Tag Archives: life

Work It, Girl…

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A good mom teaches us a lot.  If we’re lucky enough to become moms one day, we realize more and more just how much we learned from her.  In general, moms get a bad rap, held to a much higher standard than anyone else who might enter our lives.  Her missteps are often severely judged, not just in her own mind and heart, but in those of her children.  But for better or worse, she’s the one we turn to most, the one who is always there, a constant gardener in love and care, in her way.

‘Her way’ may not always be something we agree with, but even if she’s made a mistake, we’re going to learn something from it.  She’s human sure, but beyond that, she’s mom, which means she impacts your life in a way like no other.  As we grow and become adults, it’s important to consider her not just as mom, but as a person on her own journey.  Puts a little different perspective on her mistakes, doesn’t it?

Considering her this way should likewise put an improved perspective on her love and constant gardening.  She’s just another human being on a journey, yet she devotes the majority of her thoughts, energies, decisions, and dreams toward your well-being, the epitome of unconditional love.  And though it may not always seem as though her love comes without strings (she actually expects things of you!?!) it ultimately does, because every demand is made with your best interests at heart.  And we cut her some slack, she’s lived longer than we have, she likely knows more than we do about a thing or two, so we try to listen more and judge less.  We have some faith in her love for us.

My mother struggled to raise me on her own, a struggle I’ll never completely understand because I have not had to experience it.  She worked…HARD.  Sometimes more than one job at a time when things were particularly lean or I needed something special for school or sports.  She did what she had to do.  And she made me do.  Whether it was “Go outside and play”, “Get up, you’re going to work with me today, I need help”, “Clean up this room!”, they were each lessons.  She was teaching me about work and life.  She was teaching me what work does for you, how it makes you feel, how to use it to empower and enable good things to happen in your life.  Translation, please?

  1. “Go outside and play” teaches that there is a whole world out there just waiting for you to experience it, but you’ll never encounter its mysteries unless you get up, get on with it, and get out there.
  2. “Get up, you’re going to work with me today, I need help” teaches several lessons.  First lesson: The value of gumption, of getting about the business of living, instead of sleeping it away.  Sleep is necessary of course, but like most things in life, in moderation and good health.  Second lesson: It’s good to help others.  We all need a little help every now and then, but a child who isn’t taught to recognize it and follow through, will never help anyone but themselves.  Third lesson: “You’re going to work with me today” teaches that work is necessary to life.  The perception that work is drudgery, something to be avoided in favor of relaxation, is an incorrect perception.  Actually, work (especially hard work) makes you.  What does this mean?  Work makes you by instilling a sense of confidence in your own abilities.  It teaches self-reliance.  It’s the only thing that helps you understand what being productive feels like; that to endeavor is to burn, to be alive and on fire with activity.  It’s a positive, worth-building thing, and the best thing to keep one depression-free and feeling optimistic. Having goals is necessary.  Without it, we sit static, motionless and helpless in a world that is moving all around us, leaving us behind.  Fourth lesson: By requesting that I go to work with her, she demonstrated a belief in my ability to help.  This is often the first experience a child has that helps them understand they can positively impact others through action.
  1. “Clean up this room!” teaches self respect.  It may seem like a demand, but in reality it’s a request to benefit both of you.  Mom has likely already figured out self respect and she has it, therefore she values her space, which includes the one you occupy.  But she’s also teaching you, because she learned (maybe the hard way) that respecting yourself directly impacts the decisions you make for yourself in life.  Decisions are choices and they ultimately influence life and happiness.  Choice in partner, environment, work place, health, even rest and relaxation, are all governed in some way by self respect.  Without it, we are a punching bag who believes we deserve less, which leads to things like poor performance, pessimism, lethargy, and stress, ultimately things that can have real affect on personal health and wellbeing.  Living in a pigsty translates to believing you deserve to live in a pigsty.  Essentially, think it, believe it, do it.  Believing in yourself, recognizing your value, merit, and goodness means you are less likely to accept less than the very best situation you can create for yourself.  Your environment is a direct reflection of how much you value you.  And beyond its impact on you, any devaluation of life and endeavors, purpose and potential, means you will fail to have a positive impact on others.

Mom lessons extend past instruction, into the realm of behavior.  My mom has always maintained an excellent work ethic.  She’s always doing.  This doesn’t mean she can’t relax or won’t, it means she is on fire with activity.  When she relaxes, she earned it.  This enables her to exhibit an extraordinary generosity and a hopeful, endless love.  Her spirit shines with exuberant energy, resulting in a vigorous, fun-loving attitude that always brings a smile to others.  As a result, she belies her age, often mistaken for being much younger (not a bad thing, right ladies?).  She loves to learn, read, and experience.  I’ve always found much admiration for these things, and I find that in my admiration of them first in her, I now seek them out in others.  More importantly, I seek them out in myself.  I am proud of those aspects of myself that I can directly attribute to her influence.   I am an incredibly hard worker, because I enjoy being productive, endeavoring, living on fire.  I love, appreciate, and respect life.  And each day, I wake with a passion to live that drives me in many different directions at once.  These things and more are the direct result of her impassioned efforts, her love and life lessons.

Thankfully, we never get too old to learn something new.  Work it, girl…work it.  Mom wants you to know YOU ROCK…

🙂

**Image creds go to: http://www.andherlittledogtoo.com**

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 🙂

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

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

Time, Control and other Illusions…

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Change is a constant.  We know this to be true.  Seasons change and visible change takes place; things grow, mature, decline, die.  In light of this fact, we should question:  Can any of us predict the exact day a flower will bloom?  Do we know what will entangle the hours and minutes of our inevitable death?  Can we, in the conscience of all that is spontaneous, say we will recognize a life-changing event prior to its inception?  May we hope to unravel the complexities of connection, discourse, and influence in our own existence, and all those around us?

No…we can do none of these things…

Therefore, we are not in control.  We control ourselves, our emotions, responses, and perceptions but nothing else.  If I plant a flower, feed and water it exactly right, it still holds within it the potential to die.  Nature is uncontrolled and breathing and she does not yield to human will.  We can include human beings in the mix too, because we are of this world, this ‘nature’; unpredictable and wild, somewhat stable, but certain to change.

So why, without constants, do we still believe we exercise control over the uncontrollable?

We strive to control because we find the illusion of control comforting…our belief in the illusion makes us at least feel as though we are not given up to chance, and feelings, it seems, are quite important to our perceptions of order.  We function under a grand ideal; an ideal which preaches unequivocally that stability trumps change, order trumps chaos and preparation trumps surprise…

Yet, we yearn for all things spontaneous.  We fill our legends, music, and movies with it and we dream lofty dreams.  Silly really, since true spontaneity is literally defined by throwing oneself into the disordered, wildness of the universe with the sole purpose of experiencing the unplanned with a devil-may-care attitude.  True spontaneity is a rare thing, because the ideal prefers boundaries and borders to spontaneity.   Spontaneity must conform to the comfortable parameters set forth by our illusions.  Illusions which state we can somehow exercise a measure of control over our ‘spontaneous’ experiences, somehow making them ‘better’.

Because, of course, all we do not know makes us uncomfortable.  So what we do not know is unpredictable, and requires explanation and measurement to become comfortable, even if the measurement and explanation is illusion…

Take time for example…does time, as we understand it, actually exist?

What does time fundamentally mean to a newborn?  How does it matter to the deathbed?  And all the spaces between, which are filled, managed, scheduled, forgotten, procrastinated, or logged…what do they mean?  Is life merely a score sheet of timed tally marks in which we, as human beings, with our ‘mathematical concepts’ of time set out to measure and denote and catalog that which is, in reality, unpredictable and constant change?

It is uncomfortable to us to admit our lack of control.  We feel set adrift on a vast, dark ocean in a rowboat.  But our perceptions are the issue, not our lack of control.  If we could, in a moment, consider the marvelous nature of life; its progression, change, and interrelatedness with the rest of creation.

I’m not advocating the rejection of common sense.  I’m not advocating harmful recklessness.  Nor am I advocating that anyone should operate outside the rules of culture in which they live and make a living.  In other words, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but perhaps try in small steps to begin letting go of the illusions of control that bring a false sense of comfort within your own life.

I’m talking about the possibility and potential inherent in the moment.  I am talking about the release of the paradigm.  The confining paradigm that works against the notion that any given moment is beautiful in its own right, full of complex shifts between good and bad, the latter producing infinite benefits if one could only embrace the lesson.  I’m talking about approachability, sensibility, respect, and compassion.  So that every individual you meet and moment you experience is not merely factored, measured, and sized up, but rather embraced as the natural infusion of force in which we all play part.  Respect the journey, not for its measurability, but its immeasurable and untamed potentialities.  In this, the moments within the journey become recognized as awesome blessings  🙂

 

*image courtesy of:  http://www.cumberlandchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/control.gif *

Meditation: Affect…

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Blog 8 ImageConsider the power of the individual…

Existence is the constant, creative process of becoming, never finished, always evolving. We must take into account we are the makers of things; moments, mergers, interactions, and results.

The undertone resonating in life is that things are causal; they impact and ripple in a pond of complex interconnections, beating and banging into one another, manifesting worlds. We cannot ignore the aspects of being, content instead to classify and compare as if everything followed similar patterns.  Patterns do not answer the question why.  They are surface-symbolic, only the aftereffect end-points in a state of instability.  Moments in life have the power and potential to change us forever and as we change, we change things.  They are the inevitable changes spurred by innumerable variables of assemblage; consistently arrange new complexities of unfathomable proportions.

Never underestimate the power of the moment…your behavior, choices, and internal dialogue matter.  In each individual there lies a historical blueprint of existence they extend unknowingly into the world to relate with things and others, creating new worlds.  The discoveries of one generation impact those coming after and almost certainly in ways they could not have imagined.  Through the ordinary, the day-to-day, the extraordinary is formed unpredictably and the genealogy of affect is manifest.

March 2012:  A high school student was involved in a fatal car accident.  She was not the fatality.  She hit a pedestrian attempting to cross the highway in the dark.  As I passed the scene I saw her, head in hands, sitting on the shoulder of the road, staring at the sheet-covered body.  I contemplated the scope of affect in relation to those involved, including myself and the long line of cars creeping in a grisly procession past the scene.  I considered the remarkable changes to life taking place, actively, in the moment; the presence of everything arriving at once, unfolding and potent.  It was an intimate collision of histories, experience, choice, and happenstance, so remarkably unstable and messy.  Looking at the two bodies, one living, one dead, I reflected on my own life and how easily we, as individuals, are created and recreated in a breath.  The tendrils produced by such constant recreation generate remarkable, unknown results.  Tendrils, moving outward, extending, into communities and individual lives to create change, putting into motion a grand evolution of landscape.

And landscapes are different, because situations and encounters are different.  No two are ever produced identical, nor can they be reproduced the same.  Affects are at work within the abstract nothingness that fills spaces between events; the things that make up real life, disorganized and elusive.  Influence is collected, stored, processed and released anew as something else.

You can be better than a moment ago…

Affect tears apart the fabric of time, space, and death to reveal the fluidly unpredictable and powerful.  In fact, we are objects interacting with other objects, animate and inanimate, generating constant states of becoming something.  Statistics are therefore confined to averages, because affect says nothing is predictable.  And affect is absolutely correct…

Happiness…not always…

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happiness picHappiness is not a constant and that is okay…

If we determine a focus on what is good and right, even during hardship, happiness finds us.  Seeking happiness counter intuitively prevents its discovery because it cannot be forced.  Happiness is the wonderful byproduct of attitude and outlook.

The impression that happiness should be (or can be) a constant state of being is illusory.  We are flawed and life is imperfect.  We will feel the sting of disappointment, heartbreak, boredom, and failure.  Life is far too complex to assume the measure of control exists necessary to guarantee one’s happiness as a constant in extant forms of free will or medication.

Acceptance and attitude during experienced states of unhappiness is paramount.  Being unhappy spurs us to hope for happiness.  It motivates us to change our circumstances and attitudes, or create new goals and practices.   And once happiness is again experienced, it is thanks to our previous unhappiness that we have an increased sense of appreciation for what we have found.

Suffering has its unique merits and lessons, so while life is a journey, it is also a classroom.  Our quality of progression depends on perception and perspective.  What we learn and how we choose to apply that knowledge impacts the quality of life for us and for others.  Moreover, like ripples on a pond, they extend beyond the present to influence and inform the future.

Consistently hope for happiness, even in your most depressed moments.  Hoping for happiness is as simple as a happy thought, noting a kind gesture, or repaying one forward.

Happiness is a chosen, hopeful core…a point of light in the dark…a destination of goodness that serves as the constant North of your compass  🙂

 

* image: “http://pinterest.com/pin/283093526547005536/” *