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Friday, June 29, 2012

CATASTROPHIC THINKING

     Often, we seek a big external fix when all that's actually needed is a small internal adjustment. Nine times out of ten, a shift in attitudinal approach will cure what ails us. We become frantic with our figuring and planning, and all the things that have to change immediately, and what it will all mean, and how it will work, or not work...
     But if we just change the angle of our perspective slightly, and restore ourselves to gratitude and faith, we may discover that nothing is broken after all, and that nothing actually needs fixing. Our problem is mysteriously resolved, and all we had to do to get there was to look at things a little differently. Both hardship and pleasure, in the end, are fundamentally a matter of perspective.

Before I panic and think I have to change everything in my life to feel ok, I get quiet and become willing to change my perspective on things just the way they are.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

WEEDING

     Weeding around vegetables and flowers is an ongoing summer chore, and the tenacity and come-back-ability of certain weeds is at once both annoying and impressive. Certain life issues are much like that. They come up and we deal with them and feel satisfied that they are handled and long-gone, and then they come up again, and again. They are learned-coping behaviors, rooted deep within us from years of use. Even when we dig them up and extract them with care, they grow back.
     The only thing for it is maintenence. Our lives, like our gardens, require consistent and regular weeding or they will become a jungle of dysfunction.

I recognize my "stuff" as it pops up over and over, and I pull it from the roots like weeds.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TIRED AS A COVER-STORY

     We use "tired" as an excuse for anything and everything. We are too tired to participate, to exercise, to eat well, to dress well, to communicate, to be pleasant... What makes us so tired? Is it a cover story for being dis-interested? Bored? Afraid? Perhaps it is the simple result of our lively spirit being over-taxed. It wants to be playful and delight in life, and instead it feels oppressed with the weight of daily obligations and requirements and bills. Tired is heavy, and burdensome. It is trudging and old.
     Perhaps, if we feel tired a great deal, it is a message for us. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the way we spend our time, the way we exert our energy, and the way we pour our vitality out into the world. Maybe we are wasteful about it. Maybe we are not honoring our heart. Maybe we are so duty bound that we are missing the calling of our small joys.
     Enthusiasm is never tired. It is ever-creative, sprightly, bright-eyed, and fully alive. If we cannot maintain enthusiasm, perhaps we need to make some changes in the way we live. It's a hard thing to look at. The changes that call us might require leaps of faith and abundant courage. We might have to plunge into the unknown. What we have is predictable, even if it's exhausting. To change takes so much effort, that it seems easier somehow to just keep on as we are and be "tired."  But if we're honest, we know that in the end, staying stuck does not, and cannot, and will not ever, have the power to satisfy us.

If I'm always tired, I am willing to do some soul searching to discover what my tired is all about, and honestly consider the changes I need to make to restore vitality to my life.

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UNEXPECTED BEAUTY

     Certain weeds have pretty flowers. They are wild and uncultured. They grow by the roadside and in the woods, and by the edge of fields. They pop up and bloom with stickers and thorns. They remind me that beauty is not limited to the mainstream of life. It is not limited by anything. It is sometimes restless and sometimes poised, but regardless of the moment and the view, it is always fresh and authentic- true to itself. Beauty is unapologetic and innocent. It doesn't know it's beautiful. It simply is what it is, and as such, it takes our breath away.

I recognize and experience beauty in the most unlikely of places. It never ceases to surprise and delight me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

GREAT DAYS

     Any day can be a great day. It doesn't matter if it's Monday or Friday, raining or clear, empty of activity or full of errands. What makes the day good or bad is the way we approach it. If we are happy to go along and get along, then we can have one great day after another. If, on the other hand, we insist that things be a particular way and just to our liking, and that it matters how people behave and what we have to do for work and the state of the weather; if conditions have to be perfect according to our belief system and world view before we can consider the day a success, then we will likely have bad days instead of good ones, and plenty of them.
     It's important to remember that we have the power to change our mind about things at any time, and as often as we please. Nothing makes the day lousy but the way we sell it to ourselves- as pain and suffering, or grand adventure. Let's make the decision to choose adventure, and have one great day after another like pearls on a string.

Whatever may happen or not happen, I choose to enjoy the day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

PETULANCE TRANSFORMED

     The thing that has the power to transform self-pity and discontent into something more palatable is gratitude. If we are feeling particularly petulant, we may whine that we have nothing at all to be grateful for. But that, of course, is ridiculous and untrue. If we start with a token item- our health, or the essential fact that we are alive at all... it can build from there. Or perhaps we have to be even more obvious with our stubborn selves. Are we grateful that we are not living in a dumpster, or under some bridge with rats crawling across our legs while we sleep? I'm grateful for that. And to have a car and a job and the ability to experience love.
     And I'm grateful for sunshine and night-time, and deep sleep. I'm grateful that I can see and hear; that I can touch and taste. I am grateful for friendship and laughter, for air conditioners when it's hot, and heat when it's cold. I'm grateful for flowers and thunderstorms and fruit. Gratitude builds on itself. One thing leads to another and another and before we know it, we are feeling better.
     I am grateful for gratitude! And for the knowledge that if I'm feeling pouty I don't have to stay there. I can count my blessings and express my thanks- and in so doing, I am transformed from misery to abundance, and petulance to joy!

I accept and acknowledge my blessings, and let the energy of gratitude wash over me like rain. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BOUNDARIES

     Personal space is about more than physical distance. It's a necessary protection against the creeping energy of someone who is trying to wheedle inside of us like a weed with their energy and conversation. Meddlesome others pinch and suffocate us like vines. Their invasive questions thrust across our boundaries before we even realize that we need to shore up.
     To re-establish our borderline once it has been broken, we have to send out a bit of volley and gunshot warning to back the perpetrators off. We have to pause a moment to repair the damage. Like a dog who growls, we have to be clear with others when they are about to over-step. To invite them to tromp all over us as they please with their thoughts and opinions and questions is to become their toy. We lose our footing as they push at us, and we need to learn to stand our ground.
     Boundaries are necessary and respectable. We cannot hope for satisfaction in life if we recklessly disrespect the boundaries of others, or allow them to disrespect ours.

I understand and appreciate the importance of personal boundaries.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WAXING POETIC

Love is awake and aware, never scared, prepared;
Full of care and fairness.
Bare your heart and mind, be kind, learn to unwind,
And take your time.
Bestow hope, avoid dope, and find a way to cope
With life the way it is.
Because it doesn't get any better than this.

I look to this day with joy!
:)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CRUELTY

     It always surprises me when people are cruel. Most of the individuals I interact with are fairly reasonable, and gracious more often than not- thoughtful, and fundamentally kind. But occasionally, I find myself at the receiving end of someone's emotional whip. They lash me on purpose, and it hurts.
     But beyond the hurt, I have great compassion for those who are cruel. It seems sad to me that they should feel the need to be so vindictive. I lick my wounds and send out blessings, and remind myself that cruelty happens, and I can get caught in its cross-fire, which is no fun. So I better keep a look-out, and whenever possible, stay out of the way.

I send out armies of compassion to transmute barbs of cruelty.

Monday, June 18, 2012

THE LOTTERY

     It's an interesting and entertaining exercise to consider what we would do if we won the lottery and suddenly had access to unlimited funds. Would we buy things? Would we buy big things, little things, jewelry? Gifts for others? Would we invest the money? Would we give it away? Take a trip? Do we think it would solve our problems? Would we move? Live in a different sort of house and neighborhood? Drive a different car?
     To my mind, these are provocative questions, and the honest answers teach me something about myself. I seem to think that winning the lottery would give me some kind of guaranteed security, and that I would be insulated from stress as well... because so much of my stress is related to money and never seeming to have quite enough of it, and paying bills, and groceries, and the expense of unexpected things that break down and have to be fixed. But if I'm honest, I know that having oodles of money just changes the playing field. It doesn't end the game.
     Whether we win the lottery or not, life will still challenge us. Life is still life whether we are rich, or poor, fat, or thin, tall, or short, healthy and robust, or in chronic physical pain. We are here to grow and learn and experience the ride. Nothing external, not even a winning lottery ticket, will guarantee our happiness. No matter what we have or don't have, happiness is ultimately and forever an inside job.

If I can't be happy without winning the lottery, I will never be happy winning it. Happiness is a state of being and not a dollar amount in the bank.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FATHERS

     A salute to all of the good fathers out there! Thank you for being loving and encouraging, patient, and supportive. Thank you for your guidance and your groundedness, your broad shoulders, and your ability to forgive the foolishness of youth.
     Let's celebrate the nobility and generosity of good fathers, with their twinkling humor, and their kind hearts! And to all of those fathers who are not so kind and forgiving, and those who have abandoned their children, and abused them, and been less than generous, let's feel grateful anyway. We thank you for the gift of life!
     Blessings to all the fathers of the world! We celebrate you! We accept and appreciate you for all that you are, and all that you are not.

I am grateful for my father in spite of his shortcomings. I have shortcomings of my own.

Friday, June 15, 2012

LOOSE ENDS


       I am not a fan of loose ends. And it's easy for me to over-think a problem trying to solve it so I can tie up the end. I chew on it like a dog and his bone. But there comes a point at which I have to stop; where my fretting is actually working against me, and I become further from a solution than ever by trying too hard to figure one out.
     I have to free up the energy around the situation by turning my attention elsewhere. I have to let the problem breathe, and then return to it fresh. The answer always comes, but not by my insisting upon it- more often by my absolute willingness to let it go.

I cannot get what I want by grabbing for it. I have to sit back and call it gently to me. I have to let it come of its own accord.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

MAKING CHOICES

     Nobody likes to be told what to do. Someone else dictating to us what's best, or what we need, or what we should do, is distasteful. The rebel in most of us rises up to rail against the suggested imposition.
     We want it to be our idea. We want the credit and the sense of satisfaction that comes from the autonomy of choosing. And we would usually rather choose the wrong thing on our own steam than choose the right thing by force. Sometimes, in fact, we make a decision to choose the wrong thing intentionally simply to prove that it's our right to do so.
     When dealing with people, let's eliminate the words, "You should..." and replace them with "You could..." Let's not impose our will and our strong opinions all over the people in our lives. Let's honor their autonomy by presenting the facts and sharing our thoughts and suggestions, but leaving the decision making completely in their hands.
     To feel fully alive, we all need to make our own choices. If we let others choose for us, we give away our power. If we think others know better than we do what is the right thing, we deplete our inner resources and dishonor our guides.  I believe we are drawn to our lessons, and that sometimes, we actually need to make the choice that appears wrong to others so that we can have the opportunity to learn the exact lesson that is right... for us.

I gather opinions, but I decide for myself, and encourage others to do the same.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A STAB AT CONTROL

     We spend so much time trying to solve potential problems. We imagine the possible scenarios and have an answer for each one. But inevitably, it is the thing that hasn't even crossed our mind that actually happens. Our strategic plans are abandoned by the wayside as we face whatever has come.
     Let's work on quieting our minds when they take us into future crises. Let's pull ourselves gently back to the present moment and reassure ourselves in the here and now. What's right in front of us is our responsibility- not some fantasy drama from next month, or next year.
     We can't possibly know about the future so why do we try? I think it's our way to feel as if we have control over what is unknown and out there, and all of the possibilities that scare us now, or might scare us then... We create a reality where there is none, and make ourselves problem-solving heroes in the imaginary future. We try to guarantee our own safety.
     But the only real safety is right where we are. In this moment, in every moment, we are equal to whatever may befall.

I stop solving problems that don't even exist yet. I stay in the moment and experience peace.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SPIN DOCTORS

     We live in a culture of spin-doctors. People are constantly telling us that this, that, or the other thing is good for us, will benefit us, will be the best possible thing, when the reality is that our biting on their bait won't actually benefit us at all. It will benefit them.
     We are told that things which are clearly unreasonable are reasonable, and that scenarios that are sketchy have no risk involved; that it's free! when it's not, actually. Doctors tell us that we will be fine when they have done what they can for us and want to wash their hands and move on- even if we're hurting; even if we're broken, and they are largely, if not completely, responsible for our broken-ness.
     So much false advertising sullies our good instincts and teaches us to questions ourselves. Maybe we're wrong, we think. Maybe it really isn't as bad and scary and non-sensical as we think. Maybe they're right after all. And then, the predictable disastrous results occur, and we wonder how we ever could have doubted ourselves. And the spin-doctors start their spinning off in a new direction, twisting and turning the situation to their advantage, and we are left holding the bag, so to speak, in every way possible. We are out of luck and 'aint it a shame.
     We have a strong internal red-flag warning system for a reason. The cost is high when we ignore its signal. Let's not. Let's honor our guts, and trust that our knowing is solid, and our instinct for danger is likely right-on. Let's not be afraid to say "no," as many times as it takes, and to watch out for the snake-oil salesmen that abound.

I have to be my own advocate. Those who want to sell me something don't usually have my best interest at heart.

Monday, June 11, 2012

THE ILLUSION OF CARE-TAKING

     There is a point at which our doing for others actually disables them. This fact is important to recognize,  particularly for parents, and perhaps even more for mothers than for fathers. Years of taking care of our childrens' needs forms a care-taking habit. But we have to outgrow it at some point or we become agents of stunting growth. We have to let them- children, lovers, friends, parents, whoever- take responsibility for their own journey, their own momentum, and their own daily care.
     By feeling compelled to smooth over all of the rough edges for the people we love, and make it all ok for them no matter what, and to "do" for them, and fuss and bother over them constantly, we kill their autonomy and pride and the rewarding internal space that is the result of being self-propelled. We can love- yes! We can love with our whole selves, but real love doesn't mean "doing for." Real love is about trusting others to know what they need and giving them the reins and the freedom to establish their own ground.

I relinquish control of care-taking others who are more than capable of care-taking themselves.

Friday, June 8, 2012

DO NOT PUSH

     On the back of certain dump trucks are the words, "DO NOT PUSH." The letters are bold, and the message clear. I take it to heart every time I see it, and am reminded that pushing and forcing and insisting usually gets me no place but stuck.
     Finding and understanding the natural rhythm and flow of life situations, and relationships, and moods, is crucial to peace and relaxation. It makes us forgiving and tolerant and able to patiently wait for a shift in the direction of things. Energy is constantly on the move, so we have to learn to ride the currents much like we learn to body surf in the waves.
     "Do not push" is excellent advice. The longer I live, the more it seems to me that real power lies in our ability to surrender to what is- to cease fighting, to let go and let be. And then, when all is settled, it's time to let go some more.

I stop pushing against everything I come up against and make a decision to go with the flow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

PRECIOUS LIFE GRATITUDE

     It's an incredible thing to survive an accident that could have been fatal if things had played out only slightly differently. There's a moment of clear recognition that life is fragile, terribly fragile, and precious; and that we far too easily take it for granted.
     A patch of pooled water sent my car into 360 degree turns the other day, and flung me into another car that had done the same thing, and then the bank. When my head whipped forward and back with the final impact, all I felt was grateful. I had stopped moving, and I was in one piece: no blood. I was alive and ok.
     Accidents are accidents for a reason. We don't anticipate them, and they have the ability to rock our world. They come as reminders- that we are here by grace, ultimately, and grace alone. Given that truth, it seems to me that gratitude is our best operating system- that we are here! That we taste and smell and feel and dream! That we are able to hope... and love! That we wake up and have the ability to enjoy yet another beautiful day!
     There are countless many who are not so lucky.

I do not take my breath and beating heart for granted. I am grateful to be alive.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

LOYALTY

     I feel a powerful loyalty to the people I care about, and that extends beyond my immediate family. The loyalty I feel to them- to my husband, and children- is strong beyond understanding; fierce and aching in its intensity. But the loyalty I feel to the people I work with is equally intense in its own kind of way.
     I feel protective of them. I have an interest in who they are, and what they're up to. I care about what what happens to them, how they feel, and what makes them happy... and sad. From a certain angle, caring as much as I do might be considered a liability. But I choose it. I choose caring over not-caring. Caring connects me to life, and to people, and work. Caring gives these things meaning beyond the daily regimen and structure.
     I might be able to make more money if I were less loyal. And I might have a more raging sort of personal freedom, but I might also feel less connected to the world I live in, and probably also feel less joy in my heart. It makes me happy to love people. It makes me happy all the way through. So I'll keep on loving them, and keep on caring, and keep on feeling grateful every day that I am a part of something so much bigger than myself.

I get to know the people I encounter regularly, and allow myself to care about them, without apology, and with my full heart.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THE PRICE OF CONTENTION

     Learning to pick our battles is an important life skill. Sometimes, we take a righteous stand against something that we don't actually have the power to change, and end up paying a higher penalty than we were able to anticipate. No matter how right we may be, we have to calculate the potential losses that will result from our taking up arms. We have to realistically determine if it's worth it to fight.
     We live in a sloppy world. Lack of integrity abounds, as does lack of reason and common sense. We are all limited to a certain extent, and imposed upon by rules and regulations that we don't necessarily agree with. But most of them are enforceable nonetheless, and if we want to participate, we have to find a way to get along.
     Being right may not be as important as being at peace. We have to consider our actions carefully when we are feeling oppositional. Do we want to speak our truth and then leave it alone, or take a stand and fight to the death? We have to pick our battles with care, and be honest about the real cost of things.

I think before I fight, and make sure I'm willing to pay the price of contention before I engage.

Monday, June 4, 2012

DAILY HABITS

     Why do we stop doing the things that make us feel good and expect to continue to feel good? We get to a point where we are sick and tired of feeling lousy all the time, so we make changes in our habits and our lifestyle. We start to feel better. Life looks up and we forget how it was. We take our new-found health for granted. And slowly, we slip back.
     We need to keep doing the things that are working for us for as long as they keep on working. We can evolve and fine-tune. But we have to realize that good health is largely the result of good daily maintenence of our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. If we don't bother to take care of ourselves on any front, we will feel the difference.
     It's easy to use stress and difficulty as an excuse to let slide our good habits, and yet, that is when we need them the most! To feel our best in any and all situations, we need to maintain our good habits no matter what, every day, for a lifetime.

I take care of myself so that I can enjoy my life!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

SEEING BEAUTY

     If we look at the world with loving eyes, we can see that there's something beautiful in everyone. We have to be attentive and be willing to look, but it's there. I guarantee it. There are the things that are obviously beautiful in others- classic good looks, confidence, stature, long eyelashes, strength, femininity- whatever it is that we readily notice and appreciate. And then there are the things that not everyone can see- woundedness, a particular turn of the cheek, robust hips, a graceful way of moving, trembling speech, wisps of hair at the temple; subtleties of being- energy- something unspoken but sensed that inspires compassion in us.
     Multitudes of people are blocked to their own beauty as well as the beauty in others. They feel wretched, evil, undeserving... But it's there in us all. Even the dangerous are beautiful. Their beauty doesn't make them safe, but it exists in them nonetheless, somehow or other. Perhaps it's in the pain of their childhood story, or in the way they curl up in a ball at night when they are asleep.
     We see what we look for, so let's keep an eye out for beauty in unexpected places. Let's look for treasures in people instead of flaws; for gifts and talents instead of liabilities. If we see the beauty in others, perhaps we can truly learn to experience it in ourselves.

Beauty is a way of seeing. I see beauty everywhere I look!

Friday, June 1, 2012

THINKING BEFORE SPEAKING

     We must allow people their dignity. If we observe someone speaking in error, or doing something that we feel could use correction, we can take the time and consideration to choose our moment and our method to make a suggestion. We needn't call out everything we see. We needn't make people wrong. We can be subtle. We can be kind. We can consider the most loving approach to others and ask ourselves, "Does whatever I have to say need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? And does it need to be said by me right now?" These are useful questions.
     We can spare people embarrassment by pausing briefly to think before we speak and consider the consequences before we blurt out our opinion. Our opinion is not as important as we think it is. It's not as important as allowing another human being their dignity and self-respect.

I don't have to express everything I think. I consider thoughtfully before I open my mouth.