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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

THE REALITY OF OUR DREAMS

     When it comes to my dreams, I tend to be a bit of a magical thinker. I have always believed that if I want something badly enough, and pray for it, then surely it will turn up in my life. And occasionally, that's exactly what happens. But more often, I find myself waiting for the opportunities I long for to find me. I have some distorted and magical expectation that from out of the mist will appear some individual, or group of individuals, who will make my dreams happen for me. I am not out creating opportunities for myself, but waiting in the wings for them to come to me, and feeling discouraged and disappointed when they do not come.
     I'm only just now willing to admit to my innermost self that things don't really work the way I've always thought they did. There is not some dream fulfillment angel going to come and grant me my wish. I have to be my own advocate. I have to put myself out there in the path of my hopes and say here I am and this is what I have to offer. Who will be lucky enough to participate in my adventure?
     I didn't used to think it was up to me. I thought I was supposed to stand back humbly and wait to be discovered; leaving it up to the outside world to choose me, or not, and then to determine and establish my worth,. But it's actually the opposite. I'm starting to get it. It's for me to market myself and to create my own value. It's for me to choose who's right to help me fulfill my creative vision and not the other way around.
     In many ways, I am absolutely powerless, but in other ways, I have far more power than I have ever acknowledged. I need to step up if I want to follow my dreams. We all do. We need to emerge from the illusive safety of our shadows of fear and give ourselves a real chance. Let's be willing to make mistakes and face potential rejection and criticism and misunderstanding, but keep the faith, and stay the course, and trust in the journey. Surely, we have the dreams and inclinations that we have for a good reason. But they serve no purpose at all unless we have the courage and the perseverance to move steadily towards them.

I take some small action each day in the direction of my dreams. I understand that it is up to me to create opportunities for success in my life. I'm done waiting around to be magically discovered.

Monday, January 30, 2012

DIETARY MASTERY

     Freedom from out-of-control eating boils down to a fairly simple concept. We must be honest about what and how much we eat and why we might feel a desire to overeat. And then, we must honor our feelings and give them expression and compassion instead of pushing them away with food.
     And perhaps, as much as anything, our "weight" is the state of our minds. We can feel both full and hungry at the same time. We can be thin and feel fat, or be fat and feel thin.  "Light" and "heavy" are fundamentally spiritual concepts, after all, and how we feel, and how we feed ourselves, with either abusive excess or tender loving care, matters in the big picture. Everything is inter-related; our sense of well-being, our level of exhaustion, our food choices, our happiness, our levels of guilt and shame, out triggers, our indulgences, and our misunderstandings. If we want to feel healthy and happy in our bodies and our minds we must be honest about the motivations that drive us towards better health or away from it.
     Mastery of diet and body image is not a destination point. It's maintenence and ongoing honesty, steady improvement, heightened awareness, and ever-better self-care. It's a journey. We must embrace the shadow-side of ourselves. Food choice corrections that will sustain us are not about abstinence. To live sanely in a world of vast dietary choices, we must learn to honor the connections between our feelings and the desire to eat, and remain conscious of our ultimate goal of lean and hearty living in a body that feels great.

I bring awareness to my emotion-consumption connection, and I'm honest with myself about the reality of what and how I eat.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

THE POWER WITHIN

     In some way our strength and endurance has less to do with the power of our will and our muscles, and more to do with our ability to gather and engage the primal energy inside us. It is an internal drawing up of breath and focus of intention. It is determined and unstoppable. It builds and strengthens as it moves, like a plow, and does not give out.
     While brute force is combative and striking, it is limited. It's like a hard slap. It does not have the staying power of our gathered-up inner strength. And yet, we spend most of our time using just this force; trying to push at things. We slap at life. We are unsure how to make good use of the unlimited supply of power within us. We "try" weakly at things and fail. We whimper and make excuses. We are full of "I can't" and "it's too hard," but we can, and it isn't! We are powerful beyond our wildest dreams!
     Let's engage our power when we need it. Let's gather breath and build it inside of us like fire. It starts low, like a soft and steady drumbeat, and builds, and builds and builds: louder, stronger, louder, stronger. Let's amp up and explode it forth. It's possible and it's fun... to experience even an inkling of the strength that we store in our depths. It's available to us always, and as close as our very breath.

I play with the power of my breath. I gather its energy within me and experience the tremendous rise and rush of my intention as I bring it forth. It gives me a glimmer of what's possible, and I remain open to all possibility. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

GOOD POSTURE

     There's are spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical components to good posture. It requires a strong core, and self-confidence; a positive outlook, and a right-sized view of our place in the world and in relation to our fellows and to God. We are not meant to crouch and hunch. We are meant to stand upright and be joyful.
     But as we perceive life happening to us, our shoulders cave in, as if we are actually carrying a heavy load and the weight of it is bending us over. We are victims of the metaphysical weight of our lives. We curl forward in a effort to protect ourselves, and then we curl forward out of habit. But we needn't. No matter how bowled over by life circumstances we have become, we can learn to straighten up. We can stand tall and lift our chests.
     Good posture is better for our sense of well-being, better for our bones and muscles, our necks and backs; better for opportunities in life and better for relief from pain. It's better for aesthetics, visceral health, and presentation of self to the world. We look more attractive and younger when we stand up, and we feel that way too.
     If we are used to slouching, it's an awkward change at first, and we have to re-train our minds as well as our bodies, but it's doable, and definitely worth it. We have only to bring awareness to our posture wherever we are, to check in with ourselves while driving, while working at a desk, while standing, walking, cooking etc. And then stand up when we catch ourselves; lengthen our abs and lift our chests. We can change our habit. We can habit ourselves to the benefits of good posture.

I catch myself slouching and stand up. I bring conscious awareness to ever-improving my posture. It feels good to stand tall, and I'm worth it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

THE GLORY OF OUR BONES

     I have been frustrated with my elbows lately. The protruding bones seem to catch and bump on everything, and I have, more than once, considered them rather poorly designed. And yet, they bend and straighten my arms! They allow for hugs and planks and dancing and writing and lifting things. How limited my range of motion and activity would be without them. My elbows are no less than miracles of design and engineering, and my ankles and knees and hips and wrists and fingers are no less: all of my moving parts are no less!
     Let's celebrate the wonder of our joints and stop sending them frustrated, negative thoughts. Perhaps they ache a bit... but do they function? Do they move us? Let's find our gratitude. Let's be grateful for our rotators and hinges, for the hardware of our bones, and for our muscles and tendons that move them. We are flippant with our bodies. We take them for granted. We abuse them with our choices and then gripe when they react. Let's not gripe today. Let's take a moment and appreciate them just the way they are. Our bodies are fantastic and miraculous in every way!

I catch myself feeling irritated with my body and make the decision to change my thoughts. I express my appreciation instead. I appreciate the miracle of all of my moving parts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TOO SIMPLE TO BELIEVE

     We miss life's essential purpose and pleasure by being too busy. We are too busy in our minds as well as our activities. We work ourselves into mental and physical frenzies of exhaustion and despair with the dysfunction of too much. We think too much, eat too much, work too much, spend too much, and talk too much. We figure if a little bit is good, then more must necessarily be better. We strive for more success, more understanding, more money, more perfection, more happiness, and more peace. And in our striving we completely miss what we already are and what we already have, which is more than enough to bring us all of the happiness and joy that is possible on earth. Nothing external can do it for us, not in any kind of a lasting way, and yet externals are all that we push towards- the trappings of the ego and the false illusions of materialism that appear so real.
     Everything we need, we have within us. We are already perfect. We are whole and complete just the way we are. We spend so much time trying to figure it all out, and yet, the answer is simple; so simple it utterly eludes us. The purpose of life is to live it, and the reason for being is to be. And if we truly accept that, just as it is (don't over-complicate it!) then our satisfaction is so rich and so full that it brings tears to our eyes... and we want for nothing. We are full at last! We are full to the brim with joy and gratitude and love for our lives!

I stop doubting and pushing and wanting to be somewhere other than I am. I fully accept and rejoice in the gifts of the moment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THE UNKNOWN FOR A REASON

     It's fairly miraculous the way we get through things in life; big things, little things, scary things, unexpected happiness. Peering into the unknown future can be bothersome. It's the "unknown" part of it that is disconcerting. We feel sure that if we only knew what was going to happen that we would feel better.
     But maybe we wouldn't. I can think of numerous instances where, if I had known what was coming, I might have opted out. Facts alone can be terrifying. But life is lived much deeper than facts alone. Each experience has levels of meaning and feeling and lessons and blessings. Plus, we can change our life experience at any time by changing our attitude about what's happening. A slight shift in perspective can turn hardship into opportunity. It's all how we look at it.
     No matter how bad things seem, we are never stuck, even if we feel stuck. We can move and shake things up. We can change. We have the power to change ourselves, if not our external world, but often that as well. And we are going to be ok one way or another. We don't have to be afraid of the unknown. We can welcome it with curiosity and excitement. We can get excited about being able to witness our journey as it unfolds.
     The unexpected doesn't have to freak us out. When faced with seemingly insurmountable situations, we can watch and wait and be amazed as everything works itself out the way it always does, and restores to balance yet again. We grow in spurts, and then we settle in. That's the rhythm and the stretch and the dance of life.

I am at peace with the unknown. I welcome the adventure of my future and know that no matter what happens, I'm going to be ok.

Monday, January 23, 2012

EXPRESSING WHAT'S SUPPRESSED

     It's a tricky deal if we repress our emotions, because if we are repressing them, how do we know what they are? And if we don't express them, then they come out sideways in moodiness and despair, overwhelm and frustration, which, of course, we don't want... so what to do? Perhaps, the first step is to recognize when something is amiss within us, to identify when we feel inexplicably discombobulated, or suddenly touchy and irritable, like a hair trigger, ready to explode- and for no good reason that we can readily identify.
     And then, from all of my experience, I think we have to wait. We acknowledge that there's a problem and then open ourselves to understanding, which may or may not come quickly. For me, when it does come, it's usually in a kind of conversational purge. I don't want to say something about some little thing that's bothering me, that seems insignificant and unimportant. I hold myself back. And then, like a pressure cooker, the pressure builds until I cannot hold it anymore, and I blurt out what I'm thinking... and then like the endless handkerchief out of the magician's hat, another thought follows and another and another, sometimes mixed with tears and emotion and who knew I had all that going on inside of me but here it comes.
     And then, I feel better.
     I am learning to trust the process of working through things. I have always wanted to handle them, be past them, get over them, and move on. But the hard emotional stuff inside of us bubbles up in little bits at a time, and has to be processed the same way: slowly, sometimes almost surreptitiously, and steadily... steadily as it comes up.

I recognize when I am less then comfortable on the inside and open to whatever within me might be wanting expression. I don't blame others for what's going on. I am patient. I trust the working-through process, and I wait for the ability to understand.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

MY SISTER'S CHOICE

     Thirteen years ago today, my sister swallowed three bottles of Safeway brand ibuprofen and chased them with bubble-gum flavored Benadryl. Then, she laid down on the floor between her futon and the wall in her apartment in Lander, Wyoming, and slowly died. Without a note, and by her choice, she took her own life. She left an organ donor card on the kitchen table, but no one found her for three days, and by then, her organs were not salvageable, and neither was she.
     I'm not sure that she ever understood or appreciated her worth. She struggled with increasing levels of chemical imbalance in her brain, but needing medication to normalize her functioning was not to her liking. She wanted to be other than she was- so much so that she thought it more worth while to end it all than to play it out. Maybe things could have gotten better for her, or maybe not. I'll never know. Her act took a certain amount of courage, and I have learned to honor her choice even though it made me sad and hurt me deeply in a primal kind of way. It was a hard thing to lose my only sibling.
     In her memory, just for today, let's help someone believe that their existence matters, and that they have value and beauty and something to contribute. It's easy to assume that everyone we encounter is doing just fine, especially if we are all wrapped up in our own personal drama. But maybe not. Maybe our smile or a word of encouragement is just the thing someone needs today to change their world and maybe even save their life. We never know how our small acts can effect the quality of someone else's experience. Let's be willing to spread our joy and share our love.

I don't know how the people I encounter today might be hurting. I make a conscious effort to spread a little kindness and appreciation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

SHAME SHAME GO AWAY

     Shame is toxic and debilitating and more active in our lives than most of us realize. It hides and lingers and acts on us as if from behind a curtain. We are children once again, transported backwards in time to feelings of smallness. When I am ravenous with hunger and unable to feel satisfied no matter how much I eat, chances are there is shame at work; or when I am inexplicably depressed or self-conscious.
     Riddled with shame, I do not feel deserving of the good before me. I do not feel equal to life. I am stumbling and clumsy, embarrassed, and awkward. It's an inside job. I am not enough somehow in these moments. Everyone "out there" appears to have it all together and I alone am bumbling and unsure. On the outside, in these moments, I imagine the perception of me is wildly different from what I feel on the inside. For all I know, others in my presence might experience their own shame triggered by something that I seem to represent to them.
     It's crazy, really, that we are any of us "shame-bound" in the slightest. We are each unique, beautiful, and gifted in our own rights. Some of us (not me!) have a knack for high fashion and great style. Some of us are poised and calm and relaxed. And some of us are all heart and gusto and enthusiasm. It depends what we prioritize: work, family, money, externals, internals, art, nature, books, technology... The rub comes when we have followed one path and encounter someone on a very different path who seems glamorous to us somehow, someone who reminds us of what we have not chosen, but what has been presented to us as valuable in the past- maybe by friends, maybe by our families... and we feel suddenly wrong for choosing what we have chosen.... as if we are ridiculous and have missed an important point somehow. Happily, the doubt passes, but it's uncomfortable when it bumps up against us.
     We all have a roll in the distribution of shame as well as the experience of it. Let's watch out for our tendency to judge and finger-point. Let's be more inclined to say, "Good for you!" than "Why are you doing that?" Let's honor others and respect their internal guides and callings, and honor our own as well. Let's catch shame in the act and send it packing. Let's rejoice in all the different ways we can make our way through life, and none of them wrong or better or anything- just choices and experience and powerful inclinations from the gut.

I bring awareness to all the ways I allow shame to operate in my life, and make a decision to let it go. I don't hand it out or take it in. I make a commitment to live my life shame-free.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

     We can't let our aches and pains paralyze us. The answer to almost anything that ails us is movement and action and forward motion. We need mental and physical distraction from our misery and suffering in order to relieve it. Nothing exacerbates an unpleasant condition more than focusing on it exclusively. We are less incapacitated by our discomfort than we think.
     Let's get up and get out. Let's stretch and walk. Let's dance. It's not a permanent fix by any means, but we can feel better for a little while, and that's worth something. Let's rise above our ailments and mush on in spite of them. We can take the time we need to be tender and compassionate with all of the ways that we hurt, but we cannot wallow in them or we will drown. At some point or other, if we want some relief, we have to make the decision to pick ourselves up and carry on.

When I am in pain, I take the time I need to rest and heal, but at some point or other, I have to get on with the activity of living my life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

INFORMED DECISIONS

     It's always worth talking to more than one person in order to make a decision when there are unknown factors involved. My fears are like certainties until I have spoken with someone who actually has facts and reliable information and experience. But I can never be absolutely sure that the information I receive is devoid of motivation for steering me one way or the other, which is why it's best for me to speak to at least two people who are "in the know." And once I've done that, I have a context within which to consider, and then make my decision.
    We spend so much time in life unsure, speculating outcomes, projecting disaster, and afraid to take a stand anywhere  because we might be wrong. It's unquestionably better all the way around to gather the information we need and then choose the best path we can, and let it play out as it does, rather than driving ourselves crazy with not-knowing and second-guessing, and frazzling ourselves with the stress of on-going indecision. Reassurance is available to us if we will only make up our minds.

Sometimes I am uninformed regarding decisions I have to make. Instead of stabbing in the dark, I ask questions and seek information so that I can make the best possible choice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

THE LITTLE THINGS

     My life has been a process of metaphysical inquiry. I have always been fascinated with spiritual matters, with miracles and healing and energy and love. In my teenage years, I approached these things darkly and esoterically. I thought "deep" matters were necessarily a bit occult.
     But what I have come to understand is that what's spiritual is actually obvious and well-lit. It is right before us in the light of day. And somehow we miss it. We look for it everywhere but where it is- in our small acts of kindness, and the morning sky, in the tastes and textures of a delicious meal, and the comfort of our beds.
     Enlightenment is not some kind of "out there" possibility designed only for monks and the seriously meditative. It is available to us all, each minute of every day. It is thoughtless awareness and absolute presence. It is free and simple and pure and accessible. It is the joy of being and the realization that we are ever-blessed with a multitude of simple pleasures, and surrounded on all sides by extraordinary beauty.

I quiet my mind and appreciate all of the little things in life... which are actually the big things, if the truth be told. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

EASY ON TEASING

     I dislike sarcasm. It cuts and bites and belittles. The original etymology of the word means "to tear flesh" and that's what sarcasm does. It is ripping and shredding guised as good times. My sense is that sarcastic people are angry people. They seem to take a certain pleasure in making others squirm. And teasing can have a bite to it as well, especially if it is backed with unspoken criticism and hidden judgment. Being at the receiving end of teasing, we must sometimes ask for mercy. What is meant to be funny feels more like torture.
     Humor that comes from an open heart- that pokes fun at itself and others in a gentle and playful way, lovingly, and with kindness, is far more palatable than sarcasm or merciless teasing. We are each of us far more delicate emotionally than we realize, and we are easily bruised.
     Let's bring higher awareness to the way we interact with others, and the bend and curve of our humor. Are we coming from love and appreciation, or judgment? Are we gentle, or cruel? Is our laughter full of joy and relaxation, or does it bite? It make s a difference. It makes a difference in the quality of our lives and in the world.

I keep my humor light and gentle. I avoid teasing, and sarcasm, and laughter that stings. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

QUIET THE NOISE

     How did we survive without our cell phones? How did anyone meet for coffee or a meal or keep track of their kids? What happened when our cars broke down, or we couldn't remember what we needed to buy at the grocery store? With our cell phones in hand to give us control, we miss out on mysterious adventures and the experience of patiently waiting. We miss out on each other.
     It makes me sad to see people with a spare moment spending it on texting messages or surfing the web. Maybe we are too in touch these days- too closely in touch with each other and with all of our personal projects and activities. It's all so close to us. We can never get away. We have lost the ability to daydream. We rarely sit quietly and look around. We are losing ourselves in cyber space.
     Let's take ourselves back. Let's realize how dependent we've become on our screen-time and start limiting our access occasionally. Let's put down our cell phones and give ourselves a break. Let's spend an hour each day being absolutely free from technology and open to the possibilities of silence and nature and the fresh air.... or more than an hour, or less.... whatever we can as often as we can... so that we don't fill every possible gap with the noise of busyness and end up losing touch with what matters the most. We need to keep our lines of communication open to God.

I leave my cell phone at home and take a walk. I enjoy being quiet and meditative. I open my heart and my senses to divine inspiration.

Friday, January 13, 2012

PITY TRAIN

     Self-pity is a mindset, and it's rooted inside of me and not caused by anything external, even if that's how it feels. It's fundamentally a lack of gratitude. My happiness and satisfaction return to me if I shift my perspective from whatever misery I'm focused on and return to the moment where good things are happening right in front of me if I only look with the right kind of eyes.
     We all have so much to be grateful for, the simplest of things, and the most complex, and yet, when we're fully engaged in the self-pity zone, it feels like we have nothing at all, that life is a bust and we've been jipped of the fun that everyone else seems to be having. Poor us. We have food and shelter and clean water that runs out of a tap whenever we turn it on. We have personal transportation and global communication devices, clean communities, and access to help and opportunity and decent medical care whenever we need it, if we only reach out. We have sunlight and moonlight and all the wonders of nature, full of inspiration, and completely free of charge. We have hope and basic sanitation and Starbucks and movies, books and poetry and television and commercial free radio. Poor, poor us. The weekends are too short. The weather isn't to our liking. We are too fat or too thin, and we have to get up every morning and go to work!
     My gratitude today is for the gift of life and the blessing of living in America, for the ones I love and my health and intelligence. It's ridiculous to focus on what I don't have, when what I do have is so much and so wonderful. My cup runneth over.

I shut down my self-pity machine and focus on the good stuff. I am blessed beyond measure. My life is a gift.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

COME AND GO

     I cannot get what I want in life by grabbing for it. If I try too hard and push and clutch, I block the flow of energy and end up stuck. Everything in life is come and go and the law of attraction. What I send out comes back to me. If I am rigid with the fear of "not getting," then "not getting" is what I manifest. If I am trusting and loving and confident, then that's what shows up in my life. I have to give it away to keep it and let go to be able to hold on. My "agenda" is not nearly as important as my faith.

I am open to the possibility that I may not get what I think I want, but I am willing to trust what I get.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

CONTEMPLATION VS ANALYSIS

     I think there's a difference between contemplation and analysis. Contemplation feels gentler to me somehow. It is more wandering than questing, more willing to be unsure. It asks open-ended questions and is up for discussion. Contemplation is willing to consider alternative points of view.
     Analysis, on the other hand, seeks certainty. It wants to categorize and pigeon-hole. It wants to tie things up with a string and put them away: done, solved, next. Its approach is cut and dry, hard-edged. It seeks to solve, not to wonder. It wants to arrive and not meander.
     I bring both energies to my life, but I prefer the contemplative. I get in trouble when I try too hard to figure things out. I suffer needlessly asking why this and why that, and needing to understand. I can ask why not instead, and contemplation lets me. I can think hummm... and perhaps... and let's see, and what about this over here? Contemplation allows for all possibility. I don't have to solve anything or come to any conclusions. I can wander playfully in and around the ramblings of my spirit and my mind.

I invite the energy of contemplation into my day, and I open to the journey of reflective thoughts. I honor the living curiosity within me that wants to explore.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WINTER WEATHER

     I have always rather liked the winter. I like cold fresh mornings and seeing my breath in foggy clouds. I like walking outdoors and feeling my cheeks sting from the sharp air. I like down jackets and bundling up, and I like the snow. It is soft and quiet and clean. It is dusty whiteness. It is thick and heavy or light and fluffy, but magical either way. I love snow on the ground and the way is decorates tree branches and rooftops. And I even like cold, wintery rain. Whatever comes this time of year, I like the freshness of it.
     As a culture, I think we spend too much time complaining about the weather. "It's so cold!" we quip. And then, before we know it, summer comes around again and we're at odds with the heat and humidity. Let's make an effort to enjoy what's here, whatever it is. Let's enjoy the mysterious changeability of the weather and the sky.
     Each day is a surprise and a blessing, whether it's clear and crisp or soaking rain, perfectly spring, or snow-bound winter. I appreciate it all and I'm grateful for the changing seasons.

I enjoy the blessings of winter. I have gratitude for the fresh, crisp air, and bundling jackets. I welcome the magical snow!

Monday, January 9, 2012

SLOWING DOWN

      The energy of my life is uncomfortable when I am in a rush. Anyone who is not moving as fast as I am is a source of urgent and immediate frustration for me. I am easily exasperated and tough to please. I am locked in a space of feeling there is not enough... of anything! I take my life in gulps and it chokes me.
     When I am relaxed, I simply witness whatever is happening around me and feel at ease.I notice other people rushing and commend myself for not being one of them. I enjoy all of the simple details of the environment and savor with pleasure the intricate flavors of my life.
     My rushing doesn't make anything happen any faster except for the depletion of my energy and patience, so there's really nothing intelligent about it, no matter how I look at it. The truth is that I can be efficient and streamlined and steady without having to rush. I can actually be more efficient that way. Ben Franklin was absolutely right when he told us "Haste makes waste." It does.
     I can slow down. I can relax about things. I can get in the habit of allowing myself extra time, or, if there is no extra, I can savor the time that I have.

Life is too precious to rush through. I slow down and take my time. I enjoy each moment and all of my days.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

BOTH SIDES OF LIFE HAVE THEIR PURPOSE AND THEIR PLACE

     When my mind and spirit are clear and my body feels good, everything seems so simple and beautiful. I am free from doubt and worry. I feel expansive and generous. But when my mind is busy and I feel out of sorts physically, it's a different story entirely. I feel as if the world is closing in on me. I am wracked with terrors and suspicions and all or nothing thinking. And there is a certain desperation within me because I'm not sure that I will ever again be restored to the light.
     It's unrealistic to think I can find a way to be always happy. It's the natural ebbing and flowing way of life that I should shift back and forth from clarity to blindness, from love to fear. And yet, I seem unable to take them both in equal stride. I welcome the bright side and resist the dark with all I have.
     But, if I'm honest, some of my greatest spiritual evolution has come to me by way of the muck and the murk. There is great value in the muddy puddles and swampy bogs of life. I suppose it's unlikely to believe that I could ever actually embrace the difficult passages of life, but maybe I can learn to stop fighting them. And instead of being irritated with feeling less than perfect, perhaps I can learn to say, "Ah- here I am again. I know this place, and know it will pass, and until it does, I will let it be here and trust the lessons that it has to teach me."

I have compassion for myself and my shifting moods and energies. I can fully enjoy feeling good and be open to the experience of feeling less than good. I trust the process, and trust in the timing of God.

Friday, January 6, 2012

THE GIFT OF OUR ATTENTION

     The positive attention we direct towards others is like sunshine on a cold day. We can warm the chill of someone's experience with a smile, or some other kind of small recognition. If we open our eyes and our hearts, we can see the the beauty in people. We can see their potential and hope and believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves- maybe especially then. There is incredible power in the words, "You can do it!"  We can frame things in a positive way. We can point out what's wonderful in others, and the things they do well.
     And the ripple effect of these small acts of kindness is that we end up feeling good. We are warmed ourselves by smiles in return and the blossoming of people before our eyes. Love inside us and bubbling over is a happy space to occupy. So let's do it. Let's pay attention to people, and love them just because. Why not? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Life is short and hard. Let's spread whatever kind of joy we can.

I notice people today and think well of them. I focus on what's beautiful.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

WHO DECIDES THE TRUTH?

     What is "the truth"? Who has the right to determine it? And is there one absolute truth, or is truth relative and dependent on different points of view? Perhaps the answer is "all of the above." If twenty people witness the same happening, each of them has a distinctive experience, and each of them relates the sequence of events in his or her own way. And yet, in each story, there will be certain "actions" that all twenty people can agree on. Are these "actions" then, the truth, and everything else interpretation?
     We impose personal meaning onto things that are effectively neutral. We translate action through our emotion and our own experience of life. A man who drops a book might be perceived to be careless by one person, but nervous by another, or maybe clumsy, or intentionally creating a distraction, or angry, or righteous, or extremely lacking in self-confidence. It all depends how the witness perceives the man. But is perception the truth? Maybe our perception is our own kind of personal truth, but we have to allow that the same thing may be perceived very differently by others.
     If there is one abiding truth that over-rides all of our personal perceptions, perhaps it has something to do with the spiritual principles of love and forgiveness, and with the understanding that two wrongs don't make a right, and what goes around comes around. These seem to be over-arching operating principles of the universe. And yet, what about the loving and innocent bright-eyed child that is killed in a hit and run accident, or harmed irrevocably by some other brutality? That doesn't seem an entirely fair return. How do we explain that event in a cause and effect kind of scenario? Maybe it's some kind of negative karma from a past life experience, or maybe a blessing in disguise?
     The truth is not as simple as it initially appears. I suppose there's nothing for it but to honor my own truth, and to honor the truth of others, and to understand that sometimes our truths may be in conflict, and sometimes they may not. Life is mysterious, and there is so much we don't know and can't make any sense of. Maybe that's the only real truth we can hold on to in the end.

I understand that truth has many angles, and that my own particular angle is always the one that makes the most sense to me. I am willing to honor your truth as well as my own, and allow for the possibility that even if we disagree, we may both somehow be right.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MAGNIFYING MIND

     We have magnifying minds. So I've heard and so I believe. It's incredible how we think our way into big deals. We are faced with something straightforward and relatively simple, and  because of mental associations, projections, and fearful implications, we over-complicate it to the point of procrastination and avoidance, and sometimes even paralysis. We make it out to be something so much more than it is.
     We are sure that we should feel big feelings; that our world and our future and our happiness are all dependent upon this one small task, or big task, or whatever it is. We magnify the meaning, when often, there is no meaning at all, only a process, and a next step. It's all happening in the course of life. How often have we put something off only to do it at last and be amazed with the ease of simply doing it? The mental angst and strain we put on ourselves and carry with us in the shadow of things undone is ridiculous and un-necessary.
     I bring awareness to my magnifying mind and tell it to hush when it whines and complains and wants to make a big deal of something. I suspend judgement and take a look at what's really there. And more times than not, just being willing to be real is enough to de-mystify the process. It's only one small bit at a time. In the end, that's how it all gets done.   

My mind can make a big deal of anything, even if it's no big deal. I bring awareness to my impulse to exaggerate what's required of me and to overwhelm myself with fear. I get real instead, and just do whatever it is that has to get done.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

THE MARTYR WANTS CONTROL

     I am aware of the fact that there is a martyr in me. It is my historical default position to agree to do things that I would rather not do, and to cop an internal "poor me" attitude, rather than to simply say, "I can't do that right now. I already have too much on my plate." I've gotten better at setting boundaries, but I'm still a long way from knowing when it's really ok to say no, and when it's actually self-serving in a bad way, and wrong to do so.
     There are things in life that we all have to do in order to be contributing members of our society, our family, and all of our relationships, and they are not always easy or fun or what we particularly feel like doing. We have duties and responsibilities.
     And yet, we also have a responsibility to ourselves, to not overload on doing for others, to not take on so much that we falter and suffer and get sick. It is our job to be sure we are able to be in alignment with ourselves, that what we say yes to externally we also say yes to internally. If this is not the case, we fill up with resentments, and bloat with unspoken irritations and feelings of martyrdom.
     If I am honest, some of what I feel duty-bound to do is actually rooted in my desire to have some kind of control of the situation. My exasperation comes as the result of my own faulty thinking that others cannot do for themselves, and that nothing will get done properly unless I do it. In truth, of course, others are entirely capable of doing for themselves, but I don't let them, because I am too busy getting involved in their stuff with all of my opinions and good ideas and volunteering my time.
     It's a certain kind of insanity that I practice, and I want to stop practicing it. I want to live an ever-more authentic life. I am willing to relinquish control. I am willing to look at the places in my life that make me squirm with martyr-type feelings, and I am willing to make changes. It takes courage to let go, and to admit that I am over-involved and over-responsible and controlling beyond my proper sphere. But I am willing, and that's the first step.

I am honest about the fact that sometimes my volunteering to help is less about the helping and more about wanting to take control. I am willing to let go.

Monday, January 2, 2012

FRESH START

     I love fresh starts. I love the fresh start of the new year, the new week, the new day, and the new attitude. I love the way our cyclical life works. I love that our emotional and physical slates are swept clean every night when we sleep, so that every morning we have an opportunity to do things differently, and to see and experience our lives differently. And if we add to that the fresh adventure of a whole new calendar year, we are double blessed with fresh start opportunity.
     What often happens, however, especially in the face of New Year's resolutions, is that the early excitement of change loses it's excitement, or we flub up our perfect record of exceptional behavior, or one day or situation doesn't go exactly the way we think it needs to, so we throw up our hands and give up on the whole journey. We return to our old ways with a shrug and a sense of futility. We think "What's the use? If we can't be perfect, why bother at all?"
     I have learned that change doesn't happen in a flashing bolt of lightning. We are not suddenly transformed by our sheer intention to be other than we are. It's much like turning an enormous cruise ship. It turns only one tiny angle of degree at a time, and in the turning process, it appears to be heading off in multiple new directions, and not going the way we think it should at all. It hardly appears to be moving. But eventually, if the wheel stays hard over, it does complete the turn, and heads out straight again in the new direction and steadily, gaining speed and power as the course maintains.
     We are like that. Meaningful change takes time to integrate. But it's worth it, and as many times as we fumble, let's pick ourselves up. Let's start over and start over, whatever it takes. And let's remember that what seems like starting over may actually be turning yet another angle of degree. Let's commit to the turn and be grateful for fresh starts.

Every day is a fresh start and anything is possible. I can change the way I see things, and the way I react, and the way I treat myself and others. I can live better every day that I live.