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Don’t forget to laugh…especially at yourself

Luke in the yard

Luke in the yard

A while back I had a serious discussion with one of my sons about our relationship. I’d like to say that I’ve always known that he loved me, but that wouldn’t be a true statement. There have been plenty of times when I doubted it and thought that probably both of my sons would be relieved to have me out of their lives. I don’t know if my mind took it to the extreme of thinking this meant they’d be relieved if I died, but that wouldn’t have been out of the range of thoughts I’d had. I didn’t doubt his love because of anything that he did or didn’t do to prove this, it was just my feeling. It came to a head one day and I said something like, “I know that you love me (which wasn’t quite the truth) but I don’t think that you like me.” Again, I could give no evidence for this but at least he listened. I also know that what I feel about myself, I project onto others. I know this in my head but at times I forget it when I feel insecure, especially around people who are very important to me.

My parents never talked to me this way. They never told me of their insecurities and short-comings. I certainly don’t blame them for this, hardly anyone of that generation did, but I’m so glad that I can. I’m so glad that my sons see me as a whole human being. I believe that they see me as a woman who has gifts to offer the world and one who also can be challenging at times. I truly wish that I wasn’t challenging.

So, back to the serious discussion; me telling him that I didn’t think he liked me and him rolling his eyes in exasperation and frustration (of course I didn’t see him do this, we were talking on the phone, but I am pretty sure he did). He finally said, “The truth is, I love you and I like you.” So I asked him if he would periodically text me saying that he liked me. By this time, we were laughing, but I was also serious. I just thought how much I’d love to get a message from him once in a while, telling me that he liked me. I didn’t want it to be an obligatory thing, like “You must call your mother every Sunday”. I didn’t want him to feel guilty or to do it out of a sense of obligation, but the idea (which seemed to come from out of the blue) felt like a fun one. An hour later I got a text from him saying, “I like you.” 15 minutes later, another one came through that said, “I still like you.” and I just started to laugh.

I love those, “I like you” texts.  They are like a very private (not anymore) joke/communication between people who really do love each other and they help me to keep a sense of humor about my (at times) insecure self.

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” Henry Ward Beecher

One of my newest paintings for sale on MY ARTWORK page

One of my newest paintings for sale on MY ARTWORK page

 

 

 

This entry was posted on October 26, 2014. 18 Comments

“Know your own happiness” Jane Austen

Fred

Fred welcoming me home with a cute pose

I recently went to the Adirondacks for three days with my siblings and our 87-year-old mother. I can’t remember the last time that we were together without anyone else (spouses, children, or animals) around, and I think that most of us felt at least a little apprehension about what it would be like. Half way through the weekend, I found myself exhausted. The home that we had rented was perfect; a grand old place with a large cozy living room, lovely fireplace, spacious porch, and great location on a lake. The setting couldn’t have been better but it wasn’t the outside stuff that mattered…it hardly ever is.

Even though I grew up with these people, I realized that I didn’t know them now. We’ve all developed comfort zones with the people in our immediate lives, and these unique ways of communicating don’t extend themselves to people who we don’t spend a lot of time with. A couple of times, I said things in what I considered to be a normal, straight forward, manner, and they were taken as offensive. Although my siblings and I have the bond of love, the little daily routines and nuances of life (that are accepted and naturally become a part of relationships with time) were not there, so at times it felt oddly “formal and stiff”. On the one hand there was a feeling of utter familiarity and on the other was a feeling of needing to explain myself, watch what I said, and not step on toes.

Returning home on Sunday night, I went to bed at 6p.m. and slept until 7 a.m. the next morning. I was so happy to be back with Jack and the animals and I knew that my siblings felt the same way about going back to their homes and lives.

In the final scenes of the movie, Home the Holidays, after the craziness of the gathering, each member of the family (who all seemed equally nuts in their own unique way) joyfully returns home to their families and the lives that they’ve created apart from their family of origin. It is one of my favorite movie scenes. It seems to say, “It’s OK to create the life that speaks to you as an individual. You do not need (nor will you probably ever get) the approval of others to be yourself and to love what you love, so just do it… and let everyone else do it too.”

 

 

One of my favorite quotes, "Know your own happiness" Jane Austen

One of my favorite quotes is,  “Know your own happiness” by Jane Austen  (this little painting is for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

This entry was posted on October 21, 2014. 16 Comments

our creative minds

“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid

 

I love that quote by Ovid and I keep it on my computer desktop so I can read it often. I’m not sure if it will ever happen to me or not….wake up one day to find that I have ceased to worry, but it might. It is possible, and this quote reminds me of that fantastic possibility. It also helps me stay aware of how my mind often seems to find a kind of perverse pleasure in thinking up new things to be afraid about.

I was shopping last week and found a gift for a friend that I just knew was perfect, so I bought it thinking I’d send it to her rather than waiting to give it to her when we met in November.

All was well as I drove home feeling such delight about my purchase. Then at some point (which I didn’t catch) I imagined her telling me that it was nice of me to think of her, but she didn’t really like it. In my imaginary, unhappy, scenario, I even heard her say that she was so sorry but she just needed to be honest and tell me. I began to feel bad and also think she was ungrateful.

I went to bed that night and forgot about my story but the next day, I saw the gift, wrapped and ready to be mailed and I had a huge desire to unwrap it and look at it again thinking maybe I’d been wrong to buy it. Then I caught myself and backtracked to the first thought, so I tried to change the scenario to seeing her opening the package and loving the gift, but it felt like I was in a tug of war with my mind: one part was trying to imagine a happy ending and the other was holding tightly to an unhappy one.

I decided not to mail the package out until I could stop being concerned (concern, worry, and anxiety are all just words that describe fear) that it wasn’t wanted, and could clearly see happiness all the way around. I eventually did mail the gift, and she loved it, but by the time I mailed it, I realized that the gift was really for me. The entire situation had helped me to see, once again, the power of thought and the power of choosing thoughts.

Not letting my mind dictate a story and have me blindly follow it, believing it to be “the truth”, is a wonderful step to take.

It sounds like such a small and dumb thing when I retell it. I mean, what the heck?! A 59-year-old woman still fretting about such trifles? But the thing fretted over isn’t the heart of the issue. It could just as well be the 2 a.m. thought that a headache is probably brain cancer or the sound of a siren means that someone I love has gotten into a terrible accident. When my mind is creating a sorrowful, frightening, or unhappy scenarios, it wants me to take it seriously. It doesn’t want to be questioned or, god-forbid, laughed at.

One of my funniest examples of this (I think I’ve written about this before but it deserves to be retold) was years ago when I was writing out affirmations. A suggested affirmation for financial success was, “There is no reality in lack”. I wrote this out with a bunch of other affirmations and somehow Jack saw the paper. He was devastated and confused. He thought I’d written, “There is no reality in Jack”. I still laugh when I think about this, but if he had just read it, said nothing, and let his mind run with it? Who knows what would have happened.

Don’t believe every thought you have, especially if the thought makes you feel awful. Imagine happy endings, beginnings and middles…..life is a lot more fun that way.

One of my newest little paintings for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

One of my newest little paintings for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

This entry was posted on October 13, 2014. 9 Comments

Getting off my high-horse!

Jeezum Crow is a real north country (upstate NY, VT, and Maine) saying...this is my latest painting and it is for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

Jeezum Crow is a real north country (upstate NY, VT, and Maine) saying…this is my latest painting and it is for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

“The only truly humane person is the one who admits that he is a rascal.” Alan Watts

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with people who considered themselves to be “good”, blameless, or spiritually advanced. To me, they were the ones who always seemed the most critical, judgemental, and also the most humorless. People who believe that they are holding the rest of us to a higher standard of conduct, always seem a bit menacing below the surface. This is one of the reasons that I generally don’t get involved with groups of clergy. I’ve tried that, and it seemed like a gathering of people all hell-bent on convincing everyone else in the group that they were the most selfless. I believe that it was Jung who said that we are all capable of great good and great harm.

There is an expression, “Get off your high-horse.” I’m not sure where this originated but I like it. I began watching a TV show called, Once Upon A Time, and found that the characters who I enjoyed the most were the ones who were not so sugary sweet or apologizing constantly for not being good enough. I think it is time to be real, to laugh, to play with life and to drop the hard and fast rules about who is good/bad, nice/mean, kind/unkind. If I have to be the good one, then in my mind, I’ve created a bad one. I’ve created someone to fight.

I’m not advocating indulging those petty, mean, or vengeful thoughts but admitting them, at least to ourselves? Bringing them into the light of conscious awareness so we can notice what our minds conjure up? Being real? Laughing at ourselves and admitting that we can be rascals? I say Amen to that!

This entry was posted on October 8, 2014. 8 Comments

World Smile Day

this is a page from my 2015 calendar featuring the work of artist, Erin Smith. I love her sense of humor and cannot wait to put this calendar up!

this is a page from my 2015 calendar featuring the work of artist, Erin Smith. I love her sense of humor and cannot wait to put this calendar up!

I opened up my emails this morning to find one telling me that today is World Smile Day*.  It made me want to smile and that’s when I realized that I probably hadn’t smiled yet since it felt like an effort. I am actually trying to smile as I write this and it still feels forced. So I have my assignment for today: I am going to smile as much as possible. I am going to write, “Smile” on my hand to remind me to do this as well.

I love the idea of World Smile Day and the ripple of happiness, kindness, and love that the creators of this “event” wanted to get started.

* The link to this very sweet blog, Reading With Rhythm (Book reviews from Rhythm the Library dog), is here http://wp.me/p2DxrN-1eA

A fresh, new, day

Fred, Bodhi adn Noah lounging on the sofa

Fred, Bodhi and Noah lounging on the sofa

The other day while on a run, I was thinking about someone who has been in my life (really just on the periphery) for many years, and how this relationship has always been a struggle. The next thought was that I needed to forgive her. I could feel that I still had a lot of resentment when I thought about her, even though it was pretty much dormant most of the time.

Often, when I realize that I need to take this step in my life and clear up the old, negative, energy that I’ve been carrying around, I’ll imagine sitting face-to-face with the person, seeing and hearing myself say that I forgive them and asking for their forgiveness, but as I began to do the process regarding this woman, it felt wrong. I felt like a victim and it just seemed so serious and uninspired, like, “Here I am the ‘good one’ taking the step of forgiveness because that is what a good, spiritual, person should do.”….yuk.

So I cleared the image and suddenly a new one came to mind: we were sitting face-to-face, but we were laughing and congratulating each other on a game well-played. The words, “You have been a worthy adversary” came out of my mouth and she said them back to me. Then all sorts of other people from my past joined in as well. It was as if my past life had been played on a gigantic game board and I could see myself and everyone else as “players”.

The feeling of liberation was astounding and with it came the thought that I had a choice about how I viewed my life. I could continue to unconsciously compete with people, considering every unpleasant interaction as a personal affront and challenge to me, thus seeing myself as mostly a competitor who needed to win in life (or protect myself from getting hurt) or I could wake up and see that I have been playing a role. I also like the thought that I have the ability to witness this and possibly choose another role, or no role. I really like the thought of dropping all roles, definitions of myself, ideas about who I am and who other people are (or are supposed to be) and to try to show up fresh everyday, ready to see what the world presents and how I respond without thinking about how to do it. I believe this is what it means to be authentic and it sounds like fun to me.

 

 

It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.’ Oscar Wilde

 

 

This entry was posted on September 28, 2014. 7 Comments

entering the mystery

Eleanor sleeping on top of blankets and a large frog pillow (reminds me of the Princess and the Pea)

Eleanor sleeping on top of blankets and a large frog pillow (reminds me of the Princess and the Pea!)

Did you ever have a day where you felt like you didn’t know what to do or which way to turn? Several days ago, this is how I felt. There were many things that I could have done and many things that I should have done and yet I didn’t want to do any of them, so I decided to take a nap, which at the time, felt irresponsible. Lying down on my bed I had the thought, “If I knew that I only had 24 hrs to live, what would I do?” I originally thought I was asking this question of myself because of my seemingly extreme lack of motivation to do anything. The question (I thought) was like a kick in the butt. But what happened next was extraordinary.

As I truly pondered the question, I could see options moving across my inner vision. Would I go to Paris? No. India? No. The special restaurant I’ve been planning to visit? No. There was no place I would go.

The question: What would I do if I only had 24 hrs to live?

The answer: I would see the people who I loved, and I would thank them for being in my life.

I also knew that no matter how much I loved them, I couldn’t attach myself to them for 24hrs….none of us would enjoy that, but I would want to see them and thank them. So I closed my eyes and let the faces of my loved ones come to me. I saw their smiles and I heard their voices. At first I sort of “controlled” who I would see, calling to mind those closest to me, but then others started coming in. People who I’d known years ago, neighbors, casual friends, and some people who I would’ve considered difficult or unpleasant, began to appear in my mind’s eye, and what surprised me most was that I felt only love and gratitude for them. When I imagined that I only had 24 hrs to live, I saw all beings as equally “important” in my life.

This revelation has left an impression on me and has changed me….I’m not quite sure how, but I can feel it. Knowing that if I only had 24 hrs to live, I could somehow drop my preconcieved ideas about people and their “value” in my life, has expanded my consciousness and it was born from a sense that I was wasting time, being lazy, and opting for a nap when I should have been “productive”….

 

This entry was posted on September 18, 2014. 8 Comments