Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who's There? And Why?

Relationships are a vital part of our life and come in various forms. There's not much work involved with the easy ones. They help us through the bumps and put a smile on our face. The difficult ones put bumps in our way and make us work for the smiles. And the impossible ones bring us to terms with what we want and don't want.

We usually move through life with all kinds of people. It's not our nature to live without them. We know how we feel with each person, and we don't question why or what's going on inside of us, but they're reflections of our self and opportunities to learn who we are. Some are temporary. Some are forever. But each one is there for a purpose--a blessing and/or a lesson.

One time I had an impossible supervisor. I tried everything to get along, sincerely put my heart into it, but nothing changed, and my life was miserable. I was just about ready to change jobs when I received a wonderful job offer that took me out of the situation. As I looked back, I realized I had learned a lot from this experience. My supervisor was one of those impossible people who was in my life to help me learn and grow, and I was there until our relationship had served its purpose.

Do you ever take the time to look at the relationships in your life? Are you grateful for those easy ones? How much work are you willing to put into improving the difficult ones? And do you really need to keep the impossible ones? We have the power to choose who we want in our life and what we do with them once they're there. So it might be wise to look around and decide which ones are worth some work and which ones no longer serve the highest good in either person and can be released.

Look for the good in your relationships, and you'll find it, even those impossible ones that you eventually release from your life. Everyone is there for a purpose, and each one is valuable.

Next time I'll write about some ways to work with the difficult ones. You'd like to keep some of those, wouldn't you?

I wish you happy times with all those valuable people in your life.

Marilyn

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What About People?

Today I approached the door to the library, and was pleasantly surprised when a young man moved in front of me and held the door open for me. I remember when nice gestures like this happened often, but I don't see much of it anymore. I smiled and told him how much I appreciated his kindness. This experience reminded me how busy our world is today, and how seldom we think of people. Time is a valuable commodity, but we spend most of it on things. I wonder if we're missing out on a lot of joy in our life, with an imbalanced focus that doesn't have time for people.

We live in a non-stop world like a run-away train with no one at the throttle. Our minds are filled with places to go and things to do. I forgot to pay the electric bill--I can't miss my favorite TV show--I have a whole list of text messages to get out--I have errands to run and I'm running late--I'll get a hamburger to go. And on and on.

Most of what we do is necessary in our busy world, but do we stop long enough to evaluate all those chores? Or are we just caught up in the fast-paced flow, and don't even realize we're in it? Are we really too busy to reach out and share some time with others? Many years from now I will remember the young man who opened the door for me, but I doubt I'll remember the department store sale I couldn't miss last week.

I read a poem the other day, and one of the lines said, "Don't wait until I'm gone to say you love me. I need your love now." I wonder how many people feel that way when they reach out, and there's no one there. Everyone is busy.

Think about it. Time is what you make of it. When a moment is gone, it's gone. Create time to smile at the store clerk, laugh with a child, hug a friend, pray for the hungry in the world, and express your love for the people in your life. Things are fine, but they're temporary. People are forever. Life is for making memories. What kind of memories are you taking with you?

Breathe slowly and love a lot.

Marilyn

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So Who's Perfect?

Do you ever hear those little messages inside your head that criticize you when you goof up? They might say you shoulda done this or you shoulda done that--you dummy. Then you feel that terrible sense of shame because you're not perfect? Well, maybe it doesn't get that severe, but any self-criticism hurts, and we don't have to put ourself down when we make a mistake. Life is for learning, and we'd have nothing to learn if we were perfect.

I kind of like being imperfect. It means I'm normal, and as long as I'm here in this life it gives me opportunities to work on growing and becoming more of what I want to express in my life. Years ago, my mother tried to explain her depression to me. I listened, but I didn't understand, and I wasn't able to help her as I wanted to. I felt helpless, and I criticized myself for being inadequate. I was a good daughter, but I wasn't perfect. Time has passed, I'm older, I've learned a lot, and now I understand. But it's too late. She's gone. It took me a long time to overcome my guilt over my lack of understanding and my inability to help. But I'm grateful the most important ingredient was there. We knew we loved each other.

I realize now that no one is perfect, and if we do the best we can at any given time, given our growing ability, then criticism from anyone is not appropriate. It's okay to fall down, as long as we get back up and keep moving forward, accepting ourself where we are, an imperfect human being who is learning and growing.

As the saying goes, each of us is a work in progress, and we are worthy of acceptance and love. We may not always feel this way, but as another saying goes, I know I'm somebody 'cause God don't make no junk. It's not necessary to do everything right. But it's important to learn along the way and love, unconditionally, who we are today and who we will be tomorrow.

I wish you patience and a peaceful heart.

Marilyn

Saturday, March 20, 2010

From Fear To Faith

We're all afraid of something, sometimes. Rational fears of a real danger lead us to positive action. But the irrational ones of imagined threats in our daily life can be destructive. We need to know the difference. Once we identify our worry and discomfort as fear, we can do something about it.

We have fears about situations in our outer world like: something bad might happen, or it's not going to work out right, or what if I make a mistake. We also have fears about our inner world like: I'm not strong enough to do this, or I'm scared I'll feel foolish, or what if my headache comes back. Either way, it's irrational about something that's only your own perception. These fears can be dealt with and turned from fear to faith.

When you first feel that bit of discomfort in the pit of your stomach about anything, inner or outer, go inside and clarify your feeling, honestly. If it's even a small degree of fear, confront it.

I'm a believer in denials and affirmations to change our perception and, therefore, our feelings. We can't deny the emotion is there, but we can deny it any power over us. Pull the fear up to the surface and talk to it like you would another person. "Okay, fear, I know you're there. I can feel your presence. But I deny you have any power over me. You're no bigger than a fly on a horse's rump, so you might as well go away. I'm done with you." Then affirm the truth about the situation. "I release you now, and affirm my freedom from you through the real Power within me. I am a precious child of the Universe, untouched by your mischief. So get out of my life."

Ridding ourself of any unwanted emotion isn't easy. It takes practice, but as time passes, you'll feel a shift within you, and you'll smile. Keep practicing and learn to do this. It's like having a tool in your back pocket when your human self gets in the way of your sacred Self. Use whatever words you are comfortable with, but be firm in faith, faith in your Creator and faith in the truth of who you are. Life is not for living in fear.

I wish you freedom from anything that keeps you from expressing your true Self.

Marilyn

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fear: Friend or Foe

Fear is an emotion with which we're all familiar. It's part of the human condition. We know what it feels like. But, like anger, it can work for us or against us. Fear is a primitive, instinctual response to potential danger, and can mobilize us to positive action. Or, if it's an irrational response, it can immobilize us to exhaustion. We deal with both as we move along our unpredictable day-to-day path, and I think it's helpful to understand what it is we're dealing with.

Sometimes we conjure up an idea in our mind about something we think might happen. Of course, we have no evidence of a threat, but playing "what if" will get us there in a hurry. In my attempt to quit smoking, I'm exploring what there is inside of me that might be hindering my progress. And I realize I'm afraid to quit. If I quit, what will I do when I get stressed out and need to calm down? What will I do in the morning when I need a pickup? How can I drink a cup of coffee without the cigarette to go with it? How can I possibly get through a day without this familiar part of my life? What if I never had another cigarette to depend on? Fear! Fear! This is irrational thinking because, in truth, I don't really need this crutch. I just think I do, so I get scared at the thought of letting it go.

At times, this scenario goes on in all of us. What if I don't get the job? What will I do if this person is no longer in my life? How can I give up foods that make me feel good? What if my plans don't turn out? We create our own irrational fear, and then suffer when it needlessly consumes us. Sound crazy? Well, maybe. But it's what we do.

A degree of rational fear causes us to take right action, and it can actually save our life. Nothing wrong with that. But those irrational fear creations in our mind are something we need to look at and find ways to change our thinking. Over time, fear takes its toll, and there's enough suffering in the world without our creating more of it for ourselves. We're too special for that.

Next time I'll explore ways to change our fear to faith.

Fear not. Have fun.

Marilyn

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Failure?

Oops. I goofed. A few days ago, I was going to quit smoking. I had everything planned, took care of all the bumps I thought might get in the way and had all my tools ready. But guess what. I didn't even get through the first day when a bunch of unexpected "stuff" came up. I felt stress rising, and grabbed my old standby...a cigarette. I did cut back on smoking, but I didn't quit. Now I have two choices--call myself a failure and give up, or find something good in the situation and keep going.

I've decided that a setback doesn't make a failure. It just makes me take a look at what went wrong and how I can do better next time. I know that change is constant, and the unexpected is always a possibility. The world doesn't revolve around what I want. But I forgot to include this truth in my plans and got stuck in the stressful stuff. I allowed it to overshadow the larger picture. Maybe I needed a reminder that I can't always foresee what's coming, and I need to keep my goal uppermost in my mind, not letting anything sway me off my path. I'm still determined to reach my goal.

Have you ever been moving toward a goal when something you didn't expect popped up, and you're suddenly standing in mud? Something knocks on your door, and your goal is out the window. Bummer. Yeah, it happens. If something is an emergency, then yes, you may have to shelf your goal for a while. But if it's one of those day-to-day things, then deal with it, pull your feet up out of the mud and keep going. You haven't failed. You just got sidetracked, and you can still move forward. Life's lessons don't always come wrapped in pretty paper, but they are valuable.

Here's to another learning experience. May we all get smarter.

Marilyn

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Facing The Beast

Today, for the umpteenth time, I'm going to try and quit smoking. But perhaps it's not wise to use the word try. Sometimes that word can defeat the outcome. So I'll say I will quit. I smoked for seven years, then quit for eight years, and went back to it when I was getting a divorce. Dumb! Now I've been smoking for more years than I want to recount, and have tried to quit several times without success. This time it's bare-boned cold turkey. Go, girl.

Years ago, when I quit, I was pregnant, sicker than a mule at last weeks food trough, living on the third floor over my in-laws who were against smoking, didn't know how to drive a car to get to a store in the midst of a nicotine panic attack, and my husband didn't smoke. How could I not quit? I thank God for that situation, because it at least gave me eight years of freedom. Now I want that freedom again.

I think I'm ready. I have free time allotted, so I plan to clean house--lots of mopping, scrubbing, reaching, pulling, stretching--whatever it takes. And I can scream whenever I feel like it, with lots of tissues handy to catch the tears. I also plan to use something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). I know it works for many types of situations, and I'm counting on it this time.

Yes, the experts advise having a support system near by, but this is something I have to do alone. However, I'm a great believer in prayer, so really I won't be alone. The Power within will provide all I need, and I'll do what is mine to do. Together we can do this. If anyone has some extra prayer in their heart, I would greatly appreciate receiving some of it. Now I'm ready to dive in.

Blessings to all of us.

Marilyn

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Don't Sweat The Shoulds

Oftentimes we're so caught up in regret and resistance that we miss opportunities for positive change. We mentally get so bogged down in what we think someone or something should or shouldn't be that we diminish our ability to resolve what is. People and situations are just what they are, and fretting over the shoulds won't change what is. Perhaps a change of focus could open new doors and make life a little easier.

Have you ever had thoughts like, He shouldn't do that, I never should have made that choice, They shouldn't treat me this way, I shouldn't have to do this, or whatever other shoulds you can conjure up? How much time do you spend on these dead-end thoughts? It would be nice if everything were as it should be, but we live in a complex world with new challenges everyday. And where we set our mind today determines where we will be tomorrow.

When I get stuck in shoulds, I remember when someone told me it's a waste of time to fret over what should be. We can only deal with what is. Never mind whether something is right or wrong, fair or unfair, or why it's that way.

We can't change another person or the past, but we can accept what is now and focus on ways to create a better scenario. That may mean changing what we can, making necessary changes in ourself or even learning to live with what we can't change, while we search for whatever good might be in it. It's certainly worth a different approach to reduce stress that comes with dwelling on how it should be. Who knows? With a new approach, it might turn out better than you would expect.

I wish you visions of peace.

Marilyn

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Make The Choice

Recently I received news that a friend is being faced with one of those situations that gets dumped in our lap and forces us to make a life-changing decision. These situations are more than bumps in the road. They're painful, scary mountains that seem too big to climb. Such an experience can either destroy us or make us strong, and we must make the choice as to which way we'll go.

We move through each day dealing with all the bumps as they come up, but something like illness, divorce, sudden moves, family discord, or loss of income, a job, your home, or a loved one requires more than a band-aid. The wound is open, and it needs healing outside and inside.

Our first reaction is usually confusion and panic. It's easy to get mentally stuck in the midst of the problem, and emotionally frozen in painful feelings. But we know, gut level, we need to make a decision and act upon it. The best place to be now is in the quiet of your own mind and heart. Stop and listen, because that's where your answers are. That's where your comfort is. That's where your strength is. That's where you can choose to climb out of the dark pit and survive in the light. Direction will come, but vision is more clear with a quiet mind and open heart.

There have been times in my life when I didn't think I could survive a situation when it hit me in the face, but looking back I can see the blessing that came from it. And I'm grateful. When you're sitting in a mess, it's hard to see anything else, but say to yourself, "Maybe later I'll see that, in some way, good came from this for all concerned. For now, I just have to get from here to there"--wherever there is for you. Believe in your Self, and make your choice to move forward. You may be surprised how much strength and power the Universe will send your way.

Nothing in nature is always easy. I never saw a rose without thorns, but isn't it beautiful, and doesn't it smell sweet in the spring. Life is not made of smooth highways with bright lights. The journey takes us through many experiences, but we can choose survival over defeat and look forward to the warm days ahead. We already have everything we need to make it.

I wish you rainbows in your future.

Marilyn