A Life Worth Living

I’ve never heard of anybody on their death bed saying “I wish I had lived a more shallow life” — its always quite the opposite. People regret not living fuller, richer lives filled with values. And values are interesting things because they mean different things to different people and they can be hard to identify. In the October 2018 issue of Psychology Today I found an article by Dr. Steven C. Hayes that helps clarify values. Here are some highlights from the article found on page 55. I hope these highlights peak your interest and you choose to read the entire article:

From achievement and adventure to wisdom and wonder, not to mention kindness, innovation, and professionalism, values, are those things you deem important in life. Expressions of you what you care about, they profoundly inform what you pursue day to day, year to year. In so doing, they fundamentally shape the trajectory of your whole life.

Values are an inexhaustible source of motivation-inexhaustible because they are qualities intrinsic to being and doing. They are visible only through their enactments. They’re adverbs or adjective or verbs: “I did something lovingly.” Because they are chosen qualities of actions, they can never be fully achieved, only embraced and shown. Nevertheless, they give life direction, help us persist through difficulties. The nudge us invite us, and draw us forward. They provide constant soft encouragement.

Here are ten ways to know you’re focused on what’s important.

1) You feel a sense of enough, rather than a need to measure whether you have more or less than others.

2) You can readily name your heroes.

3) You can single out the sweetest moments of your life.

4) You can identify your greatest pain.

5) You don’t know the content, but you can identify the theme of the next chapter of your life narrative.

6) It’s what you would do if nobody were looking.

7) Your decisions make you feel like getting up in the morning.

8) You can, in only a few minutes, write about what matters. (And you should.)

9) You have a strong desire to communicate your interests to others.

10) You use your mind as a tool to humanize rather than objectify yourself.

Again, the above was taken from Psychology Today, page 55, October 2018 issue - the full article was written by Dr. Steven C. Hayes. We all do better when we are living value driven lives - its hard to do but well worth it!!!!!!!

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Drinking & Marketing

Thinking Outside the Box(ed Wine): Why the Stories We Tell About Drinking Matter

August 30, 2018, by Melissa Mowery

On a rare kid-free afternoon, I find myself aimlessly browsing the aisles of Target in the kind of unhurried fashion I seldom enjoy. As I thumb through the racks of graphic tanks and tees, I start to notice a pattern developing: at least half of the shirts on display make mention of alcohol in some way. Rosé All Day. All Is Fine with Pizza and Wine. Save Water, Drink Mojitos. My initial reaction is a hot flare of anger that spreads through my chest like wildfire. Here I am with seven months of sobriety to my name and yet this booze-soaked culture still manages to saturate the world around me, even here in the aisle of a department store where they can’t legally sell alcohol.

But as the indignation dissipates, a new thought surfaces: the old me would’ve loved these shirts.

Truth be told, I used to be exactly the kind of woman who found this alcohol-as-lifeline shtick hilarious and comforting. The shirt that boasts, “This mama runs on coffee, wine, and Amazon Prime.” The wine glass that reads, “Mommy’s in time out.” The bottles of Cab and Pinot cleverly named “Mommy Juice” or “Mad Housewife.” All of them made me feel like part of an exclusive club of women who understood a truth that I wasn’t yet able to articulate: alcohol was our collective reward for being female, the consolation prize for overworked, overtired, and underappreciated women everywhere.

For a long time, I belonged to this target market: women who drink to cope with the pressures and obligations of a life they’re desperately trying to hold together. I drank because I was tired. I drank because raising kids is hard. I drank because numbing the trauma of my past is much easier than tackling those feelings head on. I drank because—as the 7 million Instagram hashtags constantly remind me—self-care is an important part of womanhood and drinking seemed like an easy way to meet that need.

I want to be clear that my problem drinking was not caused by clever marketing; I don’t believe other women’s issues with alcohol are either. What I do believe is this narrative that so savvily equates drinking with surviving womanhood is exacerbating a problem many of us can’t even name. But marketers know that it exists and they’re using it against us. Quite successfully, in fact.

As someone who used to work in the marketing world, I understand the game. In order for a marketing campaign to work, it needs to draw on the emotions of the consumer. It’s not enough for the buyer to like the interior or appreciate the features of a new car; she has to be able to envision it as part of a larger narrative about who she is and how this car will make her feel about herself when she drives it. Frighteningly enough, marketers often understand the emotions that drive our purchasing decisions better than we do. The case of alcohol is no exception.

Though we look back in awe of how gullible and naive women were in the 1940s and 50s when tobacco companies used cigarettes as a symbol of liberation, sophistication, and sex appeal, we’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re not being targeted in exactly the same way. The only difference is that this time, alcoholic beverage marketers are touting brunch-time mimosas with girlfriends, oversized glasses of Merlot, and fruity date-night cocktails as a backdrop for the kind of indulgent life we deserve as women who are constantly catering to others. They’ve diagnosed the need—a reward for the hard work of womanhood—and have provided the fix: a guilt-free indulgence masquerading as self-care. The argument is only bolstered by the fact that everyone else just happens to be participating in it, too. Strength in numbers.

And those numbers are pretty startling. According to a 2017 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, female alcohol use disorder in the United States increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013. Unsurprisingly, depression is also on the rise in the US—it spiked 33% between 2013-2017, according to one study—with women being twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Additionally, research shows that one out of three women who experience depression will also suffer from some form of substance abuse or dependence. The correlation is pretty clear: women are growing increasingly more depressed and they’re turning to alcohol—a depressant—to cope. And the 223 billion dollar a year alcoholic beverage industry is waiting with open arms.

As sobering as they are, I doubt these numbers really surprise anyone. It’s no secret that in this age of Pinterest-perfect houses and Instagram-worthy selfies, we women are more anxious, stressed, and depressed than we’ve ever been. We know this about ourselves and the alcohol industry does too.  Here’s what they’ve also figured out: we—the women who spend so much of our time serving our spouses, kids, aging parents, coworkers, and communities—often require permission to do things that seem overly indulgent. And where do we get that permission? From the coffee mugs that read, “This Might Be Wine.” From the shirts that suggest chasing espresso with prosecco. From the memes that tell us the most expensive part of motherhood is all the wine we have to drink.

Maybe the saddest part of it all is that every time we wear the shirt or drink from the coffee mug or share the meme, we’re marketing their product for them—to each other. And we don’t even realize that’s what we’re doing. Oftentimes we’re simply giving our endorsement, the way women have always done, because we’re wired for community and sharing gives us a common language. But when we endorse alcohol as a way to survive womanhood we’re inadvertently weakening ourselves, telling each other—and everyone else—that being a woman is not survivable without a drink in our hands.

I do not believe this is true. And you shouldn’t either.

The alcoholic beverage industry knows our story. They see our depression, our stress, our anxiety, and they’re presenting us with an easy out. A glass of wine after the kids go to bed to dull the stress of a work fiasco. A splash of Baileys in our morning coffee to cope with a long day at the soccer field. A margarita big enough to swallow up our feelings and ensure we won’t think about them for the next couple hours. But as a woman who used alcohol to take the edge off my life for many years, I can tell you that I never actually needed it to survive. In fact, if sobriety has taught me anything, it’s that life is not something to be merely survived.

My life is difficult and stressful and sometimes feels unmanageable. I still battle depression, fear, loneliness, and anxiety. I cry. I yell. I complain. It would be insincere to pretend all of that followed the alcohol down the drain and that being sober magically erased the hard stuff. It didn’t. What it did do is allow me to clearly see the other part of my life, the part that’s positively overflowing with the kind of incredible beauty that I could not fully appreciate until I stopped numbing the good stuff, too. For a long time, I saw myself so clearly in the pictures marketers painted of life with alcohol as the backdrop—I envisioned myself freer, lighter, happier. The irony is that I wasn’t able to grasp that life with both hands until, at long last, I finally put down my drink.

Written by Melissa Mowery

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John McCain

This past week the country said goodbye to John McCain.  A man of character, values and strength.  A war hero who committed his life to the service of something bigger than himself.  As I watched the funeral service and listened to the speeches touting his virtues - I loved that people were also very honest about his human foibles - his temper and his very public "mistakes" (marital affairs, financial  corruption, and a VP choice that stood against so much of what McCain believed).  It was nice to be reminded that people can make mistakes in life and still live a life that is worth living. 

McCain was a man that had the ability to apologize, own his mistakes and make necessary changes.   THIS IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT ... not being perfect (because no one is) but creating a life that stands up to fear and other emotions that are not helpful.  

Back in the 80's I worked in politics and had the opportunity to sit and interview John McCain.   He was kind, gentle, and very committed to helping people.  His enthusiasm and strength was very apparent. 

I love the following quote from McCain and invite you to live by it as much as possible: 

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears." 

                                                                                      - Senator John McCain     

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September Change

September is upon us.  The month that helps us transition from vacation back to work & school, transition from heat to cold, transition from unscheduled to scheduled.  For me its always been a very significant month because its my birth month.  So for me it truly marks the passing of time and the reminder that my time here on earth is certainly finite.  

I'm turning to my gift calendar of words that help inspire me daily and sharing these words with you in the hope that they inspire you.  

1)  Give your best today

2)  Enjoy all that you have

3)  Expand your awareness

4)  Become a catalyst for change

5)  The world is smiling for you 

6)  O lovingly release the past

7)  Transform wanting into being

8)  See the big picture

9)  Live with open hands

10)  Delight in your ody

11) Befriend your self

12)  Value your time

13)  Your life is a beautiful rainbow

14)  Welcome new experiences

15) Stretch your mind

16)  Watch the clouds

17)  Love is all there is 

18)  You are a magician of life

19)  nourish your spirit

20)  Your spirit is ageless

21)  Create new traditions (try it)

22)  Imagine life in balance

23)  Choose to relax

24)  You are radiant love

25)  Pamper your self

26)  Words can heal

27)  Speak words of peace

28)  Take loving to the next level

29)  Remind someone of their perfection

30) Explore fun (Fun!)

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Holding In The Belly

The inward battle- against our mind, our wounds, and the residues of the past-is more terrible than outward battle.  - Swami Sivananda

I saw a sea otter rolling in the bay.  It held a crab or small turtle against its belly, and on its back, it would eat a piece. then press the crab or turtle to its belly and turn over and swim some more. 

This stayed with me for days until I realized that I have been living like this otter; holding the uneaten part of my shell to my belly as I roll through the deep, and , of course, it is impossible to swim freely while holding dead shelled things so tightly. 

Indeed, trying to move on and eat the past at the same time is the cause of many ulcers. Realizing this made me stop and face the sadness of old wounds that I was holding tightly in my belly. 

It made me understand, yet again, that while we try to integrate inner and out experience, while we aspire to such a oneness, the work is often one at a time:  facing ourselves without going anywhere, not nibbling  at the ailing soul on the run.

* Still yourself and see if there is a strain between your doing and your being, a strain from tending something in your life while on the move. 

*  If so stop and face what is in your belly.  Make what you need to tend where you are going. 

*  Breathe deeply and let your inner and outer attention go in the same direction. 

Taken from THE BOOK OF AWAKENING by Mark Nepo,  page 273.   

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Moose

Just getting back from vacation in Alaska.  It was amazing - beautiful mountains, so green & lush,  colorful flowers in full glorious bloom.  We spent the week with family that were new to us.  They were very kind, generous and accommodating.  It truly was a nice relaxing time.  

I tend to be hypersensitive to others needs and my anxieties make me a bit controlling.  When we first arrived I found myself struggling to just sit back and let the trip unfold.  I was concerned that the 91 year old dad was doing too much and even though we were in their home I found myself wanting to rearrange things.  I noticed that I was struggling inside when the room went quiet and at first kept filling the air with the sound of my own voice.  

And then we saw our first moose, something about the quiet way these giant creatures move through the world helped remind me to just let things go and let them be.  Of course moose can move quickly and will attack & make noise if they have to - but it was so beautiful and relaxing to watch them move about in the wild (and in the city) in a quiet gentle manner.  

So for today, join me in walking about quietly, gently, peacefully and like moose ... just let things be.  

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Alaska Bound

Off for the week - headed to Alaska to discover new terrain and most importantly new relationships.  My husband, Rod, has searched for his Dad his entire life.  Through the wonder of modern technology (DNA & the computer) - Rod found his dad.  Dad has been living in Alaska even before it was a state. 

So looking forward to this trip.  I support you in taking time to relax, time to enjoy your friends and family and time to clear your head from life's daily routines!  

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Hot August Words

I hope the following words fill you with joy and inspiration as you go through the month of August: 

1.  You were born perfect

2.  Be colorful in your expression

3.  Your heart knows the answer

4.  Walk with a smaile

5.  Trust diving timing

6.  Make a new friend

7.  Share an adventure

8.  Infuse the day with love

9.  Commit to self love

10.  Give the gift of tenderness

11.  You are a wise messenger

12.  You get what you give

13.  Make yourself happy

14.  Create systems of support

15.  Let your spirit come forward

16.  Spread your wings and fly

17.  Your life is rare 

18.  Blossom into your greatness

19.  All life is sacred

20.  Thank a farmer

21.  Be fully self-expressed 

22.  Let your passion guide you 

23.  Laugh at your self

24.  Life is a wild adventure

25.  Discover hidden potential 

26.  Taste the richness of life

27.  Take your time 

28.  You are a contribution 

29.  Happiness happens

30.  Relax and just be

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Important Dates

I have a son who turns 30 on July 29th.   Lots of people have 30 year old children (and maybe some of them have their birthdays on July 29th).   The fact in and of itself is not all that important and certainly not unique.  

I happen to be one of those moms who won't be able to celebrate with her 30 year old son.   My son is not in my life.  As a matter of fact I have no idea where he is or how he is doing.  This too is not unique, there are thousands of parents who don't have their children in their lives for various reasons.  

My role in my child's life lasted a little over 9 months.  I'm a birth mom - I carried him for the very first part of his fragile life - spent 3 days in the hospital with him and then released him into the arms of adoptive parents.  I don't know what the future holds but to date that was the hardest thing I've ever did.  

He turns 30 this year and my body is really feeling the loss of him.  All of July has been a bit depressing with a very heavy feeling.  I've been trying to honor that I'm still grieving  him and that important dates (like his birthday)  activate memories and sensations that need to be attended.  

All humans struggle with loss, disappointment, sadness - none of what I'm feeling this month is unique but its been heightened by this very important milestone of his 30th birthday.   I've come to peace with the decision I made so many years ago.  But his 30th has unleashed quite a bit of sadness.  

Sadness does not mean I have to fix something - just honor it, allow my body to cry in order to release the stress and recognize that being fully present to my pain today gives me permission to be fully present to all the joy and beauty that life has to offer.  

I invite you to list the important dates and anniversaries that might trigger your body so that you can be aware of them.  Often when we are feeling irritated, antsy, or angry its a sign that our bodies need to grieve some past loss.  And often our bodies are aware of these dates even before our conscious mind.   

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Shame ...

I just got in from work feeling like I have nothing to give people ... feeling a bit burnt out and convinced that I'm a fraud.  Have you ever felt that way?  I walked in the door full of shame and pulled up the following article.  It did 3 things for me:  1)  I'm not alone, 2) Reminder that I like all others need to be seen and validated & 3)  restored my energy in that it is a loving compassionate act to help others feel heard and seen.  

Hope you enjoy the following article as much as I did. 

Three Keys to Healing Shame

Becoming a Loving Witness

Posted Sep 20, 2016  by David Bedrick, J.D.

Shame is powerful, insidious, injurious. It’s the air we breathe, the sea we swim in. It informs how we look upon others; it informs how we look at ourselves. It’s a deadly virus attacking our capacity to love each other and ourselves.

When we are shamed repeatedly, we are taught to think that our feelings are wrong and our experiences are delusive. Whether this happens as a child or as an adult, the result is the same: if there is no one compassionate and perceptive enough to acknowledge the validity of our stories on a repeat basis, then we too are challenged to see them as true. We learn to distrust ourselves; we learn to deny our own truth, even to ourselves. Transforming this mindset requires a witness with a willingness to look and listen in a most powerful way—by seeing, feeling and believing.

The Three Keys 

Seeing

The seeing I am referring to here is most synonymous with the word respect. The word respect has two elements: 1) spect: to see, to view, to look at; and 2) re: to do it again. To see in a way that heals shame, is to look and then look again—to see what is not seen and affirm the unseen with our physical and verbal recognition.

To see in this way is no easy task, because when people tell you something about themselves, you can’t see inside of them; the information is subjective. For example, if someone tells you they’re nervous, you can't see the feeling. Thus, we need techniques to make the feelings visible. One useful technique for “seeing” feelings is through somantic experience—having the person attempt to demonstrate the feeling with their body.

Accordingly, if a person is nervous, I might ask them where that nervousness is located in their body. They might say it’s in their solar plexus. I might say, "Feel that for a moment. Can you show me with your hand?" They might make a fluttering hand motion. I might ask, "If you kept fluttering, what would you do?" They may say, "I might fly away." That person is saying, "I want to fly away," and now I can see it! When I am seeing it in that way, that person has an experience of truly being seen even more than when I say, "Oh, you're nervous today." That type of “seeing” on my part, as the witness, creates the sense of being acknowledged and cared about, even loved, in a way. It’s so powerful that it can even combat the dominance of shame that dismisses and denies their experience!

There are times when a person’s feelings don’t show up readily in the physical realm during verbal recollection.  Another powerful technique is to listen carefully for unseen non-verbal signals. For example, I may ask them to tell me a story about their nervousness. While speaking, I might hear a quiver—a flutter in their voice—and to give the person the feeling of being seen, I might say, "Oh, I hear a little flutter in your voice. That must be some of the nervousness you're talking about." This is what we call sensory grounding; the experience of nervousness—the flutter in their voice, the hand motions—those are things I can actually bear witness to, a unique subtlety in their projection.  

To heal our shame, we need to be truly seen.

People then feel like, "Wow, this person is really paying attention. They really want to know me," and that's an amazing experience. People really want to be known and understood; they want someone to not affirm their shamed view of themselves.

Feeling

To combat shame, we also need someone to be moved by our experience. We need to not only “see,” but feel and express those feelings.  To do this I must listen inside of myself to what you’re telling me—I must pay attention to my own feelings.  

Let's say you were hurt. If I listen to my own feelings, I notice I am moved to wince or shudder in response to your story. Expressing this lets you know that I can imagine what I would feel like if your experience were mine.

To heal our shame, we need to be witnessed with compassion.

Now, in addition to a seeing quality, you know that I'm moved by your story, and you feel loved, in a sense. That combats the shame, because shame has a dismissal in it that says your feelings aren't important—that you aren’t important, that you are not worthy of care, that you are not valued.  So, when I show you that you moved me, you feel like your story really does mean something; it has power and meaningful information in it. My response is emphatic and compassionate; and it communicates to you a sense of validation. My being moved by you brings your experience to life and allows you to begin to trust its legitimacy.

Believing

Shame is a thief. It steals our belief in our experience and our belief in ourselves. To have our essential self-love restored, to combat shame’s eye, we need to be believed.

I don’t mean that every word you say must be declared the truth—it’s not that kind of belief. I mean that to heal shame, something more basic, something deeper, must be believed—a deeper truth in our story, even if there are some inaccuracies. As a counselor, I must also believe in the person—that the person I am looking at has a beauty, intelligence, a gift, and an authority worthy of my best support. I call this “radical belief.”

For example, If you tell me you’re wearing a blue shirt, and I can see that you are, I believe you. That’s not the kind of healing belief I am referring to. But if you say you got bullied at school and I ask what you did to cause it, then I'm blaming you for something; I am implying that I don't fully believe your point of view, that you have a legitimate complaint and injury. I'm meeting you with suspicion about your experience instead of responding in a supportive way, such as inviting you to tell me your story and how it made you feel. When I do that, I’m essentially saying, “I believe you. Your experience was real, and your feelings are important and justified.” I “radically believe” you.

To heal our shame, our feelings and deepest truths must be believed.

Being radically believed changes something, because when people are shamed, not only do they experience not being believed from the outside, but they also stop believing themselves. They start questioning their initial response to the experience as if it’s not okay or right to be upset. People internalize this distrust of themselves. Radically believing them and their experience in a deep way ends up combating that shame and fosters self-love.

These three qualities—seeing (wanting to know the details of a person’s experience), feeling (expressing empathy and compassion), and radical believing (instilling a profound trust in the heart and story of the person) wrap their way around the heart and soul, like a loving bandage. People come to know they’re important, valuable. They know their feelings matter, and they feel seen and understood. These three qualities can change the trajectory of a life; they can heal our shame.

When we practice being this kind of healing witness on a regular basis, it opens the door for us to not only embrace each other in a more loving way, but it also allows us the opportunity to turn that same love on ourselves, to learn to authenticate our own feelings, experiences, and truths. We begin to build a new world, one not of shame but of love.

*********************************

Source: David Bedrick, J.D.  

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A Few Words ...

Once in a while I read a statement that hits me like a 2 by 4:  

"Sadness does not mean something is broken that needs to be fixed.  It means something important to you has been lost, and you have to identify what it is."  Steven C. Hayes, PHD

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JD Memories

The sadness of it all ... recently I attended a concert featuring the music of John Denver.  Those of you who are old enough to remember him will remember music that was filled with love of the earth and gentleness toward other people. 

The music took me back to my youth. (early 70's).   A time filled with the promise of what was to come and a body strong enough to fulfill those promises.   

John Denver died in 1997, a tragic airplane accident.  He was only 54 years old.  

The music was so sweet and tender and I was lucky to be sharing it with my husband and our good friend Jeff.  The band played all of John's greatest hits ... Country Roads, Rocky Mountain High, Annie's song and many more.  It was wonderful sitting there holding my husband's hand, singing along with band (they asked us to), and just letting the music sweep over us. 

And then it happened ... beautiful pictures of mountains, rivers, trees, horses, and eagles began to be replaced by pictures of John.  Great pictures of John in concert, riding horses, flying his air plane - in all of the pics John was smiling and clearly having a good time.  But with each passing picture I noticed this deep sadness coming over me.  

This recognition that everything changes and passes and ultimately fades from the light.  The recognition that someday my husband would also be dead (or that I would die first).  Its not that I have never thought of these things or even understood them ... but sitting in that concert hall ... I truly FELT them.   As tears streamed down my face my husband squeezed my hand even tighter and let me know that he understood my sadness.  It was a true moment of allowing for grief.  

The rest of the day I was very aware of the need to be kind, gentle and loving with those around me.  The thought of loosing my husband made me more loving towards him - more aware of wanting to laugh with him. 

Its a bit counter intuitive but its in the recognition of death and loss that we can come to fully enjoy and appreciate how precious this time on earth is.  And its in the creating space in ourselves to allow for each and every feeling - its in allowing the tears to flow, the laughter to come, the kindness and love to stream forward that we truly find life's joy and peace.           

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July Freedom

Good old hot July - fireworks, picnics, baseball and so much more.  Below are some words to help you experience the true freedom of living when you love yourself, express gratitude and love, and think more positively.  

1.  Sing your hearts song

2.  So something outragious

3.  Being flexible is fun

4.  Recognize the beauty around you 

5.  Your presence is a gift

6.  Laugh yourself silly

7.  You are so lovable

8.  Move with purpose

9.  Follow what inspires you 

10.  Today is a new day

11.  Bask in the grandness of the universe

12.  Imperfection is an illusion

13.  Your life is a fertile garden

14.  Trust your heart

15.  Nurture inner faith

16.  You can perform miracles

17.  See beyond your mind

18.  Delight in simplicity

19.  Plant seeds of love

20.  Look deep inside

21.  Honor who you are 

22.  You can have it all 

23.  You rock

24.  Feel free

25.  Letting go feels good

26.  Create  new story

27.  Your choices are infinite 

28.  The blessings already are 

29.  Be the source of greatness

30.  Play 

31.  Flow and grow 

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"A Set Of Inner Doors"

The stuff of our lives doesn't change.  It is we who change in relation to it.  - Molly Vass

Whatever our gifts or wounds or life situation-whether we have been married several times or have never been in love, whether we have plenty of money or are sorely in need of more-the core issues of our lives will not go away.  

There exists for each life on Earth a set of inner doors that no one can go through for us.  We can change jobs or lovers, travel around the world, become a doctor or lawyer or expert mountain climber, or nobly put our life on hold to care for an ailing mother or father, and when we are done, though the worthy distraction could take years, the last threshold we didn't cross within will be there waiting.  There is no substitute for genuine risk.  

Stranger still is how the very core issues we avoid return, sometimes with different faces, but still, we are brought full circle to them, again and again.  Regardless of how we may try to skip over or sidestep what we need to ace, we humbly discover that no other threshold is possible until we use our courage to open the door before us.  Perhaps the oldest working truth of self-discovery is that the only way out is through.  That we are returned repeatedly to the the same circumstance is not always a sign of avoidance, but can mean our work around a certain issue is not done.  

In my own life, it is not by chance that struggling to adulthood with a domineering and critical mother, I have been thrust again and again into situations with dominant men and women, struggling painfully for their approval and fearing their rejection.  For years, I tried to manage the circumstance better, which was like standing and varnishing the door without, ever opening it.  I was destined to repeat the pain of rejection, no matter how skillfully I handled it, until I opened the door of self-worth. 

Even my calling to be a poet became a distraction that lasted many years.  Feeling rejected and insecure at heart, I quietly made a mission of becoming a famous writer, only to find myself one day replaying the issues of approval and rejection a hundredfold at the mailbox, as I awaited word from countless critical strangers known as editors.  I was stunned and relieved to finally discover  myself at the same threshold of loving myself that I had run from years before.   

The thresholds go nowhere.  It is we who, in our readiness and experience, keep coming back, because the soul knows only one way to fulfill itself, and that is to take in what is true. 

* Mediate on an issue that keeps returning to you. 

* Relate to it as a messenger and ask the messenger what door it is trying to open for you. 

* How will your life change if you move through this threshold? 

* How will your life be affected if you do not? 

- Page 42, THE BOOK OF AWAKENING, by Mark Nepo  

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Oh These Cats ...

We love our cats, they have brought so much joy into our lives.  Their eyes are so cute, their fur so soft, the sound of them purring in our laps is so relaxing.  Tabby, the male, is sweet and lets us hold him just like a baby.  CG doesn't like to be held but loves running around the house in very playful ways making us laugh.     

But oh these cats ... last week they dragged 2 birds into the house and 3 mice.  Luckily, my husband was home to deal with 3 of the incidents - Rod is so good about catching the small critters and cleaning up without it affecting him.    

Me on the other hand am very squeamish.  The mice truly scare me and the thought of them running across my feet is nauseating.  Sadly, Rod, my hubby was at work when Tabby brought in 2 different mice. 

It was awful -- Tabby had a mouse behind one of the book shelves and kept taunting him.  Luckily, they were close to the sliding glass door.  It took a good 1/2 hour - every time I got close to the door I thought the mouse was going to leap out and so I would run away from the door.  And then it would take time for me to get up the courage to try again.  Finally, I did it - I opened the door and the mouse ran out.  

The second mouse wasn't so lucky ... poor little guy.  Tabby brought him in & lost him under the couch -- I did my best with a broom to get him out but no use - I ran out of time and had to leave for work.  Sadly, when I got home later that evening - the poor little mouse was dead in front of the slider door.  It was so gross ... I thought I was going to throw up ... 

I called my husband for support and it was comforting to hear him saying "you can do this", I took good deep breaths ... it took quite a few tries for me to muster the courage to scoop up the little guy.  

I get it  -- the cats are bringing us presents and I'm certainly not mad at them but oh its so tempting to make them out-door-kitties.  I would miss their energy and the joy they bring but I wouldn't have to be creeped out by mice. 

OR

I can keep working on opening space in myself that tolerates things that feel unacceptable.  Reminding myself that life is not black or white, all or nothing, cats or mice ... if you will. 

There is no way to enjoy the cats without the mice and so its in my best interest to accept the ickiness of the mice.  Life is truly messy with many unpleasantness along the way and in tolerating THAT is how we find joy and love.  

 

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So Much Easier Said Than Done

I get into funks sometimes and its hard to pull out of them.  Often I get bursts of energy and think about all the things that would be fun and productive to do and then I don't do them.  When I'm in one of those spaces I often starting digging through self help books or look online for blogs and articles that can point me in the right direction and invariably I get sent back to very basic ideas that if practiced daily would make my life a joy.  

Recently, after a very long and frustrating day I was in one of those funks and found the following article - hope you enjoy reading it and as you consider practicing the following steps always be gentle with yourself.  These ten ideas are essential to a happy life but require patience and practice ... they are easier said than done.    

10 Ways To Make Your Life Better, Starting Today

The world is full of opportunities, but sometimes too much thinking can get in the way. Changing your life for the better is about picking a destination and taking one step at a time to get there. If you try to take shortcuts, you may actually end up making your journey longer and more arduous. Getting serious about making improvements is a great start, and taking action is the next important step.

Here, then, are 10 tips to help you start improving your life:

  1. Be grateful for what you have. When you stop to remember what you have instead of worrying about what you may not be getting, it changes your perspective for the better.
     
  2. Start your day the night before. The most successful people I know end their workday by making a list of what they have to do the following day or two ahead. This allows the subconscious to work on things while you sleep.
     
  3. Be ready to grow up. Adults have the ability to learn to delay gratification, but we also have a choice as to how to behave when things don’t go our way. If you remember to take the high road, you’ll end up where you want to be.
     
  4. Drop the attitude. If you think the world owes you a living, you might want to reevaluate your position. It is quite possible that, by feeling entitled, you are pushing away things and people you might like.
     
  5. Don’t ignore your emotions, but remember that feelings aren’t facts.Emotions need to be honored—they don’t have to be justified—but just because you have a feeling doesn’t mean that you are right.
     
  6. Watch out for negative thinking. Sometimes we get into negative feedback loops and don’t even know it. If thoughts of being helpless and hopeless continue to enter your mind, you might just need to take a nap or perhaps talk with someone who can help.
     
  7. Set up and stick to a routine. We are creatures of habit; and good habits, such as getting regular exercise, make us feel better. Maintaining good habits also helps us feel that we have some control over our lives. Just do it.
     
  8. Drop your resentments. We all have them. Whether they are toward our parents, partners, or peers, resentments take up too much psychic space to allow us to function properly. By choosing to drop them, you will make your life much lighter. But the hardest part is making the decision to let your resentments go.
     
  9. Know who you really are, and learn to honor yourself. We all fake it from time to time and once in a while, this can be a good thing, but never compromise your personal values and always strive to be your best self.
     
  10. Enjoy a part of every day. Look for those little bright moments that happen all the time but that we often fail to recognize. Make a point of seeing some good in every day, and you will change your life.

Written by Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.  

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June Sunshine

May the following words inspire you, bring you joy, and allow you to experience the value of you: 

1.  Laugh, play and be merry

2.  Allow possibility to come alive

3.  Awaken to your beauty

4.  You are the source of your experience

5.  Embrace the magic of life

6.  Fill your day with wonder

7.  You are a divine creation

8.  Express your truth

9.  Indulge in your specialness

10.  Give more gratefully

11.  Move forward in life

12.  Movement is healing

13.  You walk in beauty

14.  You are a genius

15.  Everyone is a mirror

16.  Trust in life's unfoldment

17.  You are always free

18.  You make the rules

19.  Open space for new possiblities

20.  Sing to the sun

21.  The earth is an amazing place to be 

22.  Value your resources

23.  Support your inner child

24.  Take note of your brilliance

25.  Change is essential 

26.  Expand your belief in love

27.  Design your life with beauty

28.  Learn something new

29.  Bring light to this moment

30.  Paint your dreams on today

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Back to Work ...

I love my work and enjoy being at home but invariably I also feel a bit sad and stressed when a vacation is over and I have to return to my regular routine.  I thought the following article had helpful tips in making the transition back from vacation - hope you think its helpful as well.    

Getting Back to Work After a Vacation

Written by  Ceren Cubukcu

After the much deserved vacation that is full of fun and joy, returning back to the regular routine can distress many of us. While almost everyone doesn’t like going back to work especially after a relaxing and peaceful vacation, you should face the reality and do your best to adjust and be productive again. In order to prevent the post-vacation syndrome, you have to do a little bit of planning and accept that the vacation is over so that you can get back to the right mindset.

Below are some helpful tips which will help you to resume your regular routine.

  • Return Home One Day Early: Rather than using your vacation time until the last minute, return back home one day early and rest at home. This will help you recover from your journey and run regular vacation errands such as unpacking your luggage, doing laundry and buying groceries. If you return on Sunday, you can also take Monday off so you only work for 4 days during your first week after vacation.
  • Scan Your Emails before Going Back to the Office: Many people spend almost their whole day going through their inbox after coming back from vacation. However, it would be more productive for you if you check your inbox the night before work and delete the spam emails plus mark the ones that need your attention. When you arrive at the office in the morning, since you know which emails you need to reply, you can make an action plan to address them.
  • Take Care of Your Eating Habits: During vacation, you eat out every day so preparing a home cooked meal for your lunch will help you feel that you actually returned back. A home cooked meal will also be good for your diet and prevent you from gaining weight. Some people gain weight during vacation due to the food they eat in restaurants so paying attention to what you eat in the office after vacation will help you go back to your regular weight.
  • Remember that This Is Not Your Last Vacation: If you have more time off and are able financially, planning another trip is the best way to overcome your post vacation distress. This way you have something to look forward to. If you don’t have enough money for another trip, you can start saving some instead of spending it here and there.
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Some Time Off

Thanks for checking in on my blog.  I'm on vacation this week and enjoying some time away from my regular routine.  I'm writing this in advance and hoping that if you are reading this it will serve as a reminder that we all need some down time - go relax, go play, go explore and NEVER forget to go LOVE!!!!!!   

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