Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Do You Respond?

What do you do when one of those bumps in the road pops up? Not just the big ones, but the little ones too that can be so frustrating? Have you ever observed your response pattern? Recently, I got a good look at mine.

I got up Saturday morning with plans for the day. I was going to make a cottage cheese pie for my friend's birthday, and had planned to give it to her at church the next morning. Also, it was my day to enter a post on my blog, so ideas were going around in my head. Well, just after lunch, I doubled over with a severe irritable bowel episode. Haven't had pain like that in several years. Then the nausea and diarrhea started. It was so bad, I thought I'd have to die to feel better. But the real problem became my failure to follow through on my plans.

I put my blog on hold and apologized to my friend. Then for the rest of the day, I kept stewing about the situation while I moaned in pain. I thought about my Saturday blog screen being empty--nothing there. And I had made a commitment for that day--every week--forever. I had also committed to making a gift for my friend. How could I not keep my commitments? I felt guilt, remorse, regret, ain't it awful, I'm a failure, and so on. A real pity-party. And the pain got worse.

The next day my friend told me she had gone to another church and received a very timely message; Feel it to heal it. Don't stuff it down somewhere. Stay in the present, acknowledge the problem and your feelings, and allow it to move on. Most problems in life, small and large, will move on if we don't hang onto them with negative thoughts. Nothing will leave until we deal with it. Own it, feel it, then let it go.

I already knew this wonderful gem of wisdom, but I sure needed the reminder. Criticizing myself just added to the physical pain I was already experiencing. I still felt rotten the next day, but when I began the letting go process, I began to heal. Sometimes help comes in strange ways, and maybe things happen so we'll learn a lesson for the next time. I think I'll remember this one.

I wish you the wisdom to heal.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Unknown

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. Will Rogers

Have you ever felt an urging inside pushing you to do something new? Something you've thought about, but never got around to doing? Do you ask yourself why you haven't done it? Yes, you've probably asked yourself this question, but maybe you pushed the answer down with the urge. Then you didn't have to reach out and attempt that something new. Huh. Wonder what's going on.

The urging won't leave you alone until you answer its call. So maybe it's a good idea to figure out what's holding you back. Is it a sense of guilt? I don't deserve it...that would be selfish. Or maybe it's fear. I don't know how to live that way...what if I make a mistake...maybe I'll fail and look stupid.

Fear of the unknown contributes to stagnation. The status quo is familiar. It may be miserable, but there's a sense of security in knowing how to navigate in it. If I chose a new way of doing things, I'd have to deal with unfamiliar challenges. I'd have to take full responsibility for myself. I'd feel confused and insecure. How scary is that!! Maybe It's safer to stay where I am.

A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for. William Shedd

There's a drive within us that's stronger than fear. The essence of life itself is growth, and somewhere inside we know that. But we allow the fear to override our desire to reach out to any kind of change. And this doesn't need to be major changes. Practicing small, positive changes can lead us closer to a sense of confidence, and then give us the motivation we need to tackle bigger ones.

If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone. John Maxwell

Try a new food recipe--an easy one. Wear a color you're not used to wearing. Change the furniture around. Take a different route to work. For confidence, acknowledge what's holding you back--guilt, fear, whatever. Then make a list of your past successes, and celebrate each one.

The unknown is only unknown because you've never been there. When you go there, then it will be as familiar as where you are now. Good ideas get lost when we ignore them. Go further than the idea in your head. Take the risk and explore the unknown. Do it anyway. It might be fun to experience the plunge. Once you get your feet wet, you're fine.

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot. Michael Althsuler

Make it happen. You should try my cottage cheese pie.

Happy exploration


Saturday, April 17, 2010

To Go Beyond

Living is beyond existing, and expanding one's life is beyond just living. We're all capable of more than we've accomplished in the past. We sometimes allow others opinions, our life challenges, and mistaken beliefs about ourself to convince us we've come about as far as we can go. But the will to life constantly pushes us to go further, to expand our vision and reach new heights. Think about it. Are you all that you can or want to be?

Expanding our life doesn't have to mean being rich or famous, or doing anything spectacular. It simply means learning to express who we really are and allowing the beauty within to shine in new ways in the outer.

Today I took a second look at the palm tree in my front yard, and I was amazed at what I saw. Beautiful white roses are blooming from all sides and to the top of the tree. Of course, palm trees don't produce roses, but the rose bush growing next to the palm tree does. And this one bush expanded its life, sending shoots up and out toward the sky through the palm. This is more than I've ever seen a rose bush be. It's as if it knew it could be more than it is, and it reached higher. Can't we reach higher too?

When I was working, I had a patient who lived with constant pain, and he felt as if his life was over. But he discovered that, while he couldn't bend or stoop, he could lay on the ground, rest on one arm and hand and till the soil with his other hand. To our amazement, he was able to grow a flower garden. One day, he brought me a gorgeous lily plant, and we celebrated the newness of his life. He had stopped listening to discouraging messages in his mind and expanded his vision. He discovered he wasn't his pain. He was the beautiful person inside who needed to be expressed, and he found a way to do it.

Each of us has the ability to expand and grow, and express what has not yet been revealed. Is there something you've wanted to have, do or be? Have you taken the time to search within to find more of your true self? You may be surprised at what's hidden in there. And never doubt your ability to express what you find. Know that your are more than you are now aware, and the will to life yearns to express all of you. Let it shine.

I wish you roses in your life.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Will To Life

Challenges come into our lives everyday. Some we can handle quickly, some hang around and become difficult, and some are never resolved. But each one tests our ability to go beyond just existing and coping. We're meant to live life as fully as possible, and each challenge is a tool to help life become what we want it to be. How do you view the challenges in your life? Are they thorns in your side, or opportunities to rise above where you are now? Perception influences outcomes.

The whole universe moves in cycles. We see them in the change of seasons, and we see them in our own lives. But there is also a constant within every living thing--the will to life. Today, a walk around my neighborhood brought this truth to my attention. Even here in Florida, we just came through the hardest and longest winter I have ever known, but now trees, bushes and plants are pushing forth to be what they were meant to be. Bare limbs have green leaves sprouting, and bushes are full of bright red, pink and white blossoms. Color is breathtaking. It all seems to be shouting, "I'm alive." This will to life could not be stopped by the frigid cold and biting winds.

Aren't we as great as nature? We all know the challenges we face in our lives, some so severe we think we can't survive, much less live through them. But perception influences outcomes. Instead of seeing the challenge as something that can destroy you, see it as something that can strengthen you and bring you closer to what you want to be, and move through it to a better place. Usually, challenges do pass through our lives, but if it's one that doesn't, know that you can rise above it and find peace with it. The will to life is always greater than the challenge. I know, sometimes we search, but don't find it. But the search need not end in despair.

Living is beyond existing, and you may have to just exist before you can live. That's okay. But never give up. Get angry. Shake your fist and stomp your feet. Say, "This challenge will not conquer me." Grab that will to life from deep inside, and hang on until you feel the life that is you. The more you live through the small challenges, the stronger you will be in the big ones.

Life is for living. Live it in love and peace.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Inner Child

Many, if not most, people today are familiar with Eric Berne's psychological theory regarding the parent, child and adult ego states, different parts of ourselves from which we function. The parent expresses our value systems, morals and beliefs, and may be critical or nurturing. The child is our feeling self. And the adult uses rational thinking and problem-solving, and tries to keep the parent and child in balance. If we become familiar with these parts of ourselves, we can work with them and create a healthier, happier life.

Years ago, my inner child was acting up a lot and created many obstacles on my path. I read Thomas Harris' book, I'm Okay, You're Okay, and found it helpful in dealing with my inner child. Sometimes she still pops up with some left over anger or sadness, but we've come a long way, and that part of me is much happier now.

Each of us was created beautiful, worthy and important, but our environment can teach us to believe otherwise, and we all carry a degree of fear, anger or unhappiness from our childhood, minor or severe. Our experiences may teach us that we're stupid, lazy, won't amount to anything, not worth much, insignificant, and that no one cares how we feel or what we have to say. No wonder we grow up feeling angry, neglected and forgotten. We may re-live our pain throughout our whole life, feeling there's no hope. But an unhappy inner child can learn to be happy.

It's never too late for that child part of you to be healed. Instead of focusing on your inner pain, start giving your inner child some opportunities to learn to feel safe, free and happy. Yes, it takes some re-learning. Talk to him/her as the nurturing parent you may never have had. Verbally express your unconditional love, acceptance, approval and protection. Say these things often, routinely. And hug yourself while you're gently talking.

Go outside in a pleasant area, take some happy music with you and dance around singing. Throw a ball into the air and laugh when you catch it. Roll around on the grass, then lay quietly while you look up creating different happy images from the clouds. And say your prayers with this hurting part of yourself. Do anything you would have enjoyed when you were growing up, and let your inner child feel joy and freedom. And pay no attention if passersby stare at these childish antics. If you do these things often enough, your inner child will begin to trust again and find the safety and happiness that was missed in the past. Do these things and don't give up. There is never failure with love.

I wish you love for your beautiful self.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tribute To Sunny

Yesterday Sunny passed away. He was only a dog, but very special. So today I want to share a story I wrote a few years ago, but they're Sunny's words. This blog is longer than the ones I usually write, but if you've ever lost a pet you loved very much, or not, maybe you'd like to read Sunny's story, A Canine Memoir.

My name is Sunny, and I'm ten years old. I was adopted when I was young. People say I'm a dog, but I don't buy that. When I try to join my family, Lee and Ginny, at the dinner table, they give me a stern look. "Sunny, you're a dog," Ginny says, pointing to a corner in the kitchen. "You have a nice bowl there on the floor where I put fresh food and water for you every day." So that's supposed to convince me?

While they're eating, I rest my chin on the table and look at them with my sad, brown eyes. I think they feel sorry for me, because they give me a piece of food and a peanut butter cookie for dessert. I love peanut butter, and I refuse to take my medicine unless they wrap it in peanut butter. I don't think dogs are smart enough to pull that one off.

I have long blonde hair, not very masculine for a boy, but I think my color is why they call me a Golden Retriever. I slobber a lot. I can't help it though. It's just my nature. They get annoyed with me when I demand attention, but it gets lonely being an only child. When company comes, I get my bone from my toy box and take it to the guests. They seem to like that, and they pet me until Lee tells me to leave people alone. You'd think they'd be glad to have me there, at least as an interesting topic of conversation.

Lee and Ginny have strict house rules. I can't go outside the fenced-in back yard, and I'm not allowed upstairs, especially at bed time. But when Lee's sister, Nonnie, dog-sits...ugh, I hate that word...she lets me sleep by her bed. Then I don't have to be downstairs alone in the dark. What if a burglar broke in? I like to see Nonnie come over, but I'm always glad when she leaves, because they let me go out front while they say goodbye. That's where I find the best smells. Usually when I'm taking a nap, they get me up and put me outside to water the bushes. They don't need to tell me. I know when I have to go. I'm not dumb.

I guess I shouldn't complain about my family. They take good care of me. Ginny brushes me and puts medicine on my skin bumps. The Vet says the bumps are old age, but I resent that, because who wants to be called old? Ginny and Lee throw the ball in the back yard, and let me chase it. I used to wear them out with the game, but now twice around the yard, and I'm pooped...but I'm not old. They let me chase squirrels and lizards, because they know I'm kind and wouldn't hurt 'em. They also let me drink water from the kitchen faucet. I don't like it though when they wipe my mouth with paper towels so I don't drip water on the floor. One of my favorite things to do is in the evening when I get my bone and we all go down into the den and watch TV together. They don't ask me what I want to watch, but I like their shows just fine. Ginny usually hangs her arm over the edge of the sofa, and rubs my back. Yep, I know they love me.

A few months ago some people brought Mazie over to meet me. They said she's a Golden Retriever like me. At first she wasn't friendly...kind of snooty. She put her tail and ears up, and pranced around the yard with her nose in the air. Huh. Well, I'm a patient guy, so I just waited, and pretty soon, she came around. I ended up liking her. Now Lee and Ginny tell me she's coming back soon, and they're prepping me to become a father. I'm not sure what that means. They say it's something good, and I'll like it. But it seems to me father's have a lot of responsibility, and I don't think I want any part of that. I have enough trouble keeping up with my own bones.

When I think about my life, I guess I've got it pretty good. In fact, some of the stories I hear from down the street make me happy I'm blessed with the family I have. They're realy good people. They can't help it if they don't know I'm one of 'em.

We'll miss you, Sunny. Wait by the bridge, and someday we'll join you and walk across together.

Marilyn (Aunt Nonnie)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Difficult Ones

We're all involved in relationships, and no two are alike. The easy ones bring us joy and comfort. The impossible ones may stay for awhile, but most of the time they don't last. The difficult ones may take some work, but we usually feel they're worth keeping. And each one is there for a purpose, to bring a blessing and/or a lesson. No matter what, our life is blessed by people.

Usually we choose to keep the easy relationships and release the impossible ones. But how about the difficult ones that you want to keep, but dealing with them is such a struggle? maybe those are the ones to focus on, because those may be the ones you will learn and grow with the most.

There are two approaches with difficult people that have worked well for me.

1. In order to keep a difficult relationship, you may have to alter your expectations to avoid disappointment. Everyone has things they can give to others and things they can't give. Some can fix problems, some are comforting, some are fun, some give good advice, some are good listeners, etc. But no one is all of these, so we can't expect anyone to be everything to us. Learn what the other person has to give, and don't expect something else from them. If you need understanding, go to someone who can be understanding. (You don't go to a hardware store for bread) And forgive them for what they can't give.

2. You may also have to change the way you relate to a person. If there's conflict when you try to discuss deeper, personal issues with someone, but it's absolutely necessary, then do it. But try to generally relate to them on a lighter, more surface level, so as not to step on thin ice. Avoid areas in which they become defensive. A person you care a lot about may have inner fears or insecurities that cause troublesome behavior. Maybe it's fear of losing control, losing position, revealing their weaknesses, or some other hidden fear. We all try to protect ourselves in some way. Try to understand where they're coming from, and help them feel safe with you.

I know all this seems like a lot of work, but you may find this is one of your best relationships and well worth your time and effort. You may wonder why you should have to do all the work. Well, you shouldn't, but you can't change another person. You can only change yourself. Eventually, the other person may change too as a result of your new approach, but if not, and you can't live with it, then you can think about letting go.

Above all, always approach every relationship with love and as much understanding as you can muster. Everything in the universe is energy, and love is the most healing energy there is. You put it out, and it's bound to come back from somewhere.

Love energy to everyone.