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Saturday, March 31, 2012

THE COST OF GRABBING AND GULPING

     As a culture, we have a kind of grabbing and gulping mentality. We do more than eat on the run. We live on the run. We over-stuff our hours as well as our bellies. We lack quiet time and reflection. We lack appreciation for all of the things we rush through to get to the next thing. We ache with impatience. No matter how much we have, we cannot get our fill. We want and want and want. And when we receive what really matters, we don't recognize it. Grabbing at life, we often miss the things that come to us as blessings and salvation. Our attention is elsewhere. We miss flavors and textures and the pleasures of slow digestion. We chow down instead, on our emotions and experiences no less than our meals.
     Let's back off and ease up. Let's savor each small step along the path and notice what's there. Let's taste and smell and see and hear with awareness and appreciation. This is the answer to pleasure; not more of anything- not fuller days or bigger bank accounts- simply presence, and being who we are.

I stop rushing and savor my life.

Friday, March 30, 2012

PARADOX

     People do not want to be beat up. They don't want to be put down, or lorded over, or made to feel small. They don't want to be bullied, disrespected, made fun of, or yelled at. No matter how wrong we may be, no one wants to be humiliated or discounted.
     We are all longing for approval, for recognition, for appreciation, and for permission to be who we are. We want to be loved. We want to be encouraged. We want to be thanked. Even if we don't admit it even to ourselves, we want these things. We might pretend that we need no one and we are just fine thank you, and we don't care a lick about what anyone thinks of us. But we all care a little. We can't help but care a little.
     Sideways and backwards we go about getting these things. We try to demand them, or bully others into giving them to us. Or else we become cynical, or hypochondiac and try to get what we need from a negative angle. The results of such attempts are checkered at best. The only legitimate way to receive love and appreciation is to give them to others. It's one of life's paradoxes. We get what we give. And what goes around definitely comes around. This has been my experience.
     When I want to feel loved I have to be loving. When I want to feel appreciated, I have to be appreciative. Like it or not, that's the way it works. So let's consider what we want and need emotionally and become willing to give it away.

I spread love and kindness because that's what I want to experience in my life.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

POWERFUL GENTLE

     There's a difference between a touch that is gentle, and one that is more like a dead fish. Behind true gentleness, it seems to me, there is power. It is the restraint of power and the choice to be soft that makes it feel nurturing to the recipient. It is firm, and strong even, but harsh in no way. It is the very strength behind the gentleness that provides the sense of comfort and support. It is touch filled with tenderness and a vast reservoir of loving kindness.
     The dead fish touch, on the other hand, may attempt at gentleness, but comes across with a distinct element of creep instead. I had my hair cut yesterday, and the gal who shampooed me had just such a touch. I believe she meant well. I believe she was trying to be gentle, but it was so soft that it felt excruciating instead. Her touch was weak and under spoken and full of temerity. It made me want to get away.There was nothing soothing about it.
     But it got me thinking about touch, and being gentle, and what gentle really looks like and feels like; not what I have unconsciously supposed for all these years. Gentle, it seems to me now, is generous in spirit and backed by wisdom, and a courageous heart. More than anything else, it is an irreplaceable gift of strength subdued.

I appreciate genuine gentleness, and recognize that there's more to it than initially meets the eye.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

THE SLOW FIX

     It comes readily to most of us to seek out a quick fix to whatever ails us, and to believe that the answer really is "out there" if we can only find it. We are certain of magical solutions, and no one is more surprised than we are when our great plans don't work. How could 2 teaspoons a day of safflower oil not eliminate all of our body fat? We are sure that every time is THE time, and that we have found the answer at last.
     Why do we do this? Fundamentally, perhaps, we don't want to admit to ourselves that the responsibility for at least some part of our ailment lies with us. And the action steps required for recovery are our responsibility as well. This is a hard truth. It seems so much easier to blame people and conditions for our problems, and to play the innocent victim, and in the same way, to look outside for the thing that will make it all better: a pill, a seminar, a new relationship, a spa retreat, having another child, moving ourselves geographically... It's the old "if only" game we play. If only this or that, then... all would be well. But would it really?
     Changing external things can help our feelings of satisfaction for a while. But if our bottom line way of experiencing life has taken us to a dark place of unhappiness before, we can be sure it will again. The setting doesn't matter. How much we weigh, how much money we make, a new pair of shoes, a new car... none of it matters. It's our mindset that matters, and the integrity of our heart. If we want to feel differently, we have to change from the inside out. We have to be willing to change our perspective and to change the way we live and the way we do things and the choices we make. It's not a quick fix. It can't be quick if it is going to be lasting. It has taken us a lifetime to get where we are and it's a slow process to change. But it's worth it, and we're worth it... one small bit at a time.

I don't fool myself into believing in quick fixes. I am willing to do the hard work to experience change that lasts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

THE BEST MADE PLANS

     Our plans are skeletal at best. It is up to some power beyond ourselves to fill in the flesh and muscle. Call it God, or Fate, or the Universe, or whatever you wish, but this is the force that determines the experience. We cannot begin to foresee what obstacles or inspiration we might encounter. We set off with our vision. Sometimes it's crystal clear to us- the way  things are going to be, the path we are choosing, the definite goal we are sure to reach- and then that thing beyond our control, whatever it may be, happens.
     We hit a roadblock. Something unexpected tempts us in a different direction. We fall in love. We suddenly become ill. We hit traffic, have an accident, lose our momentum. And then we have to make adjustments. We adapt and improvise. And no matter where we were headed, even if we change our course entirely, we always seem to end up right where we are supposed to be in the end. And yet, every time our plan is foiled, we suffer. We feel stopped in our tracks, frustrated. But we need not. We can embrace any sudden change in anticipated speed or direction understanding that a correction is being made. There is some other plan beyond our plan that is meant for us; somewhere we are supposed to be; some serendipity that awaits us.
     We can struggle and push and force our original agenda on the changed circumstances, but it's a rough and unsatisfying road against the tide and natural flowing rhythm of divine grace. Let's surrender instead, and be willing to be flexible. Let's allow for plan "B" in everything; and plan "C" and "D" and "E" as well- as many alternatives as it takes... to get where we're going, and be happy when we do.

I make plans, but remain flexible. Changes in direction are inevitable, and serve a purpose beyond my understanding.
  

Monday, March 26, 2012

INTERESTING EXERCISE

     No matter what kind of parents we have, we learn our gender roles from them. Unbeknownst to most of us, a deep-rooted belief system operates within us at all times. I have always had a sense about how I feel in regards to male and female rights and responsibilities, and an understanding of the way I accept it as being without even questioning it. But I didn't know the stark reality and the extent of my thoughts until I wrote them down on paper just the other day.
     At the top of a blank sheet I put the words "man" and "woman," and then proceeded to list what I believe about the roles and characteristics of each sex. And seeing what I wrote surprised and enlightened me. It explained so many of my feelings and potential resentments. It was a list taken directly from my youth- based on the way my mother and father behaved, and how they acted towards and around each other. Just because it's what I grew up with does not mean it has to be what I live with and die with.
     My list needs some definitive revision. I didn't even know I had one, and yet it plays out in my life every day. Now that I see it, I have the option to change my mind about what I believe. But I couldn't have seen it without writing it down: an invaluable exercise. I recommend it for everyone.

I take a moment to consider the beliefs I hold about gender roles, and I am willing to change my mind about my beliefs if they are sorrowfully out-dated.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

FREELY GROWING

     Continuing on the blooming plant theme from yesterday, there is a raw beauty in bushes that are left to their own developmental shape, and something pinched and caged-feeling about bushes that have been trimmed to perfect, but un-natural, circular lumps. Let's not let the world cut us back and keep us so far trimmed that we lose our ability to grow according to our nature. And let's not cut ourselves back or keep ourselves so tightly clipped that we do the same thing. Let's allow for the freedom to stretch and reach in whatever direction we please as we rise towards the light.

I listen to my heart and follow its lead.

Friday, March 23, 2012

BLOOMING

     This time of year, blooming things are brazen. They display themselves in a bold regalia of color and blossom. Volunteer bushes and trees pop up in ragged fields and beside abandoned buildings. Everything blooms right where it's planted.
     And I believe that's the way it is supposed to be for us as well,. A forsythia bush does not blast its brightness in a well-ordered yard and refuse to bloom beside a swamp. Wherever it is, there it is, in all its yellow splendor.
     Let's take a lesson from all of the things that flower in the spring and be willing to blossom ourselves, as readily in a fine dining establishment as amongst our kin; in alley-ways and on mountaintops- wherever we are, wherever we find ourselves. Let's not insist on perfect conditions and all the planets aligned. Let's not wait for this or that and put off our happiness and our shining brightness. Let's bloom where we are planted, right here, and right now.

I stop postponing my happiness and satisfaction and make a decision to be happy and satisfied right where I am.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LIVE AND LET LIVE

     We have ideas about what people should be doing, and how they should be doing it; especially the people we love the most. If we're honest, we want them to be doing what we want them to be doing so that we can feel better. If  they are on a path we don't approve of or approaching their challenges in a way that doesn't make sense to us, we want to steer them right, and if they don't appreciate our suggestions, feelings of resentment and bitterness creep into our hearts. If we know better than to make suggestions, and we keep our mouths shut, but continue to think our scornful and judgmental thoughts, then we still have our internal bitterness.
     The only relief available is to drop our judgments and opinions and to leave them where we drop them. It's not our job to manage anyone else's life, or to tell them how to go about things and point out their mistakes. If they ask, we can share our observations, but it is not our place to volunteer solutions to situations that are problems primarily for us.
     If the problem is real, the people we love will address it in their own way and their own time and we have to trust them to do just that. We need to back off and trust them to find their way, and just keep on loving them for all the reasons that we love them.
     People and the world don't behave according to our expectations or time scale. And if we keep on wanting them to, we will suffer greatly. Let's mind our own business and leave others to mind theirs. Our happiness doesn't depend on those around us behaving the way we want them to. It is the result of knowing what is ours to worry about, and what is not.

I let the people I love find their way in life without my meddling and interference. I give them the freedom and respect to be who they are.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MOOD SHIFT

     It's funny in life how we can be going along happily, merrily almost, and then, without warning, there is a shift within. We are suddenly dark and broody as if we have been crossed, but it's hard to identify what or who has crossed us. If we get quiet and honest and ask the right sort of reflective questions of ourselves, we can usually root out the source, but often we are in the midst of people when we find ourselves suddenly irritable, so it's hard to take the time to restore our equilibrium and we remain dislodged and discombobulated.
     We are so easily triggered, especially when we are tired and hungry. The slightest word by someone we encounter can unleash a well of old emotions and self-pity, and angst of every kind. And then we are subjected to the the thrashing disorder of our feelings as they act out on us. And then we end up acting out on them. We feel ourselves grouchy and out-of-control, but we don't know how to make it stop. The only way is to stop ourselves- to re-group and begin again- start over.
     It's hard work being human. So many small things so easily become big deals if we are not vigilant and aware of the flowing emotional currents inside of us. Awareness is the path to peace; awareness and attendance; watching ourselves, and taking the time to diligently address our issues before they take over our day.

I bring awareness to the things in life that trigger my dark emotions and get a handle on them before they get a handle on me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

EGO

     Our egos blind us to reality. When we see through ego eyes, we are impressed by appearances and external shows of power and status and beauty. We are blind to the truth which lingers further back and can only be seen with the heart and the gut.
     We live in an illusory ego world. We make believe what matters and who cares. We imagine ourselves far more important than we are in all the wrong ways and totally miss our actual importance as living spirits with deep intuitive wisdom and endless love and compassion to share with the world. We are blocked by the the surface of things and blind to our internal light...
     Unless we sense it and make an effort to awaken; unless we heed the call to see rightly and take the time to quiet our restless minds. Then, we have a chance. Then, we realize things, and are able to drop our fear- not forever- we pick it up again, but for a bit. The ego comes back and comes back, but we learn to recognize it and understand its agenda and not be blindly manipulated by its cagey charms. And we can stay longer and longer in truth and authenticity. We can witness the ego at work with amused curiosity. We can watch it and know it for exactly what it is. And we can learn to live beyond it and above it. We can find a way to be free.

I get caught and hooked and tangled all up in my ego. But I can dis-entangle, and learn to recognize the bait.

Monday, March 19, 2012

WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?

     What is the condition of our foundation? Are our lives built on straw, or wood, or hearty red bricks? Are we grounded in stone, or susceptible to any rough wind or storm that wants to blow us away? Are we rooted in God? In health? In how much we own? In the lives of our parents or our children? Are we living vicariously through someone else? Do we know who we are and what we value? Are we true to ourselves? Or do we live a lie? Do we live many lies?
     Do we live in fear? In faith? Do we believe in scarcity or abundance? In guilt and shame or love and forgiveness? Are we friendly? Cheerful? Loving? Tolerant? Are we negative? Dark? Critical? Are we snobs? Do we live well? Sleep well? Act rightly? How could we improve our lives?
     Our foundations matter. It is from our foundations that we rise or crumble. Are we solid and strong, or do we need to shore up and do some rebuilding?

I consider how I have chosen to lay down my roots and in what soil I am grounded. I have choices about the way I grow.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

OBSESSIONS

     I don't believe that anyone gets through life free from the experience of obsession. As teenagers we obsess over clothes, our hair, our slowly developing or too quickly developing bodies, the opposite sex, the stupidity of our parents, being cool, and all of the ways that we do, or do not, respond to peer pressure. It's a rare teenager who escapes being obsessed in some way with the activities and behavior of his or her peers.
     Then we grow up and obsess over our careers, over finding a marriage partner, owning things, growing up, the fulfillment or dissatisfaction of our lives, and all of the modern mental and emotional dysfunction around conceiving or not-conceiving children. We obsess over food, money, health, death, understanding who we are, reaching our potential- all kinds of things.
     But a life full of obsession is largely empty of presence and quietude. An obsessive mind is a busy mind- often fretful, and seldom at peace. The freer we can be of all of our obsessions and compulsions, the happier we will be. But we have to recognize them for what they are first. And it's a slow process to let them go, bit by bit; to stop trying to fix and manage every aspect of our lives. We interfere with our  joy by over-thinking everything.
     Let's stop. Let's let life come and be as it is without our mental manipulations. Let's let people be as they are, and time, and our jobs, and money, and love. Let's ease up on ourselves and everything else. Let's release the obsessive thinking straight-jackets we have on. Let's wear life loose, and comfortable, like an old t-shirt, or silk pajamas. Take your pick.

I recognize when I am being obsessive and stop. I experience freedom and peace when I can let go.

Friday, March 16, 2012

THE WAY WE GROW

     I have a seventeen-year-old daughter and a seventeen-year-old son. When they were born they were six weeks early which is not unusual for twins. They were four and five pounds, and it used to make me nervous to bathe them because they seems so tiny and breakable almost. I remember them at every age- five, six, ten, thirteen- and now they are young adults. They are intelligent, strong, and capable. They travel up and down the East Coast negotiating traffic and cities and people. They sit at the dinner table and share their philosophical insights, their triumphs, their sorrows, and their dreams. Somehow, they went from being tiny infants in my arms to full-grown, and I never actually saw them change. It just happened.
     And everything in life is like that. There is always something happening, some movement and shift; upward or downward, outward or inward. It is too subtle to witness while it is happening, and yet, it is happening all the same. At certain points, we take note of what's different, but by then it is already integrated. We wonder how it happened, and when.
     And if it's happening in our children and our friends and acquaintances, we can be sure it's happening in us too, the same way. We can't see it, but evolution is always at work. We're constantly changing, constantly growing. The only thing we need to decide is in which direction we will move.

I accept change as a slow process where nothing seems to be happening. I keep on moving steadily in the direction I want to go, and before I know it, I find myself already there.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

SOMETHING USEFUL TO REMEMBER

     A friend of mine once told me to imagine a small table between me and anyone with whom I am communicating. I find this especially helpful when the conversation is emotionally charged and potentially heated. Whatever is said to me lands on this imaginary table, and I can look at it lying there, and consider it before I make a decision about how to respond.
     I can pick it up and fling it back, or pick it up and consume it, choking on the words as I swallow them down. I can play with it; roll it over and over in my hands, or re-arrange it and put it back on the table. I can throw it away. Or... I can just let it sit there. I don't have to pick it up at all. I can finish the conversation and walk away and leave it lying there, right where it landed.
     The thing for me to remember is that what I do with whatever is said to me is my choice. I don't have to be hurt by hurtful words.

Just because somebody says something about me or to me does not make it a fact.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CHANGING WEATHER

     When weather changes quickly from cold to hot or hot to cold, we need to honor our bodies and be respectful of the very real shock it is to our systems. As we don shorts and flip-flops, our skin and feet are sensitive and vulnerable. Our temperature regulators are thrown into confusion, and energy that was required to stay warm is suddenly required to stay cool- or vice versa. We are prone to headaches, allergies, and odd symptoms of all kinds; at least partly because we push on with our established routines expecting them all to feel about the same, but they do not.
     We need to change with the weather. We need to listen carefully to the whisperings of our adapting bodies and spirits and pay attention to our new requirements and inclinations. In the same way that we slow down to negotiate sharp curves in the road, we need to slow down to negotiate the curving seasons. We need to attend more carefully than ever to our acceleration and deceleration. We need to keep both hands on the wheel.

I pay attention to the way the change in weather throws my body and spirit into confusion, and I allow for the transformation process to patiently occur. I don't force and push and rush and prod.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

THE OTHER SIDE OF WHAT IF

     What if we don't need to be more or less of anything to be perfect and beautiful? What if we are already perfect and beautiful just the way we are? And if that's true, what if we spend our whole lives measuring ourselves against impossible and impractical standards trying to determine our self-worth? And criticize ourselves for everything imaginable? And feel some level of loathing and contempt for our beings and our bodies, and a strong internal sense of not deserving love or reward or appreciation until we somehow prove ourselves? What if we spend our whole lives trying to prove ourselves? And all of our time and our money and our energy trying to fix ourselves of all the things that ail us? What a lot of effort. We're all familiar with trying to fix ourselves.
     But what if we're not broken? What if we're not really broken at all? What then?

I am willing to reconsider the way I feel about myself in light of the possibility that I am already whole.

Monday, March 12, 2012

PROCESSING WHAT HAPPENS

     We are incredibly adaptive. Things happen that seem impossible to integrate, that we are sure will hurt forever, or that we'll never find a way to live through, or with... and yet, we do. Over time, the abnormal becomes normal. We learn to accommodate pain and scars and more money and less money and abusive people and death and birth. Our experiences become a part of us. We absorb them.
     And if we are conscious enough to do it, we can use absolutely everything that happens to us to enrich our life experience and enlarge our spirit. We can become wiser and  more evolved. We can transmute suffering into growth. And in that may lie the key to our purpose here on earth- to experience the happenings of our lives and to learn something from them each step along the way.

I let everything that happens in my life serve me somehow. I grow through difficulty.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE HIDDEN POWER OF OUR ASSUMPTIONS

     We build our lives on assumptions of all kinds. We assume that we will maintain our current state of health, that certain people can be trusted and that others cannot; that we live free from guerrilla warfare; that our parents will predecease us and that our children will not. If we are honest, we can peer into our reality and see how strongly we are rooted in all that we assume. And maybe there is nothing particularly wrong with that.
     But when our belief system is utterly crushed by life circumstances and we are driven to question everything we have ever believed, the main question to ask is not why me? but why not me? Anything can happen to any of us at any time. The reality of that fact is what makes for an interesting life adventure, and where all great stories begin. So rather than railing against our crumbling assumptions when they crumble, let's fill ourselves with wonder and curiosity. Let's see how fresh territory is suddenly open to us that we never even knew existed, and enthusiastically embrace the burgeoning new frontier.

I am ever ready to re-consider my life in light of new information, and willing to let my long-held assumptions dissolve when the time is ripe.

Friday, March 9, 2012

THE DEMISE OF OUR GREAT PLANS

     Sometimes in life we have great vision and we feel certain that we know exactly what we have to do and how perfectly our idea will work out. Like the solution to a riddle, we think of just the thing, and often, we spend money to purchase some kind of instant momentum. Maybe we buy a Nordic Track to get us in shape, or an ab coaster to assure ourselves of the six-pack belly we are sure can be ours; or maybe it's a super-flashy pair of cowboy boots, or The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant which we commit to read so that we will be exceptionally educated on historical matters.
     We start with the best of intentions and often great gusto, but so many of our wonderful ideas fall flat in the end. Our lives are littered with abandoned exercise equipment, and unread books, and clothes that we have never worn. Perhaps we would do better with a little more waiting and seeing and a little less impulsive knowing. Life has a way of rapidly changing gears and directions, and though some changes and new habits do stick, there are so many more that do not.
     Out of sheer eagerness, we tend to commit before we know what we're committing to, or whether it even suits us. People get married to each other in just this way, and accept jobs, and agree to all kinds of insanity. We want to arrive before we actually arrive hoping for some kind of insured security, which is silly, perhaps, but frequent and common behavior nonetheless. We would rather force an outcome than agree to travel the road for a little bit and see how it feels.

 I stop making impulsive decisions that affect my life and my wallet. I am willing to pause before leaping.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

MONEY TALK

     Discussions about money are among the most unpleasant and stressful in my life. Financial balance and wholeness always feels so teetering to me; so tentative and fragile. One unexpected strike from somewhere- the total breakdown of a car, or an unanticipated accumulation of medical bills, or something major to do with home ownership, threatens to topple my whole sense of stability.
     And yet, I know from experience, that everything- everything! can be handled piecemeal- in little bits, over time... my emotions as well as my bills. We eek it out. We fill the gas tank one more time. We make it against all odds. We survive financially, in spite of my fear, and in spite of my desire to avoid the topic altogether and pretend it doesn't exist. It has to be dealt with, whether I resist it or not. The money subject always has to be faced.

I get over my resistance to conversations about money and let them just be one more thing. I unload the emotional charge, take a deep breath, and begin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

LIVING IN THE PROBLEM

     As a personal trainer, a massage therapist, and someone who has a genuine desire to help, I am not infrequently approached  by those who present their pain and discomfort to me almost as a challenge. "Here are my problems," they seem to say. "Fix me if you can!" And the truth is, there are stretches, exercises, new movement patterns- all kinds of things that can be tried and that are likely to result in positive results. But it requires effort on their part as well as mine. I cannot "fix" anyone who doesn't have a desire to engage in their own fixing. And more times than not, it is exactly a lack of interest in this regard in the first place that has led them to the state they're in. So it's a tricky situation.
     They resist my suggestions and refuse to take responsibility for any part of their condition. They prefer to be a victim. So I have to move forward with my hands tied, and their lack of progress is perceived as my failure. It's frustrating, especially since I know from great strides made by other clients, that the story could play out so differently.
     And yet, these type of people are all over. We encounter them regularly. They are so strongly identified with their "problem" that they are not really interested in a solution at all, and if one should present itself, they root in, and determine that it won't work for them. Their problem serves them in some way that we are usually hard-pressed to understand.
     We can be loving. We can be patient. We can be tolerant and kind and encouraging; continuing to make gentle suggestions in the direction of a better life. But at some point or other, we have to cut the line, if not physically, then at least emotionally, because they will eventually drain us of our good intentions and pull us down with them.
     Still, I have gratitude for these people. They teach us a vital lesson: to allow others to be miserable if that is their choice. We can extend our hand, but if they don't grab it, it's ok. We don't have to understand, or try to fix them, or even think we know better. We can simply be loving and forgiving. We can be happy and healthy, even if they are not.

I can work in partnership with others to help them if they want help. But all those who need it don't really want it, and sometimes the most loving thing I can do is to step back.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

AUTHENTIC LIVING

     It is a great gift to be without pretense; to be genuine, human, fallible; to be able to laugh at ourselves. It is attractive and desirable to be authentic and without apology. But self-consciousness comes so easily. We are awkward and unsure. We keep adjusting our clothing and fixing our hair. And in so doing, we draw attention to our uneasiness, and we do not inspire confidence, not in ourselves, or others.
     When we feel good about ourselves, other people like to be around us, because we give them permission to feel good too. We don't make excuses for our imperfections, so they don't have to either. There is an energy of acceptance about us. We are ok, so they are ok. We're not high on judgment or pretending to be something that we are not. We can be silly and have fun. We're not afraid of what others might think.
     Authenticity is like the open air. It is spacious and allowing. Pretension, on the other hand, feels rigid and critical; tight. So let's not worry about being perfect, just for today. Let's not try to impress anyone. Let's just relax and enjoy the feeling of being who we are exactly where we are. Behaving in such a manner attracts good things to us, and appreciative people. There is nothing quite like the energy of simple happiness. Let's allow it in our lives.

I leave self-consciousness behind and let myself be myself, exactly as I am.
  

Monday, March 5, 2012

RUSHING INTERRUPTIONS

     It's common practice these days for people to jump in and answer a question before the question has been completely asked. It seems to happen in an effort to save time. An assumption is made and the answering expert leaps in. Often, the actual question has been completely missed, and the one who is asking is left feeling cut-off and un-heard.
     Why don't we take the time to listen to each other? Why are we always trying to rush communication and help keep it going with our interruptions and promptings? Making assumptions pre-supposes alot. It's almost arrogant of us, and yet, we all are guilty of it at some point or other. We think we know what is going to be said before its actually spoken, and we respond accordingly. We have no patience with those who talk more slowly than we want them to, or those who think more slowly.
     But people are more important than deadlines and schedules. Their feelings take precedence over our impatience. We need to calm down and be considerate.And maybe, if we would all slow down enough to really listen to what is actually being said, we might hear something unexpected and inspiring, and not be frustrated at all.

I notice when other people take the words out of my mouth, and when I do the same. I slow down and listen, and ask others to listen to me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

THE LIMITS OF MARTYRDOM

     I have a tendency to take things too seriously. I have ridiculously high standards, a desire to help everyone, and a built-in struggle ethic. And I am also discovering that I approach whatever is new in my life with a certain amount of apprehension because I am sure it will somehow end up being more work for me in the end, and it might just tip me over the edge. I look out at opportunity and see it as a chore and a burden. When did that happen? I don't seem to welcome all the wonderful things that could happen. Instead, I feel put upon in advance.
     Perhaps I expect life to stretch me to my outside limit because that is how far I habitually stretch myself. I set the bar and establish the standard for the treatment of me and my load-carrying capacity. And I know from history that I am capable of carrying a full-sized load. But that doesn't leave any room in my life for new ventures. I seem to get a certain twisted charge out of pushing myself beyond all reason, and then feel annoyed when I am tired and burnt out. I live in a kind of maxed-out state just barely making it from one day to the next. At least, that's how it feels sometimes.
     And on some level, I recognize that such a feeling is entirely un-necessary, and that I can change my attitude, if nothing else, and feel more spacious and more relaxed, but I don't, and here's the result: I'm afraid of new things. There's a saying that if nothing changes, then nothing changes, and that's where I am. But I can change. I can change the whole dynamic by bringing conscious awareness to the way I over-fill my life, and take on less in every way. I can take on less effort and less stress and less responsibility. I can not do, and I can delegate, and ask for help, and take a break when I need one. It's up to me. I want to allow room for wonderful new things to infiltrate my days, and I can. All it takes is my willingness.

If I feel like a martyr, then I must be one, and it's up to me to ease up and back off and take the time I need to allow for free space in my life.

Friday, March 2, 2012

THE CHOICE IS OURS

     No matter how choiceless we feel; no matter how indebted or trapped or tied down, we are never stuck. We choose our lives every day, and at any time we can choose differently. We whine and sigh and feel like that all sounds nice, but it's not true. We have to work, don't we? We have to pay our bills, and take care of the things we have to take care of. We have obligations and responsibilities. Truly, our lives are not our own.
     And yet, they are, and everything we do is absolutely optional- everything. We choose to be accountable, or not to be. We choose our jobs. If we don't like them we can do something else. We feel as if our situations are so binding and sticky and permanent. We think we are indispensable everywhere we turn. And yet, in a moment, everything can change. A decision or an accident or a change of heart can alter our whole life's direction. What we do with our lives is up to us. We have far more freedom than we think.
     So the next time we find ourselves complaining, let's remember how we got where we are, and if we don't like it, let's make the decision to change things around and begin immediately to set our desired changes in motion. It's nothing but fear that holds us back, and fear is more a shadow than a reality. It always appears bigger than it is. Forward momentum in the direction of our dreams will carry us forth. It's better to take a chance at living a life of authentic happiness than to settle for moaning and complaining through our days and pretending that we have no other options.

I stop complaining about the way things are and make changes where changes can be made. And if I can't change something I don't like, I accept it as it is, or walk away and don't look back.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOO THIN

     I have encountered a handful of people lately who have taken their weight loss program too far. They have gone past trim and healthy and look too thin. They have lost vitality, and they look drawn and depleted, but they are so proud!
     As a culture, we have lost our intuitive ability to feed ourselves. Everything we see and hear in the media reinforces our own insecurity and tells us we can't be trusted to eat good foods in right-sized portions. We think we have to be regulated and restricted and watched like a hawk... or surely we will be fat and miserable.
     There is so much insanity surrounding American food consumption and body image. Let's make an effort to get happy with our bodies and to pay attention when we eat so that we enjoy our food, but know when we have had enough. We overshoot the satisfaction mark because of our self-deprecating cycles of restriction. Let's restore our balance and find a way to be ok with a little bit of fat. Our ideal is skewed. We want something that is un-natural and unhealthy and that strips us of joyful living energy.

I eat reasonably and do not obsess about food in either direction. It's ok to be the way I am.