meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

Happy Moments

Do you notice how some people always seem to be Happy and others always seem to be unHappy? And do you notice how this doesn’t necessarily depend on their life circumstances? Do you pay attention to when you feel Happy and when you feel unHappy?

We talk about Happiness a lot. It’s what we say we want for our family, our children, our friends, and for ourselves. What do you do to attain Happiness? What “makes” you Happy? Do you want to help other people to be Happy? Do you want other people to think you are Happy?

Do you know anybody who puts on a Happy face in public, but then is very grouchy and seemingly unHappy in private? Are you consistently Happy or unHappy, or does it depend upon your circumstances?

We all understand Happy Moments. When things are going right, we feel Happy. Happy Moments include:

  • You have a success, and gain recognition or praise – you are acknowledged as “good” by others.
  • You achieve something and feel satisfaction.
  • You do something you enjoy, which makes you feel good.
  • You are shown love by another’s words or deeds, and you feel worthy.
  • You see something beautiful, whether a situation or a scene – a beautiful sunset, a generous act, a situation where everything works out for the best, you hear music you love, you experience wonder at something.
  • Someone else, perhaps someone you love, experiences a Happy Moment and you are Happy for them.

The list could go on, but we are all familiar with situations that make us Happy. And we are familiar with the opposite as well — take any number of opposite situations, which might make us feel sad, angry, or some other form of “unHappy.”

One way to think about having a Happy Life or having Happiness, is to fill your life with Happy Moments, or at least more Happy Moments than Sad Moments. It seems to me that most people don’t really think about this consciously, but follow this method of pursuing Happiness.

You can work hard to maximize your Happy Moments. You can be nice to people, get good grades, show up on time, work hard, learn a lot and apply what you know, get a good job, marry a nice, attractive person, teach your kids how to behave, choose a good neighborhood to live in, get some more credentials and secure a better job, expand your social network, do volunteer work at church, network with successful businesspeople, earn a reputation as an expert, share your knowledge…..get the idea? This approach will maximize your chances of having lots of Happy Moments……which will make you Happy, right?

Well……what if after all that hard work, you get skipped over for the promotion? What if you don’t get in to the college of your choice? What if the economy tanks? What if your business partner dies suddenly in an accident? What if you or a loved one gets seriously sick? What if your child has a learning disability or autism or just a contrary personality? What if your spouse and you have conflicts? What if you realize, after 20 years, that you really don’t like the type of work you chose?

We can plan for a perfect life that will provide Happiness, but we cannot predict or control how life will actually unfold. We all know people who did everything “right” but then “got screwed”…..and we all know people who seem to be charmed, who bounce back from seemingly impossible circumstances.

When we experience Happy Moments, we experience good feelings. Feelings like joy, wonder, satisfaction and gratitude. Positive feelings “make us” feel Happy. But is “feeling” Happy the same as “being” Happy?

We are so vested in the Happy Moments mindset that we don’t think about it, and we don’t think that there might be an alternative approach to achieving Happiness.

Happy Moments are not the same as what I want to call Core Happiness. Those people who seem to be Happy no matter what life throws them, have Core Happiness. Is that state of “being” about always feeling positive? I would argue that the State of Being Happy is not about feelings, but about being balanced, relaxed and comfortable.

Core Happiness is an internal state of being that is not dependent on external circumstances. Of course, every person will still have Happy Moments and Sad Moments, but a person with a high level of Core Happiness will not depend on these Moments to define their sense of well-being. It’s a whole different thing.

An individual who is comfortable with who they are, who feels worthy, secure, confident, open, eager and optimistic is in a state of peace, relaxation, comfort, and satisfaction. When we achieve (or get close to) a natural state of balance we are most likely to consider ourselves “Happy” in our core.

People who depend on Happy Moments to be Happy will do everything they can to create Happy Moments and to avoid Sad Moments. They will want others to behave in ways that create Happy Moments for them. They will seek out situations that provide Happy Moments. Without having an internal balance, this method of pursuing Happiness can become exhausting. And because the source of Happy Moments is external, this quest is also exhausting for those others who are expected to participate in creating those Happy Moments.

What kinds of Happy Moments do you depend on? What “makes” you feel Happy, and what situations do you try to create, over and over, that give you positive feelings? Can you see any patterns in your life? Despite many Happy Moments, do you still feel that you are unHappy?

Do you feel balanced? Do you consider yourself resilient and able to bounce back from Sad Moments? Do Sad Moments define you?

Are you addicted to Happy Moments? Do certain kinds of Happy Moments result in you feeling unbalanced?

Observe yourself and figure out how you are searching for Happiness. Is your level of Happiness dependent on Happy Moments? Who else do you depend on to behave or to do things that you think you “need” to be Happy? What level of certainty do you need from others in order to feel Happy? If your external circumstances changed, would you still be Happy?

We each get to choose how to pursue Happiness. For those who focus on Happy Moments, there may come a time where it becomes just too frustrating to never feel like there are enough, and to never feel a sense of satisfaction with life as it is. It may be that then a person shifts focus to a different definition of Happiness, an internal state of Balance.

Perhaps, this is the true source of the Happiness we really want.

 

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The Way my Life Goes These Days

Just a little story that illustrates the every-day way my life unfolds.

While all the angst and chaos of pre-election insanity swirls around, I’m busy working on my little 2br house renovation.  Yesterday I was hanging a little drywall in the corner of the kitchen-to-be, and I ran out of drywall screws.

Larry the plumber was there.  I asked him if he needed anything from Home Depot.

“Why are you going there?” he says.  “Why not go to Key?”

Well, I don’t know.  I hadn’t thought about it.  But Key Supply is a local place, I guess not any further away, so yeah, sure, I’ll go there.

So I head out.  On the way I go by the house and notice one dog is outside.  I stop and check in to make sure everything is ok there.  Keep going.  Remember I should check the mailbox at Fourth Street.  Talk to Sharra, she writes me a check.  Ok, good.

This is really taking a long time, just to get a box of drywall screws.  I am noticing that “The Universe” or “God”, whatever term you like to use, seems to be steering me in a certain direction.  I definitely have this sense of it, and I am also being slowed down.  I am behind a car going very slow.  I also notice that I am low on gas, and I should stop at Sal’s and fill up.  But really, I should get back and finish that drywall!  So I skip the gas for now.

I get to Key, and grab a box of screws off the shelf.  Terry is there, and Terry is a talker.  He’s also a really nice guy.  So we chat.  For a while.  About all kinds of stuff.  In the back of my mind, I am still wondering what my purpose is for being here at Key, it really did feel like there was a reason.  And you never know, maybe just the chat was “meant to be” or maybe someone needed a smile that day and I am not even aware of whatever small interaction was supposed to happen.  Whatever.  I’m just going with it.

BUT THEN, in walks Petey.  I instantly recognize this person, but it takes me a minute to be sure of who it is, because it is unexpected.  He looks right at me and says, “Megan” or “Meggy” or some version of my name.  I give him a big hug.  (His real name is Jesús, if I remember correctly, and he speaks with an accent.  FYI “Meg” does not translate well into Spanish.)

You see, I am very fond of Petey.  He’s a super sweet guy.  He used to be part of  Andy’s crew, one of the contractors I use.  We spent a lot of time together in the summer of 2007, and then they worked on my kitchen in 2010.  He no longer works for him, so I haven’t seen Petey since then.

So, “why” did God or The Universe set this up?  Who knows.  It sure made me happy to see him.  I don’t necessarily think the reason has to be earth-shattering.  But I do know that if I am “in tune” with the subtle pushes and pulls that are there, and I allow myself to follow along, that these things happen.

And who knows?  Maybe he needed a hug.  Maybe … a lot of reasons, and I will never know. To me it doesn’t matter — it’s just a lot more fun to live life this way. 🙂

 

 

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Only We can Solve our Own Problems

Outrage and anger are normal reactions when we see injustice. Outrage and anger might light a fire under our butts and get us moving.

BUT solutions don’t come from outrage and anger. SOLUTIONS come from working together and facing our problems.

Today I am thinking about the overwhelming problems we seem to have, and how solving them seems impossible. So here’s what I am thinking:

We each have to solve our own problems. No one else can solve them for us. And we need to understand that we can’t solve the problems of others, either.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need to work together, however. We just need to understand which roles we need to play when working on solutions.

Let’s say I have a problem. For a real solution, I have to own my problem. I have to think about it and I have to take action. If someone else comes along and “saves” me, I don’t own the solution and I probably don’t learn any lessons either. If I do take action, and try to figure out my own problem, THEN hopefully I turn to others for information, feedback, their perspective, and maybe even some advice. I might realize that advice from others who have faced a similar problem might prove to be the most valuable. But I have to seek out the advice, and then figure out what to do with it. No one else can just tell me what to do.

Let’s just say I live through my situation and I figure out how to solve my problem. I may decide that, with my experience, I now know what’s best. I may start telling other people what to do. I may get annoyed at others who don’t heed my warnings. I didn’t want other people telling me what to do when I was in the middle of it, but now I am an expert and others should listen to me.

Sound familiar?

It’s one thing when you have a skill or expertise in a job. That’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about having a personal challenge or problem that needs to be worked through. OK? And it’s one thing to give unsolicited advice, quite another to be a resource and share your expertise when asked.

With a personal challenge, the kind of situation where we (hopefully) grow as an individual and become wiser, no one can do the work for you.

We can’t do someone elses work, but we CAN be supportive. We can listen. We can offer feedback – using reflective listening, for example. We can offer resources or take care of logistics for a friend who is overwhelmed or struggling to handle it all.  There are lots of ways to offer support without trying to take control.

We don’t tend to think this way. We like to have opinions about what other people should do, while ignoring the planks in our own eyes.

This same concept applies for groups of people as well as individuals.

I observe what’s going on in the world today, and here is what I am thinking about:

Promoting awareness of problems is important. That’s a separate issue. There are people and organizations that play this role, and we need to be aware of a problem before we can solve it. True.

But come on, we KNOW we have a problem with police brutality. Maybe the Police Officers need to take the lead on solving that problem.

We KNOW we have a problem with systemic racism. Maybe white people need to take the lead in addressing it.

We clearly have a problem with gun violence. Maybe gun owners and the NRA need to step up and propose some solutions.

Maybe the black community needs to take the lead in addressing social issues and violence in the black community.

Maybe the Christian community needs to address hypocrisy in the Christian community.

Maybe men need to take the lead in addressing rape culture and equal opportunities for women.

Maybe the straight community needs to be leading the charge in promoting equal rights.

Don’t you dare say “Yeah, that’s right!”

about one of the above communities if it is not your own.

If you do, you are missing the entire point.

 

I realize this is already happening in some cases. And I realize this seems impossible in a lot of cases. I didn’t even try to list examples from Corporate America.

Part of the issue is, in an environment where everybody is looking for someone to blame,  we are far less likely to admit that we have a problem to begin with. But admitting to our own problems is VITAL if we are ever going to solve them.

This is why it is so important to stop blaming and attacking each other.

People NEED to feel it is SAFE to admit to a problem,

or else they will not own it.

What if, on an individual level, we started to focus on solving our own problems AND on being supportive, in whatever way we could, to others who could then feel empowered to solve their own problems?

The endless cycle of blame we have going, is not ever, ever, ever going to solve anything.

So observe yourself. See how often you jump into The Blame Game. See how often you tell other people how to solve their problems. Are you outraged about what other people are doing? Notice if you are taking care of your own issues—or are you ignoring them while you spend time ranting? Are you part of a group that could use some improvement?

I’m not saying all ranting is bad.  There is a time and a place.  We sometimes need to vent and express ourselves.  But some people stop at the rant, and don’t ever get to the part about working on the problem.

When you hear others complain about an issue, do you attempt to understand, or do you get defensive? Do you listen? Do you consider how you would feel in their shoes? Do you stand up for someone if you see they are mistreated, or are you just glad it’s not you?

We each need to own our own problems, and the problems of the groups to which we belong.  What if we supported and celebrated those who step up and own our problems?  What if we respected those who Speak Up?

 

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Speaking Up doesn’t need to be about getting angry and outraged, you know.

Speaking up might be saying a kind word to someone you know is hurting.  Speaking up might just be quietly pointing out that there are unintended consequences.  Speaking up might be pointing out that there is a different way.  Speaking up might be encouraging someone to listen.  Speaking up might be as simple as saying that there might be a different way.

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Feel, Think, Say, Do

What we feel, what we think, what we say, and what we do are basic aspects of how we live life! Are we consistent with these four aspects or not?

It seems that, of course a person would be consistent, but think about it – if you observe yourself or other people, you can see plenty of instances where we are not consistent.

I would venture to say, that we are happiest when we are consistent, and not very happy or comfortable when we are not.

So why wouldn’t we always be consistent?

Let’s first talk about our feelings. We feel what we feel, but we have been taught that we “should” feel certain ways in certain instances. We have been told that our feelings are “wrong.” But this is not the way we are built. What we feel just is and so if our feelings are deemed acceptable, that’s great, but if we have feelings that are wrong or unacceptable, we feel shame and guilt, we conclude we must be a bad person or must have something wrong with us. So instead of feeling our feelings freely, we develop filters and get ourselves all mixed up about our emotions.

You don’t really have a choice about what you feel. Feelings and emotion just happen. You can pretend you didn’t feel something, but suppressing your feelings causes all kinds of problems. So what IF that feeling you have is inappropriate?

Well, that’s something to think about. This is what your brain is for. You know how you feel, you know your own situation, you can think through the implications of what you decide to say or do.

We always have a better outcome when we think things through. Thinking is where we pass judgment and apply all those rules where society tells us how we should be. Our brain also allows us to notice things, like how we feel, and it processes and ponders all the implications of how we feel, whether how we feel is acceptable, if and what we should say about it, and if and what we should do about it.

Because you DO have a choice about what you say and what you do. And THIS is where we can apply the ideas of what is appropriate and what is not.

Personally, I think we would all get along so much better, and we would all understand each other better, if we were able to apply this perspective. Because owning our feelings, and being able to be HONEST about our feelings, will help us to understand each other. If we insist on making the feelings of others “wrong” we will continue the judgment and resulting arguments, and never get anywhere.

So, pay attention to situations, and notice when we are not allowing someone to express their feelings, even if we think they are inappropriate. Instead, focus on what that person is saying or, more importantly, DOING and whether what they DO is appropriate or not.

How do we decide if someone’s actions are appropriate or not?

This is not always simple. But it has to do with whether they are imposing their will on another in a way that causes harm. This is not simple, because we don’t all feel or want the same things, so there are opposing forces at work.

But there are some straightforward examples.

And here’s a simple, but really difficult example that illustrates this exactly. Challenge yourself to take in this example without judgment, notice how you are judging feelings, then notice the thinking/processing, and notice the ABSENCE of inappropriate or harmful behavior.

Remember, I said this is a DIFFICULT one:

Watch this video at this link

Notice how Todd says, “no matter what we say or do, people are going to hate us anyway.”

Todd says he has never abused a child and never will. He totally owns his feelings, and he took a lot of time to think this through and process what those feelings mean, to him, to others, and to society. And he CHOOSES to communicate in an honest way, and CHOOSES to act in a way that will do no harm.

Yet we have a very difficult time knowing what to do with someone like Todd, because we consider his feelings to be bad. He knows that.  Is he a BAD person?

What you can say about Todd is that he is HONEST.  Think about this:  would you rather he hid his feelings, so you didn’t have to think about them?  Would you then think he was a “good” person since he has done nothing wrong?

Geez, if Todd can do this in his situation, can’t we all learn to embrace our feelings and work through them? Can’t we learn to allow others to do the same?

What if Todd’s situation is a lesson that each of us could embrace, which would help us all to be more real, more honest, and more caring about others?

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Learning About Following My Heart

“Follow your heart” sounds like a simple piece of advice that should be easy to follow, but of course it’s not that easy. There’s a learning curve. I’ve been working on that.

I’ve been working on following the advice in one of my favorite blog posts of all time. I reblogged it here or you can find the original here.  I’ve been practicing, listening to my subtle feeling states. I’ve been practicing by stepping back, observing myself and the different aspects of me and the different influences on me.

To follow your heart, you have to get clear on what your heart is telling you. You have to set aside your mind, and all the logic and thinking that is telling you what you should or shouldn’t do or feel. You have to allow yourself to purely feel, and acknowledge what you are actually feeling – what your heart is telling you.

One of the problems is, this might not be what you “want” to feel. Your heart might be sure of a goal or outcome in your life, that your mind says is impossible and the world tells you is insane or wrong. What then?

For me, the first step is to fully accept what your heart is telling you. Your mind doesn’t have to immediately agree and you don’t have to act on it right away either. You first have to get used to the idea that you can trust your heart to know what’s right for you, despite what your mind or anyone else thinks.

This fits in with a basic concept that I’ve thought a lot about lately. Someone asked a while back, What is Authenticity? And that made me think and ponder for a while. My conclusion is that Authenticity is always dealing first with “what is” rather than with “what should be.” To “be real” we always have to understand and accept the way things are and the way we actually feel. That doesn’t mean we won’t want to make changes, but it does mean that we start from a place of truth.

Start paying attention to the world around you and the people around you and notice this. In so many instances, we are mostly caught up with focusing on “what should be.” We don’t like the way things are. We focus on what’s wrong. We keep talking about how someone else should be and what they should do and what they should say. We don’t bother to look at who they are.

We look at ourselves and focus on what’s wrong with us and that we shouldn’t be this way and we should be that way.  Think about all the ways the world tells you what you should and shouldn’t be, feel or do.

When we start with looking at who a person actually is, and the situation as it is, we are more likely, then, to understand. Once we understand, then we can use our logical minds to think of possibilities and how we can improve a situation or allow a solution that works to move in a positive direction. Or, we can recognize when we are fighting with reality, and adjust accordingly.

So, back to listening to your heart. Your heart is your connection to understanding what your soul wants. What I’ve experienced is that you can be really clear on what your heart is telling you, but that doesn’t mean your world will immediate reflect that.

The “problem” is, our human minds have a hard time operating on “soul time”. Once you get familiar with the ways of the soul, you realize that this way of living is not compatible with living in your mind. We only get a glimpse of what our soul wants for us, and the timing of that might very well be much slower than what our minds are used to.  (Since we are souls living in a human body, the reality is that we live in a physical world with certain limits, while at the same time, we exist as a soul in timelessness.  So no wonder it is difficult to be aware that you are both and then try to live both at once.)

My latest example is literally about my heart. For the last several years, I have been trying to figure out how to address my blood pressure. When I listen to my heart (about the health of my heart) I know/knew that I would not be taking a lot of medication and that I would not tolerate side effects. I knew I would find a doctor or practitioner that would have this perspective and would look at me as a whole person, as who I am, and then work together with me to find the best solution, without succumbing to fear and rule-following.

In my real, physical life, I have gone through a frustrating process of trying to find the eventual solution that my heart knew was not only possible, but the best outcome for me. I went to a new primary care doctor that gave me a new medication every few weeks, didn’t care about side effects, and had no interest (or time) for figuring out the cause of my hypertension.

I then went to a cardiologist. This was a little better. I still felt like a cog in a wheel, and there still wasn’t any interest in me as an individual. Side effects (and my heart) again led me to keep searching.

You realize, at this point, that most sane people would reasonably conclude that I am being difficult. You know — the doctors know best, side effects are inevitable and unavoidable, and you need to follow the rules, do what your are told, and stop being difficult. At this point I was well aware that my behavior did not fit expectations and was making other people uncomfortable.

But if I was listening to my heart, it was still saying there was something better. To keep searching.

So I went to the Chinese herbalist. (oh, yeah, I can hear the dismissive, judgmental comments from people who are getting increasingly uncomfortable). What you don’t understand, is that this is/was my path. It’s all about experience. I’ve been learning along the way.

The supplements he gave me helped. And better than that, my BP was similar or lower than when I was on the medication where I felt that my legs weren’t working.

I actually think that when you are tuned in to what your heart is telling you and you are focusing on what is, then it becomes really hard to exist in a situation that doesn’t fit. Instead of tuning out the fact that my legs felt numb and I didn’t want to take a walk because I was afraid I would trip, I decided not to tolerate the medication that was causing this!

Then, six months later, I am sitting in the car, waiting to pick up a kid, when I get this urge to turn on the radio to AM. Following this kind of random, intuitive urge is part of listening to my heart, so of course I do it. (I never listen to AM radio.) On comes a chiropractor, talking about a weight loss program that balances your hormones and resets your metabolism. So I look into it, and decide to try.

Sure, dropping 5 lbs. sounded good to me, but it’s not that I was really too heavy. But the detox aspect of the program and the healing were what I thought I would try. Really, I was just going with the synchronicity.

And here’s the thing. On day 6 of this program my blood pressure PLUMMETTED. Something was going on. I ended up dropping 12 lbs in 14 days. I’m back to my 30 year-old weight. Never thought I’d be there. I totally reset my eating habits.

So, during this quest to address my blood pressure, I have read a ton and made all kinds of healthy changes. The overall experience has been transformative. It has been perfect for me. In no way am I saying that you should do what I did. That’s the point – each of us has to follow their own heart so that they can follow the path that their own soul knows is the one that fits their own purpose.

The latest chapter of my medical story is the best, actually. It’s not comfortable being outside the medical box. You still really need a doctor in the system. I felt that if I went back to my previous doctors, I would be “in trouble.” I have an OBGYN who is wonderful, who gets me, but still I knew if I went back to her this spring and didn’t have a couple other routine things taken care of, that she would be pushing me.  And even internally, I really knew that I needed to find someone.

I’ve been asking people for years for recommendations for a physician. One in particular, I had heard things that made him sound like just the guy. Trouble is, he practiced with a doctor I used to go to, and the practice wouldn’t let me switch to him. I tried twice.

Last spring, my OBGYN gave me a name on a post-it. I am sure this person is great, but I could not get myself motivated to call her. This felt really weird. My heart was not excited, yet my mind would say that this person probably fit all my criteria and was great. What the heck was going on? The post-it is on my computer screen as I type this. It only now makes sense why I didn’t call her.

If I called her, she probably would be really good and I’d be fine. But instead….

A month or two ago, my friend casually mentioned that her doctor had left his existing practice to open his own practice. Guess who her doctor is? Yep, the one I had been wanting to go to. So, yep, I had my first appointment this week.

He is wonderful. The first appointment was to sit and get to know each other. He asked me about me. We talked statistics and graphs about risk factors for blood pressure. He doesn’t want people on anything more than the minimum they need. He feels like a partner, NOT the ego-driven authority figure that makes decisions for you.

I cannot tell you the sense of relief I had. I got in my car after the appointment, and thought to myself, I am so happy I could cry. And I actually bawled my eyes out with relief and happiness.

You think I haven’t felt the pressure of going against every sane, logical, normal thing I was supposed to do to prevent myself from having a stroke or heart attack? Are you aware of the amount of fear associated with heart disease?

So this morning, my blood pressure was 120/80. I’m sure the story is not over. But I know in my heart, that this adventure was the experience my soul wanted me to have.

And probably the biggest thing I learned is that, even when your heart is very, very clear about where you are headed and you know just the outcome that makes your heart sing, the process can be excruciating and long and frustrating and seem impossible. The people around you will not understand what the heck you are doing. You will not make logical sense. The world will make you feel wrong and crazy.

So don’t tell yourself that you “shouldn’t feel” a certain way. If you feel it, then let yourself feel it.

Don’t tell yourself that the thing you want most in the world is unrealistic. Allow yourself to know that anything is possible.

But remember, the process to get there might be a lot longer and a lot more complicated than your mind expects. Instead of getting frustrated and down about this, focus instead on what you are experiencing and learning along the way. Become more aware of the rules and expectations that are imposed upon you from the outside, and resist letting them tell you who you are and who you should be, what to feel and what to expect.

This ties into the idea that you are perfect. When you use outside expectations to determine your worth, you can never live up or be good enough. When you take the perspective that your heart knows the path of your soul, and that it’s all about the experience (that is yours alone), then you can’t help but be perfect because you are perfectly you. You are perfect by definition.

The world we live in today will not make this easy. It will fight you on this. Instead of thinking “it shouldn’t be that way!” understand that IT IS that way. But if you notice, the world is changing toward more acceptance of differences, more tolerance, less judgment about people who follow their hearts. At the same time, the resistance has become more crazy and vocal. As individuals change, society changes. And as society changes, that strikes fear in many. It’s just all part of the process.

I haven’t been writing so much lately. My mind tells me I “should.” And when I try from that place, the words don’t flow very well. But this one came so easily. It’s not just because my cardiovascular health is in front of me at the moment. This post comes from my heart, from a place that knows this concept of following your heart and trusting the process even when it seems impossible and takes forever is so important. I suspect (and hope) that there is someone reading this that knows this is meant for them, too, in a way that only they know.  Listen to your heart, and follow the synchronicities. Your soul knows what it’s doing.

 

And of course, right before I sat down to write this, my friend Briony posted this:

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Mutiny of the Soul (the best reblog ever)

Mutiny of the Soul

By Charles Eisenstein 

mutinyDepression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.

When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.

The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?

The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is, “Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?”

What if there is something so fundamentally wrong with the world, the lives, and the way of being offered us, that withdrawal is the only sane response? Withdrawal, followed by a reentry into a world, a life, and a way of being wholly different from the one left behind?

The unspoken goal of modern life seems to be to live as long and as comfortably as possible, to minimize risk and to maximize security. We see this priority in the educational system, which tries to train us to be “competitive” so that we can “make a living”. We see it in the medical system, where the goal of prolonging life trumps any consideration of whether, sometimes, the time has come to die. We see it in our economic system, which assumes that all people are motivated by “rational self-interest”, defined in terms of money, associated with security and survival. (And have you ever thought about the phrase “the cost of living”?) We are supposed to be practical, not idealistic; we are supposed to put work before play. Ask someone why she stays in a job she hates, and as often as not the answer is, “For the health insurance.” In other words, we stay in jobs that leave us feeling dead in order to gain the assurance of staying alive. When we choose health insurance over passion, we are choosing survival over life.

On a deep level, which I call the soul level, we want none of that. We recognize that we are here on earth to enact a sacred purpose, and that most of the jobs on offer are beneath our dignity as human beings. But we might be too afraid to leave our jobs, our planned-out lives, our health insurance, or whatever other security and comfort we have received in exchange for our divine gifts. Deep down, we recognize this security and comfort as slaves’ wages, and we yearn to be free.

So, the soul rebels. Afraid to make the conscious choice to step away from a slave’s life, we make the choice unconsciously instead. We can no longer muster the energy to go through the motions. We enact this withdrawal from life through a variety of means. We might summon the Epstein-Barr virus into our bodies, or mononucleosis, or some other vector of chronic fatigue. We might shut down our thyroid or adrenal glands. We might shut down our production of serotonin in the brain. Other people take a different route, incinerating the excess life energy in the fires of addiction. Either way, we are in some way refusing to participate. We are shying away from ignoble complicity in a world gone wrong. We are refusing to contribute our divine gifts to the aggrandizement of that world.

That is why the conventional approach of fixing the problem so that we can return to normal life will not work. It might work temporarily, but the body will find other ways to resist. Raise serotonin levels with SSRIs, and the brain will prune some receptor sites, thinking in its wisdom, “Hey, I’m not supposed to feel good about the life I am living right now.” In the end, there is always suicide, a common endpoint of the pharmaceutical regimes that seek to make us happy with something inimical to our very purpose and being. You can only force yourself to abide in wrongness so long. When the soul’s rebellion is suppressed too long, it can explode outward in bloody revolution. Significantly, all of the school shootings in the last decade have involved people on anti-depression medication. All of them! For a jaw-dropping glimpse of the results of the pharmaceutical regime of control, scroll down this compilation of suicide/homicide cases involving SSRIs. I am not using “jaw-dropping” as a figure of speech. My jaw literally dropped open.

Back in the 1970s, dissidents in the Soviet Union were often hospitalized in mental institutions and given drugs similar to the ones used to treat depression today. The reasoning was that you had to be insane to be unhappy in the Socialist Workers’ Utopia. When the people treating depression receive status and prestige from the very system that their patients are unhappy with, they are unlikely to affirm the basic validity of the patient’s withdrawal from life. “The system has to be sound — after all, it validates my professional status — therefore the problem must be with you.”

Unfortunately, “holistic” approaches are no different, as long as they deny the wisdom of the body’s rebellion. When they do seem to work, usually that is because they coincide with some other shift. When someone goes out and gets help, or makes a radical switch of modalities, it works as a ritual communication to the unconscious mind of a genuine life change. Rituals have the power to make conscious decisions real to the unconscious. They can be part of taking back one’s power.

I have met countless people of great compassion and sensitivity, people who would describe themselves as “conscious” or “spiritual”, who have battled with CFS, depression, thyroid deficiency, and so on. These are people who have come to a transition point in their lives where they become physically incapable of living the old life in the old world. That is because, in fact, the world presented to us as normal and acceptable is anything but. It is a monstrosity. Ours is a planet in pain. If you need me to convince you of that, if you are unaware of the destruction of forests, oceans, wetlands, cultures, soil, health, beauty, dignity, and spirit that underlies the System we live in, then I have nothing to say to you. I only am speaking to you if you do believe that there is something deeply wrong with the way we are living on this planet.

A related syndrome comprises various “attention deficit” and anxiety “disorders” (forgive me, I cannot write down these words without the ironic quotation marks) which reflect an unconscious knowledge that something is wrong around here. Anxiety, like all emotions, has a proper function. Suppose you left a pot on the stove and you know you forgot something, you just can’t remember what. You cannot rest at ease. Something is bothering you, something is wrong. Subliminally you smell smoke. You obsess: did I leave the water running? Did I forget to pay the mortgage? The anxiety keeps you awake and alert; it doesn’t let you rest; it keeps your mind churning, worrying. This is good. This is what saves your life. Eventually you realize — the house is on fire! — and anxiety turns into panic, and action.

So if you suffer from anxiety, maybe you don’t have a “disorder” at all — maybe the house is on fire. Anxiety is simply the emotion corresponding to “Something is dangerously wrong and I don’t know what it is.” That is only a disorder if there is in fact nothing dangerously wrong. “Nothing is wrong, just you” is the message that any therapy gives when it tries to fix you. I disagree with that message. The problem is not with you. You have very good reason to be anxious. Anxiety keeps part of your attention away from your tasks of polishing the silverware as the house burns down, of playing the violin as the Titanic sinks. Unfortunately, the wrongness you are tapping into might be beyond the cognizance of the psychiatrists who treat you, who then conclude that the problem must be your brain.

Similarly, Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, and my favorite, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are only disorders if we believe that the things presented for our attention are worth paying attention to. We cannot admit, without calling into question the whole edifice of our school system, that it may be completely healthy for a ten-year-old boy to not sit still for six hours in a classroom learning about long division and Vasco de Gama. Perhaps the current generation of children, that some call the Indigos, simply have a lower tolerance for school’s agenda of conformity, obedience, external motivation, right-and-wrong answers, the quantification of performance, rules and bells, report cards and grades and your permanent record. So we try to enforce their attention with stimulants, and subdue their heroic intuitive rebellion against the spirit-wrecking machine.

As I write about the “wrongness” against which we all rebel, I can hear some readers asking, “What about the metaphysical principle that it’s ‘all good’?” Just relax, I am told, nothing is wrong, all is part of the divine plan. You only perceive it as wrong because of your limited human perspective. All of this is only here for our own development. War: it gives people wonderful opportunities to make heroic choices and burn off bad karma. Life is wonderful, Charles, why do you have to make it wrong?

I am sorry, but usually such reasoning is just a sop to the conscience. If it is all good, then that is only because we perceive and experience it as terribly wrong. The perception of iniquity moves us to right it.

Nonetheless, it would be ignorant and fruitless to pass judgment upon those who do not see anything wrong, who, oblivious to the facts of destruction, think everything is basically fine. There is a natural awakening process, in which first we proceed full speed ahead participating in the world, believing in it, seeking to contribute to the Ascent of Humanity. Eventually, we encounter something that is undeniably wrong, perhaps a flagrant injustice or a serious health problem or a tragedy near at hand. Our first response is to think this is an isolated problem, remediable with some effort, within a system that is basically sound. But when we try to fix it, we discover deeper and deeper levels of wrongness. The rot spreads; we see that no injustice, no horror can stand in isolation. We see that the disappeared dissidents in South America, the child laborers in Pakistan, the clearcut forests of the Amazon, are all intimately linked together in a grotesque tapestry that includes every aspect of modern life. We realize that the problems are too big to fix. We are called to live in an entirely different way, starting with our most fundamental values and priorities.

All of us go through this process, repeatedly, in various realms of our lives; all parts of the process are right and necessary. The phase of full participation is a growth phase in which we develop gifts that will be applied very differently later. The phase of trying to fix, to endure, to soldier on with a life that isn’t working is a maturation phase that develops qualities of patience and determination and strength. The phase of discovering the all-encompassing nature of the problem is usually a phase of despair, but it need not be. Properly, it is a phase of rest, of stillness, of withdrawal, of preparation for a push. The push is a birth-push. Crises in our lives converge and propel us into a new life, a new being that we hardly imagine could exist, except that we’d heard rumors of it, echoes, and maybe even caught a glimpse of it here and there, been granted through grace a brief preview.

If you are in the midst of this process, you need not suffer if you cooperate with it. I can offer you two things. First is self-trust. Trust your own urge to withdraw even when a million messages are telling you, “The world is fine, what’s wrong with you? Get with the program.” Trust your innate belief that you are here on earth for something magnificent, even when a thousand disappointments have told you you are ordinary. Trust your idealism, buried in your eternal child’s heart, that says that a far more beautiful world than this is possible. Trust your impatience that says “good enough” is not good enough. Do not label your noble refusal to participate as laziness and do not medicalize it as an illness. Your heroic body has merely made a few sacrifices to serve your growth.

The second thing I can offer you is a map. The journey I have described is not always linear, and you may find yourself from time to time revisiting earlier territory. When you find the right life, when you find the right expression of your gifts, you will receive an unmistakable signal. You will feel excited and alive. Many people have preceded you on this journey, and many more will follow in times to come. Because the old world is falling apart, and the crises that initiate the journey are converging upon us. Soon many people will follow the paths we have pioneered. Each journey is unique, but all share the same basic dynamics I have described. When you have passed through it, and understood the necessity and rightness of each of its phases, you will be prepared to midwife others through it as well. Your condition, all the years of it, has prepared you for this. It has prepared you to ease the passage of those who will follow. Everything you have gone through, every bit of the despair, has been necessary to forge you into a healer and a guide. The need is great. The time is coming soon.

By Charles Eisenstein from his website – Creative Commons Copyright.
Feel free to copy and share.

Books by Charles Eisenstein

 

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Old Souls Experience These 6 Universal Problems (reblog)

Old Souls Experience These 6 Universal Problems

This article was inspired by 10 Universal Problems Old Souls Experience

Old souls are people who are just different in heart, mind and soul. These differences have led to some universal problems that each old soul can relate to.

Old Souls are special kind of persons who find themselves different, isolated, and alone since birth not because of their attitude, habits, or temperament, but rather because they are simply… old — in mind, in heart, and in soul.

In a phrase, they are different — a difference for which the world has never become accustomed to.

Hence, old souls have come to experience (almost universally) one or more of the following problems in life:

1. They Are Often Misunderstood

Old souls are often perceived as strange people because of their lack of interest in worldly possessions, their unconventional ideas, and their standards of living.

In a world where consumerism is linked directly with one’s right of self determination; where wealth, authority, power, and income are a measure of personal respect and self-esteem; and where communities, relations, and sense of belonging and purpose are created by ones ambition, old soul’s evident separation from the “real world” is uncanny.

Furthermore, in an age where everyone accepts wearing masks in society and try their best to uphold their image, the “different” set of expectations that old souls demonstrate through their character, day-to-day lives, and how they treat people, often raise red flags.

All of this creates a gulf, making it hard for them to truly communicate with others, often resulting in them being left misunderstood.

2. Their Intuitive Decisions Are Considered Illogical And Not Taken Seriously

Old souls understand the inherent power of intuition, accepting it as a language of their inner self, and hence rely on this gut instinct to make personal and professional decisions.

Their continued use often sharpens their intuition to the point that they are often found relying on intuition to make “informed” decisions.

Given that intuition was relegated as an unreasonable form of human faculty throughout the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and post-Enlightenment epochs, and that remnants of that thought still find authority in our contemporary world, many people resist accepting it.

Hence, when old souls rely on their intuition to make a decision, people often find the “logic” behind it unreasonable.

3. People Can’t Grasp Their Forgiving And Easygoing Nature

Old souls look at life philosophically, often pondering the circumstances that different people from different backgrounds, cultures, locations, and religions may have experienced; their limiting biases and beliefs and perspectives, and more.

Hence, they gain a deeper sense of empathy for people around them — allowing them to be forgiving to misconducts and misbehavior with ease.

Furthermore, old souls take life non-linearly, with good days and bad days ebbing and flowing through it.

They realize the interconnectedness of life, and hence take it one moment at a time. Their easy going nature and their ability to be forgiving towards others and towards themselves allows them to see each obstacle in life as an opportunity to learn.

In a world where failure is stigmatized as an “end of most things”, the ability of old souls to accept it so easily is nothing less than mind-boggling. It often creates a perception that they were nor serious enough about it in the first place.

4. They are Often Seen as Social Outcasts and Loners

Old Souls believe in developing and nurturing meaningful, impactful, and lasting relationships in all facets of their lives.

They strive to spend their energies building a few close relations rather than a platoon of acquaintances they hardly know.

Consequently, they loathe being pressurized to socialize more, and hence come to be seen as loners or social outcasts.

5. Old Souls Yearn for Solitude

Old Souls are always comfortable with their selves, often seeking solitude for themselves. They draw their energy from within themselves, and so self-reflection and isolation recharge them.

However, it often comes at the expense of frustrating their family and friends.

6. People Gravitate Towards Them, but They Find It Hard To Disengage

Perhaps it is their serene personalities, their heightened sensitivity and consequent (uncontrolled) empathic reactions that etch gentleness across their features, or it’s their aura, the fact of the matter is that people get drawn towards old souls.

Hence, old souls often find themselves on the listening end of people who may be complete strangers, unable to disengage from the conversation or stop themselves from being sensitive, empathic, and expressive towards the other person.

Their sense of duty often clashes with their yearning for isolation.

If you want to learn more about old souls, you are kindly invited to follow this link.

This article was inspired by 10 Universal Problems Old Souls Experience, which was written by Don Mateo Sol. He is the author and co-founder of popular spiritual website LonerWolf.com. As a shamanic practitioner, teacher and soul guide, Sol has helped to lead thousands of people throughout the world on their journeys of self-discovery, healing and wholeness. You can follow Sol’s work on Facebook.

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You are a Living Library (reblog)

From the original:

To read this Message in its entirety, scroll to Day 145 at: https://mayanmessages.wordpress.com/days-144-156/

Please include this web address when posting and sharing with others.   Many blessings, Theresa Crabtree

You are a Living Library

Greetings, I am Chicchan 2 and we welcome you to this time of sharing. We are most grateful to be a part of your life, with the ability to share our knowledge with you. As you aspire to reach higher goals for yourself, know that we are always available to assist you in whatever manner you choose.

This day we would like to share some of our wisdom regarding the evolution of your soul. The word evolution in its most basic sense means, “to change.” Each of you in every moment of your existence is in flux; there is no-thing in all of creation that remains static for any length of time.

In your special condition as a human on Earth, the rules are different than those in other places of physicality. You have the ability in this Realm to know you are the boatman controlling the rudder, yet many in your Dimension do not adhere to this belief code. They let others run their lives, telling them what to believe, how to think, what to wear, what to eat and keep themselves in the realm of servitude.

There is nothing wrong with these things, although it severely limits your thinking and forces you to relinquish much of your free will. This is a sad state of affairs indeed. Know that you came into this world accepting the separation from the knowledge of your Spirit Self. It was the adventure of this experience that drew you here. Each of you has seeded within you the desire to know more, to experience something grander.

As this desire nags at you, it creates the impulse to seek something better. Most of you feel that riches or grandeur is the answer. However, when you master these things, you still find within you a great emptiness. Often, this emptiness leads you back home to reunite closer with family and friends, yet there is still an unfilled niche inside your soul. As you attempt various adventures and follow many paths, there is always something that is lacking.

This feeling of lack is the communion you had with Spirit. Many find solace in their religions, yet still do not connect with their Creator. This often happens as a result of what is preached in the pulpit. When faced weekly with sermons of hell and damnation, there is a feeling of imbalance created within those who are seeking Truth. When the pulpits are expounding on a Creator who is filled with love and mercy, there is hope that one can move forward in anticipation of creating direct communion with this Source.

It is up to you individually to choose how much time and effort you are willing to put forth in order to create a relationship with the Creator. This is where your salvation lies; we are not speaking of heaven or hell. Your salvation lies in the fact that you will release the nagging feeling of emptiness and commune consciously with the Source that fills your Being with love and compassion.

No longer will you need to seek solace outside yourself. When you tap into Source and know you are loved beyond measure, your time and energy are freed to begin life anew. You will find joy in all things you do, even those that previously were mundane. You will accept the riches and possessions you have with gratitude and create a desire to share your wealth with others. Those whose time is filled with love and gratitude will find great joy in simple experiences, such as watching the sun rise and set.

Your dreams will unfold as you learn to use this newfound time and energy to manifest your desires. When you come from a heart of pure love, we are eager to assist you in reaching these goals. You have the power within you, this moment, to ignite this passion. Your connection to Source comes from within, a knowingness that all is well and that you are pure Spirit.

Unlock the belief codes that keep you entrenched in feelings of “less than” and servitude. Release the fears and pain that have caused you to restrict your energy flow. Allow your energy to flow, affecting all around you as you radiate love toward all; this is your birthright. This is the reason you came to Earth at this time. You are here for one final run at moving the Earth toward a new vibration. You are a part of the soul-ution, with unique gifts to share.

No longer are you burdened with concerns of being burned at the stake or fed to lions. There are too many of you to allow these things to occur. No longer will you risk losing your family or job because of your spiritual beliefs, the laws have been set up to protect you. No longer do you need to be burdened with where your next meal will come from if you take the time to grow your own food. At this time in history, there is a resurgence in the return to Nature. By going back to your roots, you as a people have the ability to restore the Earth to her natural pristine state and once again live in the Garden of Eden.

It will take effort, but there are many who have set the foundation; perhaps you are one of them. Now is the time to build upon that foundation and create a world where love, peace and respect are dominant. Many refer to this as a return of the feminine. What we propose is to look at this time as a blending of both masculine and feminine energy. Both have their place and together they create balance.

We ask you to ponder these words and to see yourself anew. Take time to gaze into your eyes in a mirror and remind yourself that you are a child of God, of pure Essence. We also suggest that you do the following exercise with others, in which two of you gazes into each other’s eyes while pouring unconditional love into each other. Remind the other person, either verbally or through your mind, that they are loved beyond measure.

Know that not only are you a child of God, but that you are a part of the wholeness of Source. Picture yourself as a hologram of original Source, completely whole. Know that you are not separated from Source, that you are temporarily playing a part in a role you have chosen. Your role on Earth is important for all of creation, for it allows all to experience everything through you.

Not all of you wish to be a truck driver or a preacher. Not all of you desire to experience poverty or success. Even those who never incarnate on this Earth have the ability to tap into the emotions and situations that you experience through the Akashic Records. Each of you has the ability to experience anything through another without having to go through an entire lifetime on a specific planet.

Can you imagine having a desire to witness what it would be like to be on the battlefield at Gettysburg and have the ability to do so without actually going through the torment and triumph of those who were a part of the event? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to attend a concert with the most Angelic music on Earth? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to view Mt. Everest from the summit without climbing the mountain?

Anything that has occurred can be accessed through the Akashic Records. Each of you is a living library. As your body logs information during your daily walk, it is downloaded into the Records as you sleep, where it can be accessed by anyone. Most humans access these records during their sleep because they are not familiar with the process on a conscious level. There are many on Earth consciously tapping into this resource to find answers and to have experiences that you have had. We will speak more on this topic at a later time.

Know that you are a living library. Every action you take, every emotion you feel is logged. It is important. You are unique. Only you can experience things in the way that you do. These records are stored for eternity. There are many who live on faraway planets, yet are able to access these records for their personal enjoyment and to receive keys to create their world. There is much value in everything you do.

Have you ever learned not to do something by watching the pain another went through when they experienced a particular event? This is one reason why someone would search the Records, to avoid unpleasant experiences. Have you ever had tremendous insight or unexplainably received an answer to a problem you were grappling with? It is possible you entered the Records while sleeping and found what you were seeking there.

These Records are open to you at anytime. You are adding to these Records every moment. They are rich with information and resources. What makes them of highest value is that others can experience the emotions of others, as well. Unlike dictionaries that only show data and photographs, you can actually tap into how an antelope feels when chased by a lion. You can actually feel what a mother bird experiences when her eggs begin to hatch. You will be able to feel what a seed experiences as it sprouts and reaches toward the sun.

All things have a consciousness, yet on a diverse level. There will come a time when those of you on Earth will remember and experience these things once again. This is the true nature of the Garden of Eden. All things were once in communion. There was no need for anything, for all was freely provided. Humans and animals lived in harmony. Plants and animals gave of themselves freely knowing all was perfect and in balance. The fields were lush, providing nourishment for all. The water was pure with no need for filtration. Housing was simple, there was no need for walls or roofs, for the environment was not harsh.

You are moving back towards this level of harmony. The quickest route is for each of you to go within and to learn to love and respect yourself. Once you regain the ability to manage yourself, then you will spread this love and respect to others. It is your gift to humanity. Begin today; do not delay. Ah, another mantra for your mirror.

Selamet!  Chicchan 2

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Failure, Choices and Honesty

Over the last 24 hours, the following three posts came to my attention, in the following order:

I got a lot from reading these three posts.  Maybe you will, too :).

Here’s a sample from the first, about how to make choices:

Shift your attention. Your attention, as you have learned in this life, is given to thinking about and understanding what to do next and how to do it. We would offer a much simpler and easier to apply guideline for you to follow, and one that will put you into far closer touch with the greater self that you are. Move your attention as often as possible to your heart. What does that mean? It means asking yourself, “how does that make me feel?’ “How will it make me feel?” “How do I feel about that?” “How can I feel better?”

Now the feelings that you have are a language in themselves you know. They are the way in which the greater self that you are speaks to you in each moment of your life. You have been conditioned over vast reaches of time to ignore this and proceed as if it were unimportant. But when you begin to pay attention, you will find that it will become what is referred to as The Still, Small Voice Within. It is the I Am. Listen to her. Listen to him. And don’t only listen. Find ways to act upon what you hear, what you feel.

A couple bits from the second:

You choose your priorities. There may be many reasons why you choose the priorities you do and why you do not choose the priorities you do not choose. It is best to be outright honest with yourself.

and

What obstacles do you have that you give in to?

The point here is not to kid yourself.

And from the third link:

And here is the advice Trungpa Rinpoche gave me. He said, “Well, it’s a lot like walking into the ocean, and a big wave comes and knocks you over. And you find yourself lying on the bottom with sand in your nose and in your mouth. And you are lying there, and you have a choice. You can either lie there, or you can stand up and start to keep walking out to sea.”

So, basically, you stand up, because the “lying there” choice equals dying.

Metaphorically lying there is what a lot of us choose to do at that point. But you can choose to stand up and start walking, and after a while another big wave comes and knocks you down.

You find yourself at the bottom of the ocean with sand in your nose and sand in your mouth, and again you have the choice to lie there or to stand up and start walking forward.

“So the waves keep coming,” he said. “And you keep cultivating your courage and bravery and sense of humor to relate to this situation of the waves, and you keep getting up and going forward.”

Trungpa then said, “After a while, it will begin to seem to you that the waves are getting smaller and smaller. And they won’t knock you over anymore.”

That is good life advice.

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Wisdom From Anne Lamott

Today, I must share Anne Lamott’s facebook post from yesterday.  Here it is:

I am going to be 61 years old in 48 hours. Wow. I thought i was only forty-seven, but looking over the paperwork, I see that I was born in 1954. My inside self does not have an age, although can’t help mentioning as an aside that it might have been useful had I not followed the Skin Care rules of the sixties, ie to get as much sun as possible, while slathered in baby oil. (My sober friend Paul O said, at eighty, that he felt like a young man who had something wrong with him.). Anyway, I thought I might take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today.

  1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.
  1. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
  1. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of last way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date it. This is the most horrible truth.
  1. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides. Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober. But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.
  1. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
  1. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born
  1. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine. The most degraded and sometimes nearly-evil men I have known were all writers who’d had bestsellers. Yet, it is also a miracle to get your work published (see #1.). Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes. It won’t, it can’t. But writing can. So can singing.
  1. Families; hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. (See #1 again.) At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.
  1. Food; try to do a little better.
  1. Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Dick Cheney and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost; but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it.
  1. God; Goodnesss, Love energy, the Divine, a loving animating intelligence, the Cosmic Muffin. You will worship and serve something, so like St. Bob said, you gotta choose. You can play on our side, or Bill Maher’s and Franklin Graham’s. Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up. My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up. If they did, they could fly to freedom.
  1. Faith: Paul Tillich said the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. If I could say one thing to our little Tea Party friends, it would be this. Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes. The love of our incredible dogs and cats is the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God; although cats can be so bitter, which is not the god part: the crazy Love is. Also, “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.
  1. Jesus; Jesus would have even loved horrible, mealy-mouth self-obsessed you, as if you were the only person on earth. But He would hope that you would perhaps pull yourself together just the tiniest, tiniest bit–maybe have a little something to eat, and a nap.
  1. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don’t go by what I say.
  1. Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. The first thing God says to Moses is, “Take off your shoes.” We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know.

I think that’s it, everything I know. I wish I had shoe-horned in what E.L. Doctorow said about writing: “It’s like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little aways ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way.” I love that, because it’s teue about everything we tey. I wish I had slipped in what Ram Das said, that when all is said and done, we’re just all walking each other home. Oh, well, another time. God bless you all good.

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