Category: Balance

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.

Solitude or Social Life? Only Time Will Tell

A long time ago I loved my daily doses of solitude. By 8 a.m. all three boys were at school, and I reveled in the peace and quiet. Every stay-at-home or work-from-home mom knows that feeling. You can pee with the door open, eat in the living room, put family mayhem aside and do what you want. I don’t minimize the gratitude I have for that time. Solitude in small doses is so sweet.

But life evolves however it’s going to, with or without our input.

I had this big thing in my head when we moved home last summer about reconnecting with people – friends – from my past, as if they would welcome us with open arms and we would pick up where we left off.

But I forgot about one thing – time.

What a big surprise it was when I realized most of my peeps who were in my life here then – people I really cared about – are actually not in my life here now, although they still live in the exact same places. While I took a major road trip through four states and eight houses over 14 years, they just kept living their lives, while I was trying to survive mine.

I always knew I would get back here, and as much as my old stomping ground looks the same, it’s also completely different. Somewhere along the way my kids grew up and I lost my people. Time has a way of changing everything.

So I’m facing a solitude I really wasn’t expecting. And for a gal who thrives on a tightly-knit tribe, it feels a little too quiet. Although I am far from lonely. Being on the other side of extreme hardship, dreams coming true, marital bliss – it’s a wonderful place to be.

And since we’ve finally caught our breath and are savoring the simplicity of normalcy, Sir Husband and I realized we’re missing something important. A meaningful social life. We had some good times through the years, and yea, we miss our good friends.

It’s another adjustment, and while it comes with a range of emotions, adjusting is something I seem to do well. So just like when the kids were little, I am really enjoying the pause. Because I know without a doubt, it’s only a matter of time.

 

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.

Really, Why All The Fear?

Fear-based living. Hate it! Every time I turn around there is some ridiculous, strange, scary, even unheard of thing being reported in the news or on my Facebook feed. People are dying, killed, missing, sick or will be – let’s face it, we’re all doomed.

I actually stopped watching the news and scrolling my social media feeds beyond what’s right at the top quite some time ago.

I don’t know if there are statistics out there on this but is it possible that the top of our feed has all that we need to see at any given moment? Like we see only what we are “supposed to” see for us and our lives? Or we flip TV channels and when we stop on one we see a commercial or news story that resonates with us – do you ever wonder if seeing that particular thing was “meant to be?”

And if not, how do we keep only what we need and discard the rest – especially in this new world of “fake news?”

everything-we-need

I popped on Facebook recently and the first post was that my town is on a local news magazine show for being a “super town,” where you get the most bang for your buck and quality of life – strong community, good schools, green space and urban slant. Great, that’s my home sweet super home. So I clicked the link to see the preview and in the sidebar were all these other stories:

Woman pleads guilty to raping two underage boys. (OY.)

Man kept stolen brain beneath porch, used it to get high, police say.  (REALLY?)

How you can buy a house for $1.00 in Milwaukee. (SURE.)

25-year-old dies while live-streaming on Facebook.  CLICKED IT.

They got me. I clicked one of the links and watched the two-minute video that did not show the actual death (thank goodness,) but told the story, leaving out the most important part. How she died. And get this – nobody went to check on her until 30 minutes after her live stream crashed!

I wondered if it was a fake story so of course I googled it, it wasn’t fake. I didn’t click any more, I closed my browser and felt kinda sick. I was sick anyway, my third round of some plague that keeps recycling in our family. This makes me pretty upset because I do all I can to stay healthy: self-care, yoga, meditation, eat right, take very expensive all-natural daily vitamins, I wash my hands constantly and Purell at every turn, especially during flu season. Why? I fear the plague. I don’t get a flu shot – it’s not one-size-fits-all (google it,) and until this year rarely got the “flu.” I am not even sure it’s the actual flu, or a reasonable facsimile. But I’ll check the top of my Facebook feed to find out.

Yep, we live in a world where fear rules and while I don’t want to, part of me resides there. I bet we all do and just don’t talk about it.

Seriously. She was 25! 

 

peace

It’s Easy To Say Self-Care But Pretty Hard To Do

If there’s one thing to be said about my family, it’s that we are adept in a crisis. I hate to say it, but it’s our strong point. Maybe that’s good, although it comes from a long history of crisis control, which is not a good way to live.

griefWhen a good friend unexpectedly died recently, first the shock of her death overtook us all. My boys jumped right in to support of her son – their close friend – who lost his mom, and I did the same with her whole family. It was natural to us.

Then I realized a few days later, that I “took it on.” I mean seriously took it on – as if she were a member of my own family, or close enough that I needed to participate in a hands-on way. I felt “attached” to it, an automatic internal response to deeply feel the situation as if it were my own. Pretty overwhelming.

Sure I was emotional – it was very upsetting. Back in the day she was one of my closest friends. But we hadn’t seen each other in a while, although was in my heart and recently on my mind. And as sad as I was, she wasn’t my family. I could feel my own sadness without automatically feeling her family’s sadness too.

I thought about her son – who is the same age as my son – and how my son might feel if I had suddenly died. Everyone does that to some degree, we put ourselves in others shoes and our empathy naturally surfaces when we hear about tragedy. But I’m so used to having tragedy in my life, I only knew how to respond as if this was my own crisis. I actually didn’t have to take it on the way I did.

calm-lifeWhen I noticed this for the first time the day before her wake, the message was loud and clear. This is someone else’s tragedy and I could feel it differently. At arms length. I could think about this situation from an outside perspective, and even respond to it that way.

No to mention, I also had my own personal stuff going on that required my attention at the same time. I almost couldn’t deal with the timing of her funeral and my personal needs on the same couple of days. My sons too. They wanted to go, but they had their own priorities that could not be ignored. And they were ok with supporting their friend from afar, that was the best that they could do.

There’s a fine line between self-care and self-sacrifice. It’s a tricky balance that often feels difficult to achieve depending on our life circumstances, and conditioning. Not to mention it takes practice.

I recently read a “doctor’s orders” prescription for self-care:

Rest when you are tired. Do something fun every day. Breathe deeply. Absorb the Divine healing stream. Mother yourself well. And of course – enjoy life. (Because sometimes, as we are quickly reminded, life can be too short.)

The paradox is that while self-care may feel selfish, it’s the only way to care for or help others in their times of need ~ the last and most heartfelt message I will ever have from my friend.

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If We Wait To Long To Do It, We May Forget How To Relax

On the flip side of what felt like an insurmountable task – relatively speaking of course, some days life can feel insurmountable – I said out loud, Now what?  It was the million dollar question.

relaxNothing, Sir Husband said. Enjoy the peace. Just relax.

Say what?

This may sound pretty crazy, but I don’t know how to relax. I mean sit down and read a magazine, peruse channels on TV, sip some tea, the ‘I’ve finally caught up on my to-do list’ kind-of relaxing.

Until now, Now what always meant “Oh no. What’s wrong now? ” Because something was always wrong. For as long as I can remember I’ve spent most of my time tending to crisis after crisis, problem after problem, chaos and strain brought on by some of the key people around me whose swirl engulfed me like the plague. Relaxing wasn’t an option.

youhave-done-enough

Instead I was busy trying to fix everything. There was always something to do, something to mange, handle, someone to help or save, things to endure until that light at the end of the tunnel appeared. I didn’t allow myself some quiet respite amidst the ongoing noise. I’ve been too distracted to do nothing.

It’s no secret women have a tendency to put themselves last on the list, back-burner their needs until everyone is taken are of and everything is “done.” Didn’t know there was a place on the list for relaxing – and here’s the big ah-ha – a stressful life became my way of life.

This weight-of-the-world way of living contributed to chronic pain, health conditions, mental strain and daily fear. It’s only recently that I discovered I didn’t know how to relax, because when I tried, I couldn’t really sit still. I have a perpetually and habitually busy, buzzing nervous system. Even yoga – my go-to daily soother – relaxes me for just a few minutes before I’m up and moving.

Then I got this surprising peephole of relief after conquering a major task. It was almost symbolic – like I’ve been climbing a mountain my whole life and didn’t see the peak. But I do now. Now what?

take-a-break

We get to these turning points when a door opens for us to try a different way of living. Enjoy walking downhill for a while. We may have to reprogram though, and be willing to put ourselves first. Force ourselves to do nothing. But haven’t we earned it?

I have, I’ve more than paid my dues. Living in the space of  “now what” and “nothing” is starting to make sense.

“If you’re not loving what it feels like between your various life destinations, get off the ride…be still long enough to find your inspiration.”  (Danielle LaPorte)

For me now that is peace…and reading a magazine.

chinese-proverb

Halloween Is Over, Bring On The In Between

Welcome to the Christmas Season! It’s just two days after Halloween – the official holiday launch. We can tune in to Christmas music on satellite radio now, and we better start shopping for all the popular gifts.

Nah. I’m headed to the store to get a bag of Halloween candy for 50 percent off. We didn’t really get to celebrate Halloween this year, nearly empty-nested for the first time. Our 16-year old wasn’t interested, and we live in a big old house-turned-condos that sits well off the road in the woods, nobody rang the bell here.

At first I didn’t mind the lack of festivities – much to my holiday-loving surprise – the last halloween-04-064-copyoctober-05-010-copytwo decades of hazy Halloween memories were more than enough. No costume quandaries this year, messy pumpkin carving or mad dashes to the front door making idle chit chat with wee fairies and movie characters who aren’t old enough to eat a Skittle. No boys up past their bedtime sitting in a pile of open wrappers in the middle of the floor, no candy coma, no weeks of chocolate sitting around the house. Yea it’s all cute, and I loved it year after year…including raiding their bags when nobody was looking. But they’ve grown up and moved on.

Then the sun started to set on Halloween night…and some sadness crept in.

Halloween was over and it hadn’t even begun. I didn’t miss the hoopla or mess, I missed tradition – the anticipation of the doorbell ringing, trying to keep our hands out of the candy fullsizerenderbowl, pumpkin seeds toasting in the oven, glowing amber candle lights in each window, decorations, black and orange everything. Nope, none of that this year. Just a couple of full-size candy bars that Sir Husband sweetly brought home and placed near our teeny pumpkin. We missed the kids.

But “it’s whatever” as our millennials say. They are able to move forward in time without batting an eye, something I continue to try. I think there is an “in between” phase for parents, when we’re conscious of the big change adjusting to the empty nest. The shift in circumstances is noticeable.

But why do we always try to hurry our way on to the next thing, the next phase, even the next day?

water-restIn between is underrated. Nobody wants to hang out in between anything. Whether it’s between life phases or in between holidays, the world just pushes forward instead of embracing the void in between. What’s so bad about the void? That’s where we can pause, take a breath, and just be for a minute or three.

There’s something cool about being in the gap. Suspended between destinations or phases, hanging out in this space of has-been and will-be. Like when you are looking at a candy bar sitting on your table and you know it’s there and you are psyched about eating it but you don’t go for it. You wait. You anticipate. In between.

That was my favorite part of Halloween back in the day. The part just before the sun set when everything was ready but it was too early for trick or treating. We just hung out in those moments of peaceful readiness for whatever was ahead. We enjoyed the scenery. We enjoyed the pause.

Anyway…in the meantime, Merry Christmas.

charlie-brown

Who Decides Whose Choice It Is? I Do!

good-dayIt’s a good thing I opted to blog weekly instead of daily – some days can certainly prove challenging. We get up, we go about our business, we’re thinking good or not so good depending on our point of reference, then boom. Something happens and our day can totally change.

While I was reveling in an all-good zone last week, I got an emergency call that my mother experienced a life-threatening blip with her serious health issues. Naturally our world came to a roaring halt. From the doctors and nurses on the ICU team, to her family and friends, the seriousness of her situation left a lot of people perplexed. Each person had their own choices to make about how to address her care, and there were plenty of opinions going on.

chill-its-only-chaosDealing with all that entailed wasn’t a choice, but it highlighted the concept of choice itself. I started to wonder if everything in life is a choice. Everything – from choosing how to save a life, to who we vote for in this election, to whether we get cable TV, to where we live, what we wear, drive, eat, focus on, do, work, go, watch, use, think…is everything a choice? Do we really have control over our choices?

Although at different ages we think differently about our ability to choose, I recently realized that I grew up believing my choices were dictated by the world around me, and were out of some kind of obligation to others before self. For my millennial kids of course the reverse is true. Historically, choices were not always a matter of choice, but in each generation the concept of choice seems to subtly shift.

The trend now is toward each of us having authority over our own life, taking care of ourselves. The “put your oxygen mask on first” rule on airplanes now also applies on the take-care-of-yourselfground. We have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. But I have always been so selfless, I usually run out of air.

Self-care first was a foreign concept to me until this recent universal shift – memes popping up, wisdom gurus all over the Internet and TV, books, conventions, society opening the door for transformation on the concept of choices. From the food we put in our mouths to the way we think – apparently we can make decisions that impact all aspects of our life.

The problem is the emotions that go with choices are complicated and the choice isn’t always clear. We can make any decision we want but then decisions can be laden with guilt or frustration, worry, wonder or fear. Not to mention consequences. If we can learn to manage the emotions, we may be better able to choose.

Interestingly my mother either in spite of or because of her health issues, has nailed the ability to confidently make choices that are best for her. And she miraculously did it again last week when she pulled through her latest blip.

I still haven’t learned where to draw the line when it comes to who comes first. But maybe I’m overthinking it, because the choice I’ve learned is mine.

 

choices

 

Fall Is Back, It’s Time To Look Forward

fall-dayI’m a few days behind on my autumnal equinox recognition, but like its meaning, it gave me time to reflect on the past season’s abundance, of which there was plenty. Traditionally this changing of the season from summer to fall was celebrated as the second harvest, extolling gratitude for our blessings before the stillness of winter…horns of plenty and all that jazz.

Astrologically this is the time of balance – between light and dark, space and time, ego and soul – a time to remove old limiting patterns and Divinely renew intentions and desires for manifestations. Or simply put, work on our dreams coming true.

victoryFunny thing is, we don’t often realize a dream has come true until hindsight reveals it as such. Sure we have those jump-up-and-down moments when we get some acknowledgment we’re on our way, or validation that we’re on the right path. Those celebratory moments feel good – like baby dreams coming true.

dream-is-realBut if you’re anything like me you dream big – real big. And you start out on the path ready to face and embrace the miracles as they occur. And you have no doubt that there will be miracles because you believe in them. Even in those doubting moments you still keep the faith, keeping the dream alive.

Whether we use vision boards or gratitude lists or just share our dreams out loud, sometimes in the back of our minds we wonder, will this dream ever come true? So we plug away, invested, determined, focused, trying to execute whatever we think will help us reach our heartfelt goal. Every day we try to “get there,” on that road to success. Or we think it’s the road to success.

change-your-thoughtsWhile thoughts become things according to Universal Law, we don’t always know if what we’re thinking is right, let alone what we’re doing, when we don’t see tangible results. Are we on the right path? Or do we need to make a U-turn, better yet get on a new road?

Those answers may or may not clearly come. Ultimately we’re getting somewhere, this is just life. But we have to pay attention to the invisible-visible signs. When the confirmation is confusing, our dreams can take a detour, and we can feel quite off-balance.

still-growingAlthough we may be on our yellow brick road, it’s hard not to depend on others to help lay the bricks. That’s when we get into trouble of course – pinning our hopes on others. But in some cases it’s the actions of others that help make our dreams come true. Like writing a successful blog – it takes readers to excel. I’m nearly 950 posts in, but its growth is going slow.

I invest a lot of time and energy, but is a daily post too much? I get deep satisfaction from doing my soul’s work – I know I came here to write, and it feels completely good. But the perfect recipe or secret of success? I just have no idea.

keep-goingMaybe I’m missing the point. While I’m waiting for the miracle, I’ll look to the end-result…the big picture.

“You can’t expect to see the miracles during the journey,” Mike Dooley says. “You don’t see them until after you arrive.”

We have arrived at the autumnal equinox and I’m grateful for so much. But as the seasons change, so must we. Maybe my focus needs to shift toward fulfilling another dream of writing a book. I’ve thought about this since I was young and who knows if it will fly. But I guess while we’re here, all we can do is try.

horn-of-plentyI’ll still post at least once a week and please weigh in anytime ~ any thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome. Thanks to all of you who read, from the bottom of my heart. Abundant blessings to you all, and while I mention it, welcome fall.

 

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Hey Rich People, There’s More To Life Than Money

I’ve come to accept I will probably not drive a Porsche, or travel the world, or even at this point retire. My bucket list now includes things that may not sound like a bucket list:  genuine happiness. Perfect health. Joyful times. And although a tropical sunset sounds great, I’d really love true inner peace.

buckets

But I don’t know if I’m on the right track when it seems so many people just revolve around money.

I’ve written about my status before – poor little rich girl who has traveled a rocky financial road. After the ups and downs of first having a lot then unexpectedly losing it later, we work hard and hope each month we are able to make ends meet. But here’s where that reality has changed my thinking.

I’m not sure money really does buy happiness. That’s not to say I don’t wrestle with the discomfort of paying the bills. But I’ve listened to friends who never worry about cash, and it’s actually not too pretty. Prestige is always on their minds, status, image – they base their self-value on that. Their worlds revolve around the size of their house or what kind of car they drive.

focus-on-the-goodI know someone who recently paid cash for her custom-designed European car, then had it shipped overseas and delivered right to her door. This luxury mobile cost more than a small house but she yells at her family for using too much toilet paper. (Because toilet paper is expensive you know.) Doesn’t sound like she’s too happy to me, even with that big, fancy car.

Or a father I know complains about his son’s college roommate’s family’s wealth, because he worries his son feels bad. The catch to this complaint is that he makes so much money himself he even has his own plane. But it’s allegedly less than his son’s roommate, so I guess he’s feeling poor.

We just watched a documentary about a father in India who sells chocolate bars on a train to feed his family. But it’s 100 degrees there so his chocolates melted and travelers didn’t buy them. It took him two years to save for a cooler to store his chocolates. A cooler. Something we all have in our basement or garage, or can afford to go out and buy. I wanted to send some coolers to India because guess what, I can.

wealth-is-a-mindsetI got a chain email the other day that said to spend all your money while you are alive so your children and grandchildren don’t inherit it and spend it for you. I found it offensive because I would be thrilled if I had money to leave for my kids and would give them both the shirt off my back, as well as my last dime.

So my status quo has nothing to do with a bank account. I am grateful for my place in life, whatever that place may be. I give to the homeless frequently because I have a home. I went for years without a car so my son could have mine for work. I use as much toilet paper as I need and am beyond happy about that. I am able to buy food and also keep it cold.

Gratitude is my wealth, because money is never free.

gold

 

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