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Can we be happy with everything and with nothing? It would be so easy to say a simple yes to that, but it's likely a big lie. Happiness is conditional. Basic needs need to be met for that basic streamline happiness - the big 3: Food, a home, health. Happiness shouldn't depend on whether one can have that fine dining experience at JoJo, the SVP title, the Mercedes or only Ralph Loren clothing. Happiness happens to you from inside out. It's an inside job, but without the basic 3, it's likely serious crankiness will creep into the crevices of daily living.
Seeing what is right in front of our eyes is a daily meditation. Taking it in. Practice three minutes a daily of writing it down. Simple observations. Things. Melted candles. Bicycling magazine. A bowl of bruised apples. Matching tissues boxes. Green scissors. A poem written in script on gray wood: "then we sat on the edge of the earth, with our feet dangling over the side, and marveled that we had found each other" - by Erik Dillard. Take a deep breath and gently closing our eyes, see nothing, and think of how we'd miss our these simple surroundings of stuff.
Siblings. We don't choose them, they don't choose us. We'd likely not be their friend if they weren't blood, so how important are these siblings? It's not until one disappears that you see how much they matter. There was once five, and now there's four. Suddenly the entire mathematical equation of your family life is off kilter. Suddenly you realize how distant they were after all and you think of how it could have been different, but you can't bring back that piece of the family puzzle, it's gone. But you can find who is left, and build from there.
Regret. Avoidable? When it comes to blood - and your brother passes away and you realize you didn't know him. It's so easy to whip around thoughts of who were you? Beating oneself up is so not cool, but there's that nagging wish that I knocked harder on the iron walls he built around himself and that the only birthday I forgot was the year he died. Comfort that there are siblings and parents left, and we can be inconvenienced more, knock, ask questions and appreciate every taken for granted thing at least 10% more. So, yes, some regret is avoidable.
Are we supposed to move away from family and create our own? Can we ever create a new one or will it just be a re-creation? Sometimes it feels like we're playing house all our lives and continually healing our original family dynamic. One would like to think that we make all new friends and marry or date into new families - but in the end, it's the real family that is considered "immediate" - and not the peripheral one. Dark as this might sound, it's worth building from the original foundation in addition to the new or it might crumble.
Do we really get to choose our family? Individuate? Truly separate from our family of origin? Emotionally, physically and spiritually - but still stay in the loop? That tug toward home is strong, the tug toward family guilt, toward that sense of obligation - sometimes real, sometimes false. Estrangement is painful and for some absolutely necessary - but, it's possible to individuate, separate, liberate and still have a connection with the essence of our family - even the dysfunction and stay whole and centered. Be in their lives, let them in - but step away often, accepting that guilt can be part of that step.
Displaced anger kicks not only your ass but the ass of others around you. The unfortunate thing about it is that when your in it you have absolutely no clue until the next day, a month from now, an hour, and if your lucky the next 5 minutes. Not too much wisdom to share on this, accept to ride it through, try to pause, if you can't, get your ass to a amends as soon as possible. Know that most anger that is heightened is usually old, as they say, if your hysterical, it's historical. It sucks, but it's true.
How do I love thee, let me count the ways. A good question. Instead of putting out the blanket statement - I love you. Show, don't tell? How do we show love? Do the math. Love is shown in actions, not just by words. Sometimes it has to be inconvenient, we have to go out of our way: buy the gift, give the massage, be quiet, be giving. Write a love “action” list. Surprise someone with a handmade card, schedule a massage, buy something sexy, seduce, invite, ask him questions, give the gift of listening, watch sports and leave him alone.
Assignment: Write a list of things you love: Long drives. Country roads. Clarity. Talk radio. Good therapy. Good friends. Airports. All Things Considered. Mustaches. Dental cleanings. Birthdays. Sleeping in and out. Convertibles. Spin classes. Pen and ink drawings. Sex. Walgreens. Painted toenails. Warm blankets. Memories. Rice cakes and yogurt. Babies. Red light bulbs. Atlantic ocean. Bikes. Zippered sweaters. Simplicity. MOMA. Charlie Rose. Sunday New York Times. Hot tubs. Hugs. The Office. Memoirs. Parades. Penmanship. Dr. Browers Peppermint Soup. Sassy Water. Peace and quiet. Walking. Peanut butter. Learning. Loving. Hotels. Zen. Frozen yogurt. Rivers. Singing. Northern California. Poems. Purring. Lips. Lists.
Nothing is ever really permanent in life, except Death. Heavy topic, heavy truth. Doesn’t get any heavier. Death is permanent. Even if one believes that there is heaven on high, we still leave this world, we permanently leave. We will not be seen again. Ever. There are no absolutes - but death is an absolute. A fact. Hard fact. Sad fact. But a fact. So where is the good news? Here it is: This permanence, allows us to live a richer existence and fuller life. Write that “bucket list” - and live permanently as happy as possible this time around. Now.
Road trips. Part of a prescription for life is to take a road trip. Pack the back of the car. Snack up the cooler. Fill the tank. Name that tune and stack the cd's. It's an opportunity for long conversations with yourself or fellow car mate. It's a way to remove yourself from familiar surroundings and ponder life's questions or a way to ponder the nothingness of life. Drive across country or across one state, but do hit the road. Occasionally speed. The car becomes your world, a smaller, more manageable one that allows a window to so much more.
Muffins are really a non food. Don't fool yourself, okay? They are mini-cakes. As long as you know that if you have a muffin for breakfast, it's a piece of round sweet sugary cake. Flour clouds. 99% of the time one is hungrier after a muffin then before. Especially when your feeling a bit chubby already, and there is a "muffin top" hanging over your once fitting jeans - this means pause, delay, think and then crack open the egg or slice a piece of cheese, or bake a beautiful potato. Indulge into an esteemable choice instead of muffin mania.
Birthdays. That one day that we can call our very own. The day that celebrates our birth. It deserves recognition. Such pleasure derived from that call that says "happy birthday" - even if just a voice mail. Pleasure. So, let's remember them. Don't forget birthdays. We're busy, we're pre-occupied with ourselves, we're forgetful - but remember. I forgot to send wishes on November 13, 2009 - and when my oldest brother died suddenly two days later, it hurt - deeply. He never remembered mine, but that didn't matter. 11/13 was a day to celebrate his birth, and 11/15 he was gone.
Grief. It comes in waves. If we don't feel it now, it will come strangely. So many mechanisms can stop the trickle of grief. Details. Funeral arrangements. Flights. Fights. Food. Sometimes we might not even get to it, so it's important to be present with it as much as possible. We're taught to stifle tears, to be given something to cry about, to buck up. But - there will always be a backdoor that grief will fall out of. Maybe it's sarcasm, maybe it's 5 lbs, maybe it's picking on the love in our life. So, the lesson here - feel it.
Here? There? This or that? Most decisions are luxury decisions if one is not deciding if they should have their leg amputated, or what food bank to go to tonight. Most decisions are easy when it really comes down to it. Too much time is spent on the fence. It's not pretty on the fence. When we are clear about who we are and what we stand for, decisions just roll out smoothly. As Roy Disney says, “It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are." So, hone those values and suddenly decisions will naturally follow.
Humility. Such a treasure to have it, and so transparent when it slips away. No matter how much spiritual work one does in the world, feeling spiritually superior will come back around and bite you from behind. It never pays. It steals from our souls little by little. So, be a worker among workers, a dweller among dwellers, a sister among sisters, be yourself. Keep the head held high and the self importance low. Everyone at the core is really the same. As the old Zen proverb says, "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
Left out? Is it a feeling or a fact? Mostly it's imagined or it stems from an old ricketty childhood emotion. Maybe there were kids that antagonized or flat-left - and that hurt. Today though, we are adults. If a party is happening down the hall or family members go off to a show without an invite, it is what is. It's not a purposeful attack or value indicator. When these feelings of left-out-ism rise to the surface, pause, reflect, sooth - but don't act from that young self, instead, simply remember: the adult is in the driver's seat.
Lounging mornings are a mandatory prescription for well being. Wake up and read. Watch tv. Make a cup of coffee and go back to bed. Have no deadlines on what needs to be done or places to go. An open ended day is truly a day of rest. Only good things come of it. That no pressure feeling is priceless. Far too often we are so busy, working, running, cleaning, de-cluttering, spinning. Take at minimum one day a month as a "go no where day" - do very little, and be very much. Schedule it if necessary - it's a must.
Have a patriotic moment. Look where your feet are. The US of A. It's a free country. It could be, um, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan. It could be a place where bombs go off every minute, women are treated brutally, corrupt governments, mayhem. Look around, see the beauty of this country. It's the human condition to take it for granted, to lose the sense of appreciation for the basics we have. War is constant, here and in foreign lands. Sadly, it will always exist - but the majority of us live in places where we don't have to view it live daily.
If you want to know why you are overeating, stop. It's simple. Stop and see what happens. Does loneliness rise to the surface? Sadness? Grief? Confusion? All sorts of feelings are underneath that behavior and it's not fun to be in the muck of those feelings, but it's possible. It doesn't matter if it's a cookie or a carrot, a rice cake or 5 slices of pizza, if one is obsessed with food or body stuff, there is usually that important question: what don't I want to feel? What am I avoiding? So, take that step - and stop - you'll see.
Mind trap. If given an opportunity, there is magical stories one's negatives side of the mind can make up. Not always favorable, not always truthful, and often utterly ridiculous. If given the opportunity, this mind can be one's worse enemy. As they say - don't go in there alone - it's a bad, bad neighborhood. Well, a good way to avoid it that side - listen to tunes, listen to others, listen to the heart, but stay far away from the mind when it's on a rampage. It can rip apart relationships, families and anything that resembles peace, serenity and happiness - so beware.
MYOB. Why is that the hardest thing to do? Spending leisure time in someone else's life is sometimes easier then hanging out in our own. Our society is set up to be nosy. Tabloids. Gossip. Juicy juice. Without it, life is bland, and who wants bland. Who wants boring. There is excitement in snooping, in excessive inquiry, in the nosy-ness factor and a great escape. An exercise to try is to go on a question diet. Abstain from being nosy for 3 days and see how much time there is to enter and curl up in your own life.
The mind can get filled with static in this world of multiple technologies. We are wired, we are plugged in, we are zapped. The static is often accumulated as a result of absorbing the frequencies in other people’s minds or the constant noise around us. Taking on another's energy or frequency is all too common. Also, in cities every horn represents anger, and ambulance siren symbolizes hurt or death. To hear that constantly creates a frequency that is damaging to serenity and induces fear. Avoid static cling and negative frequencies by using your own form of spiritual static guard.
"There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves." Elizabeth Gilbert. The woman can write in such a rigorously honest way, it's brilliant, it's beautiful and it's needed. That's why millions and millions of women gravitated toward her book, it's her journal, it's not a novel, it's her gut. To her, commitment is not about infatuation. It's about exposing oneself truly to another to being. True intimacy. See the flaws. Love the flaws. In them, and in ourselves and still, still be loving. No easy thing.
Contentment doesn't need to be expressed, it needs to be felt. Whatever one needs to do to get there, it's worth the effort. It may last minutes, or hours, but it's that sense of peace that "passes all understanding" - and it's sweet. What is it that leads to contentment and sense of well being in the world? Other than weed or alcohol! Everyone has different things they pursue. Work toward it diligently, rigorously, with luster. When the contentment comes, cherish it, capture it, seize it, revel in it, love it, open up to it, and give some of it away.
Change rocks our world. It results in the loss of something. The most difficult adjustment to change is when someone or something you love goes away. The "job" is the place many of us spend far more hours with then our lovers and friends. When change happens there, it can rock the foundation of our lives. Remembering that these places of employment often become temporary families, siblings almost...and the feelings can be the same. How often do we bring our family dynamics to our job? Often. Keep perspective. It's work - we leave there and enter our real lives. Remember.
Be pissed off. That's right. Anger is so unattractive, but sometimes, fuck it, be unattractive. If anger is not expressed, it goes lingers forever. It's not healthy to hum when deep down your screaming. So scream. Be pissed off. Give into the flame, and let it rip. Why are all the other emotions of life okay? Cool to be happy, fine to be bliss, fa la la la freakin' la. Anger though? - Taboo. Well, let it rip, and don't hold back. Being human is bliss, and being human means being pissed off sometimes. Watch the spitting, but feel the feelings.
Silence can be painful. Easier to hear a buzz in the background, then complete and utter silence. It takes skill, confidence, poise, calm and a deep level of humility for extended periods of silence. Even harder to be in silence when someone else is in the room. An Australian couple have a silent retreat one Friday a month. No phone. No television. No speaking. Just being together, in complete silence. Reading. Touching. Breathing. No words. It has been the adhesive that has held them together, the foundation of their commitment, and one of the hardest relationship skills of their lives.
Lonely is an emotional state that can often be transcended by reaching beyond ourselves in loving service to others." - Ric Beattie. It always works, but if one is consumed with a flood of feelings, it's one of the most difficult things to remember - to step out of it, and step into some kind of service, lifts the lonely. Seeing that bigger picture, perspective comes. Lonely is usually a state of mind. There are always people out there. There are always opportunities to do service. Keep a list of the loving people in your life, reach out, connect, do service, transcend.
Healthy choices. Where do they stem from? For most, it starts with the food and ends with the food. Something as seemingly mundane, and no big deal-ish as eating a bit too much of this or that can be catastrophic for the attitude. We get a fooditude. When food is messy, life is messy. When the food choices are lined up, life is lined up. Nutrition matters. Adding that extra something usually depletes from one's self esteem in some ways, seemingly small at first, but over time, it gets worse, it's progressive, it's insidious, it's just no fun. Period.
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