Monday, November 30, 2009

Facing It

I am amazed at the lengths that we humans go to, in searching for a way to not face the things within ourselves that need to be faced.

We all do it. All of us.

I truly believe life is about growing and evolving spiritually and psychologically. To me, that's the entire point of existence. Everything we do in this life, is an opportunity to grow, evolve and participate in the evolution of our collective consciousness. As we expand, the universe expands.

When we refuse to participate, we miss out on a golden opportunity.

We're all so afraid of facing our demons. We will do almost anything to avoid having to deal with the parts of ourselves that are rigid and resistant. For some reason it scares us, makes us uncomfortable, and many of us are simply unwilling to 'go there.'

We might have to change something. We might have to speak up. We might have to give up something that we are addictively dependent upon.

Yet, I believe that those areas we most fear dealing with, are the areas where there is the most to be gained from boldy stepping in to an engagement.

I've heard that certain types of armor only protect the front of the body, not the back. I have to believe that this is because we were created to FACE things head on and not to run away.

When we avoid and resist, we are running away. Ultimately, that isn't how we are made. It doesn't feel 'good' or 'right' to act that way.

Facing fear... facing danger... is not easy. It is, however, entirely possible.

The dark corners in us need to be looked at, embraced, and dealt with.

Turn and face whatever it is. Do it now. You won't believe how much better you will feel once you have done it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Blind Side

I just saw a movie today that is destined to be one of my all time favorites! It is a true story that will uplift and inspire even the most down trodden spirit.

It is the story of a strong willed southern woman who decides to make a difference in a homeless young man's life. It is... simply SWEET!

I'm not going to say more, because I don't want to spoil the movie.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.

See the movie, and let it inspire you to do something kind for someone... anyone.

The world needs more people like Leigh Anne & Sean Tuohy, their family and their community. Wow.

Check out the Blind Side Trailer:

The Blind Side Trailer

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Love in a Jar of Pickled Herring

When I open my fridge and see it there, I smile. Each and every time I reach for it, a warm, cozy feeling washes over me.

Who would think that a jar of pickled herring could have such an affect?

You see, my dad used to pretty much always have a jar of pickled herring in his fridge. He always left a single toothpick stuck in a piece of fish in the jar, to use to extract the pieces that were to be eaten.

We had a ritual to eat that herring together. He'd open the jar, pick out a piece of fish with a toothpick and let me take it off the toothpick to eat. Then he'd get himself a piece. Just one piece. On a rare occasion we might eat two!

Such a simple thing. Yet it is a powerful positive memory for me.

I go out of my way to buy jars of pickled herring. I do like to eat it, but it's far more important to me to feel that sweet connection with my dad.

Never underestimate the simple things you do with your kids that will live with them forever. It doesn't take much to create a life long memory.

What's your jar of pickled herring? How can you share special moments with your kids, loved ones or friends that they will remember forever?

Make a memory today!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Lesson in the Bump

I believe that we get messages from life all the time. God, the Universe, our higher selves... whatever we want to call it - there is something more happening around us than meets the eye. Higher intelligence and wisdom is ever present and is involved in the direction of our days.

The messages that remind us of this come in various forms of experience.

Many years ago, I was rear ended as I sat waiting at a stop light. It's always a shock when you have a car accident. The impact... the jolt... the sort of sick feeling in your stomach - it's not something we experience every day!

I've been hit by other drivers a few times in my life. This time it was pretty minor. I was sitting still, waiting for the light and the other car wasn't moving very fast. It was a bump from behind. It did minor damage to my car. All, in all it was no big deal.

Except, that the person who hit me was someone I knew! She and I were volunteer counselors together at a mental health center in another town. Literally the only time I ever saw this woman was during our weekly staff meetings at the mental health center! Here we were in another town, an area where she and I had never connected before, and she hits me with her car!

What are the odds of something like that happening? Let's recount the facts:

* I was hit while driving in my car
* The person who hit me was someone I knew
* The context within which I knew this person was quite limited
* We were 10 miles away from the only place that she and I ever saw each other
* Not only was she in the same geographic region as me that day...
* but she HIT MY CAR with HERS!

Amazing! No one can tell me that it was 'random.' How many people are alive on this planet? Millions and millions is the answer! How many people drive around the areas I drive each day. Thousands and thousands of people drive in my region! How many accidents are there each day? How many times do the people know each other.

This woman and I shared some sort of connection. What the exact nature of that connection is... I wouldn't presume to try to explain! Yet, we shared one sort of life experience, and that particular day, we shared another type of life experience.

I have often wondered about the people who witnessed our behavior that day. How many times have you seen two people who've just had an accident hugging each other and laughing? We were stunned when we realized what had happened. We hugged each other and laughed at the strangeness of it all. Other people must have been a bit confused... and maybe amused. Perhaps we set a different example that day of what it could be like when someone makes a mistake, and hurts someone else in the process. It doesn't need to be adversarial and ugly. It can be a little bump in the road. You handle it... and move on.

I like to use these sorts of situations as reminders that life is not, in fact, completely random. There is something interesting going on behind the obvious, physical reality that we inhabit. It's a mystery... and we live smack dab in the middle of it! Enjoy it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wisdom Flows

I'm on an animal kick this week! This sweet story, to me, is yet another reminder of a wisdom operating in this universe that we humans understand very little of.

There is something wise and wonderful that orchestrates this life.

Check out this story of a sick sea turtle who swam to the place where he could get help.


Sick Sea Turtle Swims Right to Hospital Doorstep

Let the wisdom flow through you...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ludovico Einaudi - WOW!

A friend just turned me on to Ludovico Einaudi. Powerful, soothing and stirring music.

Give this a listen and be uplifted!

Great music is such a gift. Take a moment and think about the that music has enriched and enhanced your life!

Mixed Emotions

Today, I found out that a good friend of mine passed away on November 7th. She would have been 95 this coming Christmas Eve.

My friend Ethel

I started visiting Ethel over 13 years ago. I signed up with a wonderful organization, Friend to Friend, that matches volunteer 'visitors' with people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

I made a one year commitment to visit Ethel, and another woman, Lilly May. Lilly May passed away several years ago.

Ethel was in the early stages of macular degeneration, and the volunteer coordinator at her retirement home thought she could use a friend to help her adjust to her new limitations. Although Ethel had a wonderful loving family, the volunteer coordinator believed it might help to have a 'new' friend to help her with things she'd always done independently.

Ethel and I hit it off right away, and my one year commitment came and went, but our friendship lived on. I did my best to visit once a week whenever I was in town. I helped Ethel with projects once in a while, and helped rig up things to accommodate her failing eye sight. Mostly, we drank tea and visited. She told me about her life and her activities, and I shared my busy life with her.

Over the past few years, Ethel's health was deteriorating at a more rapid pace. Her vision was almost gone, and she was having a lot of pain in one of her knees. Walking had become increasingly difficult, and she was getting sick more often.

I feel very sad at the loss of my friend. i spent many happy hours chatting with Ethel and sharing our lives together. As sad as I feel, however, part of me is relieved that she will not have to suffer further deterioration in her health. She had a great fear of being totally incapacitated. We spoke of her wonderings at why God was keeping her around, when there was so little she could do. She was a treasure to her family, but she was starting to suffer more often than not, and she wasn't really able to do the things she always loved doing. She had communicated to me that she felt like it was time for her to go.

Life, and death, are bitter sweet. It is hard to say goodbye and let go of my friend, and yet, I know that for her, she was ready, and had felt that her almost 95 years of life had been well spent and much enjoyed. She was at peace, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Goodbye dear Ethel. Journey well. Enjoy sweet peace.

In Ethel's honor and memory, I repost a poem that she shared with me some time ago. It embodies her spirit.


Beautiful are the youth
Whose rich emotions flash and burn,
Whose lithe bodies filled with energy and grace
Sway in their happy dance of life;

And beautiful likewise are the mature
Who have learned compassion and patience,
Charity and wisdom,
Though they be rarer far than beautiful youth.

But most beautiful and most rare is a gracious old age
Which has drawn from life
The skill to take its varied strands:
The harsh advance of age, the pang of grief,
The passing of dear friends, the loss of strength,
And with fresh insight
Weave them into a rich and gracious pattern
All its own.

This is the greatest skill of all,
To take the bitter with the sweet and make it beautiful,
To take the whole of life in all its moods,
Its strengths and weaknesses,
And of the whole make one great and celestial harmony.

Robert Terry Weston

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nubs - An Amazing Story

I wanted to share a story with you today that touched my heart!

You must read this story and watch this video.

This is the kind of love and loyalty that the world could use more of.

Article and video about Nubs the dog & His Marine Friend

Nubs and Maj. Brian Dennis

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cooking Barefoot in My Kitchen

Coming home to a comfortable, familiar place is such a wonderful feeling. I just returned from a trip, and there is simply nothing like sleeping in my own bed, or drinking coffee from my favorite mug. Home.

This was a short trip, but I've been on many, much longer trips. I'm always amazed at what I miss when I'm away.

When I'm on my long trips, one of the things I miss the most is cooking barefoot in my kitchen. The feeling of the clean hardwood under my feet is somehow soothing to me. When I'm camping or in a dusty environment, the image that pops into my mind most often when I think of home is of me whipping up something to eat in my bare feet.

I miss my bed, of course and driving my own car. Familiar things that make my home environment mine.

We also have an internal home. A home inside ourselves that is always with us. Acknowledging and connecting to that home is something well worth the effort.

When we get disconnected from our internal home, we feel lost and adrift. We miss ourselves!

Taking the time to connect with and feel 'at home' inside our own skin enhances our experience of life. When we have our internal home, we can go anywhere and go through anything - with a stability and sense of peace.

Today, celebrate your home... inside and out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Waiting for the Dried Crusty Stuff to Fall Off

I have a lot of big fuzzy sweatshirts. I practically live in them full time when I’m working at home. I like the temperature around me to be somewhat cool and I enjoy the process of bundling up. I sleep under heavy blankets, and I like warm, fuzzy clothes.

One day last spring, I was wearing one of my favorite dark blue sweatshirts as I worked on a project to clean out my garage. At some point, I somehow rubbed against a large sticky label, and it affixed itself to my sweatshirt. This thing was big – like 4 x 6 inches and bright yellow! It was sort of on my side, so I didn’t see it right away. In fact, I didn’t see it before I took the sweatshirt off. As I took the sweatshirt off, I turned it inside out in the process. I still hadn’t seen the label. The sweatshirt went into the washer and then the dryer, without me realizing this label was stuck to it!

Once I got the sweatshirt out of the dryer, I turned it right side out to fold it, and there it was - the giant bright yellow label.

I tried to pull the label off of my sweatshirt and it would not come off! It had baked onto the sweatshirt in the dryer! When I tried to pull it off, tiny pieces, and I mean TINY, would break off. It would have taken many, many hours to peel it off this way! I gave up fairly quickly. I didn’t have time for that!

It being one of my favorite sweatshirts and all, I have continued to wear it. Not publically, of course, but in the privacy of my own home. Each time I wash and dry it, a few more pieces of the label come off in the process.

I was noticing the other day that the pieces that are still stuck are coming off much easier. I can pick at it with my finger nails and the pieces of label, which have become hard and brittle now, break and fall off! I could probably sit down and remove all the remaining yellow bits in about an hour!

It’s taken 7 months to get to this point!

It reminded me of how some experiences in our life take time to get through and get over. We can’t rush the process. We might be able to make it happen a bit faster, but it would take drastic measures (like sitting down to pick off pieces of label for many, many hours). Instead, time can help us take care of a lot of things – if we just allow it to. My sweatshirt still isn’t ready for prime time, but it is getting there. Similarly, sometimes when we are going through something tough, we can’t conduct all our business as usual. Sometimes we need to make allowances for reduced productivity and lower our expectations a bit.

The dried, crusty bits of the past will eventually fall off – if we let them. Acceptance and allowing are the keys, with a healthy dose of patience thrown in!

Got any dried crusty bits clinging to you? Just keep living your life, and allow them to fall off in due season.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Relabeling the Past

I try to be conscious of the natural resources I consume. Taking care of our environment has been a passion for me since I was a little girl. I take ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ very seriously in my life.

One of my practices is to reuse manila file folders as often as I can. I’m very organized, and I have a file for just about everything. All my projects have a folder. Each trip I take has a folder. Every vendor I work with has their own folder. Each tax type and tax year has its own folder to call home.

Some folders live on in my files forever. Others have a temporary life span. For example, once a trip is past, I usually don’t need to maintain a file folder for it. There are exceptions, of course. If it’s a trip that I might want to refer back to for some reason, I’ll keep it for awhile. Usually, however, I can ‘retire’ that folder once the trip is behind me.

Every once in a while I go through my filing cabinets and purge old files. I did this last year and filled 4 file boxes with paper to shred! I had a lot of ancient paperwork – documents from the purchase of my first home, student loan documents for loans I paid off 20 years ago and a whole lot of other things I really didn’t need to hang on to anymore.

I emptied all these file folders with the intention of shredding the contents. Most of the file folders themselves were still in great shape. I made a big pile of these folders for reuse.

My general practice is to scribble out the label on the file tab and then flip the folder inside out so I can write on the blank side of the file tab. Once I’ve done this and used the folder a second time, I have to resort to applying white labels to both sides of the file tab. As long as the file folder stays in good shape physically, I can keep using it over and over again.

The other day I finally got around to preparing my giant pile of ‘old folders’ for reuse. I got out my box of white labels and sat down at my desk.

It was a little bit like walking through my past. I encounter vendors I no longer work with, past legal difficulties, documentation for my last traffic ticket, assets I no longer own, trips that are long past and projects that never got off the ground – unfulfilled dreams and goals.

Somehow it felt cleansing for me to apply clean white labels over the words that described past experiences. Many of these things weren’t exactly pleasant for me – especially the legal issues and traffic ticket! Somehow applying the labels over the top of the written expression of these experiences felt powerful to me. It felt like another layer of letting go! I had done some letting go when I shredded the contents of the folders. Now, as I prepared these folders to house something new, it felt deeper.

What a great analogy. I can take these containers that held an experience in my past, and clean it out, relabel it and prepare it to support me in something new!

If only it were this easy to do with actual past experiences. If only we could more easily realize that the experience is in the past, and that we can take what we learned from it and move forward into new, different experiences! Relabeling the container for the experience in our minds helps us release the trauma, drama or pain of whatever it was and move on.

Experiment with relabeling some file folders – and use it as an example to yourself of what is possible with your larger life!

Grab a box of labels and get busy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Default Is a Choice

As a software designer, I have designed a lot of input forms in my day.

There is a common practice of setting 'default' responses for fields where a particular response might be the most likely.

For example, if you are ordering something from a website, the software might set the 'quantity' of an item you select to "1." You can change it if you'd like, to order more than one, but it starts by assuming you want one as the default.

Another example might be setting the 'country' to USA if you are shopping on a US company's website. "USA" would be the default value for country. You can change it, of course.

I was thinking about this the other day. It is important to realize that by 'accepting the default' we are actually making a choice! Someone else (or the software in the examples I gave) is offering us a selection, but we have to accept it (and click OK or continue in the case of our software example).

I encountered someone in my counseling work years ago who was fond of saying that he wasn't making 'choices' but instead was just going with the 'default' He really saw himself as a passive player in his life. He just went along with whatever was happening to him. I spent a lot of time trying to help him see that he was, in fact, making choices, even when he was accepting someone else's default outcomes!

Taking the path of least resistance is one way of 'accepting the default' in our life. It's not necessarily what we want, but it's going to happen if we don't stop it, so was just go along for the ride. We are still making a choice.

Recognizing that we are making choices is empowering. Rather than feeling like a leaf blowing in the wind, we can become aware of the fact that we have a lot to say about the direction we take and the attitude that takes us there!

Take responsibility for the choices you make! It's a place of power to KNOW that you are choosing. When we realize that we are choosing, we can choose differently. Often, we want to choose differently when we come to the realization that we are, in fact, making a choice!

Happy choosing!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Temporary Disorientation

My cell phone decided to die this past week. It was quite sudden. My phone just started randomly shutting down without warning. It also 'rebooted itself' a couple times as well. There was no hope. I needed a new phone.

I went to the phone store and purchased the 'next generation' of my current phone. Silly me, I assumed I wouldn't have much of a learning curve, since the phone was running the same version of Windows Mobile on it.

Last time I got a new phone, it took me about 30 minutes to get everything up and running. This time... well, let's just say it was a little different.

After about 3 hours of work I got myself to a manageable place with this phone. Many things have changed! I'm finding myself in a completely new environment!

My phone has a real keyboard on it, and the phone manufacturer even changed the location of several keys in the layout. Thanks guys! Very helpful for continuity of use!!

At any rate, the point is, my environment has changed, and I have no choice but to get used to it and roll with the punches. I'm trying to be patient with myself, but when I depend on something, I really need to be able to use it well. It's going to take some time for me to get there with this phone.

I can complain about it if I want to, but that won't help me learn it any faster.

Soon, the 'new' keyboard layout will be 'mine.' Before long, the new interface for things will become second nature to me. Time, practice and patience!

It's OK to feel temporarily disoriented when you are experiencing a change in your environment or routines. It's part of the adaptation process. Take a deep breath, relax, and allow the 'new' to present itself and introduce itself to you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Divine Appointments

Last weekend, I realized that my back and hip were starting to hurt me a little bit. I haven't been to physical therapy for a few weeks. I've been doing so much better lately that I'm tapering off a bit. I have learned from my time in physical therapy, that it is important for me to not let my pain get too far down the road before I take action. The pain I experience is mostly due to muscle cramps that are a reaction to the injury I have. The longer I let those muscles stay tight, the harder it is to get them to release.

Monday morning I called the physical therapist's office to make an appointment for sometime that week. They told me that my therapist had an opening for that very day. Someone had just cancelled their appointment. I jumped at the chance to get the appointment!

That afternoon, when I met with my therapist, she was chuckling as she told me that she had been thinking about me over the weekend, and was planning to call me this week to tell me she had another technique that she wanted to try on my injured area! She said she was stunned to find me on her schedule that day, since I wasn't supposed to be there. She went on to tell me that she had been to church the day before, and the message had been on "Divine Appointments" and how God will put us right where we need to be and will put the exact right people on our path. She was tickled to have such a real life example show up in her life so quickly! "I wanted to see you and try this out, and I didn't even have to call you," she said!

I had the impulse to see her and made the call. She was thinking about me at the same time, and wanting to share a new technique with me that she thought might be helpful to my body! The universe did the rest!

It was a good reminder for me also, that life is constantly arranging things for us - behind the scenes - to meet our needs.

Have you ever been thinking about someone and suddenly they called you? Or you got an email from them? Start paying attention to just how often we are matched up with who and what we need at any given time!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Impatience Magnified

I have a little bit of a challenge around being patient. It's probably one of my biggest struggles if the truth be told. I find it very difficult to be patient and I have to constantly monitor and wrestle with my impulses.

I don't like to do anything slow. I am fairly efficient at most things I do. I really, really like it when other people are efficient too! :) I also don't like to be inconvenienced by other people's lack of efficiency!

I think that life gives us a giant mirror to look in at times, to show us the characteristics that we need to face and deal with. The mirror often is one that magnifies the issue. If we see someone doing exactly what we do, at exactly the same level of intensity, it would look normal to us. I believe we are shown 'exaggerated' versions of ourselves in order to call our attention to problem areas.

While I was eating lunch in one of my favorite restaurants a while back, a man, his wife and their young son came in and were seated at the booth next to me. It was late in the afternoon, about 3pm, so the restaurant was pretty empty.

I was working away on my computer and wasn't paying too much attention to what was happening at their table. They had ordered drinks, which the waitress had delivered promptly. Evidently there was a problem with the water they had ordered. They wanted tap water, and this water had carbonation in it. They told the waitress. She seemed confused, and went off to check it out. She wasn't gone very long at all and the man at the table next to me started to get very agitated. He started complaining to his wife about how long it was taking her to get back with the water he and his son wanted.

She was trying to soothe him, but he kept getting more and more impatient. He got up several times and started walking towards the bar, but he kept turning around and coming back to their table. He said, "I'm going to go to the bar to get a stinkin' glass of water." His wife encouraged him to sit down. What touched me is that his little boy started looking very concerned. "Daddy, I don't want to get kicked out!"

They proceeded to have a little back and forth about daddy's behavior, and the fact that the little boy really wanted to stay and eat at this restaurant. I'm guessing this has happened before.

The man continued with his impatient behavior. He did go to the bar, and came back complaining that he couldn't find anyone to get him a glass of water. The waitress came back to the table, and he complained again. She said the manager was checking their 'line' and that it appeared the water and soda lines got crossed. They were fixing it. He grew more irritated.

Finally, the manager came over with two glasses of water. The man let the manager have it. He ranted about how unacceptable it was to not be able to get a glass of water in a restaurant.

This entire episode took no more than 3 or 4 minutes. The man was crazed because it took 3 or 4 minutes to get his water!

In watching this unfold, I realized the 'ugliness' of impatience. I don't do it at the level this guy was expressing it, but I certainly do it! It showed me what my own behavior would be if I ramped it up a bit. I obviously have no desire to look as foolish and unreasonable as the 'water man!!'

Looking at those around us as mirrors of ourselves is an interesting (and sometimes disturbing) message from the universe! Next time you are really annoyed (or amazed) at someone's behavior, or the next time you really admire someone's actions, look closely at yourself to see what might be reflecting back to you about yourself.

The guy at claim jumper who was so impatient for a glass of water... his son was afraid they were going to get kicked out.

Friday, November 06, 2009

When Letting Go is Beautiful

I am not a person who lets go of things easily. It's something I work on... constantly.

For example, until last spring, I had every cancelled check I'd ever written. Every single one since 1982! That's a whole lotta checks by the way. I simply could never get rid of them. When my realtor held an event for his clients that involved a large professional shredding truck, I decided the time had come to part with the majority of my checks. I ended up taking 4 filing boxes full of paper (and checks) to the event. I must admit, there was a feeling of freedom that came with shredding all those checks and old papers. I felt lighter.

Still, it was not an easy decision for me to make or action for me to take.

Just this morning, I found out that a paper I've been using in my business for quite some time, is no longer available. It is a beautiful white paper with silver sparkles embedded in it. I have had notepads made of this paper. It's been like a 'signature paper' for me since I started my company in 2000. Now, it's gone. I feel saddened by the news. In addition to it being emotional for me, it's also inconvenient. I needed some card stock in this design to finish up a project I'm working on. Now, I have to find an alternative. Another reminder that life is constant change, and yes... constant processes of 'letting go.'

Yesterday, I had an example of a different way of relating to the process of letting go. As I was driving in to town, I experienced one of my favorite happenings at this time of year. The highway I drive on is lined with trees on both sides for most of my drive to town. It was cloudy, but not raining. The wind was blowing fairly hard.

Four or five times along my path, I drove through showers of beautiful leaves of gold, yellow, orange and red that were falling from the trees. It was like driving through confetti!

You simply can't feel sad when you drive through showers of leaves coming down. It instantly lifted my spirits.

The trees are releasing their leaves as they move into the winter season... and it is beautiful. Sometimes letting go can, indeed, be beautiful. It is us humans who cling and struggle to hang on to things.

It can be something simple, like me with my checks, or my pretty paper, or it can be more complex, like trying to hang on to relationships that no longer serve us in a positive, constructive fashion, clinging to self destructive habits or addictions, trying to keep our children from growing up and away from us or any myriad of things.

I personally am challenging my need to cling and hold on. I want to be more like the trees who turn letting go into a beautiful, inspiring process. They prove it's possible. I want to embrace their example of letting go, moving on and growing in a natural, fluid process - free from struggle and resistance. I feel better just typing that!

Let go... beautifully.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Don't Throw it Away

I'm a big movie fan. I get so much out of the movies I love!

Seabiscuit is one of my all time favorites. A true story of a little horse that achieved what appeared to be impossible. It is also a story of three men, broken by life in different ways. The owner, trainer and jockey of Seabiscuit all lived through and overcame hard knocks in life. The four of them found salvation and redemption in each other, and in the success they found in racing.

One of my favorite lines in the movie, occurs on two different occasions.

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a bit."

Once the trainer says it about an old horse that he's decided to save from being put down.

The second time Seabiscuit's owner says it to the trainer, when they discover that the jockey is blind in one eye, and has been lying to them all along.

In both cases, the 'banged up life' is spared and given another chance. What a beautiful message.

Many years ago I was a counselor in a mental health clinic. I was working with a man who was a recovering alcoholic. He had a bad problem with perfectionism and self criticism. If something wasn't perfect, it was worthless. He felt that way about himself too. He came in one day and told me he'd built a flower box for his wife. He recounted that when he finished it, he saw that it wasn't perfectly square on one of the corners, and he flew into a rage. He took a sledge hammer and completely destroyed the flower box he'd built. Even in telling me the story, he felt he was 'justified' because it wasn't perfect.

As we discussed what had happened, I eventually asked him if he could tell me one good thing about the flower box. He thought for about 15 seconds, and a little light bulb came on. He looked at me and said, "It would have held dirt and flowers!" Bingo.

This world is quick to criticize and judge people on imperfections in appearance and behavior. While I'm a big believer in facing our 'stuff,' striving to improve ourselves and addressing our issues, I also believe that we need to learn to cut ourselves and each other some slack.

No one is perfect. No one ever will be. Often times people make big mistakes. Sometimes people fail repeatedly. Other times people have trouble recovering from big setbacks.

Nothing is so horrible that we can't come back from it. Nothing.

If you need a bit of encouragement to believe that... watch Seabiscuit!

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a bit."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tea, Soup and Sleep

Yesterday, I felt like I was coming down with something. My first clue was that one of my lymph nodes in my neck suddenly became swollen and painful. A little while later, I was feeling nauseous.

I decided to play it safe. Being that we are in the beginnings of the flu season, I wanted to be extra careful.

I started tanking up on vitamin C. I drank a cup of hot tea. I sipped lots of water. I rested. Later I had some hot soup. Then I went to bed and slept for about 15 hours.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt better. Still not 100%, but better. I continued my regimen through the day. Rest. Vitamin C. Water. Soup.

I'm almost as good as new after that!

Respecting our bodies and paying attention to warning signs can prove to be really beneficial to us! It can save us a lot of time.

I'm grateful to be feeling healthy again! I appreciate that my body and I could work together to be good to each other!

Listen to your body. Respect it. Heed its warnings and its calls for support and nurturing.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Contrast Makes Things Clearer

Sometimes it takes a good contrast to help you really see something clearly.

I have often struggled with a problematic way of relating to a new, complex task. If I'm faced with a task that is overwhelming to me, and requires a lot of knowledge that I don't currently possess, I often have an 'immediate reaction' that causes me to panic. I actually have a knee jerk response that feels very much like the task facing me is impossible. It isn't based in reality. It isn't based on my past successes. If it were based in my proven ability to figure things out, I would have no doubt that I could figure it out. My track record in regards to figuring out complex tasks is quite solid.

So, why would I instantly feel that I won't be able to figure something out? Often I have that reaction before I even have all the data! It is kind of frustrating, but it FEELS VERY REAL!

Last night, I helped a very good friend out with a bunch of computer problems. I helped set up her new laptop over the weekend, and everything running fine when I left her on Friday night. Then Comcast set up her high speed internet, and her wireless router. The first time she turned her computer off and back on after that installation, many things went wrong. My friend panicked. She called me.

What struck me about the conversation was how entirely panicked she was. She kept predicting doom and kept proclaiming the problems were unsolvable. She had called her comcast installer, and he had basically told her he didn't know how to help. This confirmed, in her mind, that it was hopeless.

I saw, in her, a greatly magnified form of what I do. It was very interesting to watch!

I kept assuring her we would solve the problem. She kept saying she didn't know how. I kept telling her I would guide her through it.

There were several problems that we had to resolve, and we went at them one by one. She would frequently leap ahead to other problems, and I would ask her to stay with me in the current process. I promised her that we would get there.

What amazed me, is that even though I'm the knowledgeable person in this arena, she kept insisting that things were hopeless. For example, she had saved a document, and couldn't find it again. She kept saying, "The file is GONE! It's just GONE! I'm going to have to do it all over again!" I would respond that the file was not GONE, we just had to find it. In a short time... we found it, of course.

The fear of 'not getting the task done' was so strong in her, that she kept catasrophizing the situation.

At one point she told me that the Comcast guy had said he didn't know what was wrong, and that nothing he had done could be causing her problems. (The computer wasn't starting properly. It was sometimes hanging on boot, other times it was giving us error messages.)

I kept telling her that the computer was working perfectly when I left, and that the only thing that had happened to the computer since then, was the Comcast installation.

She told me again that the Comcast guy said it wasn't him. I got a little flabbergasted and said, "OK... are you going to believe the Comcast guy or are you going to believe me?"

That calmed her down a bit, and we methodically went through a troubleshooting process. We uninstalled several things that he had installed (that are totally unnecessary for her and are incompatible with Windows 7). I helped her locate her files, and learn to navigate a bit better.

She's all set and happily getting her work done now.

The contrast of seeing her do what I do in a greatly magnified form, showed me how seriously that 'energy' of panic and hopelessness was impairing her ability to be present to the solution process. She really couldn't think straight when she was freaking out. I had to tell her to take a deep breath a few times so she could answer my questions and we could continue to sort out the problems.

I do the same thing. Seeing this extreme example gave me a clue of how to work with myself more effectively when this happens.

Calm down.
Take deep breaths.
Know there IS a solution.
Know there IS SOMEONE who can figure it out, even if I can't.
Apply good reasoning.
Let the solution present itself!!

Next time I get the chance, I'm going to see if I can go through this sort of experience with a little more peace and confidence in myself!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Finding the Pause Button

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I don't get stumped by too many basic problems in life. So, this 'challenge' that I've been dealing with is a little bit embarrassing.

I bought a digital voice recorder about 2 years ago. It seems that my writing ideas come in spurts. I'll sometimes have 20 ideas in a row. Then, I might not have any ideas for a week or so. If I don't somehow 'capture' these ideas, they are often totally gone. Poof. They disappear and sometimes I never get them back!

My digital voice recorder is always in my purse. I can pull it out and record my ideas at any time. It relieves a lot of stress over my ability to remember things!

I read the user's manual when I got the recorder. I learned the basic functionality, or so I thought. I've used this recorder a lot over the past two years.

In the home burglary that I experienced last year, the user's manual was among the contents of a box that was stolen.

Each time I've used this recorder, I have been able to easily turn it on (or off), start a recording and stop a recording. It was obvious how to do those things.

The one thing I could never figure out was how to 'pause' a recording. There was no pause button. You know the standard pause button design - two vertical lines || right? There is no such button on my recorder.

It has been a little frustrating, because sometimes I have an idea every few minutes, especially when driving! I end up hitting 'record' and then 'stop' over and over again. This yields a lot of very short, individual files that I need to work with!

I would rather start a recording, say a few things... pause... restart and add to the existing recording. Yet, each time I examined the recorder, I couldn't find the PAUSE button!

I had just accepted that I had to record each idea or spurt of ideas into separate files. Annoying, but manageable.

This weekend I was on a long drive and I was using my digital recorder the way I usually do, coming up with writing and speaking topics. At one point I had started a recording, and when I was finished, I tried to hit the STOP button, but hit the 'RECORD' button by accident. To my amazement, the screen started flashing "PAUSE RECORD."

I had accidentally figured out how to PAUSE my digital recorder! It was so simple! It was so obvious! Yet, for 2 years (I'm blushing) I hadn't discovered this 'obvious secret!'

It is sort of amusing actually. Given my personality and my past patterns and issues, I have a lot of trouble 'pausing' when it comes to my level of activity! I'm always on the go! I've had to train myself to pause. It is really interesting that I wouldn't be able to FIND the PAUSE button on my recording device.

I'm choosing to take it as a reminder that I need to pause occasionally in my life and my activities. It is important to have 'down time.' It is important to pause sometimes before reacting to things.

I had come to believe that it was impossible to pause my digital recorder! My little digital recorder is reminding me that it is POSSIBLE to PAUSE.

Do you know where your pause button is? If you're having trouble finding it, just remember that it IS THERE somewhere!!