Category: Acceptance

Anything Is Possible In A “How-To” World

Pretty sure we live in the “How To” era. It’s a virtual world of self-help everywhere we turn. How to feel – sleep – eat better, live longer, save money, fight fat – depression – chronic pain, change our DNA, our life, become happy, aware, creative, organized, joyful…or the biggy –  find peace.

Is it working? Maybe. Maybe not.

My kindred-spirited good friend told me she will never find that zen-like state of peace no matter how hard she tries. Why? Because of what she calls a History of Horribleness.

Yea, I get that. Kind of hard to feel the zen when we’ve endured a lot of crazy and it sometimes still surrounds us. Oh she’s happy, but the undercurrent of inner peace? Forget it.

And it’s not just dealing with whatever is going on inside our own life – family, job, health, finances – all our personal “stuff.” There’s crazy stuff happening in the world right outside our front door. Anybody else notice that the outside world is the same, pretty much every day?

We get so caught up in it – all of it. Why do they do this. What are they thinking. Why are they acting like this. What are they doing. When will they fill in the blank. Doesn’t matter who “they” even is.

Life’s intensity can often define the parameters, and it impacts us. We try to explain, understand, make excuses, deal with whatever is happening – from the world-view all the way down to our bird’s-eye view. But sometimes we can’t figure things out. Or know what is really going on. Or worse, change or fix it.

We can’t always choose the parameters. So, Zen is easily thwarted.

But life itself seems to be paradoxical. It’s the ultimate bliss and torture, beauty and heinousness. And we’re supposed to somehow both manage and accept the paradoxes to obtain a sense of peace. How do we choose the parameters?

From the unlimited supply of “how to’s.” And thank goodness there are plenty to choose from. Key word? Choose.

We can choose to see things differently, feel differently and act accordingly no matter who around us doesn’t. We can choose to flow through it all as if the horribleness is just part of it. We can choose to infuse moments of sucky reality with acceptance. We can stay focused on our personal intentions, hopes and dreams in spite of “them” or “it.”

We can “create” with whatever we “choose.” It takes some serious commitment, especially after a history of horribleness. But it’s true. Choosing changes everything. 

Loving that How To.

The Ups And Downs of A Blogger’s Heart

Blogging is not for the faint of heart. Putting ourselves on the line for the whole world to read takes some bravery. Bloggers share some pretty intimate details of their lives, our deep thoughts, values, what makes us tick, the nitty-gritty of our heart and soul right from our hands, onto the keyboard, then in one click it’s all handed over to the ether – unprotected, visible and out there.

Sure, people do that every day, especially on social media, throwing their thoughts into their bubble of friends and followers where they will likely be supported. If not, it’s easy to just delete a post when things get uncomfortable. Not to mention it rolls away in a matter of hours, noticed but mostly forgotten.

But writing your life’s topic of the day, or week, or month, and sharing it on its own website to be read, scrutinized, examined, dissected, or worse – ignored – by the world at large? Yea it’s tough.

Then why do it? Well, why not at least try doing what we feel we are called to do? I have a good grip on my life’s purpose – writing – and I not only love it, I do it, even when it goes unnoticed or not many people like it…see it…or read it.

Truth be told, I’m pretty let down by my blogging dream. Nobody really gives a sh*t about much more than the election and state of the nation now. I get that. Every single time I open Facebook it’s nothing but sickening information from that growing disaster.

And I care about how things make me feel.

So I try to listen to my gut, follow my instincts, and like most writers, question everything and then wonder why.

I had a dream.  Blah blah blah. Scroll back a few hundred posts and you can read all about it, every post offers a nugget of heartfelt wisdom. After all, my soul’s purpose is on the line.

But much like speaker-outers, protestors, commenters, and yes bloggers, in the spirit of never, ever, ever giving up, especially on our dreams, why negatively confirm that my blog feels a bit like a fizzled failure. When feedback is minimal and it seems like what I’m saying doesn’t matter…well then what else can I do but let myself off the hook of defeat and carpe diem?

Tomorrow is another day.

 

Coping With This Crazy World Takes Courage

I’m trying to ignore the world at large – as if that’s even possible. Sometimes a gal just needs to dive into her inner landscape and find a comfortable spot there, steering clear of external chaos. Honestly, I’m working hard at minding my own business, reaching for happy thoughts, figuring out how to jettison my fibromyalgia so I can get on with the daily task of living and enjoying life, but it’s not happening. Nowhere is safe, and “nowhere” is a pretty big territory.

Until now, chaos and drama lived behind my closed doors and I could escape it “outside.” Growing up it was the breathing life-force in the people around me, and I soaked up that thick air for far too long. It was out of my control as a child, then I stupidly married the very wrong man. When I wised up and corrected that giant error, I tripped into even more chaos with the love of my life’s ex, whose crippling horror was unmatched, until now. Thanks to a few million really naive voting people, the entire world is directly exposed to toxicity beyond measure with America’s new government. It almost feels like a sick, cruel joke-turned-worsening nightmare.

So how do you pay attention to the outside world and maintain your own sense of well-being?

It’s killing my journalist-husband – although he is sort-of out of the field, it’s in his blood because he feels like he’s been personally called-upon to help correct this huge political debacle, like our founding fathers.

But he can’t answer the question, plus he’s got a whopping case of PTSD from the chaos perpetuated by the contemptibles in our life. We’re both pretty tired. I literally just learned (after years of therapy, self-help books and a kick-ass shaman,) how to disengage from their debilitating chaos, and it feels better. Except not anymore, because everywhere we look/see/hear/listen in the real world is  c-r-a-z-y.

So how do you participate in life but disengage from it at the same time?

This is not one of the tools I acquired in my studies along the path to enlightenment. And I’m kind of desperate because we have a long road ahead of us if “we the people” can’t figure out a way to change the powers that be before our one indivisible nation isn’t shattered beyond recognition. Been there done that in my personal life, don’t really want to go through it anymore, and my shaman retired.

So that basically leaves one answer. No, not gratitude, although there’s value in everything and gratitude is key. I think the answer is courage. That’s it. Courage to rise to the occasion of life as one of my favorite gurus says. Courage to speak up, dream big, protect, love, lead, be creative. Do not be detained by the past, or afraid of the future. Courageously get on with the business of your life, despite the odds, and make plans to celebrate. 

Ok.

Embracing Flaws Isn’t A Character Flaw

be-beautifulI’m not a fashionista, but I try to look stylishly acceptable. No trends, no bare midsection, and my skinny jeans are stretchy despite their designer appearance. My shopping store favorites are Nordstrom Rack and The Loft, so when I picked up a long tie die cotton skirt at BJs, it took me by surprise. I went completely off the rack. But I really liked this muted purple skirt, not to mention it was on wicked sale.

I don’t wear it often, hippie isn’t my thing. But I like to throw it in the mix when the occasion allows. We choose what we wear based on all kinds of things – comfort, style, weather, fashion, destination, dress-up, dress-down, how it makes us feel. But one constant for me is no wrinkles or tears. That whole Flashdance ripped-tee era wasn’t for me.

img_2442For no reason the other day, I decided to take a break from my yoga pants and put on the tie die skirt. It’s comfortable and the purple hues remind me of fall. Even color or seasonal attire is another fashion motive. I was completely dressed when I noticed a tiny hole in my skirt. When I looked closer it wasn’t just one, it was two. Like sharp little cat claws may have made the pin-sized rips.

This is when being OCD really gets me. I felt this urgency to take off the skirt and quickly sew those two minuscule holes before I went on my way. That of course would involve taking it off, pulling out the sewing kit, trying to thread the needle, stitching the small jagged holes, on and on. I didn’t have the energy, or frankly the time. So I took a deep breath and said to myself, learn to live with the flaws.

never-perfectAs if this was some profound realization, I was proud of myself for stepping back and consciously letting it go. Learn to live with the flaws. Is that even possible for a perfectionist? I had control over fixing it in that moment and didn’t. Yikes – imperfection.

This may seem ridiculous, but learning to live with the flaws is a big deal to me because it comes at a time when I’m feeling the flaws in a lot of areas. My perimenopausal body feels the flump. My gray roots grow fast. My worn and faded condo walls are in desperate need of paint. I’ve had some difficulty with some writing assignments for a potentially permanent job. I’m in desperate need of self-care when obligations are calling first. I’m feeling a little flawed in how to think about it all.

But after overcoming that tiny torn skirt situation and wearing it with the rips, I felt this sense of achievement and even a little bit free. Does this mean I might be able to ease up on stressing the gray roots? Or the chipped nail polish? Will I give up on picking up carpet dirt specs, or wiping fingerprints off the bathroom mirror? I may however draw the line at not making the bed. For now.

Whatever really, bring on the flaws and imperfection, I’m just going to be me.

self-discovery

Everybody’s Got A Story, And We Sure Stick To It

Story of my life. Everybody’s got one. Anybody want a do-over? Like hitting stop on a Netflix movie and watching something else? Not so easy to do when it’s the story of our life.

It’s usually built on our past, made of memories, and what perplexes me is why people stick to it like glue. It’s our personal narrative that defines us. But why? Who says we have to live by our story like it’s written in stone? And why are we so invested in it, especially if we don’t like it?

everyones-storyI noticed this about my own life when a few years ago someone whispered in my ear that she was tired of hearing me moan and groan day in and day out. It was like I had my unhappy story on instant replay. I constantly focused on the same miserable theme over and over, no matter what was going on. I had a good reason for it, my friend didn’t deny that, but she told me if I didn’t start to re-think my story I would never feel better about my life.

I got what she was saying, intellectually. It’s the whole change your thoughts, change your life thing. But that’s huge. I mean how do you even do that? First of all most of us don’t even recognize it – we’re just living our life, doing the best we can. When she pointed it out to me I was a little defensive. It felt natural to just be me – however I was being.

never-too-lateNot to mention, it seemed impossible to just let go of my history, let go of the unhappy happenings and the situations that were part of my day-in and day-out existence. Was I just supposed to pretend that things were not as they seemed or appeared or felt, or in all actuality, were?

Well…yes. I don’t know if it’s habit or simply human nature to be invested in our story. We live it, sometimes in such a deep rhythm we actually get lost in it. Then we become a magnet for like-minded storytellers. And if it’s a sad story, we get caught up in that particular vortex. After all, misery loves company.

let-goI knew my friend was right, but I realized after losing most of my happy tribe from my drama and doom I knew I would have to change my thinking and as hard as it felt, invest in joy instead. I had to not only want it, but be willing to give up my story. It was definitely a major task.

I saw on the Today Show that genes determine 50 percent of our happiness and circumstances account for 10 percent, which leaves 40 percent up to us. Whether that’s true or not, what it comes down to is how badly we want to feel better. What we’re willing to give up in order to make gain. Whether we will opt to work with our situation as it is, not the way we wish it was.

Whether feeling joy is worth letting go of the pain.

No need to overthink it. It is.

go-all-in

Click here for some facts and tips on how to feel the joy.

 

I Prefer My News On A Need-to-Know Basis But Then I Botched A Job

be-who-i-amIn spite of our world’s news, life goes on. Truth be told, I sort-of stopped watching the news a long time ago. It’s too much negative input for me and feels so unhappily intense. I don’t look at life through a peephole, but I choose where to comfortably focus. So when I was recently assigned a story to write about a devastating global crisis, I cringed. It was beyond my expertise.

I was no more than two sentences in on the story research when I became a daydreaming child. I looked out the window. Sang to myself. Jiggled in my chair. Thought about getting some food, or even a glass of wine, never mind it was barely past noon. This stuff wasn’t light reading.

While Frank Sinatra was piping out of Pandora in my living room, I couldn’t wrap my head around the horror of this worldwide situation and my first-world pinhole view. How do you reconcile the juxtaposition of those two realities?

The assignment also involved attending an event with high-level experts whose lives focus on world news. I dreaded going for two reasons. First, serious embarrassment as I talked to the high-profile players, and second, sadness about the intense topic. I had to exercise that old fake it till you make it although I just wanted to forget it.

courage

But I tried. I toiled. I went to the event then attempted to write an article that felt extremely hard for me – over my head, out of my realm, out of my knowledge range, out of my experience, out of my skill. So I spent the next several days beating myself up and feeling pretty low. This wasn’t something watching the news would fix. Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean I can write about this. This was about expertise in a world I know nothing about.

Everybody has discomfort in their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their personal world. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had a task they couldn’t do. And I didn’t go into it trying to fail, but if we can’t bring ourself to the table before a task even begins, how do we do it? We can say we sort-of don’t care what people think, but in this case I actually did.

Nobody knew I botched it, some magic dust and a brilliant hand-holder saved the day. There’s a lot to be said for teamwork, we don’t always have to go rogue. I am grateful I had support and came across this quote that validated that.

The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us become the best version of ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. No man or woman becomes great on their own. The people around them help them become great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best versions of ourselves. 

Thank you people. And while I won’t be watching the news, here’s to trying again.

kitty-climb

Bearing Witness to This Changing World May Be The Only Thing To Do

life-is-but-a-dream

I’m screaming on the inside. Well, the outside too. It started the day after the election as I was voicing my upset on social media (which I rarely do,) responding to posts calling for my input. I  “watched” myself do it – let my emotions publicly come out. I wanted to step back and just let it be since we don’t have any control over it other than casting our vote – and that’s an iffy control with our contorted Electoral College – but I couldn’t.

As I watched and read what I typed, I felt the sheer terror of what our world may look like in the upcoming months and years – not just with the President-elect, but with the great divide we see between American citizens – and I had an overwhelming surge of negative emotions, much like many others who were clearly feeling the same.

Part of my intrinsic upset comes from knowing deep down what may be in store, as I have experienced a few “psychological terrorists” up close and personal in recent years, much like Donald Trump –  narcissistic elitists who live from their massive egos that are beyond normal comprehension. Not to mention their visible indicators of emotional ignorance not only to those around them, but more importantly to their True Self – their soul – and Divine Love.

Living from the pureness of love is not an easy place to live whether we are the average-Joe-everyday narcissist or not. Projecting love instead of fear when emotions are reeling (and even when they aren’t,) is tough, even for the teachers of human compassion.

The election results in a spiritual frame of reference call for long overdue healing of the human race. But I’m not sure the task of wide-span healing on any profound, impacting level is going to happen in our lifetime, it’s too gargantuan. I’m guessing that this Divided States of America will go on for generations to come, because there seems to be this ongoing question of boundaries. Not just national border boundaries called into question in countries around the world. But personal boundaries. Who has authority over our private lives?

That is the question. Who is in charge? Ourselves or someone else? Because the fight for control is often deadly. And the fact that there is even any question of who can dictate our private lives – who we are, what we feel, who we love, what we believe, what we say, do, where we can live, work, eat, play and pray – is immorally absurd.

Then to tie all of that in with the color of our skin, our gender, our race, our nationality, our incomes, ourselves, casts our hopes and every scrap of our dreams – American and otherwise – out the window, and worse, into the fire.

And yet it goes even deeper, to the boundaries around dialogue, personal and public conversation that is so important in these unstable, uncertain, seemingly dark, catastrophic times. For the common man, for you and for me, dialogue is all we have right now, that’s how we engage with the world we live in. I’ve read and heard so many conclusions and predictions already of this impending new regime – just the beginning of speculation twisted with fact, without any hope of true knowing until hindsight reveals it – and it’s confusing.

So I decided to step back just for a minute and really think about it. We know fear begets fear, and there’s plenty of that everywhere we turn. But in that moment it occurred to me that I don’t have to ride the rollercoaster. I can simply observe life as it unfolds – wherever and however it does that – on television, on social media, online, on street corners. I can exercise the peaceful neutrality of witnessing, not as a bystander but as a person engaged in my own personal evolution occurring alongside the rest of this topsy-turvy world. It may feel like mayhem, but by witnessing I can protect that little space inside me that still wants to believe in a fairy-dusted existence. Even though the worst may be yet to come… or not.

It’s like that sweet and symbolic ditty Row Row Row Your Boat that we learned when we were little. Sing along…at least on the inside.

row-your-boat

poetic-rhythm

 

Where Can I Find A Little Peace And Is There Room For It In The Budget

 

black-fridayOnly 17 days until Black Friday, the countdown has begun. There were years when my children were growing up that I had all the gifts purchased, wrapped, and hidden long before this enticing annual event. All it took was a trip to Toys “R” Us filling up back of the old Volvo wagon with the items on their lists, done.

Although it didn’t seem easy at the time, I had the time, energy and budget back then. Time only proved, that while the gifts got physically smaller, the price tags got much bigger. The boys got older, technology got newer, and gift-giving got harder.

vintage-christmasBut no matter our circumstances, my children have wanted for nothing really, despite my incessant frugality. To this very day I still prefer scoring the absolute best bargain on anything from clothing to food to holiday gifts. I’m far from extravagant but always provide a suitable stash for my kids.

This year though, we’re in a bit of a bind. We’ve had to shoulder some hefty unexpected expenses for the boys that required our hard-earned holiday stash. It’s no secret that our lives drastically changed after Mr. Ex revealed his gambling addiction, we ended up nearly homeless with empty bank accounts, retirement and college funds. That was 10 years ago, and he is happily recovered.

But unfortunately the boys and I have been unable to recover from his losses, even to this day. What they say about the lasting domino effect of someone’s addiction is completely true. So when things come up, like college tuition or emergency car repairs, we find ourselves hard-pressed. Sadly Mr. Ex says he can’t assist, so unless I find a way, my boys are on their own.

behaviorNot whining, I totally have their backs. Except, as the most wonderful (and most expensive) time of the year approaches, I am worried about how to manage. Like Charles Dickens writes in A Christmas Carol, it’s not about the gifts. But do kids really buy into that? Will they feel happy waking up on Christmas to a tree with no gifts underneath? Sure it’s about feeling the love – of family, of the season, of life. But how will it really feel this year when our small gift budget went to their emergency expenses instead? Let’s be real, they will be disappointed, and I will feel pretty bad.

Mr. Ex says he is at peace. That’s great, we all could use some peace.

Peace is an interesting concept. It’s easy to imagine, it’s highly desirable and naturally sought-after. We hear about it, read about it, sing about it, talk about it, and we’re even told it’s already there inside, so why, for some of us, is it so hard to really feel?

This is what I want to give my children this year – the feeling of peace – which could possibly be the best gift I could ever give them. First though, I have to believe it’s possible. In order to receive we have to believe, right? Just like in the beautiful story The Polar Express, believing is seeing…and feeling.

It is a special season, full of miracles and magic – and if we believe hard enough – even peace. Beginning of course on Black Friday.

tom-hanks

believe-gold

 

The Big Reveal: Love Yourself More

What do I miss besides my youthful glow, my grown-up children, and that phrase “you have your whole life ahead of you”? A lot of things actually. Like writing a blog every day. Or being able to eat spicy food. Sometimes I even miss little things about owning a house – mostly the ability to do what I want with the outside decor each season or on holidays, pumpkinswreaths, pumpkins, flowers, even answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Don’t get me wrong, the freedom of condo-living is awesome and I may never again want another piece of the American Pie.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to embrace a lot of things about midlife, and not just dwell on things I miss. All that stuff you hear about getting older is true, including gaining wisdom. But instead of sharing the to-do list of successful aging, or what to put on a bucket list, I’m just going to share the one piece of essential information I now have. It doesn’t cost anything, take any time, it even doesn’t require special skills, knowledge or training. It’s actually something everyone can do.

Love yourself more.

That’s right. That’s it. Love yourself more.

For many of us by the time we get to this midlife turning point we are tired – we feel bogged or beaten down, by life, by others, even by ourselves. We think we haven’t achieved enough, aren’t successful enough, don’t have enough money or the car we hoped for by now, the paid-off mortgage, the retirement fund, many of our dreams are starting to seem like vaporous clouds floating out of reach. Not to mention our body just isn’t what it used to be.

dont-worry-if-someone-doenst-like-youBut I’m here to tell you, nothing will change our past circumstances, and while there is always hope for the future, the most powerful thing we can do is love ourselves as we are in this very moment today, right now. Our health and well being depends on it. By the way, not loving ourselves proves what point and to whom?

It’s not easy. We are a society that focuses on youth, wealth, power, money and looks, and aging gracefully seems impossible. While we can’t fight that reality, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves just as we are, no matter what. That perception changes everything.

zuesSir Husband and I are paying attention to the midlife people around us who appear to have this “I Love Me” thing down. They seem happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable inside their own skin. We listen to what they say and watch how they move through life. Sometimes we even ask them what their secret is. Do they look in the mirror every day and say “You are awesome” in a Stuart Smalley affirmation way? Do they imagine themselves as the Greek god Zeus?

stuart-smalley

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’ve got a lot dragging at our feet, and isn’t always easy to shake off. I know a lot of miserable people, I used to be one of them. But what we noticed is that happy people keep their focus away from life’s sludge. They don’t let it invade their personal space, or their minds. Even if their situations are not the way they want them to be, they are ok with a different “different.” We have to see ourselves, and what we want, differently.

What do I really miss? Not realizing I’m worthy and deserving of my own love long before now. It’s truly the undercurrent of happiness.

 

deserve-love

You Don’t Like Me Being Myself? That’s A Shame, I Am Who I Am

Is it just me, or is anyone else noticing that people around them are quick to defend their thinking, quantify their judgements, and sometimes even shut another person down. I don’t know if it’s the political season that has people all stirred up, an overall shift in society that culturalists will eventually sort out, or if it’s simply about myself.

I’ve noticed this for a while now, and it came to a head for me when the other day I ran into a former BFF. I say former because many years ago, eight to be exact, she “broke up” with me. I was in the thick of my earlier life’s drama, and honestly it was bad. So although it was heartbreaking at the time I did the grown-up thing and accepted it.

hemingway-quoteShe wasn’t the only one, over the course of the next few years I lost almost all of my best-friend tribe. On the fringes of understanding it, I tried to sort it out. My life was a disaster, so I was who I was at the time.

Although a few things nudged at me about how I came across, the bottom line was I was dumped essentially for being me. Looking back through my life though, I hate to admit it was a common theme, sometimes even I found it tough to be around me.

So the other day I accidentally ran into my old “friend,” and she was fairly shocked. She knew I had moved away, but didn’t know I recently moved back. It was a strained conversation but pleasant enough, more than I thought it would be. So I casually asked her if she might want to get coffee or lunch and this was her reply ~

“Hmmm. Let me think about it.”

prove-worthOoooh. Ouch. That’s how I took it anyway, because it’s been a lot of years. Life has a way of changing people for the better or the worse. In my case I know I’m different and better – evolved and grown – in fact I may have totally changed. I told her that in not so many words but apparently it wasn’t enough.

I got this sick feeling in my gut which was a telltale sign. I have let all my old baggage go, but it was clear that she has not.

But it’s not just her response that is on my mind, it is in several places I turn. What is it that people don’t like about someone just being themselves? It must challenge comfort levels, something I know I do.

no-one-is-youI just love how honest and raw you are, not trying to be anything but yourself, a friend recently said to me. Her words meant so much, they were the acceptance of who I am.

That seems rare these days as she also pointed out – It’s so refreshing in a universe where everyone is addicted to the theater of social media.

Is that what is perpetuating the prevalent “I am right and you are wrong” rigid, uncaring attitude?

Hmmm.

Let me think about it.

 

fullsizerender

%d bloggers like this: