Mindfulness

Feeling Like a Cracked Pot? Repurpose Yourself!

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels like a cracked pot from time to time.

What are the symptoms, you ask? The major ones for me are discontentment, overwhelm, fragility, sensitivity and generalized disconnection.

When I’m not seeing things as they are, I take things personally and indeed, everything is about me. My bubbly personality turns brooding; my entire being kind of turns in on itself.

And I miss my mom horribly. She’s been gone nearly five years now and I still struggle with learning to mother myself, to give myself the safety and security that a mother’s love gives.

Wanting vs. willing

Saturday night was date night and we went to a huge citywide 12-step meeting. The speaker was funny and entertaining; he had definitely transformed from a cracked pot into a stable and transparent person in long-term recovery.

He reiterated something that has stayed with me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Wanting to and willingness are not the same things.”

How often do you really, really want something–to exercise, eat less sugar, get more sleep, buy fewer shoes, pens or purses–but the wanting doesn’t seem to get the job done? Why? Because you’re not willing to repurpose yourself.

To repurpose is to think differently. When you think differently, your actions shift. And when your actions shift, the thing you want tends to happen.

Bottom line: You have to be willing to go all-in to get what you truly want.

Repurposing your cracked pot

Has it occurred to you that your pot is cracked for a reason? That’s a tough one for this perfectionist. When my pot gets cracked, I want to throw it out or just get a new one. But what if the cracks are meant to serve a purpose?

Paulo Coelho tells the story of the man who used to tote two large pitchers of water fastened to a piece of wood and carried across his shoulders to his village every day.

One pitcher was new and perfect and never ceased to do its job of serving as a vessel full of water. It was proud to provide water for the village and took its duties very seriously, so much so that it was certain it was made for just that purpose.

The other pitcher was older and had several cracks so that water dribbled out as the man made his return trip to the village. By the time he arrived, the cracked pitcher released only a small amount of water to the village and did so with great shame, despite the fact that it had served the village well for many, many years.

One day, the old pitcher felt so inferior that as the man was scooping up water, the pitcher decided to speak.

It apologized for its age and its inability to serve as it once had.

The man smiled and asked the pitcher to look closely at its side of the path as they made the trip home. Sure enough, the water that seeped through the cracked pitcher provided nourishment for the vegetables and flowers the man had planted.

“Do you see how much more beautiful nature is on your side of the road?” the man asked the pitcher.

“If you were not the way you are, I could never have done this. We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.”

The moral of this story–read on the take-out brown bag from Chipotle–is our cracked selves are still useful. We just need the willingness–the all-in quality–to repurpose ourselves and determine what soil we want to sink into next.

Photo courtesy of timetocraft.co.uk and bobvilla.com

 

Happy Bright Monday!

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Here’s my Easter takeaway: I need to renew my commitment to practice forgiveness, compassion, peace and love. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet)

Today is known as Easter Monday by Roman Catholics, a huge chunk of Canada and some hearty folks in North Dakota. Easter Monday is also known as Bright Monday or Renewal Monday and is the perfect opportunity to mindfully (and brightly!) focus on my renewed commitment.

Last night I had a crazy dream

My sweetie and I were staying in a hotel in Oklahoma, one of those all-suite places for reasons that weren’t pertinent to the dream. At some point we heard that a large group of people were staying in the hotel too, in a section that had become a makeshift hospice for a young woman who was dying.

The group included many people connected to Reba McIntyre; the young woman was related to someone in her band.

We couldn’t help but get caught up in the drama, which, by the way, had little to do with Reba (although I did meet her!) and everything to do with me connecting with the young woman.

As I write this, I’m aware that I knew in my dream that any and all results from that connection were none of my business. I was just supposed to show up.

I’m aware too of how my actions are often conditioned by how I interpret someone else’s motives. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet)

My young friend in LA

Also as I write this, I’m thinking of a young friend who is stranded in Los Angeles. She left Texas almost two weeks ago on a vacation that held deep and significant meaning to her. She also left in a car that finally broke down just outside of LA.

Yours truly thought the trip was ill-advised. No job, no money, my friend threw caution to the wind and laughed in the face of crone-wisdom that squawked about all the reasons why she shouldn’t go.

You see, I am the one with the crone wisdom since I’m twice my friend’s age. Oh, we never spoke about my righteous concerns for her wellbeing but I’m certain she would have laughed.

So I judged instead. I really hate my judgy self. I judged her before she left and I especially judged her when she set up an online funding campaign to fix her car and get her back to Texas.

Now it’s Easter Monday and I’m wondering how my Reba/dying girl dream relates to my judgy self.

I was willing to make a connection with that dying young woman in Oklahoma. No questions asked. In my dream I willingly practiced compassion, forgiveness, peace and love.

I just showed up and loved.

Do you suppose the dream and my internal dialogue about my stranded friend have anything to do with each other?

My gut says yes, in which case, there is work to do. First order of business: forgive myself for my human feelings.  I suspect that compassion, peace and love will follow.

Then, I’ll know the right actions to take. Actually, I think I already do and it begins with just showing up, no questions asked, no motives questioned.

May your Monday be Bright with Renewal.

Into the Mystic and Other Drive-Time Songs

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Having recently finished a solo, 1,000-mile car trip to visit my family, I’m grateful for music player options.

At the risk of giving away my five-decade+ age, I remember family trips as a kid listening to farm reports on AM radio stations because there were no other options.

In high school, we climbed The Stairway to Heaven with FM stations (without AM’s weather static) on rowdy weekend nights. As a college kid, I literally wore out my Supertramp Breakfast in America and Fleetwood Mac Rumors eight track cassettes.

Now, thanks to Sirius satellite radio and an auxiliary jack for iTunes in my MINI Cooper, I had endless music. I can tell you that, after nearly 20 hours in a car alone, this music lover is back in touch with song lyrics that resonate with emotions.

Oh sure, I can get swept away by cool riffs and epic instrumental sounds but the lyrics are where it’s at for me. Words . . . it’s all about the words . . .

Songs in the Key of Life

Stevie Wonder’s well-known album reminds me that music touches each of us in different ways. Often, songwriters give us lyrics that we use to voice our emotions and feelings to others.

How many of us have created a musical collection on CD (Or on cassette tape years ago!) for someone we love? Each song had special meaning and expressed our thoughts in a way that we simply could not convey on our own.

Remember the intensity with which we compiled the collection? Talk about an exercise in mindfulness! Such focus, such intent!

On that note . . .

I thought I’d share some of my favorite song titles and a line or two of lyrics with you. A well-written song is poetry and can evoke emotions similar to the best lines of prose.

Some people go for rhyme or catchy phrases. For me, I look and listen for the heart in lyrics. That’s where I connect. Because I believe that music is a form of communication, I want songs that speak to me of the writer and performer’s hopes and dreams, fears and redemption, and love, always love.

I hope you enjoy this short list. I’ve included links to each one in case you’d like to give a listen.

Into the MysticWe were born before the wind | Also younger than the sun | Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic.” ~ Van Morrison

Living in the Moment “I will not waste my days | Making up all kinds of ways | To worry about all the things | That will not happen to me.” ~ Jason Mraz<

Lucky “I wanna ride with my Angel and live shockingly | I wanna drive to the edge and into the sea | I wanna see how lucky Lucky can be.” ~ Melissa Etheridge

Brighter Than the Sun “Oh, this is how it starts, lightning strikes the heart |It goes off like a gun, brighter than the sun | Oh, we could be the stars, falling from the sky | Shining how we want, brighter than the sun” ~ Colbie Caillet<

Heaven Help My Heart “This world can get crazy | These are troubled times | I’d walk through the fire | If love is what I’d find | It’s out of my hands now | So I put my faith in you | And I say a little prayer | And hope that it comes true” ~ Wynonna Judd

All of Me “Give your all to me | I’ll give my all to you | You’re my end and my beginning | Even when I lose I’m winning | ‘Cause I give you all of me | And you give me all of you” ~ John Legend

Please comment and share on Facebook and Twitter and include your own favorite songs. Obviously my list isn’t exhaustivethere isn’t enough time or space here–but I would love to know which songs resonate with you!

Photo courtesy of Efi21

Surely Goodness and Mercy

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Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, I wrote in my journal on Ash Wednesday.

What I wrote next was certainly not the rest of the Psalm. Watch out for the one named Surely. She can be an unpredictable wretch.

Wow. Where did that come from? No clue–but I know that on the morning of Ash Wednesday, I woke feeling a sense of goodness and mercy. The day before was one of those heavy-body, force-the-motions days and I was grateful for the relief.

Bye, bye Surely.

Shifting attitudes and grasping for joy

Turns out that the first day of Lent was a day of goodness and mercy. My sweetie got a phone call and employment offer she’d been patiently waiting for (sort of!) and we breathed a collective sign of relief.

Uncertainty and unpredictability are strange companions. When times are good–the rent and health insurance are paid and the dogs don’t missed a meal–it’s easy to stay open to whatever comes your way.

Take a risk! Be daring! Live a little more!

When you’re not sweating out the timed arrival of a check, it’s oh-so-easy to feel carefree.

When you’re all bunched up inside worrying about your bills and your credit, it is so damned hard to let your old friends, Goodness and Mercy, wrap their arms around you.

You might try the tough-guy, stiff-hug-with-three-pats-on-the-back approach with Goodness and Mercy but they see right through your attempts to grasp for joy.

What are you waiting for? Go all-in!

In order to get anything from your relationships, you have to go all-in. Is there really any other way that is satisfactory? What do you have to lose?

I wrote in my journal, Remember six years ago when you said you were all in? You said you were ready to leave predictability and certainty behind! Remember? (A journal is a good way to talk to yourself and still accomplish a daily regimen.)

Now, today, there is a beautiful, day–or evening, depending on your part of the world–stretched out in front of you. How will you play it? Granted, you have no idea what to expect, but isn’t that the point of living?

Who wants to know things before they happen? Think about that one . . .

You’ll see clues along the way if your eyes are open and your mind focused sharply on the Now. Follow those clues.

And if you see Surely out there, remember she’s the cranky one. Step around her and move on.

Photo courtesy of jonathan1991

Serenity Prayer as a Mindfulness Tool

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I figure there are only two kinds of events in life–the kind you accept and the kind you change (or attempt to change).

While the concept is simple, the spectrum of emotions attached to the two kinds of events is wider than the upper Mississippi River during a spring thaw.

Let’s say you’ve waited for months on a decision that will impact your financial stability for the entire year. You make your initial choice to accept the waiting period because your other choice–changing the event by walking away–is a no-go.

My question to you is this: What do you do with your emotions while you wait?

Waiting is seldom easy, unless . . .

Rare is the person in recovery who finds it easy to wait. Heck, rare is the PERSON who finds waiting easy or even tolerable.

How do we wait and accept the waiting? How do we wait and change? How do we respond?

I read an article from PsychologyToday.com:

“But, how do we go about accepting the things we can’t change and changing how we respond to what we can’t change? Both of these involve adjusting our thinking, how we deal with our emotions, and the actions we take—and in both, the practice of mindfulness can be a great asset. (The underline is mine.)

“Mindfulness helps create the conscious awareness to notice our thoughts, observe them, question &/or dispute their accuracy, and detach from them. Since thoughts often provide such potent fuel for emotions, this shifts much of the wind away from sails of our emotions.”

“The practice of mindfulness can be a great asset.”

Here’s me being honest: I am not a good waiter. I pace, hands on hips or in jeans pockets, and mumble under my breath.

I watch the clock. I eat chocolate. I roam the house then eat more chocolate. And, I avoid mindfulness because in my gut I know it works.

My ingrained reaction to a life event is two-fold: eerie quiet followed by frantic activity. I could blame my so-called addictive personality, but at some point that excuse wears thin as onion-skin.

Mindfulness–“the conscious awareness to notice our thoughts, observe them, question &/or dispute their accuracy and detach from them”–IS the easier, softer way I avoid.

Okay, so that cat is out of the bag.

A perfect mindfulness tool

Dan Mager, author of the above-referenced article, writes that the Serenity Prayer is “the ultimate coping device.”

“If we take the time and make the space to consider it consciously, all of our experiences, both internal and external, fit into one of these two basic categories” (what we can change and what we can’t), Mager writes.

Here’s the part I love:

“Mindfulness practices build a space within which we can witness our emotions and give them room to breathe. When we can allow our feelings to simply be, accepting them without reflexively buying into or attaching any particular value to them, their intensity lowers and we experience less pressure to act on them.”

Mager’s advice lets me learn how to roll with my emotions and when the time is right, respond appropriately rather than react inappropriately.

Say it with me: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” 

Mindfulness allows the wisdom to know the difference.

Photo courtesy of placardmoncoeur