Tag Archives: love

Be the Exception to Be Exceptional

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking: Cain,  Susan: 9780307352156: Amazon.com: Books

In the book Quiet, Susan Cain masterfully discusses the implications of our societal shift from a “Culture of Character” to a “Culture of Personality” as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Her use of the term ‘culture’ is particularly powerful to me. Personally, I have always been aware of negative societal shifts and thought of them as very old issues that, once set into motion, became like a genie that could not be put back in the bottle.

Ultimately, collectively, we cannot turn back the clock to kinder times. We must find our way individually among the hedgerows of our current labyrinth.

The single, most tragic consequence of our cultural shift of focus from character to personality is the loss of true individuality. In a world so focused on persona, self-editing—in multiple forms—rules the day. Who are we if we haven’t been defined by others?

What would happen if we defined ourselves? What if we decided what we should think or feel, or what should really be important to us?

Here’s a challenge:

STOP BEHAVING AS THOUGH LIFE IS A SOLO PERFORMANCE

Influencers, social media, falling in line with the majority in thoughts and feelings…all are toxic to true individualism, but why should we care?

I mean, it does feel better to be part of the group, and what’s wrong with beautiful people leading (apparently) beautiful lives, or aspiring to be like them?

It’s true, it doesn’t feel great to be outside of popular opinion. It’s tough to stand up for what we think if what we think doesn’t align well with the majority. We risk being outcast. If there’s one thing a culture of personality seems to communicate best it’s that we all need to just fall in line. If you try to march to a different drum, it better be preordained acceptable. Image is everything, even at the expense of your personal happiness and fulfillment.

The things that ‘matter’ have become increasingly shallow and meaningless.

My husband and I recently spent time in Costa Rica for our 30th wedding anniversary. We descended over 500 steps to arrive at the most amazing waterfall. My first thought? Shed the clothes (yes, I had a suit underneath) and jump in! As I enjoyed the briskness of the water and looked around feeling incredibly grateful to be a brief part of the awesome power of a 700 meter waterfall, I noticed a young woman nearby on the bank. Hard not to, she was quite beautiful, wearing a very pink bikini, and holding a selfie stick. Unfortunately, she was too self-involved to notice she was hoarding the only point of easy access to the waterfall, even as people were forced to navigate a series of rough volcanic boulders around her to gain access to the water. She never acknowledged a soul, including her boyfriend who kept prompting her to come into the water with him. I’m certain she got what she came down 500 steps to get, and it’s true she was the most physically stunning human being at the waterfall that day. But she never got in the water. In fact, she never seemed to offer a second glance at the awesome waterfall that served as her selfie backdrop. Personality in this case was overly managed, while character needed a lot of work.

SAD.

Wholly manufactured lives and experiences are a commodity that is both bought and sold in our culture of personality. It doesn’t matter that pink bikini didn’t get in the water, only that her image carries the perception that she did (the perception being that she really enjoyed it in a way ‘average’ people are incapable of). In a culture of personality, buyer’s remorse comes in the form of an increasingly detached personal identity, closely followed by an increasing dissatisfaction with life in general, a life that consistently fails to live up to unrealistic, fabricated ideals.

A culture of personality doesn’t care about you. Fabricated images and experiences aren’t intended to make you feel better about yourself as an ‘as-is’ individual. On the contrary, they intend to prompt feelings of inadequacy that will lead you to buy-or-try whatever is being sold, something that’s ‘better than you’. The amusing but sad truth is, not even the person peddling that garbage is that thing. They are performers and a liars, most often for their own financial gain or vain image promotion.

Because image is everything.

Even though we cannot put the genie back in the bottle, there is a remedy at the individual level. Be kind to yourself and stop swallowing the personality pill. Find happiness in the ways that suit you, not others. Celebrate those aspects of ‘you’ that make you special and set you apart. Cherish and value your own thoughts and opinions. Have you ever found yourself in fundamental opposition to a group opinion, but kept silent for fear of ridicule? Stop it. Why should we be a world of clones? Why boast the merits of individualism if we aren’t willing to allow individual attitudes, expressions, or beliefs?

And if you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum: if you are that person on your cellphone at the stoplight that is now green, stop it. Stop being ignorant and inconsiderate of all the people behind you waiting to make the light. If you are the person sizing everyone up who walks through the door, stop it. You should ask yourself why outer appearances mean more to you than inner character. Look past your own nose. In short: consider others. You aren’t the only person on the planet.

No matter what culture we live in, our thoughts, ambitions, and actions constantly collide with other souls and we should be cognizant of the fact. If we are kinder to ourselves we won’t find the need to change who we are or manufacture an image to please others. Likewise, if we are kinder to others we instantly make the world a better place for them. Character is what truly matters. Don’t buy the hype, put the selfie stick down and step away.

Be the Exception to be Exceptional.

Saying Goodbye.

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In Latin, the term pretiosis means ‘of great value’.

The sun peaks above the mountain, a glowing orb pregnant with possibility, and I am reminded that this day, like every day, is pretiosis. I watch birds play in the cottonwoods and bees flitting among flowering bushes, and I understand what they do not. They are transients of nature. I am too because I live. The mountains I have climbed, rivers fished, down to the smallest bits of earth underfoot change with each passing day and bear witness to the inevitable. All living things exit this realm just as new arrivals make song with the dawn.

We shun thoughts of life’s finiteness. It is true (whether you believe in an afterlife or not) that life as it is known here is temporary. We’re not comfortable contemplating what that means in terms of the day-to-day grind. We go on with our get-and-give, get-and-give…letting the worries, boredoms, tasks and responsibilities dominate the day so that once a peaceful moment finally arrives, we want to numbly take it in as a reward for all our race running. We live for the weekend…for that vacation…for some future promise. But we’re not promised tomorrow, and we don’t want to acknowledge that we know, deep down, the race has an end. We know it nonetheless, and it causes a deep sense of urgency to matter.

It is the need to matter that drives negative perceptions of death. We tend to wander in a fog of false invincibility until we are surprised by it. Death holds up a mirror and says, “No, no, not true, my dear. See? Nothing stays the same”. All the mundane redundancies of life become bitter pills to swallow. Death has the power to confront us with wasted time and regrets. We are afraid of forgetting, or worse, being forgotten. We rail against its truth because we are self-important. We don’t want to fade into obscurity, but we recognize obscurity is promised with the passage of time.

Death can make life seem so small and insignificant.

But tears shed for death tell a different story. They stand in violent opposition to the notion that life is small and insignificant. There is merit in slowing down to seriously contemplate the finite nature of life. Doing so nurtures in us a greater appreciation for life in general and intensifies the introspective moments of it. Never underestimate the power of touch, a kind word or smile to reorganize the world. It matters, being present in the millions of tiny moments life grants us. This is what death does; it slows us down and illuminates what matters most. In our fear we fail to apprehend the transformative beauty of what death accomplishes. If anything death is a teacher, revealing with great clarity the insignificance of the material, and the weighty significance of time and love.

When we are forced to say goodbye something remarkable happens. The colors of life’s tapestry defy the boundaries of the known world to grow richer and more vibrant than ever. Suddenly dull browns shift to rich red and black turns to deep violet. An average blue sky now dawns bright turquoise. Experiences and stories, every touch, breath, and idiosyncrasy are transformed into precious pearls of light and celebration. Suddenly, defiantly, life matters. Each introspective moment is made new and we see that what we perceived as inertia never actually stopped moving. We appreciate kindness more and see the significance of little things. When we are forced to say goodbye we are motivated to a renewed sense of profound appreciation and gratitude for the uniqueness of our experiences and the love we share.

If there is any doubt in the truth of death it might be useful to turn it on its head. What if at the time of our death we were given a choice: a brand new life, a new start, but in return you must give back your previous life as though it never existed. All the people, experiences, love, hate, laughter, tears, lessons learned…it all gets wiped away. You never lived. Would you do it? I think most of us would answer no because we recognize life is pretiosis. Regardless, the answer, yes or no, will speak volumes about the life currently being lived and may provide one with either a greater sense of appreciation, or a humble appeal for direction.

The most intimate moments of any human life are birth and death.

The very nature of each is utterly remarkable. As soon as a human being enters this world their personality and character (good and bad) forge ripples in a greater, never-ending pond. Death ensures those ripples are transformed to carry on a deeply meaningful, and lasting impact. We matter, and tears stand in testimony. Uniquely, in ways only we can, we usher in change that impacts and shapes the world. One-of-a-kind in every case, we live our choices, experience joy and sadness and everything in between, get-and-give, and venture outside of the known world. We are remarkable, and our life and death give profound meaning to nature’s simple but beautiful, monotonous churning.

Let’s appreciate the gifts of life and death as part of the same journey and cherish the blessed gift of memory. Live fearlessly knowing every life lived matters because it is, it was, and will be immortalized in the collective lasting legacy of human feeling, sentiment, and experience.

We will rock on, Dear Reader.

Sorry, Not Sorry…

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There is something to envy in the nakedness of trees. An unabashed, shamelessness. They are as they are, in whatever season they occupy. Each has its own distinct beauty, regardless of time or age.

We are like trees…

Except that we are thinking things consistently under threat from a manufactured world that can make us blind to our own beauty. Other experiences, mostly manicured, are marched before the eye via all forms of media. They often appear fuller, more beautiful and impactful than our own, even if we know better. A steady diet of such media does little for the soul and tends to enhance a sense of meaninglessness and destructive internal dialogue.

“I’m not good enough…I’m not doing enough…I’m not enough…”

Self destructive, loathsome internal dialogue. We wouldn’t think of treating a friend or a loved one the way we treat ourselves. Yet it’s so common to be kind to the world, but unkind to oneself. We let outside sources communicate to us who we aspire to be and we abide.

The simplest remedy for negative internal dialogue is to disengage from sources that reinforce it in ways that enable us to see our self worth. To take time to meditate on our abilities, identify our gifts, and recognize we exist to contribute something meaningful and profound to life. When the world creeps in and we start to feel inferior, it is important to stand up for oneself and acknowledge the profundity and uniqueness of life. Even the simplest actions we engage in during our lifetime are meaningful and profound in ways we may never know. Have faith…

You. Are. Enough.

Try this to retrain negative internal dialogue: refuse to be apologetic. Try listing a few:

I will not apologize for my life experiences, good or bad.

I will not apologize for the way I look.

I will not apologize for aging.

I will not apologize for the way I feel.

I will not apologize for my anger.

I will not apologize for my flaws.

I will not apologize for my opinions.

I will not apologize for my faith.

I will not apologize, for I AM ENOUGH.

And you are, Dear Reader. You are enough. I am enough. And we do not need the approval or affirmation of an outside world to believe it or live it.

Let’s be like trees, unabashed and shameless in the nakedness of our individuality. We are each beautiful and profound, in every season.

Rock on…

*Image courtesy of: http://www.womenlivingwellafter50.com*

Dear Reader [an apology]…

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A virus…wow…

Dear Reader, I am sorry. Let’s call it a distraction. Distraction from the norm, the world, life as we know it, anything resembling the usual day-to-day. Nothing makes sense. Nothing looks the way it’s supposed to look. Nothing functions properly. For the entire world, this horrid virus has disrupted everything, and crept (against all positive effort) into the psyche of every individual, like an intruder through an open window at midnight. A distraction to say the least.

Dear Reader, I am sorry. We have lost loved ones and friends, and as if this wasn’t enough for the heart to endure, we’ve been denied our basic human need to be at the bedside or hold a hand. We’ve lost our freedom to travel, to experience new things, to adventure. We have even lost the ability to venture forward, losing jobs or income, and facing meager prospects as many suspend hiring. We don’t get to see smiles anymore. Hidden behind our masks, we sit…and stay…and wait.

But let’s not repeat the news. For it rarely provides anything of substance, only promoting a grim picture and inciting anger and frustration. Isn’t there enough of that in the world today? Do we need a constant stream of negativity and blind regurgitation?

Step away from the screens and the sounds of the reported world…step away with me. Let’s endeavor to hope. Let’s imagine the smiles we cannot see. Let’s create our own dialogue.

Dear Reader, tell me when you smiled last. What prompted it? Was it a kindness? A sweet memory? Have you had many smiles lately? I hope this for you.

Dear Reader, tell me something good. When we’re finally allowed to emerge from our restrictions, what will you have learned? What positives occurred? What will you want to take with you? I hope you have had more good than bad.

Dear Reader, tell me your hopes. Is it a struggle? How have they kept your sanity intact? Do you hope for specifics, or something more abstract? I hope for you.

Dear Reader, you mean something to me. We are a species of survivors, it’s true. Moreover, we are a species immensely capable of great emotion, discernment, and creativity. Let’s cling to the better parts of ourselves and be here for each other in ways that matter. Let’s endeavor to be more. To be a lingering happy memory, a light in the darkness, a prayer of hope and healing. Let’s strive to be better and do better. Let’s be indiscriminately kind.

Dear Reader, I will be here, more than I have in the past. That is my promise. It is worth focusing my attention (now more than ever) toward promoting greater positivity and kindness. To persist in the belief that we can redirect our thinking toward what’s right with the world, instead of what’s wrong. Let’s endeavor to hope. There is no alternative worth pondering.

Rock on, all you beautiful, bold souls…I see you, and you are not alone.

Rock on…

Image credit belongs to: https://blog.ec4u.com/en/apology-sorry-how-to-apologize-to-customers/

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 🙂

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*

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

Love Letter to the World (A Wish)…

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I love it when you smile… when you look upon others without judgment, with a kind heart…

And I love the look on your face when you receive kindness from others…
I love it when you make your children your #1 priority in life and the way they, in turn, make the world a better place for others, because of your efforts…
I love it when you’re not selfish; because you recognize that being self-absorbed means you fail to see the potential in others or contribute to anyone besides yourself…
I love when you give without expectation of reciprocity or praise…
I love when you consider the needs of others above your own feelings; because you understand your feelings aren’t always the most important thing in the world…you understand others have needs that may outweigh your feelings, feelings which may actually be very self-serving…
I love that you know happiness comes from the inside, not outside, so you don’t spend time forcing others to do things just to ‘make you happy’…
I love that you fulfill yourself and strive to be a better person, not just because it makes you better, but because you know you are contributing something positive to the world through your existence…
I love that you never hurt people, lie, or try to make others feel guilty…
I love when you choose to lift people up, rather than gossip or look down your nose at them…
I love how you always endeavor to find the good in things…
I love the way you support the goals of others, rather than tear them down, even when they don’t agree with what you think…
I love your humility, work ethic, and honesty…especially during tough situations…
I love your generosity of spirit and your humanity…
But most of all, I love the way you love me back 🙂

‘Better’ is Always a Possibility…

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Blog5 ImageLiving well and being grateful for our journey is a constant process of change and growth.  Changing our thinking will change our world, but it is up to each individual whether that change works toward their betterment or detriment.

It is helpful to recognize ourselves as beings that are in constant transformation.  Transformation occurs unscripted, so while it is certainty that it will occur, how it occurs is up to each of us.  Choose well, live well.  Improvement = happiness.  With this line of thought, change is not scary, it is renewing and hopeful   🙂

Individually of course we are accountable for our thoughts, reactions, and the navigational choices of our journey.  We impact one another through the collision of individual choice, which in turn creates greater ripples of change that transcend time in ways we could never have fathomed.  In this, there is a level of responsibility to our fellow man to individually strive to be better than we were yesterday, to improve the world during our short time, rather than leave it worse than when we arrived on the day of our birth.

So…..

If you are abusing yourself, STOP.  Stop it…  In everything be grateful, because we cannot know the possibility and potential of everything.  Abusing ourselves is neither gracious nor grateful; it denies us a life well-lived.  It kills happiness.  SO STOP IT, because it is in your power to do so…tell yourself a different story of you.  Empower yourself as you would empower a friend   🙂

Be kind.  Kindness never hurts, destroys, or causes pain.  It adds to the world and to your life.  There is never reason or cause to be unkind   🙂

Never be the victim.  Unhappiness is a self-chosen reaction and state of being, and it breeds unhappiness in others.  No one can force us to feel.  Therefore, other people are not capable of making us unhappy.  We may be disappointed, hurt, or suffering, but we choose to be unhappy.  In this way, we negotiate our own happiness or unhappiness   🙂

Love honestly, freely, and unconditionally.  You get what you give, so give love away without expectation of its return or reception.  Love is the ultimate renewable resource; we can give it as often as we like and never run out   🙂

Potentiality exists in equal measure, good and bad.  Focus only on that which nurtures and grows, the good.  Ridding our vocabulary of negative potentiality automatically increases mood and outlook.  And research has shown that speech and thought patterns are intimately linked to outcome, so we should endeavor to fill our minds and the universe with the good stuff   🙂

Be honest.  If you hurt someone, apologize.  If you hurt yourself, apologize.  Don’t lie in an effort to avoid taking responsibility.  Learn, forgive, and move forward with love and strength   🙂

We should not be reluctant to admit our faults.  Only by acknowledging them can we ever hope to improve.  Do not repeat behavior you are working to stop.  Do not focus on the faults of others; it is unproductive and repetitively hurtful   🙂

Do not be fearful, be courageous.  Fear is paralyzing.  The outcome of fear is regret.  Put the act of attempting the things you fear into practice; if you fear it, do it.  Forward motion exists even in the smallest step, so be brave and it will eventually become habit   🙂

Suffering is a matter of perception.  Suffering exists in all forms, physical, emotional, and mental, but the degree to which it influences our life is completely up to us.  You will fall down, but get back up.  Do not give power away to things like suffering and fear.  In its own way, suffering is a force for good.  Through our suffering we are presented with a greater appreciation for life   🙂

Monitor expectation.  When we attach an expectation to a moment, an event, or a person, we are setting up disappointment.  The world is a dynamic place, so why believe we have the kind of control necessary to expect a particular outcome?  Most frustration, hurt, and disappointment is directly connected to an expectation we placed on a particular outcome.  In all things be hopeful; be optimistic, but never expectant   🙂

Laziness denies you the personal fulfillment of a job well-done.  Do the work; each time better than the time before.  Living better and being better is literally, always, a small change away…

🙂