Monday, February 29, 2016
As a kid, I lived in a fantasy world. I used to believe ants could talk. Not once did they say thank you. Willard Wigan
Ants bite and sting. But so do people...in their own human way. And I've experienced both. I don't want to harm any critters, so when I saw a huge ant crawling on my kitchen floor, I picked him up to put him out the back door so he could return to his family, still alive to hunt another day. Well, that ungrateful thing bit me several times, and my finger swelled up, got burning hot and itched like crazy. How's that for gratitude? Next time I will literally put on a glove to protect myself.
The work on ants has profoundly affected the way I think about humans. E. O. Wilson
Looking back, I think about how some of the people in my life remind me of the ant. Or does the ant remind me of them? The ant probably didn't know I wouldn't hurt him, and he felt threatened, like people do sometimes. And he did what ants do to protect themselves. Yes, there's a big difference between ants and people, but there's a similarity between all living things. They respond in negative ways when they feel threatened. I suppose that's why some people in my life act like ants. Most are pretty easy to get along with, but I've been painfully bitten by people enough times to know the difference.
An innocent, even helpful, gesture can sometimes be misinterpreted and bring a negative response from someone...family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, any relationships. Maybe they're not feeling well, they're preoccupied, or going through a difficult period. But you know the ones who generally give you a hard time. Those are the ones who probably feel insecure and experience real or imagined threats. They may have a need to be right and be in control. They may fear loss of stature, or experience an injured self-image. When your presence threatens any of their issues, they can bite with a response anywhere between passive-aggressive behavior to open hostility toward you.
Kindness in ourselves is the honey that blunts the sting of unkindness in another. Grantland Rice
When I first started working in the jail with the Mental Health Team, there was a Sergeant who was always rude and uncooperative. I figured he thought we had invaded his territory and felt threatened by our presence. So I confronted the issue, complimented him on his work, and reassured him we were not there to threaten, but to help. He took this approach well, and we became close co-workers.
Friendship should be more than biting time can sever. T. S. Eliot
In any encounter with a person who acts like an ant, there are several ways to approach a peaceful solution.
1. First look within: See if you've done anything to set them off. If so, work on a different approach next time.
2. Consider and decide: Think about the ant people in your life, and decide how much contact you want, or need to have, with them.
3. Reassure: If you want to work on the relationship, choose a peaceful time, and share your feelings. It's important to reassure them you're not a threat. This worked in my jail experience.
4. Use Gloves: If the other person still feels threatened and doesn't respond in a positive way, then put on gloves to protect yourself. Putting on gloves means using any 'last resort' tactic to alleviate the problem. This can be done in a kind, peaceful way with one statement, "You seem upset. I'm sorry you feel that way." Then walk away...walk away. Threatened people aren't used to this response, and it may cause them to stop biting you like an ant.
5. Let it go: Your responses may not change a threatened ant's behavior, so decide how much of your time you want to give to the relationship...from none at all to as much as usual. Then deal with whatever you're willing to tolerate, and work on letting go of your own frustration and/or pain.
I wish you many bite-free days and happier relationships.
Monday, February 22, 2016
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough. Frank Crane
Most of us live in one category or another...trusting too much and open to deception, or not trusting enough and missing some of life's blessings. Where do you fit in these two categories when dealing with situations...people in your life...yourself? And where's the balance?
We usually consider whether or not to trust other people in various life situations. Then we continue our own failure to trust ourselves. But there's no one more important in your life than you. After all, you're the one who creates your quality of life with the decisions you make everyday. And your method for trusting has a lot to do with outcomes. Something to think about.
Trusting too much: It feels good to face each day with a sense of trust. But that doesn't mean you can trust everything and everyone. Maybe most people in your life are trustworthy, but experience teaches us there are people out there who see that trusting look in our eyes, and they can take us on a devastating ride.
When I grip the wheel too tight, I find I lose control. Steve Rapson
Lack of trust: So then we face each day not trusting anything or anyone, and seek to control the people and situations in our life, thinking that will provide the security we need. But fear is always beneath one's need to control, and it ultimately makes us feel more vulnerable and less likely to produce what we want. Control leads to bondage...not freedom. Focusing on people and things outside of yourself with too much or too little trust is not the answer to the kind of life you want.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. Goethe
For many of us it's hard to trust our self. We know all of our faults and shortcomings. We remember our mistakes. We remember trusting and being hurt or feeling sorry when we didn't trust enough. And we doubt our ability to make sound decisions...or even try. Fear is powerful energy, and facing the unknown is scary. Even if you know your answers are found within yourself, braking old habits is difficult. But blocking trust in yourself leads to unfulfilled dreams held in your heart and also causes faulty decisions with situations in your outer world. But change can be accomplished. According to Mandy Hale, "It's okay to be scared. Being scared means you're about to do something really, really brave."
When making decisions, your head is where you find needed information in a situation but mixed with the fear and uncertainty your ego-self is telling you. And your true-Self is where you find instinct and intuition...that special, peaceful, all-knowing place that touches your heart with truth. These two--head and heart--can work well together, but ultimately you must listen to what your heart is telling you, for this is where you will find your answers.
Slow down. Calm down. Don't worry. Don't hurry. Trust the process. Alexandera Stoddard
It may take a while for you to transfer from the sometimes faulty thinking of your mind to trusting the truth of your inner voice, but with practice this transition can occur.
1. When you need physical information, gather it from your environment. Then go within and ask for help with your final decision.
2. Listen for your answer. It may come as a voice, a feeling, a knowing.
3. Be patient and wait. Your answer may not come immediately. You may be driving your car, doing the laundry, busy at work, or whatever, when you suddenly know your answer.
4. Develop an attitude of trust in your life as it unfolds.
You will make mistakes as you go along. But trust your Self. You have always had this part of you that can lead to confidence in yourself and your life. Release the worries, and know you're cared for. All is well.
I wish you trust in your beautiful Self.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less. Kurt Hahn
Have you ever watched children at play? Oftentimes they're someplace in their own little world of imagined adventures. They drift in and out as freely as a leaf in the wind or ocean waves leaping in the sea. Their minds are open, and their experiences are endless in a theta state of awareness. It's a state of consciousness we all experience when we give up some of our busy doings and relax enough to hear.
Our brain functions in several states of awareness composed of brain waves. Electrical activity in the brain generates four basic categories of brain waves with specific states of consciousness--beta, alpha, theta, and delta--from very alert to deep sleep. In general terms, beta is when you're awake and alert; alpha is a frequency range between beta and theta and promotes relaxation and drowsiness; theta is a state of actual sleep and dreaming, but also light sleep and daydreaming; and delta is deep, dreamless sleep promoting healing and regeneration. What a wonder our mind is.
Theta, in a barely conscious semi-hypnotic state, can access our subconscious and experience free flowing ideas that increase insight, intuition, and creative thinking, and discharge old or new unresolved emotions. Alpha and theta can occur during meditation, but can occur any time. It's what happens when tasks are automatic, like driving a familiar route, then drift into daydreaming, and miss your familiar turn off, or on the other hand, remember your third grade teacher's name. This is a valuable tool when used wisely.
Every now and then I get spontaneous messages when I first wake in the morning. At first I thought I could remember the messages, but when totally awake I forgot them. So now I quickly write them down. Some pertain to my spiritual growth, some to my writing, and some are random. I'd like to share a few with you as they came to me.
Hold the vision. Trust the process. Author Unknown
Messages pertaining to my spiritual growth are on a bulletin board next to my computer. They're usually very short, but powerful, like the ones that say, "God restores...with mercy," or "Look to the light. The light is your way to freedom." One time I spent several days trying to solve a problem. Then, while standing on a porch just watching clouds move across the sky, I heard, "Leave the orchestration to God. He knows the music." What a great reminder.
When I'm writing and get stuck, I go outside to my swing on the patio. There I whistle with the birds and relax, and suddenly the very idea, phrase, or whatever I was reaching for comes to me clearly. And my writing flows again. One morning when barely awake, I heard a woman's voice in southern dialect telling about her life in the hills with her Granmama. I was absolutely astounded with this unfamiliar scenario out of nowhere. But I had fun creating a life for this family in my book, "Me And Granmama In The Hill Country."
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. Ram Dass
I believe most of us, if not all, have had theta experiences. But how much richer our world would be if we created time to explore this part of who we are. When you first wake in the morning, do you jump right up and get going? Do you keep your mind active with all of those important issues you can't live without? Do you interpret intuition and daydreaming as wasteful time? Instead of pushing your brain to move, slow down and allow it to flow with messages to enhance your life.
When you tap into your own magnificence, align with the Divine, and get in perpetual flow with the Universe, miracles happen. Debbie Takara Shelor
Spend quiet time each day and allow your body to relax and your mind to clear. Meditation is a great help. And lay quietly just after waking and before sleep. Don't think...don't anticipate...don't encourage anything to happen. Simply let go and be! Messages I've received were never of my bidding. They just happened. And I welcomed them. I think the secret is in learning to assume a receptive vibration, and when you need something your mind will respond. Take the time and welcome your miracles.
I wish you many new adventures.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
"I can't believe I did that. I must really be stupid." Does that sound familiar? Have you ever said that to yourself? I have...many times. But then I have to question if that's true. If it is, then we live in a world of stupid people, because everyone has those moments. So I wonder what's going on with us. Maybe there's more than one reason for doing those things that appear stupid.
Most of our episodes are harmless, like the times I wonder if my brain is on vacation, and my blunders are easily remedied. I don't like to cook, so usually every other day I cook enough food for 2 days. Then I get days off from cooking. Well, one time I couldn't find my second meal in the fridge, and after much searching found it in the cupboard behind the paper towels. I had no memory of putting it there. Another time I found myself driving in circles around a cemetery trying to find my way out. I finally got myself home, but it took a while to shake the stupid feeling.
It's not that I'm stupid. I just don't think sometimes. Colin Farrell
When those harmless episodes happen, we tend to label ourselves stupid, because it doesn't seem like a person with good sense would do such things. But there are reasons why we goof up. First we live in a multi-tasking world with cluttered minds that wander out of focus. So it's easy to get pulled away without knowing it until we end up in a stupid feeling situation. Our mind is on overload, and it sends us off in weird directions.
Most of the time, our goof ups don't cause serious problems. But some of our blunders can have more serious consequences involving health, finances, relationships, or any major decisions. One winter when my heat pump broke down, I let a fast-talking salesman talk me into purchasing a very large heat pump for my very little house. And I'm still paying for it. How stupid is that? And my disastrous wedding night was also one of those stupid decisions. That one is detailed in my book, Silent Echoes. Sometimes we can't go back and undo something, so we live with our so-called stupidity.
When those more serious situations occur, a cluttered mind may be part of the problem, but a second reason may be at work. Oftentimes the culprit is failure to research a situation before making the decisions. In some cases, missing the research can bring lasting, deeper felt results.
It's not true when we judge ourselves or others as being stupid. We're actually judging the action. And there's a difference in being and doing. We just do dumb things and end up appearing stupid. During my years working in the Mental Health field, I saw thousands of patients that some would call stupid, but not one of them deserved that label. They each had their own unique light that shined in its own way. And I sometimes marveled at the wonderment I saw in them. Each of us has our own reality, and what makes sense to one may not make sense to another. So who knows what is stupid.
In our busy world it's easy to feel overwhelmed with a cluttered mind. So of course, we make dumb mistakes and feel stupid. But never label yourself in any negative way. When necessary, keep multi-tasks in mind, but work on staying focused, and bring out each one as needed in the moment. Stay in the moment, and don't allow your mind to wander. With practice, you can learn to shift from one thought to another in seconds and remain focused. Remember to do your research before any important decisions. Then act with knowledge and confidence.
When you do dumb things, it's okay to say, "I did a stupid thing." It was the action--not your Self. Those mistakes don't mean you've lost your marbles. Be kind to you, and give yourself some slack. Your brain is fine, and so are you. And so am I.
I wish you many stupid-free days.
Monday, February 1, 2016
In our world we long to be heard, to connect and know we're not alone. Our life needs to matter in some way. So we apply meaning to almost everything, to people, situations, and conditions in life. Then they make sense to us, and we can relate to them. We create our outer world, but we're seldom aware of our own involvement in our creation. We simply act and react. But there's another world inside--the place where we give meaning, or lack of meaning, to our own life as a person.
The meaning of life: To shine a light where there is no light and take responsibility for shining that light. Noelani Musicaro
We're all born with a gift, our own unique voice that speaks to the world like no other. When you shine that gift in your outer world, you feel great joy in your heart. And without this inner response to your action, you would not know meaning. Each flower petal, each cloud in the sky, and each drop of water is unique unto itself, a divine creation with its own mission to express its unique self. And this, as with you, has meaning.
When I worked in the Mental Health Field in a jail setting, I discovered a book entitled, "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. This book is now on my shelf with memories of the many times it circulated around the jail, read by hundreds of inmates. Each time I sent it out it came back to my office a little more tattered and worn--a testimony to those searching for meaning in their lives. According to Frankl, we create meaning in 3 ways--good deeds, experiencing a value and, yes, through suffering.
Good Deeds: Good deeds don't have to be on a grand scale. They can be acts of kindness and serving others in everyday living. I have a friend who shares her baked goods with neighbors and enjoys seeing them smile; another neighbor brings happiness mowing lawns up and down the street; others do volunteer work in schools, hospitals, and anywhere they're needed. These people answer the call within, and their lives are meaningful.
Experiencing A Value: We humans hold a myriad of values. Pursuing a passion involves values, and may be work you love, growing a garden, writing poetry, preserving nature, or simply expressing love in your life. And your spiritual life expresses values in many ways. You create meaning by honoring your values in whatever way expressed.
Suffering: It would seem that suffering is meaningless, but much can be gained through suffering. It can bring self-discovery, spiritual enlightenment, and many blessings. Have there been painful times in your life when you thought you could not survive, but you found inner strength and you did survive? Has suffering led to a positive change in your life that you would not have found otherwise? Much depends upon your attitude toward suffering and your ability to deal with it. But it can provide unimagined miracles with profound positive meaning in your life.
You may ask yourself, "Does my life count for anything? Do I matter? If I disappeared, would I be missed?" You may believe you don't matter because you haven't done anything that you believe merits greatness, or you focus on your failures rather than your successes. But take another look at your life--in your work, your relationships, with strangers, things you love to do, in your spiritual life. Only you can be you, and that in itself has meaning.
All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you lie still, sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In your heart, in your soul, in your very being--that's where you mean something beautiful. And when you share the meaning of who you are with your world and allow your light to touch others, your life has meaning. And the world needs you.
I wish you many happy meaningful moments.