Tag Archives: self-help

Seeking the Profound

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We are seekers.

When I was younger, the idea of ‘finding myself’ was appealing. Taken literally, it’s a ridiculous statement. Find myself? I can answer that one: I’m here, writing these words. And you, Dear Reader, are where you are, reading them (and hopefully enjoying them?). But ‘finding myself’ isn’t a statement regarding physicality. And, although its use is often dripping with undue romanticism, its merit is its intention to communicate a base desire. Specifically, the desire to intimately connect what it means to be and become.

We are living beings encapsulated in the complexity of being and becoming.

We know who we are. To be is current, and immediately relevant. Not static per se, but less unknown, more identifiable. In contrast, becoming is completely unknown to us, occurring in some abstract future impacted by constant change, choice, and consequence. Still, we want to manage it. We like our control. But deep down, we innately know it cannot be managed because we recognize life involves the persistent convergence of happenstance, action, and response that often lead us down roads we never knew existed.

Look back Dear Reader, could you have imagined today as little as five years ago? How about 10 years, or 20? Our past serves as evidence that plans rarely manifest as planned and we are, to large degree, the architects of our here-and-now, a today constructed from the choices (good and bad) of our past. Knowing these things and the unpredictability we face, we tenaciously seek the profound. This is what ‘find myself’ means: that we understand the profoundness of our moments. Seeking the profound is an exercise whereby we simultaneously identify the importance of wanting for, and seeking out, those things that will make the future an improvement on what we know and live now.

Change is the one true constant.

We know it, but we endeavor to set up our moments to be deeply meaningful. The tapestry of our life has enough hiccups in the fabric. We yearn for a deeper color, that one amazing, flawless design, that will move us (and maybe others) to a higher plain of existence. The problems arise when we don’t see the potential of our current circumstance to move us profoundly. I am guilty of this, Dear Reader. I’m betting I’m not alone in it.

The mistaken romantic notion of ‘finding myself’ is that it involves an exit strategy, or the shedding of one’s skin. But the circumstances that prompt us to seek the profound are rarely as simple as location. As Gus said to Lori in Lonesome Dove, “Life in San Fransisco is still just life”. Yearnings are mostly romantic, but the why behind the yearning should be scrutinized. Romanticism often leads us far off course into barren, dry soil searching for a movie ending. In other words, the profound has more substance and can be found right now, in the heart and mind, without ever leaving your seat. The profound can be something witnessed sure, but it can also be something realized from within, in a simple encounter, a conversation, a daydream. We should never deny the potential of any moment to be profound, otherwise we risk being unable to recognize the profound when it’s staring us in the face. Before we go packing that bag to set off on some great adventure that will end with a hollow sense of disappointment we should ponder why we feel the need for such abandon. Are we running away? How did the here-and-now lose its sense of profoundness? When was the last time we felt we touched it? Sometimes a deep dive dissection of our being is a valuable way to determine what our becoming should look like.

Let’s grab more of what’s truly profound and live our best life. Rock on beautiful beings…rock on.

Image cred goes to: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fquotefancy.com%2Fquote%2F1141218%2FCharles-Caleb-Colton-Mystery-is-not-profoundness&psig=AOvVaw3yq_GtyRl1mBfQeNxmsPx5&ust=1614709510764000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CA0QjhxqFwoTCJjC-Ovbj-8CFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

Own Your Shit

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Personal responsibility & Hard Truths are essential for a good life…

GOOD LIFE /ɡo͝od/ /līf/

  1. A life enhanced by greater fulfillment, contentment, and happiness as the result of embracing one’s contribution(s) to their struggle and adversity in an effort to exercise personal growth.
  2. Do better, be better

Let’s start with a quick self-check:

Consistently makes mistakes. Check. Doesn’t know everything. Check. Levels unrealistic expectations on situations and others. Check. Intentionally avoids things out of fear. Check. Lies. Check. Subject to poor judgment. Check. Experiences shame. Check.

‘Welcome to the club’, as they say. Move along folks, nothing to see here. Turns out, we’re all human.

News flash: Not One Among Us is Perfect.

As if life isn’t complicated enough, each of us is burdened with our own special brand of baggage that influences how we feel, react, and see the world. Sadly we often fail to offer much compassion for the weight of our neighbor’s baggage as we practice stuffing our own ugly under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind. Truth? It’s still there…waiting…always.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to lighten the load is by exercising hard truths and taking personal responsibility for aspects of our lives that make us feel unhappy. Seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately, human beings are inclined toward comfort, and admitting the myriad of ways we orchestrate our own unhappiness is a tough order. It hurts to be brutally honest about the part we play, our missteps and mistaken choices. I get it…it’s uncomfortable.

We don’t want to feel bad. Our friends and family don’t want us to feel bad either and they’re always willing to let us off the hook because we all recognize that honesty is hard, and it doesn’t feel good to admit when we screw up.

Do it anyway.

Be courageous, exercise personal integrity, admit your choices and accept their consequences. Being brutally honest with oneself in the spirit of taking personal responsibility for our mistakes and failures (aka: owning our shit) is critical to our personal growth and happiness. Comfort breeds complacency. Noooo bueno. Complacency is the opposite of critical assessment. It is uncritical satisfaction. It’s a lie, and it isn’t lasting. Lie long enough and you’ll get real good at playing the blame game and playing the victim. It’s a bad, bad road that leads one to believe there is no freedom of choice, that the world and circumstance exercise complete agency over our lives. “Poor me, the world has it out for me. I didn’t want to do things this way, but I didn’t have a choice, and now my life sucks.”

Doesn’t sound like the kind of life I want to live. You?

While it is true there are external pressures that wield some power to negatively affect us, it is also true that our perceptions can provide us with the best course of action to combat negative spiraling. If we’re honest, we recognize and own our choices and their consequences, we learn from them, and we get on with things. We are not victims of circumstance. Complacency is a lived lie. Comfort cannot be a permanent state of being. Success and happiness are hard-won by doing the work, doing better, being better. Give yourself reasons to be proud of yourself. Get honest: who are you? what do you want, what work do you need to do to achieve it? Life can be stagnant or lived in a forward motion. It’s a choice.

Remember, Dear Reader: Lies enable complacency. Personal responsibility fuels forward motion. Another key point to remember is that you alone are responsible for your choices. It is not for others to help you fulfill or manage them. Your shit, YOU own it.

Own Your Shit and Rock On…

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*

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!  🙂

Fear SUCKS…

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If we sit around waiting for ‘others to change’ or ‘things to change’, or ‘a sign’, the end result will be inactivity and regret. This type of personal dialogue shares a single commonality, fear. And fear is the absolute opposite of faith.
Fear on its own is not always a bad thing. Some fear is even helpful, such as pulling your hand back from a hot stove or avoiding a suspicious looking snake. But more importantly, fears are learned behaviors. Likely, we learned not to touch a hot stove by being burned, or not to mess with snakes because someone taught us they were dangerous. Through our natural aversion to pain, we learn to avoid things that hurt us, as well as those we believe possess the potential to hurt us. This is a key point, because anything learned has the potential to be unlearned. It is important to consider this when examining the difference between fear and faith, in relationship to action.
If we are afraid to make a decision (to act), it is because we know we cannot predict its outcome or consequence. They are ‘unknowns’. Now consider for a moment that fear of an unknown is irrational, because it possesses equal potential for good and bad. Therefore, it is irrational to fear what is not known, because that fear stems from a fabricated rationale, the result of our own construction.
When we are presented with something we haven’t previously encountered, we draw conclusions through comparison. In the case of fear, we draw conclusions based on comparing unknown things to things we know to be harmful or potentially harmful, thereby allowing the unknown to be relabeled as ‘known’, or the irrational, as ‘rational’. By this process, we ‘know’ and we can realize the ‘benefits’ of rationalization to justify our fear and inaction, so we don’t have to risk the unknown… the gamble… which works great…until we begin to regret. Regret follows fear-based inaction, because fear prevents us from living fully by imprisoning and paralyzing us from accepting possibility, potential, and growth to enter our lives. Fear is stagnating…it is death. Faith, in contrast, is informed, but willing. Alive with potentiality that opens us to all possibility by denying fear the power to compel irrational, unfounded decisions.
Fearful living does not prevent bad things from happening to us. We cannot absolutely control, predict, manipulate, or will things into being. Unfortunately, we keep trying, because every now and then we have some success with the predictions, our manipulations. Those little ‘successes’ only serve to support our delusions and lend credence to our belief that our fears are warranted. This in turn, prompts us to apply them to every other situation causing a similar fear response.
The good news is as previously stated; learned can be unlearned. A propensity to fear is not easily conquered, but absolutely possible. Past does not have to dictate future. Let every new, unknown situation present itself as a challenge…a curiosity…a chance to choose faithfulness over fear 🙂

The Best Kind of Panties….

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**“She made me angry…” ** “That ruined my day…” ** “I just can’t get past it…”**

Are any of these statements really true?  Do others possess the capability to make us something we don’t wish to be?  Is it true to say someone, or something else ruined our entire day?

No…statements like these are fundamentally untrue…

We control ourselves… This is a true statement.

Seriously consider the power of such a statement over the others listed above.  The conclusion states we have the last word about what kind of day we have and how we are ultimately going to feel.  We are the harbinger of our own misery or happiness.  We are the ‘keeper of the mood’.

We understand it, in theory.  In practice, it gains difficulty.  That guy that cut you off in traffic, the boss who ‘just doesn’t get it’, or the person who treats you poorly and ‘gets away with it’; each tests our mettle and seems to bring on us (from the outside) anger, frustration, and misery.

However, it is the expectations we place on outside influences that are the source of our own anger and disappointment.  We expect things to go a certain way, or expect to be treated right, or expect people to behave well.  And when things don’t go as expected, we get disappointed or angry.  This is absurd, since we lack control over anything but ourselves.    If we account for the sum total of individual expectation for 7+ billion people on the planet, it isn’t hard to see how anger and frustration is manufactured on a daily basis.

Consider the power of change.  It is possible to enact positive change in our life, and it is through the mere decision to do so.  That is power that does not bend to outside influence.  That is power which dwells inside, produced by sheer will.  Your thoughts run you…

The very position of your will inside means it is protected from outside forces which will against it.  We are each a sturdy vessel.  We are our very own harbor in a storm.  We are each a force…

And because we possess such control, we are not victims…

It is necessary to own our mood and outlook.  It is necessary to be responsible for what we put out in the world.  If we are having a bad day, it is because we are choosing to do so…and that’s completely on us.  We are not a victim of someone or something else; we are choosing to victimize ourselves. 

So don’t do it….Put on those big kid panties and get on with living  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://aubenoire.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/no-expectations2.jpg*

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 *

Nature Lessons: Caterpillars & Butterflies

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Caterpillars…
The word ‘beautiful’ doesn’t exactly leap to mind.bfly james took
Butterflies…
Now we’re talking b-e-a-utiful 🙂
But think of the process at work here; two creatures in one.  Metaphor, and metamorphosis.
How unlikely it seems that such a slow moving, low-to-the-ground, and oddly represented creature as the caterpillar should ever aspire to the beauty and grandeur of the butterfly.
Yet, they are butterflies…inside.  Until change brings makes their beauty visible to the world.
They sense change coming and embrace it.  They accommodate change by preparing for its coming…they do not run away or avoid.
Changing (as a verb) is harsh and even unpleasant.  It simultaneously tests endurance and perseverance.  Coming out on the other side of such a struggle is victory and it fills the heart and mind with a rare confidence.  The kind of confidence that allows one to soar…
Because change is good, change is new…a rebirth. And if prepared through acceptance, change is positive and exciting.  A promising chance and hope for something new 🙂
Be like the caterpillar…
Prepare for and accept change as it comes (because it will come…).  Embrace what is offered to ‘become’ what is wished.  Only then can we display the beautiful, vibrancy of our inside to the outside and reach heights only dreamed of a moment ago, when we were confined to the ground, before change allowed us to fly 🙂

*photo courtesy of my husband, James…*

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/” *

If We Could Only Pack One Suitcase…

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blog6 picPerhaps we might view ‘necessity’ differently if we were forced to consider the entirety of life as if it was indeed a journey, and we were only allowed one suitcase.

I’ve been to the airport…

I’ve been a traveler…

The question of necessity is always approached and answered while packing a suitcase.

But one suitcase for your entire life’s journey would certainly sum things up, narrow them down, and compel a determined focus…

Let’s hypothetically suppose that emotions, quality of life issues, successes and failures were some of the ‘things’ we could choose to pack for our journey.  Would you voluntarily put in any suffering?  What about tears of joy and sadness?

Of course, as we travel we accumulate.  Knowing this, how much room would you allow for new, unknown things you might encounter?

Would you roll, tuck, fold, and squish to fit in as much as possible, or would you travel light and easy?  Would you try to control what is allowed inside or removed?  Or maybe you will accept that sometimes messy, dirty things get put in among the clean organization, changing the entire contents of the suitcase.  Is that acceptable?  Why or why not?

What about the final inventory once you’ve arrived at your ultimate destination?  Will you experience shame and regret when the contents are removed one-by-one?  Or, in contrast, will your journey have been so full that as the items are inventoried, you will feel a sense of awe and gratitude, fulfillment and happiness?

Certainly in every suitcase there would be more room for the good stuff if the bad were removed.  Perhaps we can all be at least thankful that our single suitcase is allowed constant reevaluation and rearrangement.

I believe the merciful truth is our suitcases may be repacked whenever we see fit to do so.

Repack often…

*credit for photo: http://www.yekasizireasemoon.blogfa.com*