Category: Staying sane (page 1 of 10)

What’s truly dear to your heart?

We get so bombarded with so much STUFF….so many messages…so many gadgets and apps and channels and offers and more until we often can’t remember what really truly matters to us.  Much less who matters most to us.

I am inclined to think that many of us baby boomers never really know what our short list is, because we’re never really put to the test.  We never have to consider what it would be like not to have that person in our lives.  We grow up, we go to work, we might go off to school but then many of us come back and resume things.  Same surroundings.  Pretty much the same social circle.

It all gets comfortable.  Easy.  Our world stays pretty steady.

Until a disease comes along, and a few of those people you thought would show up don’t.  Or divorce comes along, and those people who used to sit down the pew from you now look at you differently.  Or your lose your job, and you can’t do that regular monthly dinner out and no one calls the other three weeks.It’s interesting to really learn not only who and what matters most to you, but who you matter most to.  (Bad English maybe, but you get it.)  It’s scary.  Yet maybe it’s incredibly freeing as well.

I never understood how I could go to another job, maybe just a few miles away, and my “friends” from my previous job just dropped me.  Having moved a few times as a child to different schools in different states, I learned how friendship is something that shouldn’t depend on geography.  Yet as an adult, it seems there are those who don’t feel that way.

Then I moved across the country.  Having so many miles between me and my previous life really was instructive in terms of who I missed most, and who missed me enough to stay in contact.  I had an even deeper appreciation of their friendship and love because I felt it as well.  I could also look back at my former city and love the good parts about it.  Taking a big step out of your comfort zone definitely changes you, forces you to grow in ways you can’t otherwise, and in some ways, simplifies a lot of things.

I’ve been told when you make a major life change, you often bring up other people’s fears.  They don’t want you to do it because it changes things.  Maybe it makes them consider if they are happy.  Maybe it tests their relationships.  I don’t know.

But then my life got a little stranger.  I moved again, back to my old home grounds.  (Economics, family, etc…kind of like hitting the re-set button for a few years, then we’ll see where I land.)  But I came back thinking I could reconnect with a few of the people who I had considered friends before.  What happened was and is surprising.

My true, live-in-my-heart friends, were glad I was back and we have picked up where we left off, which makes me eternally grateful because I never let go of them and they did not let go of me even when I was very far away.

But a few others…people I used to work with, or hang out with, or in many cases treat to an occasional lunch or dinner when they were down a bit…they have been a no-show.  A few don’t even answer emails or voice messages. My late mother would probably say well maybe they never were my friends anyway.  But it didn’t feel that way.

I’ve checked my breath and personal hygiene.  That’s not it either.

Times change.  People change.  Maybe Mother was right.

What has been fascinating is doing all this full-circle.  Being in one place for many years, moving to a new place for a decade, then moving back…and seeing what is still true, what never was true, and how you have to always find your own bliss, own peace of mind, and own strength.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to be surrounded by a lot of people.  I don’t have 300 “friends” on Facebook (no judgment if you do, it’s just not me).  I’m very okay with solitary moments and I can dine, see a movie or travel solo without missing a beat.  I feel more fulfilled in nature than in any other situation, and if you’re going to blast music while walking down a mountain trail, please go on ahead of me so I don’t have to hear it.

And maybe those of us who actually step past the safety zone…who take risks and do things other deem as scary…without a net…who follow their inner voice and are willing to feel the fear, loneliness and confusion that can come with that…maybe we actually do have more strength.

And maybe in the long run, our rewards are greater.

Not more money.  Not the coolest people at our table.  Not necessarily the smoothest road.

But the one that takes us inward, where our real treasures lie.

So if you’re considering going forward, or going back, take care.

Bundle up.

Grab a snack.

Stick to the trail.

Cause it’s not easy…but it’s also not near as hard as never taking that step.

 

“Pursue some path, rather narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

        Henry David Thoreau

 

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Being Where We Are.

Are you here?

Right now, are you here…or are you somewhere else?

 Maybe you are really back in school, wishing you had made a different choice in what you studied, wondering what career you would have now. 

 Or maybe you see yourself sitting in a car with a boyfriend who has just asked you a very big question.  What if you had answered differently?

 You could be at the beach, at that great vacation you took so many years ago, watching your wife and smallest child romp in the waves, so sure that life held so much promise for you and your family, not knowing the sadness that lie ahead.   

 If you are somewhere else in your mind, you are not here.  It sounds obvious.  Yet we can spend so much of our lives in this mental limbo, which is unfortunate as our lives go quickly enough.

Studies show we spend more than one-half of our waking hours, and one-third of our lives, daydreaming. It can make us more creative.  But it can also churn up a lot of anxiety and regret.

Why did I move there?  Why did I not go on that trip?  What would have happened had I gone to the doctor earlier?  Can I not hit a reset button and take back those awful things I said?

We daydream less as we get older.  This is primarily thought to be because so many daydreams are about what we want to do in the future, and there is simply less of that.  (The flip side is in many cases we have done those things, or at least now have the ability to do them.)

Stress can increase daydreaming.  Sometimes our subconscious uses this to give us solutions to problems that are vexing us.

In itself, daydreaming is not inherently bad for us. But constantly second-guessing ourselves and fretting about whether we made a wrong turn can make us feel lost, scattering our thoughts until we feel like we are unraveling.

 Professor, Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and On Being columnist Omid Safi offers this:

“So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart. We are, too often, scattered. We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves. We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma. Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something. We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

 To pray with the heart, to have presence in the heart, is a remedy. It is a healing, an un-scattering. Presence is simply to have our heart be where our feet are.”

So much energy spent on things we cannot control.  Things that have already occurred.  Or things that will go the way they should, regardless of what we do.

Wherever we are, it is good because it is where we are.  We have to find some peace with it.

Breathe.

Quiet the mind.

Feel the earth beneath us.

Let the heart rest.

Then, perhaps a new way will open that will take us where we want to go.

Or a door to the past will close that will let us heal.

But it all starts with now.  Right here.

Safi also says:

The inner and the outer are reflected in each other.

When we are internally divided, we will be externally divided.

If we wish to be united as a human community, we have to strive for unity and healing at the heart level.

 We need the prayer of the heart.

By whatever form we pray, we need to become whole.

May it begin one breath at a time.

May it begin with me.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment, fully alive, fully aware.”

   Thich Nhat Hanh

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Happy Birthdays to Us!

Rites of passage.  Whether it’s turning 50, 60, 70, 80, or beyond, we feel them.  They get our attention.  They get the attention of everyone in our family and circle of friends, because they can’t believe we are whatever age we are.

Big birthdays sober us. They remind us of our immortality.

But they also can be quite emancipating.  They tap us on the shoulder and urge us to look ahead down that trail, and wonder where it will take us.  Where do we want to go?  What do we want to achieve?   Are we done chasing goals of the past?  Are we ready to take a breath, or is it time to gear up for new challenges?

There’s a sadness to passing from one decade to another.   Who doesn’t pause a bit when they realize they can’t quite move as fast as they once did.  Can’t get on the floor to play with the dog and get up quickly (or at least, without some assistance).  Can’t eat all that spicy food without raiding the medicine cabinet at 2 a.m. for the antacid.  Can’t even stay up late…and late has gone from 11 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Still, there’s a giddiness to growing older.  You just have to look for it.

You have permission to give up some things.  Stop worrying about so much.  Know that you have gained wisdom the younger set doesn’t yet have, (even though they’re convinced you don’t know what you’re talking about).

Smile a bit more.  Nap a bit more.  Take it all in.  Or not.

If you’re coming up on a big birthday, turn it on its head and think about what gifts it can bring.   More time to travel.  Walk on the beach.  Wear a floppy hat.  Stop dying your hair.

Or start dying it purple.

.When she turned 70 last year, actress Sally Field said, “I’ve gathered strength behind my years, I owned them, I’ve earned them, I’ve deserved them, I have a right to have them. Behind my years I have value that doesn’t come when you’re 50 or 40 or 30 or 20, it doesn’t come until you’ve been in that saddle for a number of years.”

Amen!  Here’s to rocking the wrinkle however you can.

Here’s some other thoughts on jumping into that next decade:

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.”~Doug Larson

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair”.~Douglas MacArthur

“In a man’s middle years there is scarcely a part of the body he would hesitate to turn over to the proper authorities”. ~E.B. White

“The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.”.~Jerry M. Wright

“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that”. ~Lauren Bacall

You have come a long way. You’ve endured a lot of struggles and pain.  You’ve touched more people’s lives than you will ever know.

And you are still here!

Celebrate!

 

 

 

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Don’t vote for hate.

This post first ran in February.  I honestly didn’t think the election dialogue could get worse.  I was very wrong.  What’s happened to civility?  Here it is again, but with some needed edits.

Mother always said if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.

Designing Women’s Julia Sugerbaker said if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit next to me.

In today’s political climate, it seems to be required to say nasty things, especially if there is no basis in fact. Say it loud. Say it with an air of arrogance. Say it with a smirk on your face and look right in the camera.  And it seems, say with no regard for vulgarity, lewdness, or harm to others.

DSC02021How did we get this way?

Learningmind.com is an interesting website that considers all kinds of thought-provoking ideas. When I ran across one of the site’s posts about human behavior, I thought it most appropriate for these scary political times. Here are some thoughts from Learning-mind.com:

Interesting facts about human behavior.

  • People with high levels of testosterone get pleasure from the anger of others.
  • People with low self-esteem tend to humiliate others.
  • People sincerely believe their negative opinions about others are truthful and have no connection with them. 
  • People tend to commit immoral acts or do not fulfill someone’s request for help if no effort is needed and they do not have to face that person directly.
  • Lying takes a lot of mental effort. So as a result, a liar uses simple sentences and finds it more difficult to cope with mental tasks.

And (need I even have to say this?) talking—boasting—about sexual assault isn’t cool.  Funny.  Harmless.  Or just “locker room talk.”

IT’S WRONG.

Anyone coming to mind???

There’s room for disagreement in every situation. Discussion and compromise are what made this country, and many others, great. We don’t have to agree on anything.

But couldn’t we keep the conversation civil?

Couldn’t we agree that at the end of the day, we need to work together for the greater good?

It sure seemed like we used to know how to do that. As boomers and beyond, we remember that it’s never been easy to bring people together. I wasn’t around then, but I’m sure there were many people who didn’t like what Franklin Roosevelt did, but they agreed something major needed to be done during the Great Depression. The Cold War was a volatile challenge that sparked lively debate. Every political figure has his or her fans and detractors.

But it just seems that in the past, there was a realization that what mattered was the outcome…the people’s welfare.

Not any one person’s ego.

Not any one person’s religious beliefs.

People change. Times change. We live in a very different society, one where everything a public figure says or does is immediately in front of us. I just wish that rather than that causing the worst to be out there all the time, the opposite would happen.

Maybe think a little more about what you say. Actually check the facts (no, not Fox “news”, not a liberal website, not Facebook.) Investigate. Ask questions. Give it some consideration. Invite a discussion.

Respect those who do not agree with you IF they deserve your respect..  Do not blindly follow someone after they have offended a religion, women, those with disabilities, other cultures, or any other group.  Distance yourself and fast.

file8961250911676I so hope cooler minds prevail and the hatefulness that seems to be filling the airwaves dies down to a whisper. We’re all in this together. Let’s remember every thought that comes in our mind does not have to come out of our mouths.

Maybe we can’t stop others from being rude and loud.

But we can stop listening.  And we don’t have to follow.

 

“Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.”    

     Eric Hoffer

 

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