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What’s really scary

It’s Halloween.  Ghosts.  Goblins.  And lots and lots of fun-size candy sitting on your counter just daring you to stick to your diet.

Great for kids, and aficionados of the classic horror films.  Fun for adults who like to decorate their homes into eerie places that give trick-or-treaters a thrill.

But you know what’s really scary to me?

What’s going on in the world right now.  Sexual harassment cases exploding.  Health insurance skyrocketing to truly terrifying levels.  Bigotry, white supremacy and incessant name-calling grabbing center stage.  Crazy people in power acting like infantile idiots threatening to blow everything up.

And what seems to be a general ho-hum reaction to most of it.

Why aren’t more people upset that species are disappearing?  That walls are being built to keep out people while the privileged just get more?  That bullying seems to ongoing with no end in sight?

I don’t understand.  It all terrifies me.

Maybe some are afraid to admit they are afraid.  

Maybe some figure that’s just the way it is.

Maybe some are so used to it all they figure someone else will fix it.

Maybe some think they can’t do anything.

But I don’t agree.

Even if you never leave your home, you can do a lot.  You can make your voice heard.  You can decry meanness.  You can shine the flashlight on off-color jokes and inappropriate behavior in mixed company.  You can not laugh when someone you’ve known for years tells a repugnant joke.

You can send out positive thoughts and not buy in to the garbage.

So much negative energy comes in through our televisions, computers, phones and more. It’s enough to make you put a piece of foil on your head and hide under a rug.

But don’t.

Be true to your heart.  To the spirit of good, of light, of redemption.  Get out your hippie t-shirt from the 60s and wear it while you do housework.  Be the ripple in the pond that goes out to the universe.

We boomers have lived through a lot of war, anger, bad politics and more.  We know how to change minds.  How to be heard.  And while we may not be able to participate in a 3-day sit in (we’d never be able to get up), we can do our part to not let so much junk invade our lives.  And not let the uncivilized talk go unchecked.

Here’s to some positive energy…and to turning down the volume on what others think we want to hear.

“Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”

       Chet Powers

 

 

 

Past the expiration date?

I’ve been thinking about expiration dates. I fear I have ignored too many in my life.

I’m not talking about a can of biscuits, but rather relationships, jobs, situations, etc. Things that more than outlived their freshness and yet I stayed on…out of fear, laziness, or just inertia.

Funny thing is, looking back, once I cut myself free from whatever it is that long had stopped being a healthy choice, my life got so much better. Whoda thunk?

What I’m hoping is this: now that I’m wiser (!) and older, perhaps I’ll spot much earlier when it’s time to let go of something toxic. Move on. Stop the madness. Resist.

Because there’s just not enough time to waste on things that are harmful to us.

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Problem is, often the harm is sneaky and slow, and we don’t see what it’s doing to our spirit. Nibbling away at us quietly like mice in the night. I don’t know about you, but I’ve set out traps and called in exterminators and plugged holes and watched Mickey and Minnie enough times to know if you don’t completely get rid of the problem, it’s coming back…and with friends.

So I’m hoping this time around, in my older years, I’m taking action quicker.

For example, the work situation that asks too much and returns too little. The “friendship” that really isn’t. The romance that tears down, instead of building up. The incessant user of our energy…whatever or whoever it is…that is not enriching our soul, but eroding it.

Enough already!

Meditation is one strategy. When the urge to give in to the bad energy comes over us, we can sit still, find our breathing and try to let the feeling pass. Sometimes it works, sometimes we just want to scream or throw a rock. (I think that’s okay, as long as it’s done safely.)

Helping others is a good idea. Get out of myself and get into helping another person…whether it’s a phone call to someone struggling with something, or inviting someone to lunch who never gets out. Volunteer at a local shelter. See just how powerful my “good” energy can be when directed in the right direction.

Make a list. I’ve always said being a tad neurotic can come in handy. I like to write down the pros and cons of what I can’t seem to give up. Chances are the “bad” side of my list is much longer than the good.   So why waste any more energy there?

Start over shot

Of course many situations are much more difficult to change. A painful romance or abusive marriage. A job that pays the bills but steals your soul. It’s up to each person to decide when enough is enough, and how to safely and positively walk away.

Just as M. Scott Peck says in the first line of The Road Less Traveled, “life is difficult”. So I know we have to expect some trial and strain in even the best situations and relationships. But I also know that for me, looking back, I often stayed in the rowboat much too long…after all the food and water was gone and the sharks were gnawing on the side…and now wonder why I didn’t just take my chances in the water.

Because I do know how to swim.

Or at least dog-paddle.

I’ve got the wrinkles to keep me afloat.

 

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”

                                                                       Parker Palmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming Fall

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Fall

Early morning cool

Leaves starting their journey

Soft jackets with stubborn zippers

Announcers in filled football stadiums

Squirrels getting busier

Chili peppers teasing your nose

Bright lights of a county fair

New pencils and sharp crayons

Meeting new characters on television

Early blanket of darkness

Elk are bugling

Socks and sweatshirts

Warm cider and hot tea

A different light in the afternoon

Airing out the quilt

Reading the Farmer’s Almanac

Stocking up on essentials

Summer’s last gasp in September

Laughing by the fire pit

Relaxing in the season

What is September for you? A time of exciting new beginnings? Or painful memories from years gone by? Does the cool air energize and inspire you, or do you wish summer’s warmth would linger?  Of course you may live somewhere that offers high temperatures year-round. If so, what does the change of season mean to you?

I’ve always viewed September with mixed emotions. As a child, it was the whole back-to-school thing. Then it was the back-to-campus thing during college. Then you “become an adult” and school calendars no longer rule your life (though I swear universally work stops for everyone the first week of school, and the last week of school, because no one knows where their kids, car keys, or brain are).

But then September changed for me.

IMG_6287I became relieved by the cooler temperatures. It felt like a time to go inward and be still.  I loved the changing leaves and gorgeous sunsets.

Now as I am much older, September is also symbolic of how quickly things change. How life passes before we’re ready.

How we need to take the trip today, tell someone we love him or her today, have dessert first today.

How we should not “postpone our joy”.

September is just a month; the beginning of a new season. But I think inside, it’s also our cue to pull the blanket around us and warm up to our lives.

Luckily, as boomers, we have a lot of kindling.

“There is a pearl in every season. Find it. Then give all you have to claim it.”

       Joan Sauro

 

Embracing The Big Love Around Us

Are you getting in your own way of happiness?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day frenzy of just being human.  From the moment the alarm sounds, we’re often on a race to hurry up and get to a desk where we can stop for a few minutes and then hurry up and get on the phone, to a meeting, across town to the bank, stop by the post office, pick up the kids, bathe the dog, hurry back home to be sure we’re in the kitchen so we can hurry up and get dinner on the table and sit for a few minutes before hurrying up to binge-watch the new series and finally, hurry to bed so we can start it all over again the next day.

Somewhere, along the way, we pass ourselves.  Some part of us is looking out the window.  Or noticing how the light is bouncing off the leaves as the season changes.  Or remembering how glorious it felt to hike that trail on a cool fall morning or run through leaves giggling.

But we don’t have time to stop.  And oddly, that’s a comforting thing.

We have our duties.  Our roles.  Our safe little worlds with no surprises. Even though sometimes, it feels like the walls are about 3 inches away, and getting closer.

And closer.

So that soon, our world is very, very small.  And that candle inside us that used to shine so brightly and lead our way when we were first dreaming of what our lives can be…that candle is struggling to stay lit.  It’s an inertia that slowly creeps through your bloodstream like a silent snake…robbing you of your curiosity.  Your desire to know more, to explore unknown places and have adventures.  Little by little, it seeps your energy.  Like the death eaters in the Harry Potter stories it seems to hover overhead and suck the very life out of you.

A beautiful essay on the OnBeing Studios blog, “Beyond The Myths We Tell Ourselves, Big Love is Waiting” offers some wonderful insight.  (OnBeing is an amazing multimedia project featuring a nationally broadcast public radio show, a portfolio of podcasts, and a digital publishing platform reaching millions of people each week.)  Author Ali Schultz reminds us we are “not Atlas supporting the world; the world is supporting us.”

Schultz goes on to say:

When I step out from the house of cards I’ve built for myself, I feel love. Big love.The clear path to such love requires excavation. We must, as Rumi notes, remove all of the blocks we’ve placed in our way to keep us from it. Somehow, somewhere, in all of our evolutionary neurological wiring, our wires have crossed so that we fearing being loved more than being safe, small, sure, busy, and turning away from the big open arms of life. We think we’ve got it all figured out. While our gifts for self-preservation and survival are strong, all we’ve figured out, really, is how to make sense of the world into which we were thrust, or find ourselves. Great skills, no doubt. But if we rely on them solely, we guard ourselves from another way of being with the world.”

“The big open arms of life.”  What a wonderful image. So why are we so afraid to let go….to give up the control we mistakenly believe we have, and just let the energy and inspiration around us fill us?

Is that we don’t think we’re worthy?  Or that we can’t remember how to find that energy?  Are we giving into society’s obsession with youth and forgetting that we, baby boomers, anyone over 50, are the ones best equipped to recognize just what the universe can do for us…and know we have had it inside us all along?

More words from Ali Schultz:

“Perhaps the biggest form of self-denial is turning away from the grace that’s always there for us, right now here in the present, and has been with us throughout the arc of our history. Without a story to perpetuate or mental mazes to get lost in, you stop perpetuating the story, the delusion, that you’re alone holding it all together yourself. And, then, you can feel life rush in and join you in conversation. When you open to the world, big love is waiting for you.”

Taking a risk is scary.  Changing your life is scary.  Even just deciding you are going to realign your daily priorities can be scary, because others are going to react to what you are doing.

But you know what?

What’s scary can also be liberating.  Exhilarating.  It can lift you up like a cool autumn breeze invites an eagle to soar to newer heights.

Maybe we can each stop carrying our world, give our backs a rest, and wait for the world to rush in.  What a delightful thought that is.

 

“That is the mystery of grace:  it never comes too late.

    Francois Mauriac  

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