Pardon My French

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Somewhere between getting my bones out of bed today, slogging into the kitchen for coffee, and making my way to the Lazygirl for my morning visit with myself, I had an epiphany.  Since the confines of the pandemic, my life has morphed from an outer one to inner, and my days begin and end in the Lazygirl.  The in-between is anybody’s guess, but the one thing I know for sure is that the beginnings and the endings are my favorite times of day.

I really covet the safety of my morning and evening sits, but sometimes the in-betweens can present some really tricky situations, some related to my membership on the board of directors of the condo where I live.  Many folks ensconced in the world of spiritual growth call such challenges AFGO’s.  Another Effing Growth Opportunity.  Oh great!  Another AFGO!  Pardon my French.  (Why do we always blame the French for the use of vulgarity?)

We’re all faced with AFGO’s from time to time, some simple, some whipdoozies.  The question becomes, what do we do when one comes our way?  How do we deal with them?   If you’ve been following along, you know that one of my favorite techniques for handling tricky challenges is the trusty head-in-the-sand trick.  You also know that there’s a pony hiding somewhere amidst the manure.  Somewhere between the ostrich and pony, there is buried treasure.

In my experience as a board member, we are often presented with conflicts that wander around amidst the wants of the people, the needs of the property, and the vagaries of personalities.  It gives new meaning to “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  It’s a conundrum of the highest order.

My experience is that whatever the size, shape, or form, an AFGO presents an unparalleled opportunity for personal growth if one has the courage and willingness to extract the head from the sand and dig through the manure long enough to find it.  The reward of the search is healing, renewed vision, restoration of sanity, and an opportunity to choose love over fear.  If we find common ground and agree that we’re all in it together, then in the end rough edges are smoothed out and peace is restored to mind, heart, and home.  Well, one can only hope, right?

As I sit all nestled in the safety of my inner sanctuary and comfort of the lone Lazygirl, I know that every AFGO strewn across my path, both past, present, and undoubtedly future, has provided a life lesson that has pushed me one step closer to the achievement of my life’s purpose.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  Is it fun?  Not always, but once in a while it’s downright hilarious.  It helps to know that the Universe is equipped with a wonderful sense of humor that brings comic relief when the going gets tough.  And by the way, if you decide to stick your toe in the water and pan for the gold, you should know that you will never walk alone.  The hand of one who has gone before will reach out to help you along the way, while another will reach out to welcome you to your destiny.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Cocoon of the Soul

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I frittered away most of my writing time this morning, but oh well—there’s always later with lunch in between.  One of the things that I’m learning in my time-out is to quit picking on myself about petty stuff.  No, wait.  Make that quit picking on myself about any stuff.  It’s not good for the psyche.  In a world where criticism about one thing or another is wildly abundant, what’s the point of adding an unhealthy heap of it upon myself?  The rest of the world will be happy to do it for me.

Running away to solitude is a lovely temporary solution to remove myself from the world stage, but unless I’m prepared to repair to the wilderness for 40 days as Jesus did, or take the Buddha approach to enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, or cart myself off to an isolated mountaintop somewhere, eventually, I’ll need to return to the outside world.  Do I want to?  Well, not really.  Not yet.  I kind of like it here in the cozy container of my own home talking to myself and enjoying my own company.  It’s a lovely little vacation away from anything that makes me cranky and it brings me peace.   It parks me in a place where I am learning that the only judgment in my corner of the world at the moment is my own.

Sooner or later I will need to emerge from my cocoon, but until then, I’m hanging in here until I’m fully cooked.  Or at least until my wings are strong enough to carry me through whatever storm might be brewing in the outer world once I decide to make a break for it.  I don’t know what’s coming, but I know that I’m going to need all the strength I can muster to make it safely to a space of quiet calm.

What a great process.  What a great opportunity to be in the world but not of it, to be able to sit back and watch the show without being a part of it, exempt from the drama, judgment, and the need to find a safe haven from the voices of personal opinion that separate and divide one from another, that perpetuate fear rather than love.

What a joyous vacation.  What a sanctuary for the soul.  What a gift of Spirit.  How blessed I am to be able to enjoy it.  My wish for humanity is that we all find the safety within the quiet of our hearts and rest there in gentle stillness for a while.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

 

Opting for Better Options

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Another day, another blog.  I think I’m beginning to get the hang of it.

In the continuing saga of my cobweb-clearing time-out, I took an early morning walk down to the lake for another round of peaceful space-staring and thumb-sucking.  My bench was covered with morning dew.  Rats!  I stood shifting from one foot to another for a while, trying to figure out if I wanted to soggy myself up with morning dew or give it up and go back home.  I decided in favor of dry bottom and headed home.  Phooey.  Oh well—on to Plan B, whatever that is.  I guess I’ll have to make it up as I go.

On the return trip I met Kathleen and her dog Charlie (by their dogs ye shall know them) and we chatted for a while about my dog Charlie who, sadly, crossed the Rainbow Bridge last February.  The thing about dog lovers is that nobody ever runs out of something to talk about.  Ah, but I digress.  After swapping names and contact information with my new friend, I went on my happy way and came upon an old friend—one I’ve known for several years.  Old friend, new friend, grateful for all friends no matter age nor tenure.

But again I digress.  This morning I saw a horrifyingly fascinating video of a full grown leopard with an alligator equal in size clamped between its massive jaws, hauling the thing out of the water and up a hill.  It was pretty clear that one of the two was headed for the Rainbow Bridge, and my money was on the leopard.  That is not a picture that I will soon forget.

To say that the scene was unsettling would be an understatement at the very least, made  worse because there was something in it that seemed vaguely familiar.  Uh oh.  It reminded me of myself.  Surely, nature is one of the best, and the cruelest of teachers.

I ask myself—am I the leopard or the alligator?  Sometimes when my attempt at trying to get something to conform to whatever it is that I want, I am tempted to grab the thing by the scruff of the neck like a puppy with a stuffed toy and shake it until its stuffings fall out.  It’s a pretty sure bet that my temptation to wrestle my way through a situation won’t always work out in my favor.  Amidst a roomful of people who collectively agree with an idea that differs from my own, the chances of my success decrease exponentially.   Let go or die, kill or be killed.

Somewhere in this scenario, I do believe that there must be a better approach.  This morning’s aborted bench mission turned out to be just the blessing I needed.  I traded in a wet bottom for a warm heart and reminded myself that sometimes it’s a better idea to just unclench my jaws, let the alligator go, and opt for Plan B instead.  I may not get exactly what I wanted, but I just might get something even better.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Getting a Grip

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Yesterday, when I went to fetch a copy of the blog du jour from the jaws of the printer, it wasn’t there.  Wait—where is it?  Didn’t I print it out?  Then I remembered—oops I forgot to write it.  After three months of perfect attendance, I forgot?  Really?  That can’t be good.

If you’ve been following along recently, you may remember reading that life in my lane has presented me with another marvelous opportunity to get over myself, learn another new lesson or two, and take the next step forward on the personal growth path. I make a wish for—oh, I don’t know—whatever floats my boat, and suddenly shazam—like magic, whoosh—here we go again off on another merry round of learning.  Watch what you wish for.

This time, it’s like someone came along and uttered one simple little sentence that pushed the plunger that exploded the dynamite that blew the cover off my foxhole that exposed me to the dirt that has lurked beneath the surface that tormented me for eons.  Whoa.  Scary.  I think I still must have a whole lot to learn.  At this point, I can’t say for sure how I’m doing, but every once in a while I catch a brief glimmer of hope.

I think that maybe the extended days of COVID restrictions are making us all a little crazy.  What started as a kind of interesting fun little extended recess at home moment has morphed into the realization that frustration has replaced fun, and that we will be socially distancing and wearing our masks for a v-e-r-y long time.  Our recess has gifted us with  frustration, exposing frayed nerves and tests of patience.  We are chomping at the bit to get back to the beaches, eat in restaurants, swim in pools, and return to our fitness centers.  Now, more than ever, we want and need physical activity to dissolve the stress and the frustration of the limitations placed upon us.  I have lost control of certain aspects of my life and now, crankiness has replaced civility.   It is disturbing to watch as I try to wrestle my selfishness into the willingness to come to grips with my inability to have what I want when I want it.  No wonder I still have lessons to learn.

Uh oh, watch out everybody.  It looks like she is going to smack us with another cheery little lecturette again.  Always on a rainbow unicorn toot–love everybody, forgive everything, look for the good, blah blah blah.  Yep.  Preaching to myself, mostly.  I guess I won’t get it until I get it.  The good news, though, is that at least I know I will get around to listening to the smart Voice in my own head eventually.  Maybe someday I might even pay attention.

The only thing I know for sure is that I’ve finished today’s blog—or is this yesterday’s blog today?   I am brimming with the hope that I’ll ace this pesky marvelous growth opportunity soon.  Soon, soon, soon.  The current curriculum is pretty intense, but I’m not dropping out.  I’m going to stick in there no matter what, watch intently to see what unfolds next, and remember that tomorrow is another day and another blog.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Lone Rainbow

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This morning I opened an email that sent me straight up and out of my Lazygirl off into the heat and humidity to have a walk through the wilds of the neighborhood and a little talk with myself in the hope of getting my head straight and finding a bit peace and serenity along the way.

Trust the good old Universe to present the perfect opportunity to learn a lesson at just the right time.  Heap it on, I say.  Let’s see how much I can take before it all crashes down around my shoulders and crushes the life out of me.  Okay, so the pedal is to the metal.  Can I put my money where my mouth is and practice what I preach?  Good question, I say to myself, as I try to claw my way through the clutter of my mind in search of a bit of daylight.  It’s all well and good to carry on like the rainbow unicorn that I like to pretend that I am, but are unicorns really real?  Is this another test?

I walk to the lake and park myself on a shady bench to meditate and cogitate for a while in hopes of getting what I came for.  I watch as my mind bounces me up and down like a yoyo traveling at warp speed.  It’s all too much to sort through.  Too many twists and turns, too many complications and complexities, too many emotions coming from too many directions, too much at stake, too many possible outcomes, not all of them good.

I hear a slight splash that calls my attention to the water’s surface and watch as ripples spread in concentric circles from the point of center.  It dawns on me that my thoughts and feelings spread out from my own point of center and wash over everything and everyone within range, and that the range is infinite.

There is something within me that wants to hang on to anger and gnaw on it like a Doberman with a juicy bone, to not let go until I’ve sucked the essence out of it.  A saying from Eckhart Tolle flashes across my mind:  Sometimes letting things go is a far greater power than defending or hanging on.  Now if I could just convince my mind about that.  Would that I could just practice what I preach about the power of the mind.  It isn’t easy, but at least it’s a goal.  Goals count for something.

So I have another talk with myself between the yoyo bounces and try to talk myself into shifting gears from anger into forgiveness.   I try to remember that the ripples aren’t mine alone, but that they reach into infinity and therefore affect everyone else in their path, even those who are innocent bystanders.

This morning’s ripple effect reminds me that thoughts matter and that what I choose to think makes a difference.  In my quest for peace, I realize that it’s a lonely endeavor, an inside job.  No one can hand it to me; I have to find it within myself.  It looks as if I’ve fallen a little short of passing the test today.  I haven’t made it to total forgiveness yet but I’m working on it—maybe tomorrow.  Like yesterday’s pony in the manure, somewhere, there’s a rainbow, and I’ll find it eventually.  After all, what’s a unicorn without the rainbow?

Where’s the Pony?

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Have you ever acted on an idea that seemed like a perfect solution to a dilemma only to watch it crash and burn before it ever got off the ground?  It seemed like an inspired idea at the time, but perhaps I was delusional, or maybe I was listening to that sneaky voice of the ego that loves to have me think that it’s a whole lot smarter than the part of me that is really smart.

What would be really smart would be making the sincere effort to find out more about who the really smart one is and pay more attention to it.  The thing is, I really thought that I had.

I suppose I could consider that I lost the battle, but in retrospect, I can see that nothing is ever lost.  Every apparent defeat brings with it the inherent opportunity to review the situation and find the benefit within it.  On one hand, it may be tempting to consider rejection as a failure and allow it to be the spark that ignites the flame of self-doubt, extinguishing any hope of a happy ending.  On the other, it offers an opportunity to seek and find another path to accomplish the same end, perhaps one that is even better than the first.  There’s always good news, even amidst what seems to be the bad.  Rejection is just a divine spark that lights the fire of renewed effort.

When caught in the middle of a battlefield of opinion, sometimes the best that one can do is observe the fray and hold the vision that at some point, opponents will see the light of day, put down their weapons, and enjoy a peaceful resolution that is for the common good to all.

I am reminded of the enthusiastic kid waist deep in horse manure digging through the muck looking for the pony.  I love that kid.  He just goes for it, doesn’t care how messy it gets, and hangs on to the idea that in the end he’s going to find what he wants the most.  I want to be just like him when I grow up.

In a world full of manure, I’m going for the ponies.

There is a way.  There is always a way.  We just need to find it.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

We Are the World

 

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This morning I was rudely awakened and jostled out of my peaceful reverie by the memory that there is trouble brewing right here in River City.  In the condo building where I live, we are caught in the middle of a conflict between a board of directors working in the best interests of the community it serves, and a community that is up in arms because of the decisions made by the board of directors working to serve its best interests.  It’s a conundrum.

Lucky me.  I’m in the middle of it all, teetering on the fence between the two, on one side as a member of the board and on the other, a close friend of the disenfranchised.  I’m jammed between a rock and a hard place, between duty, responsibility and friends in a place where everybody knows everybody’s name.

Past experience brings to mind the painful memory of a meeting populated with a large group of residents, peppered with a handful of dissatisfied members whose frustration erupts in bursts of anger and spews forth behavior that borders on abusive toward the board members that serve them on a volunteer basis.

For all the world, it feels as if I’m living a personal mini version of what’s going on in the world. The masses balking at authority, rules, reason, and wisdom—kids going to the bars and beaches, the refusal to wear masks as modeled by the president, the insistence on the entitlement of rights, the resulting anger, protests, and divisiveness.  The hang the consequences I want what I want gang.  This is the world.  It is not us.

As I think about the situation, sometimes I feel helpless in the face of it all.  What can I do to help restore peace and harmony?   In the midst of my musings, my computer pings, signaling the arrival of another email in the growing thread surrounding the situation.  This one appears to have been Divinely inspired, a voice of reason, bringing with it a sense that all is not lost, there is hope, there is a plan of peace within reach, there is a solution, and that if only we will get ourselves out of the way long enough to stop and listen, we will find it.

Yet again I see before us another wonderful opportunity to use the power of our minds and the quiet of our hearts to bring healing to our community.  We can either continue to hold on to the anger that fuels discontent, or we can decide to set aside the insistent voice of the personality and invite peace and harmony to rule the day instead.  We are a microcosm of the world.  What we do within our own minds and our own walls ripples out and affects the entire world.

Personally, as a member of the board and humanity, and as a friend and neighbor, my vote goes in favor of peaceful coexistence, the end of strife, a vote for love.  One world, one humanity.  It’s ours to live as we wish.  We have the power.  What’s your vote?

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).