The Great Reset

Happy New Year

Time to reset the clock in a forward direction

It’s December 31, 2021. Happy New Year! What a year it has been for me and I am sure you can say the same?

I have been gathering a collection of thoughts, reflections on how this 2021 experience has affected the world. Now, more than ever, there seems to be a collective consciousness that can no longer be suppressed. Many voices are standing up and daring to be heard. I have watched thousands of friends, neighbors, strangers and influencers have epiphanies on what they value and  assess how they are living their lives. What was once worth sacrificing everything for has become meaningless.

There is a ton of information on what is meant by “The Great Reset”.  Some think it’s a shift away from materialism to minimalism. Others have linked it to an awakening of the population to what is really happening to our world and our way of life. However you look at this concept, you would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about it.

The veil of needing stuff, status and wealth to feel satisfied doesn’t stand up to scrutiny anymore. There has to be more to it than that doesn’t there? 

After the euphoria of being “free”- no job and no responsibilities has worn off the practicality of how you are going to sustain your lifestyle into the future emerges. It’s all great to say that you are free to follow your passions and start living your dreams. It’s quite a reality check to understand if that is even possible given the current climate of economics, travel and unrest.

I heard an interesting quote about western society from an European perspective. In our culture we live to work where in Europe they work to live. I witnessed the cultural differences in Rome, where trying to find an open restaurant was virtually impossible before 3 pm. I worked hard so I could take numerous vacations, buy nice stuff and enjoy a privileged lifestyle. So I worked to live right? Not quite. I belief it’s about finding a way to live and work that you can sustain. We are living longer therefore we have to get creative about how we maintain our quality of life.

What I am learning is that my “all or nothing” mindset has left me with a glass half empty attitude sometimes. 

I can be a pretty intense person to be around. I take a lot of things people say literally. If you say you don’t like someone or something I take you at your word. If you say you can’t afford to do something I believe you even to the point of helping you pay for it, if I feel that strongly about it.

I have had an innate need to fix things for others. To overcompensate for what I believe to be smoothed over by my help or intervention. What I am realizing is that it was my way of distraction. If I spent my time worrying about your stuff I wouldn’t have to face my own stuff.

This last year has been mostly about me. A discovery of who I am apart from my work title, spouse, mother, friend or caretaker. 

There is an exercise we did at the ashram that involved a series of meditations to reveal our Life Seals. Symbols that are unique to our unconscious existence. The process was to bring those images to the conscious surface to help understand our cores. Some of the flow was easy to understand and find correlation to. Others were a bit harder. I struggled with separating my mind from my essence. How is my essence different from my soul or inner witness? Are they different or one in the same? 

Where am I going with this?

I have lined up on the screen questions to ask myself as I think about this last year and what I want for 2022. I want to share those questions with you as we all think about the coming year.

  1. What have I come to value now that I didn’t before?
  2. How am I going to maintain, nourish and grow my essence in the coming year?
  3. Do I see work as something to foster my life or something to replace my life?
  4. Can I have my cake and eat it too? Find work that has meaning while staying passionate about lifelong learning and helping others.
  5. How do I reset my clock for the coming year?

It’s not that I didn’t value time spent off grid before, I know now that those moments are the ones I reflect and cherish the most. The adventures in the van, the traveling with loved ones and friends, the ashram experience, hiking in the mountains and trails have been my happy places. I do admit though, I have missed being with industry peers. I have periodically peeked in on what’s happening in the learning industry during the pandemic. I am passionate about the exploration of how skills and knowledge can be reshaped. I am nervous about the fact I have been away from the industry for over a year. Do I still have anything to contribute of value? I won’t know until I walk into the field and see what has been growing there in my absence. What I value now is a sense of contribution to the community. My mantra to maintain me through 2022 is “how am I sustaining value here?”. I can use this in any reference whether it’s in my own life, relating to work, this blog, our podcasts, my footprint socially, economically, within the environment and with the development of the human race.

How do I reset my clock for the coming year?

The question is easy and yet complicated. Easy in the physical sense by action oriented tasks. Keep up with a healthy body through exercise and nutritious food choices. Sustain a curious and clutter free mind through meditation, yoga and self care. Be mindful of where you came from and where you are going. Remember the pauses as they are key to intentional course corrections when you doubt you are going in the right direction. Stay grateful for everything you have been given. It’s an imperfect, perfect life. To have the awareness and sense of need or desire to reset is a gift. To open the gift and take it out of its wrapping to get a true sense of it’s value takes courage and determination. We are lucky to receive this gift every year at this time. We celebrate and look forward to the possibilities as we say “goodbye” to the past.

I hope 2022 is full of life, love, curiosity and adventure for you and yours.

Cheers to “The Great Reset”

Namaste and light

Tadasana, I Am Firm, I Am Still

Me in the desert of the Atlas Mountains in Morroco.

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, focusing inward on the spot between your brows. Spine erect while you line up your vertebrae one plate at a time until you come back to the space occupied by your third eye. Hands lay open at your sides, palms face forward inviting the light and energy to merge with you. 

Can you calm the mind long enough to feel the ascent into the clouds? As I do the pose I have help. I am listening to the mantra Hari Om on repeat. It helps with the concentration and release of tension. My body is eager to move. The stance triggers a memory response to start sun salutation flows, plank, cobra and downward facing dog. I resist a bit longer and focus on my breath.

Can I become a mountain? Do I desire to voluntarily stay put? Hmmm

Do mountains move ever? Of course they do. History is full of geological graphs showing the migration of large masses of rock from one location to another quite far away.

As I stand in mountain pose I sense the rock chips breaking away subtle at first then becoming more frequent. Thoughts collect to form solid matter and I think I can find stable ground and stance that will connect me to the earth beneath my feet. Can I sort through the rubble enough to arrange the scattered material into a foundation then add enough mortar to keep it stuck together?

What makes the mass crumble? I have watched avalanches from a safe distance, even seen some snow slides too close for comfort. I have been in flash floods that have moved the rocks beneath my feet on mountain sides and tested my skills to find purchase on a loose shale path. It’s a slippery slope when the material under your feet isn’t stable. I have fallen, even hurt myself and yet I am still willing and able to go back up and try again. I am determined or maybe just stubborn…lol.

Being a mountain can be a lonely choice of states. You may be part of a family of like minds such as a rocky range that traverses as far as the eye can see or you may have to stand out alone. Other beings depend on you for their existence and shelter. You can be covered in stuff put their by others such as plants and animals or thoughts and ideals you don’t own. Liquid flows around you, through you and sometimes even breaks you in half. It’s good to note the most harmless things like water can erode your foundations over time and yet is essential to yours and others existence. What comes to erode you that you may want to divert or eliminate? What helps you to grow strong and healthy be it mineral or mentally?

I hold the pose a bit longer. What am I trying to avoid facing by moving on or away from this place of stability and solitude? I do have an insistent desire to take flight, go anywhere most of the time. To keep moving. While in the pose I do feel a sense of calmness that replaces the anxiety.

Do I like being alone? I don’t hate it. I get my energy from the time spent in my own company doing things I love to do or doing nothing but standing on a mountain in Mountain Pose. We are made of compressed things forced together over time. The matter that forms us. Sound familiar? We have more in common with mountain masses than you may think. Sometimes we find ourselves up high on a ledge wondering how we got this point without awareness? At the peak we need to decide which directions to go from there. Often we get to the top of our goals only to discover that all we have reached are plateaus or a false summit. Just a ladder top that you can see multiple ladders in the distance waiting for you to discover their existence. Are they worth dying on or are we missing the point of the climb?

My mind wanders as I hold the pose a bit longer. My eyes are closed and my breathing has become deep and peaceful. I am sinking further into the mist. A vision pops up in my head, at first I brush it away then decide to let it come. 

I am back in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. I have awoken to the sound of the wind whipping through our tent. My bed is right by the door which is now ajar. It’s not quite morning but I am awake so I decide to get up and make my way towards the dunes. The predawn shed enough light for me to find my way. I pass the camels that have been hobbled in between the sand hills and push upward to the top of a rocky peak. I look out over the range and decide this must be what they mean by the place that heaven meets the earth.

I can see myself standing there in Mountain Pose. I can sense the pressure changing as the sky starts to illuminate. I have chosen an elevated spot to witness the beauty of the day as it begins.

I feel extremely connected to the universe when I occupy the mountain pose. I wonder why that is and then seem to understand the connection. The quiet solitude that comes from the stance. The sense of peering outward while planted on top of the world. Connected to everything yet a recognition of being alone.

Namaste

DodgeBall

Sometimes the lines are clearly marked to indicate which spaces are within a game to play and which are not. The rules of engagement are decided upon prior to the activity commencement. Everyone understands how to achieve the goal, in this case, be the last person standing that hasn’t been plowed by the ball.

I remember physEd and the eventual assembling of the teams to play. Back then we were less politically correct and called it “murder ball”.  The object of the game was to hit your opponents as hard as you could to leave a welt on the side of their leg. Kids can be pretty mean when they are left without supervision to set their own boundaries. I digress with my childhood memories of trauma in the gym. The point is still relevant though. As kids we test boundaries. It’s part of a natural curiosity and establishes an understanding of how far we can go without crossing lines. As we get older, we take those lessons into our relationships, careers and expand our domains. If we have learned healthy ways to deal with the balance of give and take we thrive with hopefully fewer people who want to leave welts on our psyche. I am under the impression that there are quite a number of us who perhaps didn’t have the most positive examples to learn these valuable applications from. The world appears to be in a state of dodgeball.

The point I am trying to make is about boundaries, not necessarily the game of dodgeball. We do play quite a bit of dodgeball as adults. We test our level of mental toughness while we decide which lines we want to draw and which we want to cross or erase. Lots of opportunities to make ourselves vulnerable to potential hits if we don’t set clear expectations or learn to communicate our feelings and wishes in a way that lets others know what we are willing to risk in order to survive. 

Like the game, the number of participants declines in our own personal spaces as we get older and more ingrained in our thinking and habits. Can you list your non-negotiable boundaries? For me, I can think of some that are easy to share: You can’t smoke in my house, I don’t tolerate physical violence. Those I can say with confidence to anyone.

 Some get a bit trickier though. I don’t smoke but on occasion I have been known to smoke a cigar with a good glass of whisky. I don’t tolerate violence but I do believe in defending yourself and those you love. See what I mean? We are already blurring the lines of established markers.

I believe in freedom of speech and expression. Where do you draw this line though when these days everything you say and do is up for discussion and review? Can you safely have an opinion without feeling like you have to defend your constitutional right to choose what you put in your body and what you don’t? Oh, I am sure that hits a few nerves in this politically charged arena we now all live in as teams get selected and filtered.

I have been watching and reading about varied opinions of our current political and social consciousness. Where have our boundaries gone? I no longer have confidence that I understand the rules of the game. As I try to sort out my own personal feelings in how I conduct myself, communicate intimately and more universally I find that I am more inclined to self censor. When did that happen? I have never been that outspoken as to join protesters marching for a cause. I have participated in passive activities like running for cancer funds or canvasing for charities. I am a lover not a fighter…that folks is another boundary…lol.

I hope you get what I am trying to say here? It seems harder and harder to stand firm in beliefs that no longer seem to hold elements of truth and compassion for others. In this big “Dodgeball” game we find ourselves now embroiled in, I am looking to see which side I am on. Do I need to pick a side or can I just sit on the bleachers? Do I have a choice? I think I do and yet choices seem to be setting more and more lines around us. It’s a curious situation don’t you think?

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Hatha Yoga Hidden Language

fit woman doing eagle pose
Photo by Miriam Alonso on Pexels.com

I felt drawn to practice the Eagle Pose today. The twisting into a perch that requires the body to lower into a center of gravity while you maintain a balance on one firmly planted foot. Right arm over the left weaving around each other to flare at the elbows like winged hinges. Hands come together in prayer pose. I sometimes flex the fingers out like rutter feathers before deepening into the stance. Right leg over the left with a move into a controlled sense of balance and centering. I feel my ribs expand with air as my back spreads out like giant wings.

Ah, it feels good to wring out the tension as the body gives and stretches. Shift the movements to the opposite leg and arm to now cross over from left to right and sink once again into contemplation.

Of what you may ask are you contemplating in such a precarious contortion?

“Eagles are symbolic for sharp sight, for penetrating vision. If you can see through yourself, how you lay your own traps, you can avoid them” (Swami Sivanada Radha)

We all have to come down from our flight or fancies at some point. Return to reality so to speak. Once we do what are we sensing about ourselves? How do we avoid our own self induced impedments?

I have been a witness to my behaviour lately that I am not to keen on. I have alot of pent negative charged energy. I am antsy, even a bit resentful of anyone or anything that tries to keep me tetethered to the ground. Maybe it has to do with the change in weather from sun filled to winter snow. I know I have to stop watching the COVID news and find a sensible balance of wanting to know and understand what is happening to this planet and the humans that dwell on it. At what point does all this information become a hinderance instead of a means to enlightened?

The eagle is a known symbol of strength, power, agressiveness. A desire to control the surroundings in which we find ourselves while keeping a birds-eye view outwardly and inward.

While in the pose, I am contemplating the error of my ways. What can I do differently to improve my postitivity and well being? Not everything is dire, there is many things to be thankful for. One has to experience sorrow to understand joy. One has to grieve loss to bask in adundance. Finding the “sweet spot” where there is confidence in the perch as you survey the potential. A bit of respite that is welcomed while I wait for the sun to come out again.

Namaste

Timeout

What do you do about time?

Bunny taking a timeout on my back patio

I envy kids and the opportunity they have for a “timeout”. Most think of it as a punishment for misbehaving. You have to earn the timeout by doing something that is looked upon as going against a desired behavior. If we were smart as kids we would leverage them to gain space and moments of time for thinking freely about nothing. Staring at an empty space and concentrating on letting go of pent up emotions that no longer help us be our true selves. If I had little kids right now I would teach them to do just that with the hope they would thank me later as adults. Well, I can imagine that would happen. Reality might be something of a different scenario.

My kids are used to having a mother who thinks a bit differently about most things. I coaxed my daughter into taking a Tai Chi class with me when she was about 13 or so. The instructor turned off the lights and we were instructed to see if we could see auras. My daughter was a good sport about the whole thing. She wouldn’t say she enjoyed the class but she didn’t refuse to go either. I did see her aura and it was blue, now that I think about it. How fitting as she is a surgical nurse.

My aura was mostly yellow. My daughter did say she saw it but not while in the presence of others. She was thirteen afterall…lol.

I wish I could stop time now and again. Not turning back time. I don’t feel that would help me much as I have learned a great deal from how I spent my life. I just want a pause function to help me catch up. I know I am the accountant for my clock and yet some days it gets away from me before I realize “time is up”. I just can’t seem to catch a break some days and end up being late for everything. I have learned to accept these days and triage them rather than try to fix them. What can I cancel? What can I do today that will help me get back on track tomorrow? I forgive myself for getting off track. I don’t let myself off the hook. I know that I can’t change today but tomorrow is a different story.

I have never been one to “be on time”. It’s hit or miss for me. On occasion I am early and most often I am scrambling to just barely make the target second. I have studied time management, created and facilitated many workshops and courses on effective use of time. Here I am though, thinking about how I manage my time. My credits spent and my expectations of future use.

I used to create a three month calendar with important dates and times on it. I had a big bulletin board with project dates and deadlines on it as well as personal goals and estimated completion points highlighted. It was my measurement of time in a very visual way. I could look at it and see how my life was progressing. I had my major trips planned, my small getaways marked. Exercise charts, weight loss goals and eating schedules all planned out with details attached.

 In the last year I turned off all my tracking and planning devices. My Fitbit, my watch, my phone trackers, my GPS, my internal clock and anything else I thought would force me to keep track of my time. No quarter calendar with categories and goals. 

 It was a year of freedom. It was my “Time out”.

My year to just exist in whatever circumstances I found myself being drawn to. It’s been interesting to say the least. I started the year with a push to get the blog and podcasting going with Sharon. Then I found myself drawn to the ashram for almost three months. I went out to Vancouver after that to spend time hiking and getting to know my daughter a little bit better. After that I came back to buy the van and started planning out how I wanted to make it mine. My sister in-law and I spent some time hiking in the National Parks and figuring life together.

My brother and I worked diligently on the van for the rest of the summer and fall. We are almost done! I know my brother a bit better now and I am beginning to see life through his eyes, just a bit. 

I banked on having an unlimited amount of time to spend with loved ones and friends only to realize those moments kept in the vault and not used evaporate. They have no shelf life. You either use it when the spirit moves you to do so or you lose out on the dividends attached. Hard lesson to discover. I have been lucky enough to follow intuition often and redirect my time to focus on their needs and share what moments they had left. 

The year is ending soon. How time has flown by so quickly….lol. A whole year gifted to me to just be. I am looking toward 2022. Can I collect enough pauses, held breaths and brief suspension of knowing or caring to carve out my “timeouts”? Then use those precious gifts to extend that hold on my most inner thoughts and feelings?

Those “timeouts” are crafted when all I feel is joy and the gift of knowing I am alive and held in light and love by the universe.

Namaste

Second Chances

Wonderful awareness of second chances and our ability to change.

Reincarnation? Mulligan? Deja vu? Do overs? They all have a common theme of recognizing you have been here before or gone through a similar experience somewhere in the past. I would like to think that in this life I am having the opportunity to reincarnate at an accelerated speed. You may say that the theory doesn’t work that way and yet, here I am, knowing that I have had many opportunities to “do over” a scenario I didn’t get quite right the first time.

Here is an example. 

When my dad was alive he lived in an apartment that allowed pets. The deal I had made with him was that in order for him to keep his dog he had to agree to take him for walks and look after him. At any time if that became too much the dog would be given away. He agreed with those terms in theory. The reality of it was something quite different. My dad became ill and struggled to get up and walk. He had lost his desire to engage in the responsibilities of life let alone owning a pet. He wanted to keep his dog but he was unable to manage the dog’s needs. 

I don’t pretend to be a dog lover. I know that I am not the right kind of person to own a pet of that level of involvement. I only thought of the inhumanness of keeping a dog stuck in an apartment. Having pee stained carpets and curtains and poop on the rug for days. It grossed me out when I would come check on them both to discover the mess and my dad’s lack of caring to clean it up. I never stop to consider that perhaps the dog was one of his only senses of companionship and unconditional love he had. 

I arranged for dog walking and it seemed to be going ok until my dad had to be hospitalized for an extended length of time. He wanted me to take the dog home with me. My son is allergic to all pet hair and even though my son doesn’t live with me anymore I have never had pets in the house. It’s to keep the house as dander free as we can. I put the dog in a foster home but it was getting expensive as time went on and a more permanent solution had to be made. The dog had to go. I couldn’t see any other way to manage the situation. My dad was able to see his puppy on occasion as the new owners were ok with me coming and taking “Pogo” for visits. It wasn’t the same for my dad though, he had lost his closest friend.

My dad and I have always had a rocky relationship. I have been mad at him for most of my life and felt he took advantage of my kindness at every turn. He didn’t bring out the best in me unfortunately. I am sad for that fact and my inability at the time to recognize how it affected my treatment of him and his needs. Through much therapy and meditation I have come to terms with those feelings and worked through forgiveness and understanding of my dad and his behavior.

Fast Forward to now. My sister has a sweet puppy. She is in the middle of a divorce and is transitioning back to full time work outside her home. The dog has had to stay alone for the first time ever for a few hours a day. He started using her downstairs living room as a bathroom. I had a few minutes of Deja Vu. It triggered memories of my dad and the ultimate decision I had pressured him into giving up his dog.

I had a choice here once again. She is getting back on her feet and can’t afford doggy daycare right now. I regretted not helping my dad more with the dog. Now, it seems that it wouldn’t have taken much for me to have walked the dog and made sure it was being looked after. Not to say my sister isn’t looking after her dog, that is far from the truth. It’s just a shadow memory of a similar scenario that hits home for me.

Part of my own mental health is getting more exercise and fresh air. I love to walk in the canyons and parks around my home. It doesn’t take too much effort to go and pick up the puppy before exploring. This time around I choose to change the outcome. I have recognized I needed to learn something from this scenario as I have seen it played out before with less than happy results. I am getting a second chance to try a different way. The dog is such a good dog. He makes me smile and is eager to go as soon as I open the door to her house. He is smiling and excited which gets me excited. They are such loving creatures, so eager to just enjoy whatever you give them of yourself.

How many times do you stop to ponder a situation you know has happened to you before? You find yourself going “wait, this is familiar and I didn’t like the results”. What if you recognized that you could change the outcome by selecting a different path this time around? I challenge you to watch for your second chances. I am not sure you get third or fourth chances in one lifetime. I will have to reflect and see if I recall that happening to me on any given occasion.

In the meantime I am grateful for the awareness and opportunities the universe keeps sending me to learn and make peace with my past, present and future. 

Namaste

Council Of Community

I have decided to start therapy. For many reasons. I have had a couple of sessions already and it’s been enlightening. Betterhelp.com is trying something new by connecting people all over the world with a group therapy session. The therapist is an expert in the related field and you can choose from many topics and time slots. I thought I would give it a try.

What have I learned so far? 

There are plenty of others suffering the same kind of feelings, issues and trauma that I am in this world. Not surprising, just comforting to know.I can help by telling my story and being open to discussion. I get help by telling my story and being open. I struggle with being vulnerable. Trust is a topic I have mentioned numerous times on this blog and my lack of it. Somehow it’s easier to trust and be vulnerable with strangers than it is with your intimate network of support. 

The group I attended yesterday was on managing grief.  A question was posed about why join a group like this now? It was clarified with what it is about the upcoming holidays that makes dealing with death so much harder? Well darn, I hadn’t really made the connection between the time of year and my choice of groups until it was highlighted. 

Christmas is a challenge for me at the best of times. I am not a big fan of the whole concept or all it has come to represent. When the kids were younger I did get caught up in making sure they got all they wanted and more. I remember being young and the reality that there were seven of us to buy for. My parents did amazing by getting us each at least one thing close to what we had asked for. I look back now on the way I acted and wish I would have been more grateful for their effort. I guess that’s why we grow to have insight and awareness. You have to experience the challenges in life to understand the depth of selflessness. 

My sister, who passed away, loved Christmas. She went as far as to set up several trees in the basement of one of her houses. She called it her Christmas forest. We used to sit in her forest and drink wine. It was lovely and I miss her enthusiasm for the season. 

The grief session brought up memories I had not examined for a while. My brother in law died on Christmas morning in 2014. I was there with my sister and their family. It was one of my saddest Christmases and yet it was one of my most peaceful. As we sat in his room listening to him struggle for breaths, the sound of each breath was a gift. One more moment, one more opportunity to tell him how much he was loved. 

The Christmas before my mom died we decided to make cookies for everyone. I always tend to go overboard and buy enough ingredients to make cookies for a hundred people. Monster cookies are everyone’s favorite and thanks heavens the cookie dough freezes well. What a wonderful day I had with my mom. Doing what she loved to do which was spending time with her girls and making something to give to someone else. I baked my last roll of cookie dough last Christmas. It was emotional to let it go of something that linked me so directly with my mom.

The group was a big help to give me common ground with others who showed up to talk about the same thing. We were all there to gain support and realize our stories were different but there is an abundance of commonality to discover. Being sensitive to family who get upset when you try to talk about your feelings of grief is hard. Most people don’t want to talk about it let alone see you shed tears. If you hold it in then it becomes a waiting game. The level of the dam rises until the pressure can’t be contained anymore. Somethings gotta give.  The timing of the burst will happen at the worst circumstances. Releasing the pressure is healthy and required to heal the heart.

It was a good session. It was hard and at first, uncomfortable but necessary and freeing.

My heart is full of gratitude as the season unfolds. I am grateful that I have many memories of my loved ones who have passed. Many Christmases celebrated with them even though I would have rather stayed home and let the holidays pass by unopened. Those moments of sharing and expressing joy are my most precious gifts now. I can open them anytime, anywhere to help give me peace when I need it.

I would recommend Betterhelp.com to anyone who needs an affordable platform to get help dealing with anything. It has helped me to appreciate the value of having a community available to reach out to.

The Voices In My Head

“The voices in my head are legendary, I’ll never tell where the bodies are buried” great lyrics from a rock band named Shinedown. 

We all carry on multiple conversations in our head almost at a constant level. I think it’s how we process information, figure out our course of action and generally cope with any given situation.

I was having a conversation with someone today but before I could comment on what they had planned for activities they started to apologize. I listened as they described what they thought were my responses. I hadn’t said anything yet. I was curious if they noticed and asked them why they felt I would respond that way. I was told they are so used to people second guessing their behavior that it is a habit to comment before others have a chance.

What are the narratives that are going in your head telling you? Are we so ingrained in thinking we think what others are going to say that we don’t even need to listen anymore? I agree the voices in my head are legendary and have many years to cultivate their opinions and perspective. The key is can you change what the voices say? Can you challenge their beliefs? Can you challenge your beliefs? I don’t think it’s easy and yet I do think you can.

When we meditate, thoughts float in and out, lists appear of things that need done and then disappear as we choose to put them aside for now. I got some good advice once or twice on dealing with negative self-talk. Writing down the words used helps to take away their power. You can review the conversation and decide the amount of truth that is present. An example is an on-going internal conversation I have about having to call customer service about anything. It takes me weeks if not months to get up the courage to call. Many outcomes have already been explored in my brain. They won’t answer, they will answer, I will be put on hold forever. I will tell my story and they will not have a solution. I won’t get a refund or they won’t offer a better deal. Now, it’s not to say that doesn’t happen on occasion but I know once I do call I most often get some sort of resolution.

I wish it was that easy in relationships. When you have been in a long term relationship I am not sure your partner has a chance to change in your narrative even if they wanted to. All of the shared experiences, shared obstacles and history tend to cloud any possible alternative outcomes.

What if they were with you instead of against you? How would the scenario play out then, if you were always thinking that this person is on your side and wants to be with you? Trust is a challenge for me. I know that and I confronted big pieces of my issues with it while at the ashram. My narratives on trust are exhausting even to me sometimes. Someone is interested in an aspect of me and wants to explore it further. They ask questions and share their experiences with me. I walk away from the conversation second guessing how much I shared of myself with them. What will they think of me and my verbal diarrhea? Is it too late to take it back and ask them to forget everything I said? They must think I am a real basket case and tend to blow things out of proportion. You get the idea right? The negative self talk is mine alone. The person may or may not be thinking any of those things. I have had people thank me for being vulnerable with them and that it helped them to see their issues and perhaps face them. If they only knew the conversation I had with myself about the stuff I had shared. Why is being honest and genuine about how we feel such a challenge? I heard that verbalizing your true feelings is something you have to own. Once put out there the next step is to deal with the consequences and own those too. It gets easier with practice and is one of the reasons that I started blogging. If I think it and feel then it’s likely that someone else does too. What if we were able to share our experiences and offer some comfort and advice to each other?

I joined a community group therapy session last week virtually. It was on the topic of codependent relationships. There were 12 people who attended from all over the world. As I listened I noticed that people have similar feelings, concerns, ideas and desires. It doesn’t matter your race, culture, location or language. We share a bond and it’s called being human and living the human condition. 

I can’t stop the voices completely and have an inkling that they are there to help me as much as tear me down. I can change their speech through encouragement to positivity and well being. The effort is the same and the result is worth it. 

The name of the online counselling service is called “BetterHelp.Com

A Body of Addictions

I came across a post from a fellow blogger (Elena’s Thoughts) on WordPress about addictions. She was talking about what makes an addiction stick. It made me contemplate my own chronic habits. What got me was the comments around the cause of addictions and how over time the source becomes more and more forgotten while the frequent use increases. I never contemplated when and how the root became obtuse while the weed kept humming along. I have had my share of bad habits and addictions in my life. I used to own over a hundred pairs of shoes. Many of them never made it out of the boxes. I have used alcohol and other vices as ways to escape or just feel nothing for a while. The trouble with artificial fixes is that they don’t last. It becomes harder and harder to sustain the numbing effect until it quits working all together. 

In the summer, the boulevard by our house becomes a front seat to watching many drug addicts stick themselves full. There was a man who took his clothes off and jumped in a large BFI bin looking for something within. He was yelling and throwing all the garbage out onto the street. The cops were called and after quite a while they came. It took a long time to get a response and many calls from many neighbors complaining. It’s become the norm to see this type of behavior everywhere you look.

In the fall, we woke up to an ambulance parked outside and two police patrol cars. We went out to investigate what was happening. Laying face down just out of some trees by a building up on the boulevard was a body. I kept thinking what was the story here? At what point does the will to survive become a second choice to a person over the use of a drug?

I wasn’t going to write about what goes on out my kitchen window but after reading the blog post it hit close to home. I have watched addiction rip my family apart. We tape each other back together. We try to meet each other where we are instead of where we would each like to be. 

Addictions are tricky. A simple action that repeats and becomes more ingrained with each sip, drag or stick. In my case, dollars spent on something frivolous, helping others instead of helping myself and more than once in my life alcohol. Replacement of facing problems with effective ways of staying in a coma state is hard to break free from.  I hear and see people say that they used to be addicted but were able to stop. Years later they tell themselves they can now have an occasional drink or smoke. They can handle it now. The thing is that it’s not one and done. It’s one and then never again.

Life has been pretty tough for many people the last few years. It’s a wonder that any of us are sober at all? I am not excusing behavior I am just a realist. Like Elena, I used to wonder why those I cared about didn’t just stop self destructing? Why is it so hard to stop? I was judgy and I confess to be a bit self righteous. I know better now how hard it is to cope with life while under the influence. The steps over the edge are small and most of the time invisible until some time has passed and the way back seems impossible.

If you find yourself currently struggling, know you have made the first step by being aware. The next step is to reach out for help. If you live with someone who is an addict or have family members that are in crisis seek advice from professionals.

Knowing you aren’t alone and others are going through similar situations is a comfort.

Ode To Max’s Joy 

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in taking life seriously that we forget about the joy. We become afraid to try new things or dust off something we used to love to do. Passions fade and auto-pilot becomes the norm instead of the exception. At these times I think a jolt of joy is needed to get moving again. It doesn’t have to be big or epic. I have been thinking about selfless service lately and ways to keep my body moving. Why the combo? The first one helps with a sense of positivity of action. Making a difference in someone else’s life helps to put me in a better headspace. The second has to do with the production of endorphins that help regulate my mental health. I know that exercise does my body good. When I am in motion, I can focus, think more clearly and sort out my busy mind. Some of my favorite meditations are done while walking or in a yoga flow.

I took my sister’s puppy for a walk today. It’s her first week back at work from a leave and the stress is piling up. There is something wonderful about a dog’s unbridled joy and curiosity to explore their surroundings. They sniff everything, they check out every nook and cranny. Run here then run over there (thanks heavens he is a small dog). Everything is there for them to discover. As we chased each other down the path it felt fun to just be in that moment. 

Someone said the older we get the less likely we are to try new things. I think the opposite is true. The older I get the more likely I am to just “go for it”. Our number of days gets shorter and shorter. If we wait we may never experience that euphoric feeling of letting go and running free. The collar gets tighter and tighter. The leash we are tethered to becomes short. Opportunity to go off leash and roam can be taken away at any moment. One of the most apparent lessons from COVID has been taking our ability to travel without restrictions for granted. It was so easy to book a flight, accommodations and a few adventures the day you wanted to take off. Now a large amount of the spontaneity has been curtailed.

One thing we can still do in abundance is selfless service. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just genuine.

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