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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

GROWING AND PRUNING

    Beginnings and transitions are always hard work because so much adjustment is required. We have to assimilate the new without abandoning our daily maintenance routines. We have to make room for the unknown and the unforeseen and be willing to be flexible. At first, it seems impossible that we could absorb anything additional into our already full life, and yet, we can, and we do. Life fills up just a little bit more.
     Life in transition is a growing and expanding phase. But eventually, lest we become tangled in a jungle of suffocating vines and overgrowth, pruning is always required. We have to pare back, and trim down. Though we may pile on more and more and more indefinitely, it's a pace we cannot keep. Eventually, with too much on every front, we burn out, and compromise the quality of our lives.
     Let's be smart. Let's grow at a sustainable pace. Let's live a life of give and take, of exciting forward progress and reflective still motion. Let's regularly pause and clear the air, and our schedules, and our emails, and our minds, so that we can can enjoy the journey, and appreciate every detail of the ride.

I learn to pace myself in life, and know how to pare back when my plate is overfull.

Monday, July 30, 2012

RESPECT

     Respect yourself. Respect others. Respect the environment. This was the motto of my childrens' elementary school, and it makes perfect sense to me. These three statements say it all and apply on every level. But simple as they are, it's hard not to fall short one way or the other. Perhaps we have a tendency to misinterpret respect. I believe it has to do with care and kindness, with live and let live, and maybe more than anything, with gratitude and appreciation.
     It seems so reasonable. Of course we should respect the environment, and yet, we pollute it, both culturally and personally. We take the natural world for granted. And we're able to respect some people, but have little tolerance and lots of judgment for most others. And when it comes to self-respect, we are generally reckless. We easily abuse ourselves with criticizing thoughts; with stress, and food, and extreme behavior.
     Let's improve our levels of respect for all things by raising our awareness. Let's become mindful of what we send out into the world, because it is sure to come back around to us in the end.

I give respect and receive it in kind.

Friday, July 27, 2012

MOVING THROUGH FEAR

     Fear is a lame excuse, and it's at the root of all of our excuses.We are afraid of pain, of difficulty, of failure. We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid we will look silly, not be able to keep up, over-complicate our lives; that we will experience discomfort. Even when there are things that we want, things that we have wanted for a long time, and have worked particularly hard to achieve- we get close to getting them and we throw in the towel. Never mind, we tell ourselves. Who are we kidding?
     We retreat to what we know, and feel a certain relief, but not really. We have bailed on our hopes and played it safe. We have taken a seat and abandoned the actualizing of our vision. And as a result of our sudden inaction, the fear dissipates, but so does the excitement, and we are left flat. We have flattened ourselves.
     Let's acknowledge our fear, but not let it squash us. Let's push forth and gather up the daily willingness to risk our comfort for our continued evolution. Let's believe in our path, and our dreams, and that we are on course and right on time- even if it's scary, even if we can't see far ahead, and even if we have no idea how it's all going to turn out in the end.

I am willing to stretch. I feel my fear but don't let it stop me. I trust in the calling of my dreams.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE POSSIBLE

     Sometimes our lessons and inspirations come from the most unlikely places. We project and pre-judge, and write things and people off without clearly understanding what value they might have for us. We live our lives in discount mode. We discount others and we discount ourselves. We are arrogant and think we know everything about everything, or else we are so ruled by fear that we paralyze ourselves and refuse to grow.
     Let's live in the draft of an open mind on all fronts, and be patient. Let's be willing to wait and see and entertain the concept of maybe. We are impulsive. We say yes to this and no to that- without thought, without consideration, and without the element of possibility in the mix. Let's open ourselves to the idea that anything is possible, and that we never know what unlikely event or encounter could positively change the entire course of our lives.

I keep an open mind and do not shut down ideas on impulse. I am willing to experience the possible in all walks of life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MAGNETS

     Life is magnetic. We are drawn to certain things and people and places, and repulsed from others. I can't help but think that what we are drawn to has a meaning, or a lesson, or a gift for us, and that if we discount the pull, we miss out. I believe we are meant to explore things- sometimes shallowly and sometimes deeply; and that our exploration often takes courage that we are hard-pressed to muster. It seems easier to say that the grapes are sour before we have even spotted the vine.
     But what's our point in being here anyway- in being alive? Is it about safety? Is it about maintaining the status quo? Or is it about trying things and following leads and having the faith to take a risk- and then trusting ourselves enough to know when it's time to turn home?

I trust myself to explore the things I am drawn to, and then to make good decisions as I follow the path.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE REAL REALITY

     Misconstrue is a good word, and applicable to more of our life experience than we can possibly realize. We misconstrue our responsibilities, and our power to control things. We misconstrue people and outcomes and motives and meanings. We manufacture a personal reality based on our thoughts and our skewed understanding of how people feel, and what we think they want and need. We get all tangled up in strings. In any situation that involves people, we can be sure that there is some kind of misconstruing going on. Something is being misconstrued by someone.
     If we aren't sure and don't know absolutely the how and why and where and when of a life happening, let's call it for what it is, and admit that we don't know. And if we are meant to, we will, and if we are not, we won't. Some things become clear as they unfold, or else we understand them in hindsight, and some things aren't ever going to make logical sense to us. They simply are what they are, and that's the most we will ever get.

Knowing how easily I misconstrue situations, and people, I am willing to make room in my thinking for the fact that I may not understand the real reality.

Monday, July 23, 2012

PRIORITIES

     What are the priorities in our lives? What do we make important? What is disposable and what is absolutely non-negotiable? What's the most important thing, and who's the most important person? Do we make time for the things we love? Are we disposable? Do our needs matter less than the needs of our spouse or our children or our parents or friends? Do we have friends? Do we make them a priority?
     Let's think about it. How do we measure the pieces and the portions of our lives?

I realistically examine my priorities to see what they say about me, and I become willing to move things around in order to honor my truth.

Friday, July 20, 2012

POTHOLES

     I seem to cruise happily along the road of life, and then hit a patch of potholes. Something triggers me and I find myself suddenly focused on what's wrong. I am overcome unexpectedly with darkness. Hours of smooth pavement and pleasure in the ride become splattered with edginess and irritability, and this seems to be my pattern. I sink temporarily. And then the rough road is just as suddenly behind me and it is smooth sailing yet again. It feels erratic to me. I'd like to be able to transition with more grace, or learn to somehow not lose my pleasure in the potholes. I seem to get so easily hooked by thorns. I don't think it has to be that way. I believe I can learn to laugh when I bounce. I believe I can learn to live without crashing every time I encounter a dip.

I recognize when I hit potholes in my day and don't let them sink me. I trust that the road will smooth out yet again.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE ELIMINATION OF SELF-DENIGRATION

     We are far too readily self-deprecating. We cut ourselves down with our words and thoughts and insult ourselves as if we are at play. We are so stupid, weak, clumsy, messed-up, fat, out-of-shape, bad at this, that, or the other thing. It's a dangerous business and none of it true. We may not be exactly where we want to be, but we will never get there believing in our own worthlessness.
     We are beautiful beings of light and promise who have been battered by the winds of life. But we are not down to stay unless we make the decision to stay down. We are in flux at all times- either improving our condition or condemning ourselves to misery. Let's choose the improvement route and feel better and better every day!
     It starts with kindness to ourselves. It starts with love and compassion for our bodies and our situation. Gently, we must acknowledge where we could make positive changes, and then become willing to make them; and give ourselves credit for every faltering step we take; and grant ourselves forgiveness for all of our stumbles and trips.

I do not denigrate myself. I appreciate the effort I make to do the right thing and give myself a break if the results aren't always perfectly perfect. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

LOW GEAR

     We have levels of power within us. The most superficial one is limited in its lasting ability. It burns out in a flash of high intensity effort. But beneath it is more power- a bit less accessible, but stronger, and with more endurance. This second level can carry us far, but eventually, it too, is spent.
    At the deepest level, we are unlimited. We can engage physical strength beyond our wildest dreams. It's low gear and four-wheel drive. But we cannot use it without focus. We cannot use it without our breath and intention and heart. It is a conscious shift into super-human power mode; the rising up of pure life force energy.
     Knowing that we have this kind of power available to us, and learning to access it on purpose is useful, and worthwhile, to say the least. It will take us beyond the possible into the realm of the miraculous time and again, and it will change us as it courses through our blood and muscles. It will electrify us. So when we feel burnt out, let's focus and breathe and call up our resources from the depths. Let's smile as the power comes forth from within, and our skin shivers with the energetic rush of the engagement of our low gear.

I am powerful beyond measure, and I use my breath and intention to shift me into low gear for the climb of power up the steep hills of life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BEING WHO WE ARE

     It's ok to be who we are. It's ok to love what we love and to laugh at the things that strike us as funny, and to cry at whatever moves us to tears. It's ok to be a little pudgy, or skinny, or muscular, or lanky. It's ok to have any and every combination of imperfect body parts. It's ok to need time alone, to want to be with people, to take naps, eat desserts, be a vegetarian. Authentic living does not apologize for itself.
     If we squash ourselves to fit some mold, or live according to specific cultural ideals or expectations, we will suffer for it. If we live restrained and in check, containing our passions and our pleasures, we miss out on freedom, and we miss out on love. We are meant to be true to ourselves, and to contribute to the world what we, alone, can contribute- our unique combination of life and heart and body and soul. We are love in action when we are who we are. When we are who we are, the joy of self-expression radiates off of us like sun-rays and we light the path we travel, and illuminate the people we touch.

I do not apologize for being who I am. I glory in self-expression.

Monday, July 16, 2012

RELIEF FROM TENSION

   It's easier to become aware of the fact that I am holding tension than it is to let it go. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps the tension is restraining some sort of emotional outburst in me that I don't want to express or experience. So maybe it's a hiding as well as a holding, and that's what makes it harder to face. Maybe it's sadness underneath the tension, or maybe it's fear. Whatever it is, I believe that mostly it just wants to have a voice.
     Why do we resist what we feel? And think we shouldn't be feeling it? We force happiness upon ourselves and insist upon it, and beat ourselves up for not feeling it- as if we should be feeling it, every minute of every day. But sometimes, if we're honest, happiness actually comes to us in the form of sadness or fear that is freely and unapologetically expressed. There's something beautiful in sadness sometimes, and vulnerability as well. They are gentle and calling sort of emotions, full of heart and longing- not bad, not wrong- and actually rather soft and sweet...
     Perhaps we are sad for the speed of our lives, for the vast lack of understanding and suffering we encounter everywhere we turn, for the way we complicate things and relationships, and for the way we toss blame like snowballs at the people we love the most. Perhaps we are sad because we cannot appreciate our own beauty; that we have loved and lost, and for the dreams that we have carelessly dumped by the wayside. And perhaps we are afraid that the pain from our past will repeat itself in the future and of all the things we do not understand.
     Whatever we feel is ok. Let's ease up and allow ourselves to be where we are.

I recognize tension as a cover story for unexpressed emotion, and have the courage to properly acknowledge what I'm feeling in order to experience relief. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

STAYING COOL

     We can nudge people into seeing that they are taking themselves too seriously, and be nudged in the same way by others. A gentle tease and a loving smile go a long way towards relaxing what is up-tight and rigid: a reminder that nothing is worth losing our humor over, or losing our cool.
      Life happens. Sometimes it's inconvenient. Sometimes it's expensive. Sometimes it's inopportune. But what are we going to do? Being grouchy changes nothing. We have to learn to roll with the punches and body surf the waves. If we fight them, they batter us. If we go with the flow, we are carried and sustained.

I move with the tides. I keep my sense of humor and allow for the mutability of life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

GIVE AND TAKE

     Everything in life is a mixed experience. In order to have good times and good feelings, we have to be willing to do the footwork. We cannot enjoy the feeling of being fit unless we are willing to exercise our bodies. We cannot enjoy being in a healthy relationship unless we are willing to communicate honestly, and take responsibility for our part in conflicts. In every job and every experience, there is both joy and effort. Neither one exists without the other.
     Culturally, we seem to have a panacea idea that it's possible and desirable to live a life of leisure without contributing anything meaningful to it. We erroneously think that such a life is actually worth aiming for. But everything has a cost- everything- and nothing is given without something being taken. Life is an exchange. It's give and take. Taking alone is unsustainable and unsatisfying. It is only when we have planted the seeds and weeded and watered the crop that we can truly appreciate the harvest.

I do my part. In the exchange of life, I work hard, and reap the benefit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SPREADING LIGHT

     We have the ability to lift each other up. When we encounter someone who is having a bad day; who is over-wrought with stress or negativity, we can spread a bit of cheer upon them and watch them transform before our eyes. If we are quiet and grounded; if we do not take their darkness personally and get defensive; if we listen and acknowledge their hardships and are willing to share related stories from our own experience; then we can change the quality of their day.
     It's about love. It's about a willingness to be loving. It comes from compassion and an open heart and the ability to see. If we pay attention, we can see worry and stress in others. We can see fear and resentment, and we can sense these things as well. And with our love, we can dispel them. We can scatter the darkness in others by spreading our light.

When I encounter people who are full of darkness and stress, I center myself and engage my compassion. I watch them soften and sweeten as I shower them with love. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TREES

     I love trees! Especially this time of year, in the summer heat, with their leafy branches. A feeling of coolness, relaxation, and ease overtakes me when I'm sitting under a shady tree on a hot afternoon. The shade is delicious. It feels indulgent and rich. The patchy, filtered sunlight is exquisite, as is the mossy ground, the spreading roots, and the commanding trunk that rises up to the sky!
     A whole world exists beneath the trees. Think of pine forests! The fallen needles are soft, and cover the earth like a comfortable carpet. I love the carpet of pine that spreads beneath the trees... And willow trees are their own kind of wonderful! And birch trees! And grandaddy oaks with trunks so wide I can't get my arms around them. And cedar trees, dogwoods, and persimmons- apple trees, maple trees, and English walnuts!
     Let's celebrate the mysterious and wonderful variety of trees, and their beauty. Let's take a moment to say thanks for woods and landscapes and the breezy, leafy shade.

I notice the majesty of trees and feel grateful for the way they ground our world.

Monday, July 9, 2012

OBSESSIVE THINKING

     Obsessive thinking is exhausting. It consumes our energy like wildfire. If we are lucky, we can stop it, but it's difficult to keep it stopped. Like a broken record, if we are not perfectly vigilant, the mind catches again in the same spot, and gets stuck there, circling around and around.
     Perhaps we obsess mentally over things to keep us from having to face what we perceive as difficult in our our external lives that we don't want to face, and feelings that we don't want to feel. The fantasy drama we create seems controllable somehow. We have a false sense of power. It's addictive, gnawing, a nail-biting habit- both destructive and strangely appealing at the same time. It's a grand distraction.
     But in the end it can't save us. The only salvation is in embracing the moment, and being present and attentive. Projections of all kinds cast shadows on the screen of blessing that is right in front of us. We miss the simple and abundant grace that is already here by creating faraway fantasies. We miss the breeze and the singing of birds as we turn ourselves into imaginary heroes and take the world by storm.

I recognize when I am hooking in to obsessive thinking, and return to the moment. I consider what I might be trying to escape, and choose to face it instead, so that I can experience real peace that lasts, as opposed to fantasy peace that traps me in vicious circles.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ALWAYS SOMTHEING

     It's true that in life "it's always something." The minute we feel that we are in the clear at last- free from pain, free from debt, secure in love, whatever it may be- here comes the next challenge and the new discomfort. There is no quick fix, no absolute security, and no point of arrival. There is always the next step and the next thing. Our back feels better and then our elbow starts acting up. The elbow heals and we step on a rusty nail. We are poisoned by food; the car breaks down unexpectedly, or someone dies and we find ourselves utterly unprepared emotionally.
     We have to learn how to get comfortable being off-balance. Like a tight-rope walker, we have to learn to constantly shift our weight and energy and attention to keep from toppling over. Life is a tight-rope. We have to learn to accommodate ourselves to the height and instability.

I can be comfortable and feel secure even when things in my life are discombobulated and I am surrounded on all sides by loose ends. Life is a dynamic adventure of adaptability.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

CHANGING REALITY

     We are what we think about. We create a reality that is beautiful or oppressive, hostile or friendly. We create suffering and pestilence, or blessings galore. The real reality of our situation is no more complicated than the way we think about it.
     Do we look on the bright side? Do we expect the best? Do we believe that things will work out? Or are we victims? Are we put-upon and helpless? Do we get what we want? Or is that for everyone else? Do people like us? Hate us? Not see us? Are we invisible? Do we consistently feel sorry for ourselves? Or are we grateful to be who we are?
     With our thoughts we create our world, every minute of every day, and we are free to change at any time and in any direction we choose. There is power in this. It is the power of creation and manifestation. Considering this, let's adjust ourselves and our expectations and judgments to improve the quality of our day, and our year, and our life experience.

I observe my thoughts and see how I am sabotaging myself with negativity. I am willing to change the way I think to experience more satisfaction in my life. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

THE FOURTH OF JULY

     The Fourth of July. It's festive and hot; the height of summer and barbeques galore. It's parades and fireworks and small children with sparklers. It's a fair amount of patient waiting for things to begin. It's loud, and somewhat frantic; a chaotic celebration of freedom and independence.
     Let's pause for a moment before the activities begin and consider our own personal sense of freedom. Are we free? Do we feel free? Do we act free? Or are we oppressed in a self-imposed kind of way by our life circumstances? Are we enslaved to our children, our jobs, our families, or our own negative judgment and criticism? Are we martyred? Unappreciated? Do we feel stuck?
     Everything is a choice in life. Everything. Let's choose freedom. Let's choose to enjoy the things we do and the people we are. Let's wear life like a loose-fitting garmet with no stress, no strain, no imprisonment, and no warfare. It's up to us to feel free. Freedom is not our right. It's our choice.

I choose freedom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MUSIC

     It's important and necessary that we make time to sing at the top of our voices, and to dance to the music that we love. Great music elevates us, but we have to be willing to let go of self-consciousness in order to fully enjoy the rising experience of the rhythm and the beat. We need to find a way to honor the songs that resonate within us, and allow ourselves to move along in time.
     It's easier when we are alone. That way, we can sing with all of our enthusiasm, and shimmy our bodies however we please. Without allowing for such a musical expression on some kind of a regular basis, no matter our age, it seems to me that we live our lives "in check;" properly restrained and composed, but missing out on a piece of freedom.
     It's a primal thing to let go. Let's give ourselves permission. Let's crank up the tunes and get our bodies moving. It's heartening. It's joyful! And it's fun!! :)

I sing along to my favorite songs and dance with joy to the music that moves me.

Monday, July 2, 2012

LIGHTENING UP

     We take ourselves too seriously. We fret and fuss and over-think everything. We allow ourselves to get weighed down with daily burdens and responsibility. We count on life being difficult. We fall into a "struggle-ethic" philosophy.
     But maybe the whole point of life is to take ourselves and our life circumstances less seriously, and to find the fun in whatever we do. It's there. If we approach things playfully, they are enjoyable, and we laugh easily and feel relaxed. If, on the other hand, we approach them with dread, then our foreheads wrinkle and dread is what we get.

I am willing to take myself less seriously, and to live life with more laughter, and smiles that last.