Monday, January 11, 2021
Friday, November 27, 2020
COVID gives me much time to contemplate things. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness through meditation and contemplation helps me not ruminate about the past or make up futuristic stories to become upset about. In this strange COVID place I have burned through many books and binge watched a variety of shows. I have also learned more about my own mental processing and found ways to not waste too much time and energy, but to use that energy wisely.
Enter into my world in my early processing on a documentary that I discovered on Amazon Prime called, "Sensitive: The Untold Story". This is the story of the reframing of overly sensitive as highly sensitive people. We take sensitive out of the negative assumption basket and place it in the positve assumption category. As someone who tries to help people find a more peaceful, satisfying way of relating to the world, I knew that something like this would require more of my being than I usually want to expend on television watching. The researcher on this bit is one Dr. Elaine Aron. As is often the case, my ego argued for weeks that I did not need to watch it. I would see the title come up, start the program and then become overstimulated and run away. I have learned that when my ego bucks something, I probably need to watch the egoic function and then listen to the non reactive part of me that eagerly says, "this is important". This paragraph is a great example of how knowing yourself and listening deeply helps a great deal to not be triggered even in chaos.
This documentary was done in 2015 which means much has been added to the base of Dr. Aron's insights as more people processed it, applied it and saw the connection to other things. "Sensitive" helped me explore my own bias against being sensitive. As a child and as an adult I have often been called "overly sensitive".
This trait is not a positive thing in the eyes of many but it can be most helpful. As a secretary in my early adulthood, the trait helped me read difficult bosses (all male), and find ways to get along with a variety of personality types. It also added to my deep biases (assumptions) based on negative judgments. I got triggered into over reactivity by men who seem to rely heavily on their dominance and use of brute force to get what they want in our culture. We can all be condescending and demanding in many different ways and it is always about our own fear of not being seen and heard. We can all be triggered. Being triggered means my survival instincts have kicked into gear making my ego go into overdrive. Learning our triggers helps us stay calm.
After returning to school and becoming credentialed to be a Clinical Social Worker with a Masters Degree, I realized I could read clients emotions and have insight into possible assumptions even when clients were too afraid to tell me. When used in the right amount, this Overly sensitive trait can help me help them have great insights into behavior. Trust is a key component in being able to thrive in any relationship, and the more complex the relationship, the greater the trust needed. Client/therapist is complex. Parent/child is complex. Even third generation once removed (In-law, grands) relationships are complex. Significant other relationships are complex. Stage of life in combination with these roles is complex. Read this as all relationships introduce complexity to a situation. When we cannot make necessary adjustments in relationships, the complexity can lead to schisms/breaks and even terminations of the relationship.
So if you watch Sensitive: The Untold Story and relate to a Jean kind of brain, go to https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/. This will help you sort out the complex connections between HSP, Empaths, Introverts and Narcissism. I truly love google at times like this, because I have learned that if questions pop up about all that for me, it does and has for others as well. Those five years since the making of the documentary have lead to considerable insights and studies about these traits.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
She left home at 18 to work as a waitress in a small town in Oklahoma. My dad came into the small cafe to eat and was smitten. He was 5 years older and was a printer by trade, a journeyman kind of position. By my mom’s standards raised by a sharecropping farmer, he was a step up. She at first thought his admiring glances and quaintly flirtatious behavior was him “looking down his nose” at her. Dad saw her the first time when he was getting off a shift and was still covered in the ink and grime from the printing presses. Mom had been slinging hash all night, so neither felt particularly attractive, I imagine. Dad was undeterred by her failure to respond so he cleaned up, returned and won her heart and hand in marriage. My brother was born 10 months later. Dad moved around the small newspapers of Oklahoma for a short time until he found a job with a bigger newspaper in Wichita Falls, Texas. I was 6 months old when they moved from Paul’s Valley, Okla. to his new job. It was post World War II, and there was little housing available when we moved. They lived for a short time in a converted “chicken shed” until they could purchase a post war newly constructed home, a two bedroom, one bath, frame home with a rather large yard. My brother and I shared the second bedroom. Cost of the home was $7,000. I grew up in that home.
Mom truly did love me as only a mother can. She cooked, cleaned, sewed all my clothes, grew vegetables in our huge backyard garden, canned those vegetables and made huge amounts of jelly and preserves, and managed to make my father's salary pay for most of what was needed. She was highly anxious and worried a great deal. She cooked and showed her love through a never empty cookie jar (except when she was working that low paying job). She showed her love to my sons through her cinnamon rolls which they adored. Dinners always consisted of meat, at least two vegetables sometimes more, homemade rolls, and a homemade dessert. When things got too tight, she worked as a clerk in what we used to call variety stores (think Dollar Store). She had no idea how to handle me because my smart mouth sparked her anger and the result was not pretty. She accepted my nontraditional life style when it was not common for parents to do so.
I have repented and asked mom beyond her grave for forgiveness of how horribly I treated her. I feel that she gave me that with her heartfelt proclamation of her love for me before she died. My journey of healing finally lead me to recognize my own deep shame which was rooted in me feeling like I was never enough. Once I identified that, I chose to let it go by remembering that I have always done my best. I forgave me for all the unkind things I have said and done by applying The Four Agreements to my thinking process. To make this long story short, I forgave her bit by bit, memory by memory, which lead to the unveiling of my own shame and things for which I needed to forgive me. This takes unflinching honesty, but is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
May you all forgive, may you all love yourselves. This is the message of my tribute to my mom who truly always did her best, and I now see her sacrifice and love with my whole being. Mom was charitable not only to me but to all who needed it. She gave out her canned goods, her homemade pies, cookies and cakes and cared for neighbors with acts of service. One of my first memories is of her caring for a neighbors young son. The two older children were hospitalized with polio and no one wanted to risk their own safety because so little was known about how it spread. Mom and Dad just took him in until the family could get their other two children home from the hospital. She gave without needing to be asked. I really am so much like you, which is the greatest compliment any of us can get. Thank you mom, for enduring a pregnancy that was 9 months of hyperemesis gravidarum while parenting my three year old brother while dad worked nights.Thank you for forgiving me without being asked for not being thankful for all you did, all you sacrificed for me, all the worry I caused you. I love you, Martha Miriam Jones Johnson.
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Within the individual, the pain of past events waits to spring out when the current situation mirrors past emotions/thoughts/events. That pain causes a flood of self-protection/self-recrimination/guilt/resentments that completely obscures the big picture. The details in the left overwhelms/or high jacks our mental processing. The wise overseer (silent watcher) or right hemisphere seer of the big picture cannot be heard due to the left hemisphere taking up so much of the bandwidth. When you have a moment of being impressed with something you think or feel and think, "Where did that come from", it is from your right hemisphere, silent observer, enlightened self, getting a word in edgewise. The goal of being present is to have the full capacity of both sides of the brain. The two sides should be working in constant cooperation. Unfortunately we get hung up on the minutiae of who is right and who is wrong, and us against them thinking which is predominant in our left brains.
These thoughts were tumbling around last night while I watched an episode of "A Million Little Things". Suddenly, my pain body (long buried grief, resentment, sense of rejection) which hangs out with the ego part of my left brain was triggered by the depiction on the show of something that happened long ago to me. I found myself sobbing, but the whole time my calming right hemisphere reassured me and pointed out what was going on. I did not feel as I had in the past when something brought those feelings up, like I was underwater and drowning. I told no one about the trauma for many years. When I finally did tell others, the emotions of it remained buried. I have "known" from the right hemisphere that we must Face, Feel, and Forgive for a long time and had done as best I could (Ruiz's "Four Agreements"). We cannot skip over the feeling it, but sometimes we need the proper tools. I had Faced (seen it, labelled it) it but had not felt it. As a result, I had been unsuccessful in Forgiving it. Until you feel it, you are prone to subject it to the categorizing, comparing, us against them left brain processing without embracing the big picture. When I apply feeling and get the big picture of we are all connected, many of those false beliefs can fall away and truth can emerge within me.
The answer may be to help people learn to experience being present by noticing thoughts and feelings and applying that to everyday life. They must have skills to not flee from the oldest, biggest, most overwhelming pain when it emerges, and then, can simply notice it, label it and release it no matter how big it feels. Not being able to forgive it caused me to continue too suffer and to be tripped when the pain was triggered by someone doing something that felt like that long ago betrayal. My left hemisphere gathered the facts and a label for it but did not apply it at the deepest level of hurt. The emotions were not processed, so they came up every time there was a felt betrayal by someone I trusted. Deep, gut wrenching sadness, fear and resentment lay beneath ongoing reactions. The closer the relationship with the one by whom I felt betrayed, the more it hurt. I realized that I had been utilizing the insights from my right hemisphere in a really good way for decades as a therapist. I "instinctively" (right brain) knew what my clients who had been traumatized needed to hear and learn, and made sure they received that from me. Being present allows us to regain our full mental and emotional capacities. When I was ready (last night), that long buried initial pain trauma surfaced and could be quickly released by applying the ability to be present. Being present had already increased my capacity to love and care for myself. It had also already impacted my ability to love others. This foundation is a key to progress in being present and learning to use both hemispheres. United I stand. I am connected. I am one. United we stand. We are all connected. We are all one in this amazing universe.
Sunday, December 23, 2018
- Read and apply in that moment,
- Underline and apply in that moment
- Apply when you notice a reaction
- Do not resist the reactive emotion but just notice it
- Feel the emotion
- Continue to watch for thoughts (sometimes they disappear as soon as you notice and feel the emotion!)
- If the thoughts continue, breath,
- say "I am"
- Take a moment when you are in having a conversation to clear a space and remember to be present
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Some people become enlightened in a moment. Others become enlightened based on a daily practice. My journey has been marked by meditative practices, by finding authors and teachers who gave me increased insight, by finding new tools and by having friends to talk with as I journeyed toward mindfulness. I have had moments of awakening that changed my life, but I still struggled with thoughts and feelings that disrupted my mindfulness. Because I have continued to have moments when I was not mindful, this would cause harm through thoughts and words to myself and others. I seek being awake and mindful and harming no one.
The best part of this ongoing process is that my son and fitness coach is also working on becoming more mindful. We talk about authors, books and insights during weekly weight training workouts. During 2018, he read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and asked me to read it. I found this book to contain what has become a daily practice. I list them here briefly. I encourage you to read the book. It is quite short and worth your time. May it be the glove you put on every morning (and repeatedly) to help you stay mindful. Self-love is the key to being kind and loving toward others, and these agreements definitely promote increased love and compassion toward self and others. If you choose to use them, remember to apply them with love and humor. When my thoughts are not impeccable (1), I take things personally (2), or I make assumptions (3), I give myself a gentle nudge and reminder by pointing to the fact that I always do my best (4).
Agreement 1: I agree I will have impeccable thoughts and words toward MYSELF and ALL others. I found this a bit challenging in these days of social media posts but very helpful to reset me, especially in traffic or when identifying negative thoughts toward myself. It really helps with loving kindness towards self and others. I use loving words toward myself and others. I do not judge or blame myself or you as those negative thoughts will cause me to be more negative toward me and others. I strive to use my words for truth and love and gratitude and not for anger, jealousy, envy or hate. Impeccable words can transcend this world from one of suffering to one of joy.
Agreement 2: I agree I will not take things personally. We have all heard this, but when I read Ruiz's discussion of Toltec beliefs, it made it really sync with my head. You see the Toltecs believed we are all asleep and have our own dreamworld based on everything we have learned, both intentional and unintentional. Our beliefs are not reality or truth, but we feel they are. Our thoughts are just thoughts based on past learning. Our purpose in life is to wake up to this by being present in every moment. By doing this, we learn to notice our thoughts but not let them decide our actions and words. I do not take things personally because what you say to or about me is about your dream world and has nothing to do with who I am. You can only know me by asking questions and me answering. It helps neither of us if I respond out of my dream world and get offended. If I FEEL offended, I must realize I took what you said personally and simply need to notice this rather than act on it. I can do this by remembering that each thought is simply one of tens of thousands I will have each day and is not truth. I do this by remembering how little we really know about each other, no matter how long we have known each other.
Agreement 3: I agree I will not make assumptions about anyone or anything. I ask questions to learn more. We are too often afraid to ask questions. If asking questions is not possible (because it is about someone or something in the past) or profitable because I am aware from experience that the person is unable to speak honestly, I simply dismiss the story I am telling myself, moving on in the present moment and staying out of the past or present. I try to stay clear of the trap of making assumptions and taking things personally. These things can lead to gossip which is definitely not impeccable. When I ask questions, I increase my understanding and decrease the the potential for hurtful words and thoughts. When I recognize that what you say about me comes out of your dreamworld, I know it has nothing to do with who I am.
Agreement 4: I agree that I always do my best. This helps me not judge myself when my thoughts are not impeccable, I take things personally, or I make assumptions. I will not profit from looking back and critiquing my behavior which results in blaming myself or others. I accept that I always do my best. I cannot go back because the past no longer exists. I can only be present in the now. I agree to do my best, to learn to be fully present in every moment. I agree to see you (me), hear you (me) and ask questions of you(me). This is my best.
If you are on the journey toward mindfulness, are thinking about the possibility of becoming more present and mindful, try using these agreements to help you in the process. It is very helpful to have people who are also working on mindfulness to support your journey.
Next up: "The Power of Now" - because I need to know how to handle all those misguided thoughts and feelings.
Monday, July 16, 2018
She loved my backyard. She would sometimes tromp about in my Jasmine and monkey grass or just look regal lying in the St. Augustine under my majestic pecan trees. She supervised the grands when they were drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles or playing in the sprinkler. She would help keep the squirrels properly in their places in the trees.
In recent months her age of 13 on a 65 pound shepherd size dog had taken its toll. Her hind legs would sometimes just refuse to bear her weight, and she would have to take a rest until one of us gave her an assist or she felt sufficient energy to get up. Her eyes were not as sharp as they once had been and her walk was slower as she favored her stiff joints. She used to go on walks for several blocks with me but in recent times, we would make it for just a few houses. She still insisted I take her for a turn. She smelled every blade of grass and especially loved the spring flowers on the corner this year. I would muse as we walked that I hoped someone would take me for walks when I am her commiserate age of 91, just far enough for me to admire the sights and smells of nature. My dog, much smaller but also 13, would go for walks with Havana and me a couple of years ago. That was quite a sight with a 6 pound dog on one leash and a 65 pound dog on the other. I called us the "Golden Girls" (see the picture below taken by my oldest grand daughter when she was 4 after a walk with both dogs). Recently, I had to learn to take the dogs on separate walks when Havana was visiting so I could let each savor their time on leash.
Sadly, Havana went on one last walk on July 8. She managed an escape from her yard. During the week that she was missing, before we found out the end of her story, I helped go by animal services on a regular basis to walk the kennels looking for her. The staff was quick to let us know they were not always able to keep up with everything so the best answer was to go look. Ultimately, the family was able to find closure by putting up posters and placing them in their neighbors mailboxes. If you are thinking of lecturing, she was chipped and was wearing her collar with her tag. The posters resulted in a neighbor providing the answer as to what happened. I will leave it at that.
Havana had a relatively long, and healthy life. She had some great moments judging from the smiles I saw on her face. I miss her and know from previous deaths of my loved ones, she will enter my thoughts regularly. Today I cannot quite enjoy my backyard without some thinking of the loss, but I know that soon instead of feeling sadness I will feel only joy in my various memories of her.
I find that I think more about what is important in life and the imminence of death as I age. Havana had it right about how to live life. She lived in the moment. If someone dropped a bite of food she quickly noticed and seized the opportunity for a treat. If you looked like you wanted to share a bite she also noticed and relished it when you offered it. She let you know when something was bothering her (strangers, squirrels, a need to go check the backyard). She never left us questioning whether she loved us as she looked with her adoring eyes into our eyes or gave us a nudge with her nose. She was always close behind my grands in line to greet me when I visited her house. She did not seem to take things personally when corrected, in fact, she might ignore you, figuring, I guess, that your words were about your mood more than what she was doing. She did not appear to worry about what would happen next. She received each smell, taste, sight or sound with every fiber of her being.
The moral for me is: Be present, be mindful, and be in the moment. Moments are precious and unpredictable. Perhaps you can take this blog as a challenge to love and live fully in each moment and not waste time worrying about the future and being tortured by the past.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
My resolution was to increase my mindfulness practice by trying to spend time weekly in my meditation practice. I downloaded some apps to assist me with this, one of which recorded my efforts. On that particular app, I logged 42.5 hours of meditation during 2016. There was more that was not logged there, but that is the bulk of it. Much of this was done in 6-10 minutes segments. It turns out that this resolution helped me withstand a quite difficult situation. For large periods of the year my meditation efforts were completed daily.
In 2016, I was encouraged to apply for a promotion at the company where I worked. I was generally content with what I was doing but was becoming a trifle bored which happens in about 5 year increments for me. I planned to work two and a half more years and retire. I had shared this with my supervisor. I talked myself into applying for the promotion and accepted it. I told myself I was already splitting time between the new position and my old one. I thought the pay bump would help me put more aside for retirement, and that I might as well be paid for the responsibility.
I worked both jobs for most of the year with increasing emphasis on the new job beginning in May. As I was given more responsibility for the new job, I found myself experiencing overwhelming critical oversight from multiple sources. I had many voices telling me I needed to do more and master all things immediately.
My reaction to the stress shocked me. In retrospect, I have diagnosed myself with emotional reactions relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from childhood experiences with a critical, unpredictable adult. I found myself reverting to behaviors which I thought had been extinguished. Under the pressure of constant critiquing I felt frozen (flight or fight). This paralysis caused me to be unable to fluently voice my opinions, to silence the micro managers or to keep those who answered to me in line. My irritability increased. None of this was in keeping with the professional persona I developed for myself during the last 50 years. I was working 7 days a week and not finding the time to do self-care. My five year old granddaughter asked why she no longer was invited to spend the night with me. I am a family oriented person. Hurting a family member with my work behavior was unacceptable to me.
In September, the voices of criticism increased in volume as did my flight or fight reactions. I was offered the options of being placed on a plan of correction in the new job or being replaced in the new job and returning full-time to my old one. I would have to return to my old salary when I returned full-time to the old position. I agreed to go back to the old position as I felt that the plans of correction I had seen never ended well. I was asked to continue in the new job while they looked for a replacement and to accept the demotion to my old job but could keep the current salary until they replaced me. They would cease looking for a replacement for that old position and keep it for me. I had been doing both jobs for six months at this point. I would have to continue to do both jobs "until a suitable replacement was found". They had been searching for a replacement for my old job for five months at that point.
I found myself forced to make a decision about my future. I did not like the choices I had, but it seemed inevitable that I had to do something distasteful and alien to me. With over fifty years as an employee, I have never even had a poor review much less been faced with a plan of correction or demotion. Fate intervened for me.
In October, a company wide early retirement package was offered for any who qualified and I applied. I was awarded the package and retired from the company in January at full pay for the promotion I was given in May. This meant I would not have to take a demotion or be placed on a plan of correction.
I am reinventing my life for the next era. I did not know how much of me I had misplaced until about a month into my retirement. As normalcy returns, I can sleep more than 4-5 hours. I can truly smell the flowers again. I am taking my meditation to the next level, re-developing a social life, and enjoying my family.
Without my daily meditation practice and listening to Audio Dharma on my commute to work each day during the second half of 2016, I surely would have run emotionally from the building and quit which would not have ultimately been in my best interests.
I had no idea how crucial to my future well-being my 2016 New Years Resolution would be. Remember this as you struggle with the resolutions you made for 2017. Namaste
Saturday, January 16, 2016
My awareness of thoughts and how they can create or destroy inner peace has been a recurring theme for the last few months. I have found myself having frequent conversations about mindfulness and realizing a renewed awareness of its importance. I have been using more breath work to keep me centered and calm when I feel my emotions surging in negative directions.
I decided that it was time to start further exercising the contemplative aspects of my life in 2016. Taking time to be purposefully mindful is a key to increasing one's practice of being mindful. It operates on the same principal of taking care of one's body. You do not have to exercise your body every day and eat healthy things every meal, but every time that you do increases your sense of well-being.
I decided to set up a little corner of my life to accommodate a place to be mindful. I pulled out an old plant stand, set up the things I like to have to help me center and calm my mind, and made a decision to take a few minutes frequently to meditate. I have things from the past that I have used but have been remiss in taking the time to do so in recent years. I bought a small rug to put under my zafu (meditation cushion) since my wooden floors are a bit chilly in the winter. No other expenditure was necessary.
This habit has not been exercised in recent years, so I am dusting it off and building my stamina. To my delight, I am up to 15 minutes in a setting and have meditated 5 of the last 6 days. It really does help to be accountable to others about it. I have told a couple of friends of my intent.
What is the importance of meditation? In this crazy, busy world that we live in, in which we can use all manner of electronic entertainment to keep our minds engaged in often distressing news and negative energy, it is a place of calm. As you clear your mind and invite peace and love to be the center of your thoughts, amazing clarity comes.
Meditation is a place where you can see your connection to all living beings. In a world that often wants to point out our differences, which by the way are all just thoughts and not reality, it brings unity.
May 2016 contain an abundance of peace and love for each of you.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
As I do my best to practice, I decided to embrace each moment and really had little planned in the way of celebration besides being mindful and spending a little time with the family on Saturday. On Thursday I decided I wanted to finally replace my well worn recliner. A shopping trip to Rooms To Go found the perfect leather recliner with a push button control. It is both beautiful and very comfortable. They will deliver it on Wednesday, so I have been prepping my dog, since we always share it. She is pretty excited about it. I felt festive all day about it and still do.
When I got up Friday morning I sang Happy Birthday to me. As I was drying my hair I noticed a voicemail had come in. It was from Mike, his wife and two kids. The three older family members sang it, and at the end they all said "Bye"and wished me a great day. The baby (turns one on November 11) said "Bye" at the very end after his sister did. At that point I could not stop smiling and thought how awesome that was. I was glad it was recorded so I could listen again (and again).
My next planned event was a training session with Jim, my oldest son. His daughter was in the gym when I arrived, and I got to visit and play with her before my session. Jim handed me a birthday card and a Mandala he had decorated. The card contained a very loving handwritten note that brought tears to my eyes. He apologized for the handwriting because his one year old helped him as he wrote. Of course that just made it more precious. So at that point, my heart is full and I am happy beyond compare. It remains full as I think back about it.
I went home and changed to go to an awards luncheon for Mary, Mike's wife. I managed to arrive on time and made my way to the table Mary had reserved for her guests. My son arrived as did her parents and I told my son about my birthday present I bought the day before. We talked about the phone call from them that morning. I turned to talk to Mary's parents and the next thing I knew, the people at our table began singing Happy Birthday to me. I absolutely love spontaneous fun and that was what that was for me. I watched Mary receive a much deserved award and literally had to run out to retrieve my car to a haircut appointment I had changed three times. I kept having unexpected schedule conflicts.
I really like my stylist, heard about her wedding the weekend before, and we talked about how for the last two haircuts she felt she really had learned my hair and turned it into "her" cut. Suffice it to say some not great things had happened in the styling shops I visited in the years before. As I was paying out, another customer came up and started effusively complimenting my haircut. I am not terribly vain but I do like my hair to be at its best. That filled up another corner of my being.
As I was driving home I received a text from Jim inviting me to the Perot Museum with his family. I had dropped by Trader Joe for a couple of items, but as I was checking out the checker said, "are you gluten intolerant?" He was not psychic. I go to Trader Joe's for some of my gluten free groceries and the items I chose were clearly gluten free. He asked if I had seen a new IPA gluten free beer by Stone. I told me I had not and he stopped checking to go grab one off the shelf to show it to me. Now, isn't that just a fun thing to happen? We talked about his experience with a family member who is also gluten intolerant. I am so happy and mellow at this point I could melt.
So, then I jumped in my car, headed home, changed clothes and went to Jim's. We loaded up two cars because Tina's sister, Jeanne was visiting from Rochester, New York with her husband and six month old son. Perot was awesome as we all explored it (it changes all the time) and really spent time taking in the sights and sounds.
Now that was absolutely top of the mark in Birth Days! I felt loving and loved.
On Saturday I went back to Jim and Tina's. This was for the planned celebration of the weekend. Aunt Jeanne and Tina share an October 31st birthday. A happy group of 10 family members celebrated with The October Birthday Club which included me, little Jeanne, Aunt Jeanne and Tina. We feasted on Fajitas, Tina made Chocolate cake and Mike bought gluten free cupcakes. There were babies everywhere! It was positively marvelous. Jeanne smiled and said "Grandma" when I came into the house. Jeanne and Christian played with me in the living room. Emily hugged me when she came in and hid behind me as she met Aunt Jeanne. Little Connor spotted me when Mike put him down and crawled to me for me to pick him up. I am of course full and completely running over with happiness and love at this point.
Saturday is also Halloween, and I always pass out candy. The crowds have been small but growing for the last three years, so I stocked up and bought one large and three smaller bags of Halloween candy. A record crowd showed up. I had to slow down from my normal three or four pieces to the last little group who only got one each. I had to turn out my light because I was out! It was the very first time that ever happened to me. I chatted with all the little "trick or treat" munchkins and their parents.
What's my point in this blog? The point is, I decide each moment of every day to find the good in every moment and to notice and dispel negative thoughts. I decide to treat myself with love and caring. I acknowledge that I have lived 67 wonderful years and can claim a healthy body and mind. I wear my years as gracefully as I can, and I am fit and strong. I love and care about those with whom I cross paths and receive it back in an abundance that leaves me wanting for nothing. A weekend with little planned turned into a love-filled festival. May you love yourself, love others and receive their love.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Denial is one of our human defense mechanisms. I have used it numerous (thousands?) of times in my lifetime. It is unconscious, which means we do not realize we are lying to ourselves. Its not a conscious lie, but it is not the truth.
- Having Celiac Disease can inhibit your growth. I am the shortest member of an admittedly short nuclear family. I am not quite 5 feet. They were all at least several inches taller than I am. My son's are both 5'10.
- I have always been thin without much effort. Celiac disease causes one to not be able to metabolize and use the nutrients in food efficiently and so many who have it are thin.
- If a person with Celiac Disease does not cut out gluten, they will often become intolerant to lactose.
- Developing osteoporosis is common for those with Celiac Disease. I was diagnosed with osteopenia at about 45. Thanks to weight bearing exercise and cutting out gluten, it has not progressed to osteoporosis.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
It was full of firsts and I am very pleased to report, was very enjoyable. My list contains travel which includes parts of the U.S. I have not seen as well as other countries.
This year I chose Boston, Ma. I am a bit of a history buff so it was on my list of east coast places to visit. My friends asked if I was from there, had friends there or had family there. The answer to all three is no. In the interest of full-disclosure, my daughter-in-law told me as I was about to depart that she had a cousin there if I found myself in need of assistance.
I do not usually plan extensively beyond time and location but life has taught me that having a place to stay makes the trip less stressful. I chose a location from one of the owner leased vacation accommodations and was delighted. I was in a one bedroom condo in Boston's south end.
I so enjoyed strolling the streets, finding small, intimate restaurants and taverns to visit, and just taking in the ambiance of the city. I walked unless my destination was over a mile and was amazed at all I discovered.
I visited the Freedom Trail, did a land/sea sightseeing trip around the city, took a ferry boat ride to Provincetown, and I visited the JFK Museum and the Boston Museum of Art. It was a full four days that was so leisurely in comparison to my norm that I came back in a fully zen state.
The Freedom Trail caused me to reflect upon our origins as a nation. I visited the second oldest cemetery where Paul Revere is buried as well as the Boston commons which has an abundance of unmarked graves. There is just something special about seeing the headstones of people who died in the 1600's and thinking about what I know about that era. I am pleased to report that Boston is full of friendly people who are very helpful and who did not seem to notice my Texas accent.
On the day I took a ferry boat ride, a "nor'easter" blew in and stayed with me most of the day resulting in a lovely drenching as I returned to the ferry. The result of all that rain was that I had two very enjoyable experiences of meeting locals and having extended conversations with them. If one maintains a focus on the positive all is lovely.
Firsts are so much fun and so invigorating! I can see no reason why anyone should wait for the right tour group to start checking off destinations they want to visit. Every day of the trip was remarkable for one reason or the other.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Sunday, March 29, 2015
To understand the Buddha, I attended classes taught by modern Buddhist nuns. I read books by a variety of modern day Buddhists. and I went to see the Dalai Lama when he was speaking in Houston at Rice University. I felt his connection to the thousands who were in the room with him. There was something different about him. He was not raising money or seeking anything except to convey the source of his well-being. His well-being was palpable. I struggled to understand because it seemed so simple. I am in control of me. I am in control of my thoughts. I can choose who I am and how I am. I can be miserable or I can be happy. I can let go of any attachment to all outcomes.
I began to meditate and practice mindfulness. Meditation is not magical. It simply teaches you to quit driving yourself crazy with random thoughts. It helps me take control of my own mind. I quit believing my thoughts are truth. They are just thoughts. I recognized how random they could be and how much they could mislead me. They could lead me to be unkind to myself and to others.
I did not learn anything new by studying the nuggets of truth I found in what was taught by the Buddha. I did understand more about what I knew.
Jesus of Nazareth taught some things that were inarguable. He loved those around him unconditionally and taught kindness through words and example. He pointed out the unhelpful things that people did to one another.
The Buddha - 500 years before Jesus - loved people and taught kindness. He eschewed the thought that you had to punish yourself to find the true essence of life.
Religion always seems to find ways to do considerable harm to others. Religion ends up believing that all who do not believe exactly as a church or religion does are wrong and need to be saved from themselves. Religions make it complicated.
The capacity for understanding is within each individual. The meaning of life is happiness. The way to happiness is an inside job. I have to master my thoughts and find joy and peace in the moment. I live moment to moment. I live knowing we are all part of and connected to each other. If I hurt you, I am hurting a part of myself. All you need to be happy is kindness from within. The next step is to start giving that same kindness to others.
The only peace and happiness I have known is when I turn off the chatter from without - do this, don't do that, that is wrong the chatter says. The chatter within is just as bad because it repeats all the chatter I have picked up throughout my life. Meditation is about learning to notice the chatter and to let it go. The chatter says I have to know what is next and control the outcome. Kindness recognizes the futility of that.
When I tune in and ask myself, "is that a kind thing to do, say, be?", I will find the answer. The thoughts (chatter) in my head may argue, but ultimately it is not very difficult to know if something is kind. Does it hurt me? Does it hurt another? Will it bring a smile? Will it bring a tear of pain? What is my purpose in saying it or doing it? Is it to win? Is it to be accepted? Is it to please you so you will like me? Is it to dash your belief in something so you will believe what I do?
My children and grandchildren taught me more about kindness. They are clearly a part of me. Seeing them hurt, hurts my heart. If they are physically injured, I feel the pain in my own body.
What if we all reacted to everyone that way?
The truth is we are all connected to one another. When I am kind the results are positive feelings (happy and/or loving). When I am not kind it causes negative feelings of (anger and or hurt/sadness).
Let all be kind to each other. In the words of the Dalai Lama, "My religion is simple. My religion is kindness."
Sunday, November 30, 2014
The self reproach sounds something like, "well, if I had/had not done that, this negative thing would not have happened". The remembrance of the good takes over to say, "if I had/had not done that, I would never have known X or experienced Y. X can be filled in as someone I met after the decision who graced my life for some period of time and taught me to consider something that added to my peace and happiness. Y is some sweet memory of life after that decision.
The bottom line is that there are both good and bad results whether you make a change or you do not.
The cool thing about life is that it offers us opportunities to change again and to have more insight the next time we have an important decision to make. You do not have to remain stuck in what turns out to be a change that costs you too much of your own peace and happiness.
As I helped my son clean up Thanksgiving mess, I felt peaceful and happy. Its not what you are doing, it is being at peace in it. Finding your peace wherever you are is the source of happiness and happiness is the meaning (purpose) of life. I can, if I allow it, find my peace (and happiness). Peace shared is peace magnified.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
I want to have a great relationship with each of my grandchildren (at that point none were being actively planned) and each of my children and their spouses. I began the journey of improvement in that area with the birth of my first grandchild in September 2011. That coupled with the invitation of my children, prompted me to move to Dallas to be closer to them. I found a new job which was definitely a huge change when I thought I was too old to be switching horses. That change has challenged my thinking and inspired new directions in my career.
Soon the number of grandchildren I am building relationships with will grow from the one pictured here to three! My sons and their wives will add more cubs to the den in October and November of this year. That is a grand total of three! This is an item on my list which will continue to need attention in order to continue to build relationships.
I have some places I want to go. Again, the item is multi-faceted so will continue to need attention. I received my first passport stamp by going to Canada this summer. What a fun trip! I have a few other stamps for that passport on my bucket list to attain.
Attending a National instead of just a state conference of Social Workers was on my list and was achieved this summer. It was an amazing conference with awe inspiring speakers at each of the plenary sessions. I actually was able to see a few folks I never thought I would see in person.
My life has really been full of momentous occasions which fill my memory banks. I saw the Dalai Lama in person a few years ago - definitely on my bucket list and completely amazing! I saw Yo-Yo Ma perform with the Austin Symphony a few years ago. I really never thought I would be able to see him in concert! I saw a Cowboy game live! I realize I am not finished just yet and will continue to add to my Bucket List and check the items off.
One of the most important things on my bucket list is being present in each moment I am lucky enough to experience. If you catch me with my attention wandering, give me a nudge!
You are never too old to do the things you want. I don't write mine down at this point. I do not always realize something is "on my bucket list" until I think "I REALLY would like to...". It is at that point that it goes on my list TBD. I find that this exercise helps me really experience something. Knowing that "I really want to ..." helps me seize it and enjoy it when the opportunity arises to accomplish it. When opportunity arises, I take it. In the meantime, I enjoy each moment. I do not let worry about "what if" rob me of the pleasure of what is.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
This is indeed a beautiful time of the year. The fragrance of the flowers, the beauty of the colors, and the sounds of so much life envelops us and brings peace and contentment. We recall past spring seasons. Hope abounds!
These changes happen every year, and we embrace them. Change is often feared. Complaints made about change is that it is too sudden and warning should have been given. Have you ever wondered if your life will be this way for ever and think how bored you are with it? Even as you think this, changes are occurring that will not be obvious for some time. Those changes, when visible, will take your breath away.
Preparation for spring has been occurring below the surface for quite some time before we really see, smell or feel it.
We embrace the changes brought by the spring of the year even though we all know that the change in season can also bring violent and destructive storms. It certainly brings an onslaught of allergic reactions to the pollen in the air. We will notice that some of the plants and trees did not survive the winter. Even though the spring may have some negative outcomes attached, we focus most on the positive. This is a lesson for life.
Life brings many changes. The immutable fact is that things change. The person one sees in the mirror changes. Businesses change and some close, we move or our friends move, and the lives of those we know and depend on are changed or ended.
The next time you are faced with a change, think about the spring of each year.
- Remember, you have been through many changes.
- You often do not fully recognize that change is coming until it is undeniably upon you.
- You will miss things from the past, so face them, feel the loss and let them go.
- New challenges and experiences await you.
Enjoy the Spring!