Category Archives: Inspiration…

Optimism and the Promise of Potentiality…

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Optimism naturally seeks ouFreedom Faith & Letting Got the potential for what is hopeful, kind, and promising.
Every experience possesses potential.
Potential occupies powerful neutrality, good or bad, catalyzed and shaped by individual interaction.
If we approach the potential of a moment with optimism, we allow it the power to gift us with good things. Moments cannot be owned or controlled, so expectations are out of the question. Freedom to exist in the moment dictates a level of surrender to what is unknown. The freedom to surrender is only achievable through an optimistic spirit, and it opens the senses to that which is beautiful and wondrous.
Feed yourself a steady diet of optimism by making habit of opening yourself to the experience the moment has to offer.

The lyrics of the Matt Simons song, “Catch and Release” provide a wonderful description of this process…

There’s a place I go to
Where no one knows me
It’s not lonely
It’s a necessary thing
It’s a place I made up
To find out what I’m made of
The nights are stayed up
Counting stars and fighting sleep
Let it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mysteries
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
That day-to-day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To go
Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day
It gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love

There’s a place I’m going
No one knows me
If I breathe real slowly
Let it out and let it in
It can be terrifying
To be slowly dying
Also clarifying
We end where we begin
Let it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet
Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mysteries
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
That day-to-day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To go
Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day
It gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love

{To listen, use this link to hear a great version: https://youtu.be/HZm9P0w61_U}

Adventure and happiness often coexist within the courage of great abandon. The practice produces an affect not unlike the way filtering sunlight through a dense wood finds the dark ground beneath to illuminate and induce healthy new growth.  Optimism becomes a light that spawns the growth of happiness and new forms of optimism.
It is its own confidence…
Confident optimism is born of a million faith-tested moments. Be courageous. Run off the edge. Work without a net, arms wide to embrace the inherent potential of a moment to change and color your life forever in ways that defy all logic and definition 🙂

Sad is not bad, it’s necessary…

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Recently, we experienced the ordeal of our daughter, our youngest, leaving home for college. What followed were several evenings of looking awkwardly across the dinner table at each other, lots of silence, and a profound, unshakable sadness.   Obviously, there was some anticipation of emotional pain prior to the event, since our son had left home three years earlier, but it did little to cushion the blow of our suddenly-empty house and empty hearts.

When your children leave home, even in happiness and excitement for their future, your life completely upends. Everything changes, and the loss of their presence is tangible.  Adjustment begins slowly and naturally, in urgent necessity, accomplished through the process of grieving what has been lost.  A shroud of sadness settles over us like a healing cocoon, incubating against a world that continues to move, unmoved, by our personal hell.  For a time, we curl into our memories of hugs and spoken words, the sheets that smell like a distant perfume, and trophies lovingly packed away into boxes with labels.

Such an incubation period is necessary to healing, yet people outside our grief are not comfortable with our sadness…

The concept of ‘being sad’ has somehow been perverted. It has become a status of disdain, to be avoided or treated away as quickly as possible.  But just as happiness has its place in our life journey, so does sadness.  If we weren’t so preoccupied with the belief that one should be in an impossible state of ‘constant happiness’, we might be better equipped to see the positive aspects of something that makes us, essentially…’feel bad’.

Sounds like a contradiction…I mean, how can something that makes us feel bad, be good for us?

In the case of our daughter leaving home, I can say my sadness is good, because it comes from a place of deep, intense love. I’m grieving my personal loss of her presence, which added so much immeasurable happiness to my daily life.  However, I grieve for me, yet rejoice for her and for the world that will now have the unique opportunity to get to know her.  It is in the hope for her future that I find my way through the grief of her leaving.  Thankfully, I grieve a change, impermanent in that I still have her in my life, though no longer under my roof.

A few days after her arrival at college, one of the students on campus went missing. Two days ago, as we visiting our daughter, a body was found just off campus and identified as the missing young woman.  I will not pretend to be capable of comprehending the level of grief her family is now experiencing…

What I do know is that their grieving, like mine, is necessary

Grief, on all levels, is an acknowledgement. We are fragile creatures.  Without acknowledgment of the truth, the pronounced permanence and unpredictability of change, we cannot find the acceptance necessary to move on.  Grief simultaneously teaches us and puts us in our place.  The stages grow in us a steady, burning desire to continue to live, learn, love, and inspire.

When we’re on the outside of grief, watching another in pain, we want to make it better. We recognize pain is painful and our compassion wishes it away, especially when it’s someone we love.  We just want to make it all better, but we need to exercise patience and respect for the process and acknowledge it.  It’s important to remember that grief, sadness, and pain are necessary components to the human experience.

Nothing highlights great happiness as much as marked sadness. Never was one so overjoyed to come into the light, as one who has just emerged from the darkest forest floor.  The key to grief and sadness is maintaining, and promoting, hope.  Hope is the tiny light that beckons through the darkest hour, pointing us toward acceptance and beyond.

No matter the cause, we really shouldn’t seek to counsel those who are grieving. Grief is a natural process, like breathing, so let it be.  Grief shouldn’t be chastised simply because it makes us uncomfortable.  Instead, grief should find respect for its process.  It should be met with patient compassion and loving hopefulness for its promise to yield to brighter days  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://evolvingfaith.blogspot.com/p/grief-quotes.html*

MOVING…onward & upward to New Mexico!

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NMBlogIt’s official:  I’ve been accepted to Graduate School with NMSU!  I will begin my study Spring 2015!

I’m very happy and excited, although the work of moving 14 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ is quite intimidating ;P

…totally doable, and do it I shall! 

The physical move is really only one small part of this new change.  Nothing in life seems to come in tiny, bite-sized pieces, but I like to remind myself that I learned to ride my bike uphill, so I seem to be hardwired for it. 

Our youngest is leaving home for college next month.  She will be attending in-state and our son just recently moved back in-state…and now we are leaving.  Am I right to say that it seems to run counter to what is ‘normal’ in these situations?

I mean: ‘kids-leave-home’…normal.  Check. 

But….

‘Kids-and-parents-leave-home-at-same time-and-parents-move-allllll-the-way-across-the-Continental-United-States-away-from-kids’…hmmm…normal?  Not so much!

Being always hopeful in life and maintaining an optimistic attitude is so incredibly important.  Now more than ever, personally.  BIG changes coming on the horizon, folks, but it’s all good.

I’ll be sure to keep ya’ll posted 🙂

 

*image credit: http://deafnetwork.com/wordpress/blog/2013/09/18/nms-schools-for-deaf-and-visually-impaired-provide-little-online-data*

Please listen to your flight attendant….

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Before every plane ride, the cramped individuals of the cabin are always treated to the preflight safety instructions.  They’re always the same; the flight attendant walks us through what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.  If you’ve flown more than once, it’s more likely you will be fumbling with your tiny airplane pillow or an electronic device, rather than listening to this standard briefing.  But I’ve chosen it as a blog topic for good reason.  There is actually a really great bit of advice to be found, metaphorically, within the mundane instruction.

Included in preflight safety instructions is what to do if cabin pressure changes.  When cabin pressure changes on an airline, it triggers the emergency oxygen masks to drop from overhead each passenger.  The instructions given for what to do when the masks dropped always perplexed me when I was younger.  The flight attendant tells the passengers that they must ‘first secure their own mask, before placing a mask on their child’.

I always used to think that seemed a bit selfish.  I mean, isn’t the first instinct of a parent to run to the aid of their child, without regard for themselves?  That seems right…save the child first.

Then, I had children.  And now I see the wisdom in the words.  I think it’s natural, especially for women, to forget your own needs.  We get good at putting ourselves on the back burner for others.  Anything else seems selfish.  After all, taking time for yourself is frowned on, because the perception is that by making time for yourself, you are taking it away from someone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason the flight attendant insists on putting your mask on first is so you can take care of your child.  Without that mask, and the oxygen it provides, you will lose consciousness while trying to help your child.  The result is a child left without a parent to care for them, without protection, and in grave danger.  The metaphor is pretty powerful; if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly hope to be present to truly provide the care those you love really need.

This week, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of drug overdose in his New York City apartment.  Alone.  On the bathroom floor.  I can think of few, more sadly preventable ways to die.  Police found 40 bags of heroine in his apartment, and he was found only because he failed to pick up his three young children as promised that day.  Please don’t interpret any anger on my part as being aimed at Mr. Hoffman.  I hate addiction, not the addicted.  Mr. Hoffman, a beautiful, talented human being, filled with the same potentiality for life that every human being possesses, chose in a moment of emptiness to believe the lie of addiction.  It is a lie which says that something other than living and being ever-present in your life is somehow better in a given moment.  It says there is no truth in human pain and suffering, nothing to be learned.  It insists pain simply be eradicated, even if only as a temporary reprieve.  But in truth, addiction is pain.  It is a thief that robs life and replaces it with more and more hollow emptiness.  Numbness replaces presence.  Game over…

Addiction allows us to play the victim.  It hides the ability and free will of the human spirit which empower all good practice and positive thought.  Addiction is the lie, because we are not victims to anything but our own minds.  We live our choices.  No one chooses to be an addict, but we do choose to do the things that set addiction in motion.  Life is a powerful experience that merits responsibility for identifying what is best and discerning what is good and right in our lives.  Life is precious and fragile…so respect the journey.

So please, listen to your flight attendant.  Take care of yourself first.  Feed yourself full to the top with good things, so you can be ready and able to be there for all those other human beings you love so much  🙂

*image provided by: http://williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/2013/07/addiction-recovery-southwest-florida.html

What is Sexy?…

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The level of fixation on sex and all things body-related has grown to epidemic proportions.  Physicality is widely seen now as the primary dictator of ‘sexy’, though physical depiction, even generationally, is interestingly diverse.

‘Sex sells’… ever heard the phrase ‘sex sells tires’?  It’s meant broadly to communicate ‘sex can sell anything’.  And upon first interpretation, it seems to indicate it is not referring to the persona of the bikini-clad Miss, reclining uncomfortably (and suggestively) over a brand new tire.  Or is it?

Perhaps it is the communication of an ‘ideal’, which only superficially perceives that it deals directly with the physical.  In reality, physicality is fickle, differing with each new generation and between cultures.

Consider these two examples:

modern Body1955BodIf physique is ‘sexy’, how are the drastic differences explained between what was considered ‘ideal’ in 1955, versus the ‘ideal’ of today?  Notions that the physical body defines what is ‘sexy’ have been reinforced to unhealthy extremes, leading to increases in the number and severity of eating disorders and negative body image issues.  People are dying to be thin…literally.  As if thin dictates ‘sexy’ without regard to the entire multitude of other aspects that actually make us human and attracted to one another.   In fact, it is a form of Fetishism, and it allows for the commoditization of sex and the ‘sexual ideal’.  It is an alarming deviation from sexual truths and a reflection of misrepresented ideals.

In actuality, physique is only used to ferry communication.  And it is the communication that remains unabashed and unchanged, proving it is the focus, the issue at hand.  The physical is used to ferry the communication of ‘sexy’…and by ‘sexy’, I mean attitude.  Attitude is sexy.

The physique is merely the vessel by which the attitude is dispensed…a ship containing the gold within, to speak in metaphor.  A physique can be honed and crafted.  Hell, it can even be bought these days.  But attitude?  Well, that’s the real gold isn’t it?  After all, that outer shell can look like a million bucks, but if there isn’t much of substance on the inside, it’s only going to take you so far.  It will in fact only take you exactly as far as any physical body is capable of, and no more.

Ask most men and women what is really ‘sexy’ and if they’re honest, they’ll likely talk about ‘the way he/she looks at me’, ‘how much he’s/she’s in to me’, or ‘wants me’.  It’s something in the look and the action, not in the actual eyeball.   It is a conveyed sensibility; enabled and enhanced through its communication by the body.

Consider that people who may be very adept at using their bodies to communicate attitude are naturally sought after by multimedia outlets that communicate solely through visual campaigns.

So buyers beware…the body might mislead what the mind has to offer.

Examine the Alternatives…

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The word ‘alternative’ has two wonderful synonyms:  ‘option’ and ‘choice’.

And of course, a synonym is defined as ‘a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language’.

So, ‘examine the alternatives’ simply means ‘consider all the options’ and ‘consider your choices’.

In every action or reaction, we should examine our alternatives.  The important key word in that statement is ‘examine’, because it should prompt one to contemplate what they are examining their options or choices for, but also why there is a need to examine them.Blog 18 Image

Do we make our choices blindly?  No.  Choices are made based on their perceived merit.  Merit should regard how our choices impact others through their potential to enhance and uplift life.  Trouble is, sometimes merit can stem from individual unhealthy needs or desires.  For example, if we choose to give our time and effort to another, but with the ultimate desire that our efforts be acknowledged somehow, say with simple appreciation (seems harmless enough…most people expect a little appreciation for doing good things).  But in such cases, we have given of ourselves with an expectation to receive.  Giving with the expectation to receive is not true giving…it is the result of a cost/benefit analysis conducted under the umbrella of a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.

And we are all guilty of it…so no harsh judgments here…

However, it can become a dangerous process….a habitual viewpoint of the self as victim to the world and circumstance.  It is paramount to get real in the examination of our motivations.  Truth is health, and truth is not always easy.  Ask yourself (and be honest) about any hopes, desires, or expectations you might be attaching to your choices and why you really need them.  Are motivations borne from loneliness, envy, unhappiness, or anger?  If our options and choices are rooted in these motivations, there is serious work to be done…inside.  Eventually, once the hard work is done and truth is achieved, loving and giving comes simply and clearly from the desire only to love and give, without the expectation for anything else.

NOTE:  This endeavor is part of the perpetual classroom of life; a renewable ideal, a process and lesson which needs constant gardening to reveal its infinite ability to improve with every season  🙂

blog image courtesy of:  http://www.alternatives.org/impact.html

3 Minute Shower Meditation…

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I haven’t been keeping up with my blog as well as I’d like lately, but our daughter is a senior this year and so the added load of college applications, scholarship searches, and campus open houses is upon us.  Although we’ve been through the senior year routine before, with our son, those of you with children understand every situation is different and presents its own challenges.

In light of these circumstances, I thought it might be nice to blog about a small stress reliever I practice in the hopes you, dear reader, might find some relaxation in it as well.  I find it quite centering…

A lot of people have told me they don’t have time to devote to meditation every day.  But because I believe meditation is very important, this might be worthwhile, because though most of us don’t have time for anything ‘extra’, typically we all shower.  This kills two birds with one stone…enjoy!

Note:  These are tiny movements!  Keep eyes closed for the duration of the meditation and feel the effect of the water on your body….

  1.  After you complete your shower, increase temperature of water to as warm as you can stand and still be comfortable.
  2. Move forward until completely submerged, stand with arms at your sides and close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing.  If face is forward, you should have no trouble breathing through your mouth under shower stream.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  3. Once breathing is steady, begin to move fingertips slowly up the sides of your bodyConcentrate on the feel of your touch, NOT how your body feels to your fingertips.  Give thanks for your living body.  Continue until arms are above head.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  4. With arms overhead, lean back slightly until head and face are clear of water flow and stream is only on your chest.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the heart that pumps your blood, the breath in your lungs, the bones and muscles that support you and give you strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  5. Lower arms to your sides.  Lean back until shower stream is only on your abdomen.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the processes and filtrations that make use of the things you take into your body, the miracle of the reproductive system.   The core muscles that support and give strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  6. Turn, face away from the shower streamExtend arms out in front of you and support yourself against the shower wall (if shower is too large, use hands on hips).  Posture should resemble a standing wall pushup.  Spread feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly at the hip until you feel the stream only on your lower backLet your abdomen release.  Feel the soothing warmth of the stream on your lower back.  Hold about 30 seconds….
  7. Maintain posture in slight bent position.  Now begin to slowly move upper body backward and forward, feeling stream move up and down your entire back.  Think of a tree in a gentle breeze.  Give thanks for your back; its ability to bend and straighten, giving you strength and support.  Continue for about 30 seconds…
  8. Straighten and turn to face shower streamSubmerge entirelyMove only your head using a long, slow up and down ‘yes’ motion.  As you do, feel the water moving over your face in a line from neck to top of head.  As your head moves down, imagine the line is removing negative thoughts, while as your head moves up your mind is opening to all of the potential contained within the universe.  Give thanks for the miracle of your mind, thought, and its power to heal.  Give thanks for your face and its ability to reveal your goodness to others.  Repeat for about 30 seconds…
  9. Facing forward as you started, step back out of shower stream, stand with arms at your sides and open your eyes.  You should feel a sense of center, calm, and rejuvenation!  🙂