Don’t Look Now, but . . .

I’ve been off dumpster diving in old files again. I am often surprised to find bits and pieces of myself wallowing around in the trash bin, waiting to be rediscovered and reevaluated. Today, for instance I stumbled upon something I wrote a decade ago, on January 13, 2012. It’s an unwitting prelude to my most recent blog Link about New Year resolutions written just one week ago. It’s eye-opening to find myself lurking around somewhere in the past—a reminder of who I was in 2012, and who I am now, one decade later. The following was me then . . .

It’s a mighty good thing that I made a resolution to not make resolutions a while back, because if I hadn’t, I’d have disappointed myself many times over by breaking them many times over. When I think of the mind-boggling multitude of resolution possibilities that I could have made and didn’t, my eyes glaze over and I give thanks for whatever powers-that-be for snatching me out of the probable abyss of temporary insanity teetering on the brink of permanence. My decision to eschew resolutions is the wisest resolution I’ve made in this, or any other lifetime.

Just think of it. The do’s. The don’ts. Write more, eat less. Exercise more, spend less. Cook more, eat out less. Meditate more, judge less. It’s mind numbing. And guilt producing.

The other day I found myself feeling just a slight bit irritated for having allowed myself to wander away from the path of joyful inner peace.  Was it non-resolutionary guilt, I wondered? I caught myself singing the Whiffenpoof song.

We’re poor little lambs who have lost our way …  little black sheep who have gone astray … bah, bah, bah … doomed from here to eternity …  Lord have mercy on such as we—blah blah blah.

Really? Do I really think that of myself? The very thought of such a thing sent me off into another conversation with myself.

I’m on a downhill slide.

No, you’re not. You just think you are.

I can’t seem to get myself turned around.

You just think that you can’t. You can.

I know. But I’m stuck

No you’re not.

Why do you keep denying my feelings?

Because you’re wrong.

But if I feel this way, then I feel this way.  And you’re telling me that I don’t.

You may feel the way you feel, but it is a denial of the truth of who you are. 

Oh. I think I get it. I’m putting emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle—again.

Exactly. You are putting the emphasis on the false ego self that you think you are. 

Fine. That’s all well and good, but I’m still stuck.

. . . And here I am now, a decade later, and happily, I’m unstuck—thanks in part, at least, to some unlikely help; a pandemic and a mishap became the catalysts that pushed me closer to the achievement of the goals I had not actually set.

Between Covid and a broken kneecap, I cook more and eat out less. Physical therapy requires exercise whether I like it or not, and when confined to the Lazygirl for days, and weeks on end, writing and meditation have become my best friends and favorite allies. Clearly, there is something to be said for a pandemic and broken kneecap. The best bonus? During my forced confinement, I wrote and published a second book after a 17-year hiatus. There are blessings in everything, if one but seeks to find.

Isn’t it strange how non-goals of years gone by became reality while I wasn’t looking? Sometimes the progress we’ve made is only visible when viewed through the lens of decades past. The True Self knows the desires of the heart, even if we don’t. All we need to do is drop the judgment we hold of ourselves and learn to trust that we will be given the answers to questions that we may not yet have asked. What we cannot do for ourselves, Higher Forces can do for us. What a blessing!

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. May you look back upon all of your decades with satisfaction, gratitude and joy. What could be better than that?

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)

PS: I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t make at least one tiny little stab at the dreaded self-promotion. It’s my most unfavorite thing to do, but successful authors everywhere say that it must be done, so I’ll do it. Bah, bah, bah. If you’d like to have a look at my new book, please press here. Thank you!

 

Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations

Okay, I confess—I am a little disappointed—a rather uncharacteristic feeling in the face of my usual Pollyanna worldview. Life on my planet is bass-ackwards. I recognize, of course, that my mild disappointment is but a drop in the ocean compared to current world events, but still—it’s my drop, my ocean, my planet. So in the overall scheme of things, my mini-discouragement doesn’t really matter very much, does it? Or does it?

So I ask myself—what is the source of this momentary dismay?

Well, my follow-up appointment on the status of my shattered patella dashed any hope of being sprung from the cumbersome knee mobilizer that I’ve been sleeping with and dragging around behind my walker for the past six weeks. Instead, I was sentenced to another six weeks of same old-same old. Bummer. The good news is that healing is much better than expected, surgery is off the table, and physical therapy can begin next week. Focus on the donut, Julia—not the hole.

Then, the dream of soaring sales of my newly released book, Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee in My Head, is—for the moment at least —nothing more than a mere pipe dream, but hope springs eternal. Perhaps reality manifests only when it receives a little help from the dreamer.

At the onset of my first six-week sentence in the Lazygirl, I had high hopes for a miraculous transformation from flawed human persona to heavenly angel with ginormous wings. Apparently, I slept through the first opportunity, so I have been given a second chance. That’s the thing with us humans, I figure. We are given endless second chances and opportunities to move ahead on our way toward miraculous transformation until we figure out how to get it right.

Some of us are simply slow learners. Well, I hope I get it right this time around so that I can be sprung from my knee trap and released back into the wild abandon that lives behind the wheel of my car. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to do my best. I’ll attend to business, write blogs, dream dreams of healed knees and soaring book sales, and cross stuff off of my list of things to do—all the stuff that I promised myself I’d do during the first six weeks, but didn’t. Man, is that ever a long list.

Well, at least these are the things that I say I will do. But will I? Ah—therein lies the question. Can I be trusted to keep the promises that I make to myself? Have I followed up on my hopes and dreams in the past? If I fail to live up to my own expectations, will I become my own judge and jury, or will I simply become an observer and say, “Huh. Well would you look at that? Maybe there’s a better way to do it in the the next round.”

So again, my inner voice (the noisy one) launches into overdrive with questions that seem to defy answers. Does my disappointment really matter in the overall scheme of things? Do my thoughts and feelings make a difference in the world? Do my hopes, dreams, and expectations have an impact on my life, or on the lives of others? Where is the quiet Voice of Reason that has answers to these mysterious questions when I need It?

Oh, We are here, patiently awaiting your realization that you have wandered away for a spell. We know that you are aware of your wanderings, and that you have allowed distractions to lure you away from your inner being; We know that you feel as if you have disappointed yourself yet again. Your discouragement comes not from outer circumstances, but from within the part of you that yearns to reunite with your True Self. Your salvation will come when you realize that the only way for you to be sprung (to use your word) back into freedom is to reaffirm your commitment to doing those things which you know are in your own best interests, and in the best interests of the world.

In your wanderings, you have temporarily lost sight of your mission and purpose. We encourage you to reignite the flame of expectancy. So dear one, hope your hopes, and dream your dreams, and know that the power and energy of your True Self will fuel their manifestation. Coupled with faith, you cannot fail.  

Know that We love and support you; We stand behind you always; We are ever ready to be the wind beneath your wings as your soar toward the highest and best within yourself. You have as many opportunities as you will ever need to realize your True Self, and we joyfully await your arrival at the ultimate destination of the Soul.

Thank you, dear Friends, for helping me to reconnect with my Self. As I do so, it suddenly occurs to me that my one drop in the ocean does indeed affect the entire ocean. Meanwhile, should I become lost amidst the waves again, I trust that you will come and find me.

If the focus of my mind becomes the reality of my world, then what is it that I wish to manifest? Well for starters, how about an ocean of love?

That sounds like a mighty good place to start, right?

And by the way, I am happy to report that as I come to the end of a newly-written blog, yesterday’s disappointment has morphed into today’s gratitude for second chances. Six more weeks to manifest hopes and dreams. Hallelujah. Ground hog day lives on!

A final note from a reluctant author: self-promotion is the bane of this writer’s existence, but I’m going to do it anyway. After all, how else will hopes and dreams become reality if I’m afraid to give them a little push? So, here goes folks: Please check out my book on Amazon. Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee in My Head? For more information, see Something New is on the Way (October 31, 2021). I thank you so much!

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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)

 

Disorderly Conduct

Today as I wandered around in my disorderly computer files trying to clean out the messes that I have left behind myself over the years, I stumbled upon stuff that I wrote eons ago—stuff that never saw the light of day, stuff that just sits there awaiting some sort of acknowledgement, destination, or deletion. As I look back, these dusty little gems show me where I was then, and where I am now. Today’s discovery, written sometime prior to 2009 is a fine example of my escape from self-terrorism into the happy realm of loving my perfectly imperfect self. Here it is:

I think I am suffering from seasonal hair disorder. You know – the winter blah kind of thing that would make my hair look as if I stuck a finger in a light socket with the electricity turned on?

Not only that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that in an effort to seek good company, the hair disorder gremlins have sent out some clever little scouts that have obligingly returned with the discovery of a personality disorder to add to my list of seasonal dysfunctions.

The hair situation is only a temporary thing, thank goodness, but the personality disorder thing—well, sometimes I think it will never end. Just as I think I have one aspect of myself in order, another flares up to remind me of my imperfection. My current favorites are foot-in-mouth disease, and bad judgment.

On the growing number of occasions when I suffer flare-ups of one disorder or another, my first tendency is to immediately send myself into bouts of self-flagellation in an attempt to beat myself back into my own good graces. This is not a technique that I would recommend to anyone who is trying to make the return trip to sanity.

Once I discover the futility of self-flagellation, I move on to rationalization. “Well, it really wasn’t that bad, was it? I think he’s over reacting just a wee bit. Obviously she misunderstood what I said. If she had been paying closer attention, it wouldn’t have happened at all, right”

The next response to my faux pas is the questioning phase. Why in Heaven’s name did I say such a thing? It just squirted out of my mouth like Ketchup out of a bottle that’s been slapped on the bottom 57 times. I can’t believe I did such a thing. How could I have been so thoughtless?

Oh, my poor aching psyche!

Behavior is not who I am. Bad behavior, good behavior, not who I am. Sometimes I’m the good witch and sometimes I’m the bad witch. I’m the whole witch, both good and bad. Maybe when I learn to love and respect the entirety of myself, I can say goodbye to my disorders. Well, the personality one, at least. The hair disorder may be around for as long as there are winters in my life.

What troubles me about all of this disorder business is that it seems to be happening more frequently. It’s as if the message is becoming more and more urgent. GET IT TOGETHER GIRL! Maybe I’d better pay attention and listen up.

Maybe it’s all that unhealed anger that’s been roiling around inside of me. Maybe I’d better get busy and start tending to myself because if I don’t, those embarrassing foot-in-mouth moments will show up more and more often.

I actually know people who don’t suffer from any of these annoyances. They just don’t get it. “Stop beating up on yourself,” they say. Or, “You’re being a little hard on yourself, don’t you think?” I spoke to such a person over onion soup and a chicken wrap just yesterday. Apparently, some folks simply cannot relate to those of us who haven’t mastered Self-Love 101 yet.

Contrarily, I also know people just like me. The self-flagellation specialists who find any little excuse at all to tell themselves that they were wrong, said something stupid, or committed some unforgivable act. Maybe it’s because like attracts like, but it seems to me that there are a whole lot more of us than there are of them.

Frankly, I think that these guiltless wonders have their nerve. Just who do they think they are, anyway? How dare they just shrug their shoulders and walk away from their mistakes while the rest of us suffer the treachery of our own mind drama?

But you know what? I’ll give myself credit for having the courage to say out loud what so many of us suffer in silence. After all, who wants to admit to walking through life carrying a bag loaded full of personal flaws? It’s a crummy job, but I’ll do it, because by golly, if it gives just one other person hope and the courage to move beyond their self-perceived sins, then it’s all worth it.

Maybe I’ll try to be more like the guiltless ones.

Or, maybe just I’ll choose to be perfectly imperfect.

Or both.

Ah. Living happily within the realm of one’s own good graces is a glorious thing. I highly recommend it.

Something New is on the Way!

AVAILABLE ON NOVEMBER 11

 VOICES: Who’s in Charge of the Committee in My Head?

Hello Lovely Friends and Peace Seeking Souls,

I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my new book, Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee in My Head? I’m excited because (a) I actually did it—and trust me—that’s a really big whoop for the likes of a procrastinator such as myself—and (b) because I can’t wait for you to read it and tell me what you think!

Before going further, I want to offer a little caveat. If you are one of those blessed people who sail through life feeling confident, successful, prosperous, peaceful, and over-the-moon happy about yourself and your life, then Voices might not be for you. On the other hand, if like me, you have ever experienced a struggle to get to your happy place and haven’t made it yet, Voices might give you a little boost. Or maybe even a big one.

The “me” to whom I refer is the one who has spent a healthy (or unhealthy) portion of life trying to escape that persistent voice that tries to con me into believing that I am seriously flawed in one way or another, and therefore undeserving of love, peace, joy, and contentment. Happy hides behind a curtain of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and the guilt-producing layers of the shoulda, coulda stuff that wants me to believe that I am totally uncapable and unlovable.

Sound at all familiar? If that describes you, read on!

In the interest of truth in advertising (couldn’t we all use a LOT more truth these days?) let me give you just a little preview of what VOICES is all about.

It’s me talking to—and about— myself a lot. It’s me sharing my innermost thoughts, baring my soul, and risking vulnerability by telling the truth about who I am (and sometimes that can be a little embarrassing). It’s me searching for the “real me” amidst the many voices that populate my head. VOICES is like a pizza with everything with whipped cream on top, whether it goes well together or not. It’s a combination platter of blog, personal journey, and memoir wrapped in a package of spirituality all tied up with a pretty bow. It offers a lighthearted, humorous romp through the days of my life as I waffle back and forth between love and fear, and between the shenanigans of an unruly ego and the powerful allure of a soul that begs for my attention.

I’m very excited about getting VOICES out of my head and into the hands and hearts of those who might benefit by it—those who struggle to find a way out of the dark night of this world (and maybe the soul) and into the light of a  bright and beautiful, brand new day.

VOICES is the sort of book that can be read from cover to cover, or picked up at random for a quick pick-me-up read. For that reason, I recommend sharing it, but not lending it because you may not get it back. Instead, I hope that you will read it, tell your friends about it, and share by way of holiday gift giving to like-mind friends. And, I hope that you’ll visit voicesinmyheadbook.com and tell me what you think!

VOICES will be available through Amazon.com on NOVEMBER 11 in paperback and Kindle. To be added to my mailing list or to order copies, please visit my website. Oh, and don’t forget to say hello while you’re there! I’d love to hear from you.

Out of the dark and into the light,

Julia

Life in the Lazygirl

You know how much I love hanging out in my Lazygirl, right? Well, lucky me—I have been sentenced to The Chair for the next couple of months, courtesy of a klutzy move and a shattered right kneecap. If Covid wasn’t enough to do the trick, I have been given my very own personal timeout to reevaluate and reassess my life.

I trip over my own feet, break a bone, and marvel at the creative antics of a clever Universe that provides me with an opportunity to sit still long enough to pay attention. Sit. Stay! But will I listen? Visions of the Roadrunner with his legs spinning a mile a minute zoomed through my head, as I careened from one room into the next, desperately trying to keep up with a body that was charging at light speed ahead of my feet. It gives new meaning to hit the floor running.

So I’m sentenced to The Chair. Talk about a choice moment to decide if I’ll revert to my slothful old ways so sorely in need of repair, or if I’ll rise to the occasion and use the opportunity to forge ahead and recommit to my spiritual path and purpose. Or maybe check all of the above? Is this another test? If so, I seem to be flunking—at least for now—but there’s still time to make the necessary in-flight corrections before I Roadrunner myself straight into the afterlife.

So far, I’ve been stuck in the needs-repair place. It’s a lovely spot to visit for a while, but as a permanent parking place, it leaves a lot to be desired. If nothing else, it is a splendid opportunity to practice what I preach. Again? Do I have to? Up until now, the Lazygirl has been my all-time favorite parking spot. I wonder—will I still feel the same way once I’m sprung? Or will I flee like my pants will catch fire if I dare sit?

The needs-repair place includes heavy doses of procrastination. Where have I been since my last blog written nearly two months ago? What have I been doing? Why have I been gone for so long? Why am I dawdling? Aw geez. It’s always something. Always a choice about how I wish to live life in my lane. Or in my Lazygirl.

I have been captive for over two weeks already, and what have I learned so far? Well, I’ve not been doing the things that make me happy—not writing, not blogging, not doing much of anything that does much to increase my sense of self-worth. This current state of affairs is making me feel grumpy, useless, and downright disgusted with myself.

Those feelings are not helpful, uplifting, or good for the psyche. Is it okay to be nonproductive and still love me in spite of myself? I decide, right? Oh my—we’re looking at the tip of the iceberg here. There is so much to discover, unearth, and delve into. Do I want to see it? Or would I rather turn on Say Yes to the Dress and zone out watching brides make themselves happy by finding the perfect wedding dress? So far, I’ve said yes to the dress. What is it that I am trying to avoid? Whatever it is, I want to get over it, because it’s not good for my mental health.

It’s time to move on. I’m not quite sure where I’m moving on to at this point, but for now I’ll take one moment, one day at a time, and since that’s all I have, I’ll do my best to talk myself into making the best of it.

But here’s the thing—Just the act of writing this blog is enough to lift my spirits and give me hope. And it’s enough to make me realize and remember that I am the one who decides what I think and feel about myself, and about the world in which I live. I am the one who creates my beliefs and reality. Clearly, it’s better to shatter old useless, worn out thought forms instead of kneecaps, and allow the subtle realm of light to become known and seen.

Now that’s enough to put a smile on my face and dance a happy jig—well, just as soon as my knee is back in proper working order. Meanwhile, I’ll dance a jig in my heart and wait until the rest of me catches up.

PS: There really is a reasonable answer to where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, but I’ll talk more about that in the next blog, so please stay tuned for an announcement about what will be coming soon! Oh, and by the way, if you click on my website, you won’t get very far because it is not fully up and running yet! Stay tuned . . . See you soon!

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)

A Little Bit of Willingness

It’s a lovely morning, and my Lazygirl and I are huddled together contemplating the start of a new day. I sit down to meditate and my mind marches me into the kitchen to see what there is to eat. I do that a lot lately. Pretty much since the start of the pandemic lockdown, I think.

Pre-pandemic, I had myself in proper working order; at least I thought I did. I’d conquered my unhealthy, fattening habits like, smoking, drinking too much wine, and overeating. If there is anyone out there who has ever hung out in an “anon” group, you’ll know what I’m talking about. One can abstain from smoking and drinking, but it’s mighty hard to abstain from food. 

Well, so anyway, I had it all together with my eating habits. Tiny breakfast, BIG lunch, often at a restaurant, a light graze at dinnertime, and I can still button my skinny jeans. Snatch the restaurant out from under me, add Covid, and well, it’s all over. Suddenly I can’t stay out of the kitchen and I’m wrestling with my corrective jeans. It’s humbling.

Given my extensive past experience in the “anon” world, I should be able to get over this, right? 

Oops—wait—I’m shoulding all over myself again. I should be able to get over that too, right? Cheech. It’s always something!

Anyway, I’ve tried my usual tactic of asking my Self for help, but for some reason, breakfast still seeps into my morning meditation, and the kitchen continues to beckon like a shiny gemstone in the sunshine. I have asked—why have I not received?

Slowly it begins to dawn on me that maybe I am low on willingness. Maybe I am too lazy to do what it takes to eat a healthier diet, or too unfocused, or too comfortable with my head in the fridge to be bothered with changing my ways. Or maybe I just really don’t want to make a commitment to change. 

By necessity, I’ve moved from restaurant fare to new recipes that I try on myself that are idiot proof and easy; recipes with pasta, recipes that provide easy leftovers for later. Later comes frequently these days—often in the middle of meditation, or while writing a blog. Food beckons, I forage, and eat to satisfy whatever seems to be missing, whether I’m hungry or not. Do I listen to my body? Nah.

Pre-pandemic, I did a lot of self-congratulations for having enough self-discipline to be trusted alone with a with a cheesecake. Then along came Covid and interrupted my routine. I fell off the wall, broke into bits and pieces, and now I have to put myself back together again. Pride goeth before a fall, it is said, and aren’t I just the perfect example of that? So much for the back pats. Again I say, it’s humbling.

One of the lessons that I have learned in my lofty experience of anons and such, is that the success or failure of any desired change begins with willingness. It is wholly dependent on the willingness to be totally and completely free of whatever obstacle stands in the way of happiness, whether it is a cigarette, a glass of wine, a hunk of chocolate cheesecake, or an unforgiven anger. Without willingness, I’m doomed.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to get to true willingness. There were many reasons why I wanted to quit smoking for example. It’s a disgusting habit. It’s unhealthy. It’s expensive. It burns holes in things. My clothes and hair smelled like an ashtray full of stale cigarette butts. It was becoming harder to smoke in public places. My smoker’s cough was frightening. It wasn’t good for my self-esteem

I really wanted to quit, and so I acquiesced and opted for willingness. But didn’t work. If I was willing, why wasn’t it working?

After another round of serious soul searching, I discovered the truth. The bottom line was that I was not truly, truly willing. Yes, I wanted to give up the filthy habit, but the fact was, the part of me that loved to smoke was reluctant. I was focused on what I perceived that I would be losing. I was not totally, completely, wholly, willing to quit smoking. I was my own obstacle. 

Then I received a idea from my trusty Voice. It said, “Add a willing.”

So I did. I was willing to be willing. Ah. That helped. Maybe it would be good to add another willing or two, just for good measure. So I became truly willing to be willing to be willing.

About two weeks later, I woke up one morning as a non-smoker. The habit simply let go of me of its own volition and, unlike many unsuccessful attempts in the past, the desire to have “just one” cigarette went up in a puff of smoke and vanished into the ethers, never to return.

A three-pack-a-day smoking habit simply dropped out of my life after thirty-five years. All it took was just a little bit of willingness. Or two.

So now I’ll have to get busy, put my money where my mouth is, and ask myself if I’m really, really willing to remove my head from the fridge. If not, why? What’s in it for me to continue a habit that makes me unhappy—and uncomfortable in my skinny jeans?

Hmm. Am I being ruled by my tastebuds? Am I looking for comfort somewhere outside of myself rather than finding it within? What might be keeping me tripping the light fantastic into the kitchen? I don’t know the answer to those questions right now, but I think it might behoove me to do a little digging to find out. Meanwhile, I’ll work on increasing my willingness.

Here’s a tiny hint about how willingness works—I’m beginning to realize that I don’t feel very swell after one of my unscheduled visits to the feeding trough. It’s a clue. Maybe soon I’ll wake up and realize that I’ll feel a whole lot better if I forego all of those unscheduled trips. Maybe one day soon, I’ll easily zip up my skinny jeans, and discover that I’ve returned to my pre-pandemic size and sanity. Who knows?  

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how I do. Meanwhile, would you care to join me in a bit of willingness?

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)

Wake Up and Smell the Roses

Uh oh.  I woke up this morning feeling a sense of lethargy, like the only thing I have to I look forward to this morning is a breakfast sandwich of moldy cheese on stale bread. Ick.  That doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Maybe I’ve been squirreled away in my cocoon too long. Wait—squirrels and cocoons don’t go together. See what I mean? Staleness dulls the senses and deadens brain cells. 

It’s funny how that happens. One day I’m riding high on happy and the next, I’m slogging along in slow mo. The shift is insidious; it’s a slow downhill slide that happens while I’m looking the other way, when lazy has overtaken me, and vigilance has fallen asleep on the job. Apparently, so have I. It’s amazing that such a low-impact, non-event can create such a crash landing. I awaken with a start and realize that I’ve hit rock bottom. It’s time to shake things up.

I need to do some soul searching. What has changed? What have I done differently? What is weighing on my mind? What have I been putting off? What joy have I been denying myself? What habit have I fallen into that keeps me asleep? What am I missing? What was I doing when I was riding high that I am not doing now? If I made a list of the ten things that I do that make me feel good about myself, what would they be?

Hmm. Meditate, exercise, publish a blog, cross stuff off of my to-do list, declutter something, help a friend in need, try a new recipe and invite someone to try it with me, commit an anonymous random act of kindness, keep commitments that I make to myself, eat at a healthy diet, get a dog. Oops. That’s eleven. No. I’m not getting another dog. 

As I ponder, an enlightening tidbit of information comes to mind: just the mere act of writing my list of ten has picked my spirits up off the floor. If I were to apply the 80-20 rule here, what would I put at the top of my list of ten? Which two choices would comprise the twenty percent that would provide eighty percent of the benefit? Which two would I want to check off first?

Some of the items on my list are constants, like meditate, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and keep commitments. Others are negotiable and may vary daily. The fact that I haven’t posted a blog for over a month puts write blog into the urgent category and bumps push publish button up to the top of the today list. 

Of the items on the constant list, keep-commitments wins the top spot with meditation running a photo-finish second.  If I keep my promises to myself, all else falls into place. If not, the slow descent downhill will take me to the bottom of a place where I’d rather not be. Without commitment, without meditation, I’m doomed to hang out in the pits until I return to my senses. 

Today I woke up in a hole, but that hollow feeling was accompanied by the happy realization that I don’t need to stay there. The mere recognition that I have a choice, coupled with the desire and willingness to wake up and smell the roses shakes things up enough to bring me back to my senses and decide to do something about it. I can always count on the compassion of the wise dweller within to help lift me out of the doldrums.

By the way, I just remembered that I forgot to add something really important to my list: be kind to myself. That’s twelve. Really? Maybe it should be number one. I’m going to be really kind to myself now and push the publish button. Then I’m going to go have a nice fresh breakfast of something yummy and delicious.

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 Wisdom of the Wise

This morning when I sat down to close my eyes and rest in the quiet stillness of my soul for a while, my peaceful moment was rudely interrupted by the wayward contents of my mind.  That’s the ego for you—jump right in there to disturb the peace.  It can be quite disconcerting in my head sometimes.  

The mental assault stopped when I heeded the call to take a little vacation break from the ego-produced beliefs, assumptions, ideas, opinions, and perceptions that clutter up my mind.  It is a blessed relief to allow space for the truth to seep in, to make inroads into the density of a mind that thinks it knows it all and has all the answers.  Turn on the lights, open the floodgates, and voila—there it is—the naked truth.    

Oh but wait!  The truth might be my enemy.  What if I see something that I don’t want to see?  Something that I’ve been hiding from, running from, afraid of?  Oh no.  Not me.  I’m not willing to turn on the light.  Not just yet.  Maybe later.  Later is safe.  Later protects me from the naked unadulterated truth that might creep me out and scare the living bejeepers out of me.  

I’ll be the first to admit that staring in the eyeball of the bare naked truth can be frightening, like catching an unexpected glimpse of myself as I emerge dripping wet from a shower and see that my mother’s aged body has replaced my own.  I can hide it beneath layers of clothing, and I can disguise my flaws beneath a smiling face that belies the truth of who I think I am.   But at my core, I am not a body, any more than I am just a mind.  As I recently heard it said, I am not a body with a soul.  I am a soul with a body.

For those brave souls willing to dig deep enough to discern what is true, there is a conundrum. We won’t know the truth until we know what is false, and we won’t know what is false until we know what is true.  Truth will only become known when we are able to answer the call to drop the obstacles that stand in the way of our knowing: the ideas, opinions, perceptions and beliefs that lock us into a false reality of who we think we are, and what we believe to be true.  

One of the greatest roadblocks to peace of mind is our belief in the story that we were told as children about being guilty of having committed some vague, undefinable, heinous sin or other against God or ourselves or some unknown someone, and that punishment is a certain consequence of our wickedness.  Call it blasphemous, but I do not believe that a loving creator would jump start our lives with the word sinner stamped across our foreheads.  

Mistakes?  Sure, you bet!  Guilty as charged!  Sin?  No thank you. I claim my innocence.  God doesn’t make mistakes, but humans do, and we made a whopper when we decided to believe the story we were told that identifies us as sinners.   The day I gave up the idea that I am a sinner was the day that my world turned right side up.  Any creation of God is perfect exactly as created.  We aren’t broken.  We don’t need to be fixed.  Praise the Lord!

Where, when, and how do we gather the courage to turn on the light and begin the search for light when the dark is such a scary place?  With one inch and one toe at a time, perhaps?  Or by sky diving and bungee jumping into the wilds of the unknown?  Or by seeking to find a comfortable space somewhere in the middle?  Or waiting until life in the dark becomes so suffocating that a willingness to open the mind to a sliver of light creeps into consciousness?  It’s different for each one of us.  For me, it was a trickle of awareness sneaking into my consciousness quietly, like a gentle snowfall growing by millimeters of an inch, hour by hour, changing the landscape of life one day at a time, slowly, changing my life forever.

We’re all parked on the planet for a reason.  We each come equipped with an ingenious curriculum specifically tailored to our individual, specific need, designed to move us from one life lesson to another.  We are given carefully selected teachers and guidance counselors to help us through our life experiences and lead the way home.  They are infinitely patient, kind, wise, loving, and take our hand as we navigate the scary patches of the self-realization process.  If we are wise, we follow the carefully planned curriculum and listen carefully to their wise counsel.  

When the time is right and the student is ready, the light will go on and the journey toward home will begin, gently guided by wise teachers who know how to help us find the best within ourselves, the heart and soul of our being. In this, the adventure of a lifetime, the reward is the gift of an infinite supply of unbounding joy. Let the journey begin.

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)

Goodbye to Guilt – Again

I must really be on a crash course on guilt-free living because apparently, it was the subject of my last blog written a couple of weeks.  That blog seems so far in the distant past that I forgot all about it, until I did a quick blog review, yet here I am again, still chipping away at the same old subject.  I guess I must still have a lot to learn, because I have given myself yet another opportunity to practice what I preach.  If you’re sick of reading about the subject of guilt, quick—push delete.  If not, check out Inching Toward Freedom and read on.

Yesterday was a useless, do nothing sort of day that highlighted my lifelong tendency to enjoy life in the leisure lane and take care of business whenever the mood strikes.  It was a day when I heard a few words emerge from my mouth that I later regretted.  They weren’t the kind of negative, damaging, words that would slice through someone’s heart had they been heard, but still, they were not words worthy of a soul seeking to understand, heed, and express the concept of living a life of harmlessness.  

It was the kind of day that invited guilt to move in and wipe out whatever enjoyment I might have experienced in my leisure.  Guilt—the master thief of peace of mind.

This morning I woke up with the realization that I did not do anything wrong or guilt-worthy, but rather, I did something that I would think twice about doing again.  It was a lesson, another learning opportunity to give me a choice about how and who I choose to be in this life.  It was another chance to practice self-forgiveness and have compassion for my still-human ways rather than contempt.  It offered a ‘what would Jesus do’ moment in which I was given another opportunity to get it right.  Guilt—the master teacher of how to turn sins into blessings.

Guilt and sin are partners in the creation of insidious treachery that ruins the health and well-being of body, mind, and soul.  They hide out deep within the psyche and strike when least expected, catching the vulnerable victim off guard, sending them into a downward spiral of negativity.  I did something wrong, bad, unforgivable, I am a flawed human being, I deserve to be punished.  I am a sinner therefore I am not worthy of happiness, or joy, or the  love of God or anyone else.  

Sin is a devastating word, in and of itself a guilt-producer.  I prefer to use the word mistake instead.  Is that a cop out?  Am I letting myself off the guilt hook by telling myself that I made a mistake rather than a sin?  Maybe.  Sometimes it’s easier to correct a mistake than it is to forgive a sin.  For that reason, I’ll always employ my lazy nature and take the easy way out. 

The benefit of my do-nothing, lazy, selfish yesterday screams loudly in my ear.   It gave me a reason to get up, get moving, and do better today than I did yesterday.  It also gave me something to blog about after a two-week hiatus.    With patience, diligence, and maybe a little help from my unseen friends, this will be the last blog I’ll ever be writing on the subject of guilt.  

It seems to me that the extent to which I indulge in guilt is directly related to the extent to which I am practicing self-harmfulness. No thanks. I’d rather indulge myself in love and practice the art of harmlessness for all instead. I’ll keep working on it.

Power Over the Storm

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We survived Hurricane What’s-Her-Name (who can pronounce Isaias?) and its demise was amazing.  Howling winds and water every which-way suddenly stopped dead and turned off like a faucet cutting off the cold water, while the hot water faucet turned on the sunshine.  It was quite astounding—a wonder to behold.  No lingering aftereffects whatsoever, if you don’t count the poor folks left without power and the accompanying tornado.

I wish I could do that with my attitude.  I’ve been doing more than my usual amount of soul searching lately, sifting through the debris of a mind cluttered with a whole bunch of stuff that I’d rather not have to see or acknowledge.  The willingness to delve into the depths of the soul is not always an adventure for the faint of heart, but hey—in my world, it’s what makes life worth living because it’s where I find the really good stuff once the not so good is cleared away.

Amidst my morning ponderings of such things, I came upon an email that smacked me in the face with the mother of all annoyances—being given unsolicited advice and/or told what to do, particularly when I already know what to do and have every intention of doing it.  Sigh.  What is that, exactly?  Is it because I assume that the perpetrator thinks that I am not savvy enough to figure out something for myself?  Do I think my intelligence has been insulted?  Am I the only one who gets her knickers in a twist about such things?

The howling winds of ego swirl around and threaten my peace of mind, pummeling me with a flood of unpredictable, uncontrollable fury.  Maybe I react so strongly because I am blind to the possibility that I am guilty of such behavior myself.  Maybe my head is stuck in the sand again about all sorts of behavior that I’d rather not see.   The lingering aftereffects of such an ego outburst leave me feeling powerless over my own wayward emotions.

Well, maybe I’ve plucked just a little from the Writer’s Handbook of Exaggeration for Effect.  I confess, I’m not really as out of control as I make myself sound.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty cool most of the time, which is why, when something comes up that twists my knickers, it catches me off guard and seems worse that it actually is.  It’s just that as I travel along the path toward spiritual enlightenment, sometimes dirty laundry pops up to be washed and hung out in the sunshine to dry and blow in a gentle breeze for a while.  The part about squeezing through the wringer can be a little ouchy, but once I make it out into the light, a whole new joyous and wonderfully delicious world awaits.

One of these days, the winds will diminish to a gentle, calming breeze and I’ll realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that my light is lit by the Source of All That Is and that there is nothing in the world that can turn it off.  Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of what lies ahead, and trust me—it’s worth every ouchy.  Howling winds and lingering aftereffects vanish are replaced by power beyond measure.

Somewhere along the line, I must have signed up for the journey of a lifetime, and amidst my travels, I have discovered that it truly is the only trip worth taking. It can be a pretty wild ride, but I have some very reliable, devoted, tour guides who will never leave me, nor let me lose my way, even when I stop somewhere along the way to stick my head in the sand.  How blessed am I?

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).