many years before, in the great-grandmotherly generation, the first fateful ham was cut and squared off to fit in a roasting pan that was not quite big enough....
     Let's question our assumptions and be willing to be honest about worn-old ruts of habits in our lives. Let's be open to change, and learning, and all that is fresh and new and available to us, no matter our age or situation.

I bring awareness to the rules I live by and am willing to question them. Do they all make sense in the context of my present-day life?

Friday, November 18, 2011

TOO SIMPLE TO BELIEVE

     The first time I ever heard about the concept of "enlightenment," it was something I wanted. As a result, my life as a young adult became a quest for spiritual knowledge. I learned how to work with the subtle energies of the body, and I tried meditation on cushions, and experimented with all kinds of esoteric practices. I got into pendulums and Tarot cards. I played with numerology and the phases of the moon. And I thought for a long time that there was spiritual value in mind expanding drugs as well, and vision quests, and shamanic journeying, and crystals, and sweat lodges, and anything and everything that appealed to me metaphysically. Anything and everything have been a part of my path.
     And then, one afternoon, a few years ago, I was sitting at a traffic light having just left a group meditation session, and a profound thought occurred to me: a question. What if enlightenment wasn't something to "seek" out there in the future after all, some crowning glory of a life well lived,  butsomething possible and available to me every minute of every day? What if it was a way of seeing and a way of being, and it was as simple as that? What if it was nothing more than pure unadulterated awareness free from mental noise? I felt peaceful, and joyful, serene and amused.
     How complicated I make everything so un-necessarily! I apply my intellect and judgment, and logic and good sense. And so often, the very answer I seek, the thing I most long for, is right in front of me, and too obvious for me to believe.

What simple truth am I not seeing? I defer my opinions and intellect and enjoy all of life's small pleasures.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ARGUING WITH THE RAIN

     If it were raining and I decided that I didn't want it to rain, that the rain didn't suit my mood or coordinate with my plan for the day, I could step outside and try to straighten things out. I could have a conversation with the sky. I could say, "Please stop, rain. You are coming down too hard and too fast and you are ruining the possibility for all of the outdoor activities I was going to do today. Surely, you understand how I feel, and will stop for me, especially since I am asking so nicely."
     And then, when the rain continued on, I could up the ante. I could raise my voice and say, "That's it! I tried being nice. Now, I'm angry and you need to stop. Listen to me or else!" And then, when the rain continued on, I could stomp my feet. I could scream louder and throw things at the sky, or burst into tears and plead pitifully. Surely, if I just threw a big enough fit, the rain would have to stop... or would it?
     The example may seem silly, but isn't that what we do all the time with people in our lives whose behavior we want to change? We are sure that if we ask in just the right way, if we master the correct approach, then we can get what we want. But we have no more control over the behavior of other people than we do over the rain. If we want peace of mind, then we have to accept the weather and people as they are, and adjust ourselves to what is, instead of insisting fruitlessly that everything out there has to adjust itself to suit us.

I recognize the futility of my frustration over the way certain things and people simply are. I stop battling what is beyond my control and work on adjusting my attitude.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MENTAL FLIP-FLOP

     I move so quickly from assurance, from confidence and comfort, to fear. I can be enjoying every aspect of my life, full of gratitude and a wholesome sense that all is well, and with one small alteration to my plan or expectation, my mind flips to catastrophe. I go from believing that everything is great to feeling sure that I won't be able to survive. And I am capable of doing this multiple times in the course of a single day.
     When I have landed on the fear-side, I talk myself back to faith. I coax and re-assure and am slowly restored to well-being. I relax and feel happy and hopeful again. And then something triggers me, and like a gun-shot, I am off again, and again...
     I'm tired of feeling the fear. I know intellectually that everything always works out. My whole life has proven that to be true. And yet, I want to fix things before they are even broken. I want to fix things in advance that could break, to save myself the trouble down the line. I want guarantees on my own terms, and somehow get to thinking that everything in its entirety is up to me. I forget that other people are in the mix, and God, and time, and the unseen and unknown web of life. My expectation of disaster and punishment is no more realistic or practical than my expectation of a smooth ride with no problems. Things will happen that are surprisingly pleasant, and things will happen that are surprisingly challenging, but through it all I will grow and learn and become ever more forgiving of myself and others and life in general.
     What happens is not up to me, even if I think it is. There are other factors involved that I cannot foresee or understand. So I can let go of what I can't hold onto anyway, and continue to remind myself as many times as it takes that it's faith I want to focus on, and not fear.

I catch myself flip-flopping from feeling good to feeling afraid, and bring myself back to feeling good. I am patient and gentle with the slow process of learning that it's not for me to make everything perfect in my life or the lives of those I love. There's always more to it than just me. I can relax and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES

     I find it interesting that sometimes in a retail establishment, in an effort to make a sale, the clerk will try to convince me that something I am objecting to is unobjectionable, thereby making me wrong, and second-guessing my own self-knowledge. One time I tried on a jacket and it was a bit tight across the back and the sleeves were too short when I extended my arms. I was told that it shouldn't matter because I wasn't going to be walking around pushing my arms forward. And I could wear it with a thin shirt. Seriously? And responses like this in the modern world happen frequently. We are told we should be satisfied with things that are clearly unsatisfying. Doctor's offices come to mind, and cell phone companies... There is so much in what people tell us we should believe that simply doesn't make any sense.
     And yet, is it possible that without even thinking, we do the same thing to others? When someone tells us they don't want something, a simple "no thanks," we often think they should want it, so we check again, and double-check. "Are you sure?" We try to convince them that maybe they do want it, after all, or that they feel a certain way that they have told us they don't feel. We're not very good about honoring what people tell us and believing they mean what they say.
    We are too busy, too frenetic, and not mindful enough to really listen and pay attention. Starting now, when someone tells me "no" I am going to respect that, and not second-guess it out of habit thinking that I know better. Let's honor each other, and let everybody speak for him/herself. If we do that, the same consideration will be shown to us, and that's the way it is supposed to be. We learn, when we are very small, to use our voices so that we can be heard.

I don't let others talk me into doing or consuming things that I don't really want to do or consume. And I will refrain from attempting to convince them in the same way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

CLARITY

     If I have a big idea, it's often difficult to explain it to people succinctly, so I find it a useful exercise to take pen to paper and write the thoughts down. They begin by being general and scattered, a little bit of this, a lot of that, some here, more there, a pile in the middle. With effort and attention, I can condense the scatter and narrow it down. And then repeat the process, and repeat it again. After a handful of reductions, my real purpose begins to emerge, and eventually, it gets so that I can state my big idea in one concise sentence.
     If I find myself confused and befuddled in my emotions, I can do the same thing. I can reduce and reduce and reduce. I can take the time to get to the root of the root, the seed of truth, and the source of all of my distraction. In attempting to be clear and to easily understand, as in so many other realms of life, less is inevitably more, and simple is best.

I simplify my thoughts and emotions. I say what I mean. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SAFE AT HOME

     We have a German Shepard puppy named Boss, and he has all kinds of puppy energy, but something about him is grounding for me nonetheless. If I crouch down, he comes and leans into me, and his body is strong and solid and the feel of his weight and his bulk makes me feel safe. He is beautiful, striking, smart, and loyal. I have a sense that in the big picture and the final analysis, that it's him who will keep an eye on me and protect me rather than the other way around.
     Safety is something we under-rate a bit in life I think. At least, I always have. But without it, it's hard to rise up to our potential. If our world is filled with chaos and drama, with scatter and discombobulation everywhere we look; if there is nothing earthed and grounded and solid, then we cannot help but falter emotionally, and in every way, and struggle with feelings of being unsure about the way we are and the way the world is.
    But with a solid base, I can grow steadily and with confidence. I am rooted deep and secure. I can travel and adventure and explore broadly knowing that I have a safe place to come home to, a place where I am protected, where my best interests matter, and where I am supported by love.

I am grateful for the solid people and things in my life that make me feel safe. They give me a foundation and a place to return to after adventuring in the world. They are true north and home base. They support me as I grow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FREEDOM FROM THE PAST

     We have a choice about the way we identify ourselves to others. It's up to us what we emphasize about our life experience. We can be workers first and foremost, or parents, or children, or expressive about our passions or our fears. We can be victims of all of our historical hardship, or victims by association. There's a certain creative license in the way we describe ourselves.
     I am a Personal Trainer, a Massage Therapist, a lover of life and nature, a writer, an athlete, a mother of seventeen year old twins, and married to a real-by-God cowboy. I am earthy, creative, the youngest in my family, well-educated, intellectual, and from a privileged background... but I am also unreasonably afraid of snakes, in recovery, over-apologetic, co-dependent, the daughter of an alcoholic, the survivor of abusive relationships, the sister of a mentally ill and suicidal woman, and the ex-wife of an essentially homeless and dysfunctional man. I can choose the spin I like.
     Do I seek pity with my labels, or is my purpose to spread a bit of joy? Do I want to appear strong, or weak, or completely average? Do I want people to be impressed with me? Or afraid of me? Or jealous? What message am I sending into the world by the way I define myself to others? It's worth considering.
     It seems to me that our life experience is our "story," but not really who we are. Who we are has more to do with our character than the things we have survived. If we throw our traumas before us when we meet people, we may miss an opportunity to be helpful down the line. If we introduce ourselves with our names only, and allow our energy to speak for itself, then we allow others the opportunity to get to know us as we are, free from our scars. And then over time, as our relationship evolves, we can slowly share a bit of our past. We are all survivors of something. It seems great strength to me when I learn that someone I like and respect has been through something horrific and does not lead with it, does not let it define them. They take it in stride and that gives me permission to take my stuff in stride too, and realize that life is life. I am alive, first and foremost, in this day. I have a fresh start. I am not a victim or a survivor today. I am simply here, and ready to experience whatever comes. I needn't weigh the day or my spirit down with hurts and definitions from the past.

I am bigger than my history and bigger than my wounds and suffering. Every day I have a fresh start and I am swept clean. I can live free from the definitions of my past.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

INSIDE JOB

     My experience of the day is a direct reflection of my internal state. If I feel good, everything externally seems beautiful and inspired. I have patience and humor and am able to take things in stride, even difficult things. And the opposite is true as well. If I am over-indulged; if I am harried with the tyranny of the urgent, and overwhelmed with loose ends, then the world is a place of stress and hardship, and does not seem particularly friendly. I see people trying to take advantage of me, and cruelty, and ugliness. I am not amused by anything. My life, and everything to do with it, feels serious and heavy, almost unbearable.
     I far prefer the lighter approach, but it's not always the one I choose. Still, I have learned to take note of my darkening mood, and to recognize that it has nothing to do with anything going on outside of me. If I am miserable, I need to look inwardly. I need to sit quietly and get honest. I need to get right with myself and square up whatever part of me has shifted askew. And if I do that sooner rather than later, my vision is restored and I can see clearly that life has never changed, that the change has all happened inside of me.
     If I am disturbed and disgruntled, I have a definite role in the drama and I need to identify my part so that I can stop playing it out. Over some things I have no control. But when it comes to my experience of life, I have choices and the power to change my perspective at anytime. I can choose gratitude and patience and forgiveness and love. I can ease up all over. I can ease up on myself, on others, and on everything that happens. And if I do, I will feel instantaneous relief.

I don't blame others or the world for my problems. I take ownership of the way I am experiencing my life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

EVER CHANGING VIEW

     We are like the mountains, or the surface of a country pond; ever-changing depending on the light and the weather and the growing age of trees and grasses. Sometimes the mountains are smooth and solid looking, blue, or black, or smoky grey, and sometimes they are textured. Late in the afternoon, when shadows stretch across the ridges, it's almost as if they have wrinkles, or folds in them. And the surface of ponds can be like glass, reflecting all the surrounding plant life like a mirror, or rough and choppy if the wind is brisk.
     Aren't we like that too? Our moods and faces change from the morning to the afternoon, and we are never exactly the same from one day, from one moment, to the next. Our weight fluctuates. Our skin loosens. Our eyes are clear or murky. Our wrinkles evolve. And as we shift our perspective on things, we can be clouded and dark like the mountains at night, or crisp and linear the way they rise from the horizon at first light.
     I think we have an expectation that we can achieve a certain "look" that we are pleased with, and then maintain it exactly that way forever. But our bodies and our faces are an ongoing process. There is a daily view, ever-fresh, dynamic, and interesting; We are as curious and wonderful to live with as the mountains, that never look the same, and are always beautiful and new.

I am fascinated by facial expressions and the way we all change visually from day to day, and morning to afternoon, like the mountains, or the surface of a pond.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WILLING TO CHANGE

     There are few things more uncomfortable or stressful than knowing that something in our lives or in ourselves isn't working and we need to change, but not being willing to change... yet. The wrestling status- the deal making, denial, pretend measures, and the self-deceipt are excruciating. We are successful convincing ourselves for a time that all is well, but there comes a point where we can no longer justify ourselves to ourselves no matter what spin we put on it.
     Living in this state of discomfort, knowing that change is called for but resisiting it with all that we have, we function on a short fuse. We are irritable and self-pitying. We want to be free of our pain and our angst, but we just want it to go away. We don't want to have to do anything. Anger lurks in us. On some level, we know what's required, but we are unwilling. When pushed, we lash out with a fierce, and raging defense.
     And yet, for all our battle and struggle, the moment we stop kidding ourselves and agree to do whatever it is that we need to do, our relief is extraordinary. We are relieved of the burden of dishonesty and resistance, and the path before us shines clear. We step forth free of all that has been loading us down and holding us back. In the end, there's nothing for it but to let go, to embrace the tough decision and accept the journey forth. There's nothing for it but to surrender to the truth of what  is.
    
I am honest about what's not working in my life. I stop fighting and resisiting and trying to make the wrong direction right by my sheer stubborn-ness. I am willing to change.

Monday, November 7, 2011

COURTESY

     Two qualities that are largely missing from our modern American culture are graciousness and courtesy. We are the "me" generation, and all of us grabby and insecure. We are too busy, too stressed, too overwhelmed, and too preoccupied to take the extra moment and consideration required to be polite and genteel with the variety of people that we encounter in our day.
     We surround ourselves with the fortress of technology, with smart phones and ipads. We can't be bothered with civility. We have cellular business to conduct and texts to return. We have to tweet, and update our status online. It seems a sad state of affairs. We are missing human connections in our lives that could lift our spirits and lighten our loads.
     Let's be kind. Let's be considerate. Let's open doors and take note of the people we pass and interact with. Let's use our manners and open our hearts. Let's be ladies and gentlemen, starting right now and going forth into the future. Let's restore courtesy to our lives and experience the joys of living with grace.

I take the time to be courteous, and slow down enough to be truly considerate.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NO NEED TO PROVE OUR RIGHT TO BE HAPPY

     Some people are grouchy by habit. Even when they feel good, or happen to be enjoying themselves, they won't admit it because it would blow their whole grouch facade. They are professional victims, and if we're honest, perhaps we all can be a little bit that way.
     We never want anyone to know that we are having too much fun or feeling too good. It's so much easier to share our scars and our wounds and our hardships. I'm not sure where the inclination to be secretive about our pleasures comes from. Perhaps we feel that we don't really deserve them, so that if we are found out, they will be ripped from us. Or perhaps the only kind of attention we know how to get is pity, so we troll for it with our misery, and by being mopey. We unknowingly imprison ourselves with so many kinds of false beliefs.
     Surely it's ok to express our joy and happiness without guilt, and if others don't like it, or can't handle it, then that's on them. We don't have to pretend that life is all burden and drudgery and try to somehow prove that we are working harder and struggling more than anyone else as if our worth were tied up in that. We have value because we are alive, not because of how much we produce or how hard we work. Our lives can be an expression of the joy of our existence. They need not be some test of endurance where the one who suffers the most wins.

My worth is not tied up with anyone else or any thing in particular. I need not prove my right to happiness with a lot of hard work and struggle. My ability for joy is the direct result of my having been born.

Friday, November 4, 2011

THE VITALITY OF AGING

     It is my personal belief that no matter our age, if we are free from debilitating disease, it's possible to be in the best shape of our lives. I am convinced that we don't have to become stooped over and decrepit and old in our thinking or our spirits, or even in our bodies. Our current culture rather rails against this idea. I can feel the bristling energy in opposition even as I write this. But I believe in healthy longevity! And there are men and women who live vibrantly into their hundreds without ailments and aches and the common miseries of aging in the "modern" world. They prove my theory. We can be more vital and strong and bright-eyed and serene in a whole person kind of way at eighty five than we could ever be at thirty. We take things so seriously in our youth, and have not yet learned how to be our own caretakers. And of course, many of us never do learn this.
     But it's possible to learn vitality, and I believe, most definitely worth it. There is so much grace in having many years of living experience. I imagine that we all know, or have known, individuals who carry their age-old wisdom with a kind of majesty and command, with nothing whatever weak or old or diminishing about them. Most of us seem to arrive on earth wound super-tight, and it takes years and years to unwind, and feel safe enough to relax and enjoy the ride. But once we do, there is the unlimited possibility of nobility and good living.
     There are so few things in life that we have any ability to control, but we do have control over the choices that we make that contribute to or detract from the health of our bodies and our minds. So if we choose well, we can feel well for as long as our run on earth may last. Life is a journey of fine-tuning, seems to me. We can always be in better shape somehow- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If we are honest with ourselves about what could use improvement, we can regularly make small changes and alterations that raise the quality of our lives.
     We can improve our posture at any age, and the strength of our muscles, and consequently, our bones. We can improve our diets, our attitudes, our behaviors. We can change habits, wardrobes, sleeping hours, things that we read and expose ourselves to. We can limit drama in our lives by setting boundaries. We can limit our exposure to sick and toxic people, to negativity, to media hype, to traffic, and to crowds. We can spend more time in nature. We can take daily walks. We can learn to do those things which feed our spirits and keep our bodies strong and fit. Age, in so many ways, it seems to me, is largely a state of mind.

I believe in the possibility of ever-increasing vitality and good health. I can make changes to improve my experience, no matter my age, and enjoy the pleasures of dynamic longevity.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SEE-THROUGH LIVING

     I have an avoidance tactic with situations that I don't want to think about or look at. I put on metaphysical blinders. If I don't see something, then surely it cannot be real. With my blinders on I can be selective about the things I have to face- only those things that I choose to acknowledge. If I don't acknowledge something, then surely, it doesn't exist.
     The catch and the rub though, is that it does! Whether I admit something into the forefront of my consciousness or not, it is still operational in the energy of my being. It nags and nettles until I have to look. Denial gets me nothing but sick. It takes a lot of courage to be honest all across the board at all times, with myself, with others, and with all of the currents of my life. I can pretend to be "fine," to be aok with everything, but whatever is not aok in reality will rub at me until I accept it into my vision and consideration. The truth is never particularly complicated, but it is usually scary to look at because it admits my vulnerability and all of my shortcomings. To admit that I am unsure, or jealous, or bitter, or anything less than totally generous and loving makes me look bad- or so I often think.
     But maybe my vulnerabilities are actually beautiful in some way, even as they expose my insecurities. I can be petty and small-minded and resentful and a grand internal martyr at times. But I can also be hugely loving and compassionate and encouraging and generous. Both sides exist in me in varying measures. I must admit to them both. If I deny the aspects of my character that I don't like so much, they will grow bigger. If I refuse to see them, they will have to get louder and cast bigger shadows until I do. But if I allow them, they have a chance to lessen and transform in the gentle light of my own compassion for my own self. It's ok to feel what I feel.
     In the final analysis, perfection is boring. It's the imperfect that elicits empathy and compassion and understanding and love, in myself as well as others. So I'm going to admit to my imperfections. I'm going to live a see-through life and not pretend I'm somehow better or healthier or tougher than I am.

I give myself permission to be exactly who I am.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PRAISING SUNSHINE

     Because of skin cancer, many people feel that the sun is harmful, and that exposure to it should be avoided for the most part, and limited at best. And at the height of summer, at the height of the day, in excess, I absolutely agree. But beyond that, perhaps we tend to give the sun a bit of a bad rap. Think of the beauty of sunrise and sunset and sunlight in all of its manifestations! It is life giving and life sustaining. It grows plants and grasses and trees. It kills mold and mildew. It spreads radiant light and warmth. How can it not be beneficial for us in some way as well? Or in many ways?
     I believe in the healing properties of the sun. I believe we can bathe ourselves in its heat and brightness in moderation to experience maximum health. It soothes my spirit to sit in a puddle of sunlight, especially coming through a window on a winter morning, or a crisp fall afternoon. It's relaxing and transformative, and to me, it feels endlessly healing. With the warmth on my eyelids, I am carried to other plains of thought and experience. The sun's energy feeds me no less than it feeds the flowers. It penetrates my skin and reaches deep. In a momentary sun-bath, I am restored to my purest spiritual state.
     Life is dreary without the sun. When it comes bursting forth from behind clouds on a grey day, everything is altered. The brightness lifts us. And there is nothing like the clarity of rising sunlight on a clear morning, or after days of storms. And what a joy to step out of cold shadows where we have become chilled to the bone, and into a patch of sun: to feel the heat! To feel the light and the life and the wonder of the sun's energy.
     My gratitude is for the sun today. My gratitude is for the ever-changing intensity of our own earthly ball of fire. By its daily rising and setting and shifting and shining, we are oh so richly blessed.

I appreciate the sun today. I take a moment to express my thanks for its brightness and warmth.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HUMAN FENG SHUI

     I've been thinking about the balance of elements in my life. Much like Feng Shui and the proper placement of things in a house, it is important that I incorporate energies of earth, air, fire, water, metal, and wood into my life in a balanced fashion, and to recognize when one of these has taken over and is dwarfing all the rest.
     I have always been strong in fire. I am passionate and intense. And I am earthy in the way I connect to the natural world, and the heavy way in which I walk, and how I eat. I believe I am shiny and reflective like metal. I bounce good energy off of me and back to the person I am with. And I am creative and constructive like wood: building and useful. All of these elements come to me easily and naturally, almost without effort. But the two that do not come to me easily and naturally are vitally important, and I need to invite them more fully into my life. They are water and air.
     My breath can be choppy and rough and not deep enough, and not easy. And I tend more towards vigor and strident expression than anything trickling or flowing. Water and air are almost angelic elements as I understand them... light, breezy, loose, feathery.... They feel feminine to me, and softly nurturing. I covet them, though they largely illude me. I call to them and open my heart.

I embrace the gentle elements of life. I embrace softness and quietness and the loose fitting and easy-going.