Presence and Peace

Weekend Wisdom: Turn Around!


Yikes!

I continue to feel grateful each time the slightest shift in attitude occurs in my life, each time I turn back from misdirection.

On a recent weekend day, I rolled out of bed with an overall sour, grumpy attitude.  Not sure why, although I vaguely recall waking with bizarre dreams about my parents.

Thanks be to God, and a little effort on my part, the mood didn’t hang around long.

Saturday morning self talk

Rather than infect my house with my pissiness, I decided to head to Lowe’s for retail therapy.  I know, what you’re thinking.  The hardware store?

Here’s the thing.  As a responsible self-employed person, my shopping thrills have shifted from Macy’s and Coldwater Creek to Bed Bath and Beyond and Lowe’s.  When I’m feeling wild and crazy, I’ll hit Barnes and Noble.

Anyway, the point is that as I pushed my buggy up and down the aisles at Lowe’s, filling it with air conditioner filters and fluorescent light bulbs, I was talking myself down from a dangerous ledge of seething anger.

I was stewing in a cauldron of unkind thoughts and as I walked, I carried on a conversation in my head that went something like this:

“You do know that the only person you’re hurting is you, right?”

“Yeah, well, screw that!” (My devil side is so mature.)

“Seriously, do you really want to do that to yourself?  Do you really want to ruin what could be a beautiful Saturday?”

Devil-me had no reply, but as I put the folding hand saw in the buggy (prophetic, don’t you think?), I realized I was finished with the anger.  Just like that, it was gone.

Sunday morning self-care

At church, the very next morning, I heard about the power behind I AM statements.  I have to tell you that the timing was kind of fishy, like God called our minister and ratted me out.

Rev. Rob spoke about how whenever we say things like, “I AM so angry!” that anger goes out of its way to find us.  Same thing with, “I AM dumb” or “I AM fat.”  The law of attraction insists that ignorance and Hershey candy bars seek you out when you say those things.

If on the other hand, I say, (since I was the one Rob was speaking to), “I am breathing into this anger because I trust it will pass.”  Or maybe I say, “Yep, I’m willing to acknowledge feeling angry because it won’t last forever.”

Those two statements are so much more affirming and a whole lot less damning.  What I like is that neither ignores the feeling; in fact, I get to embrace it without clutching it to my chest and squeezing the life out of it.

In a pretty quick turnaround, I watched–with a growing aptitude for detachment–as the whole idea of “what you think about you bring about.”

I have to admit that it feels pretty good to know that I no longer have to spin out, crash and burn because of my feelings.  They’re not facts.  In the whole messy scheme of things, they’re merely a blip on the radar of an otherwise bee-utiful existence.

Photo courtesy of wallyir

Are You Living in Integrity?


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I would venture to say that most people don’t give a second thought–or even a first thought–to the answer to the question posed in the title of this post:  Are you living in integrity?

To be fair, some of those folks don’t think much about whether they live a life of integrity because they do the right thing all the time.  Period.

My friend Charles is like that.  He was raised in horrific circumstances–unfathomable childhood violence–then entered a career meant for justice but riddled with the opposite.

Charles endured bigotry, hatred and indifference.  Yet, he is one of the most principled men I know.

Inventory your integrity

There are other folks, and I include myself in this category, who have struggled with applying integrity in their lives.  I’m not implying that you deliberately do false or rotten things, but you may be the kind of person who occasionally asks yourself, “Jeez, did I do the right thing?”

Don’t feel badly; part of what’s cool about life is that we can periodically take stock of the assets and liabilities that make up our days.  Most of us in active recovery from addictions find the practice beneficial to feeling peace and serenity.

For my “normal” friends, I’ll spare you the whole 12-step, rigorous honesty process (although we jokingly say everyone could benefit from an inventory).  Instead, I found a few quotes about integrity to offer as food for thought.

My long-time readers might recall a stretch of time when I posted five quotes on Mondays to percolate through your work week.  I hope you enjoy these morsels of wisdom in that same vein.

Please post in the comments section any other quotes or ideas that frame your life of integrity.  Have a terrific week, my friends!

Integrity thoughts to live by

Six essential qualities that are the key to success: Sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom, charity.

— William Menninger

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.

— Barbara De Angelis

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.

— Sir Cecil Beaton

But my idea of success is different today. For me, the most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and not to give into peer pressure, to try to be something that you’re not. To live your life as an honest and compassionate person. To contribute in some way.

— Ellen DeGeneres

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.

— W. Clement Stone

Photo courtesy of joelcomm.com

Mindful Monday: Pounding Surf and a Spider Web


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Author’s note: This post is an edited repeat from March of 2011 right around the time I began Mindful Monday posts.  I don’t often repeat posts but on this Sunday afternoon I am about as far from mindful as you can get thanks to a root canal last Friday followed by a nasty weekend reaction to the pain meds.  Anyhoo, rereading about mindfulness helped me focus just a smidge so I’m hopeful it will be of benefit to you too.  

Sunday nights are seldom easy for me; it’s been this way since I was a kid when I escaped into a weekend world of books and the imaginary life of a writer.

Sunday nights caused great anguish as I struggled to shift gears and prepare for re-entry into the school, and eventually, the work world.  Even today when Monday promises work I love, I still occasionally find myself out-of-sorts and dreading the start of the work week.

Surely I’m not the only one out there with the end-of-weekend blues.  Ours is a work hard/play harder culture but at least we get to mostly choose our play.  Some of us are blessed with careers that allow a great deal of autonomy (I’m one of those blessed.) so work and play are not on rigid schedules.

And yet I still don’t do Sunday nights very well.  I know I’m not alone.  So here’s what I propose:

Mindful Mondays

Would you like to get your Sunday evening back?  I sure would!  Would you like a sure-fire method of not dreading Monday?  Me too!

Mindfulness essentially means that one completely focuses on the present moment.  Since that is what I write about (she says, sarcastically), I need to learn to practice what I preach.

I’m as likely as the next person to fill my mind with obsessive garbage about what may transpire this week or next month or five years from now.  I am a master at dredging up the past to “process” it.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not against looking at the past with professionals when we honestly need guidance.

But don’t you think some people hide behind their pasts so they don’t have to take responsibility for their present and their future?

So, Mindful Mondays it is, at least for me.  Focus on the present moment.

B Here Today

Mindful meditation helps immensely.  This kind of work encourages concentration on the breath with an easy acknowledgement of interrupting thoughts followed by a simple return to breathing awareness. I have to be honest.  I’m not that great with meditation.  Or maybe it’s that I don’t practice meditation enough to feel comfortable with it.  Either way, in theory I love it, but I had to find another way.

I call my method the Pounding Surf and a Spider Web Mindfulnessspider web

Think about these two elements of nature for a moment.  Have you ever watched ocean waves slap against rocks when the tide is in?  The rolling surf hurls itself against a shoreline or massive outcropping with so much intensity that foamy waves are reduced to bubbles.  Mother Nature doing what she does—throwing her elemental self around with intense abandon.

What about the spider web?  An industrious arachnid weaves a dainty doily of a web on a railing about 30 yards above the crashing waves.  Spray blown by the wind in the waves clings in teeny-tiny orbs of water on the web.  It gently sways back and forth in the breeze.

The enormous contrast of the web with the surf pounding behind it struck me as the yin and yang of nature when I observed them in mid-February during my walk along the southern  California shore.

Where is the mindfulness, you ask?  It wasn’t the act of finding the juxtaposition of web against waves.   It wasn’t even the awareness of web and wave.

The mindfulness came into play when I realized that I was acting in a mindful and present manner. That, my dear friends, is how we become mindful—by choosing to be really, really present to ALL the details that comprise our days.

You’re human and you won’t get it everyday.  But much like meditation, I promise you that if you practice, you’ll get better and better until one day you realize it’s Tuesday and you don’t remember the Sunday Night Blues but you do remember Mindful Monday.

Let’s celebrate mindfulness on this Monday!

Carpe Diem With Flexibility


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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

My friend Carol gave me the Seize the Day paperweight pictured above.  I had just lost my job and was pretty scared about the next steps on my employment path.

Those words–Seize the Day, the common translation for the Latin phrase Carpe Diem–were my backstop when I was feeling a little sorry for myself in those early days.  Lost, confused, angry, and a Duke’s mixture of other feelings clouded those early days but my little paperweight symbolically grounded me.

I could almost feel it saying to me, “When you’re ready . . .”

Seven months later

A few days ago, I was sitting with my best friend Mac (as in Apple laptop), creating a PR piece for a client.  When I’m writing, I periodically glance around at the little pieces of inspiration scattered about my office.  I never know when one of the pictures or toys or maybe my Billy Butler Bobblehead will siphon off some kinetic energy to me.

My eyes fell on the solid, green paperweight and Gumby sitting next to it.

I actually laughed out loud!

The juxtaposition of the two objects is a complete description of the life I now live.  I have seized the day by turning my job loss into an opportunity to launch my dream of writing, connecting with people and telling their stories.  And Gumby reminds me to always and forever be flexible and fun.

Gone, well mostly anyway, are the rigid work days of dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  I am so grateful!

Gone are the days when I had to bend and twist, Gumby-like, to meet someone else’s expectations.  I’m grateful-squared!

Speaking of gratitude . . .

While cleaning out some files recently, I came across a single sheet of paper in my handwriting that reads, “4 Ways of Gratitude.”  I have no idea where it came from or the circumstances that caused me to write these four items down.  No matter, I suppose, just know that I didn’t make them up!

4 Ways of Gratitude

1.  Give thanks and praise for what you have rather than complaining about what is missing.  Take nothing for granted.

2.  Give thanks for the difficulties and challenges you face.

3.  Give thanks in advance for the good you seek.

4.  Give thanks for belonging in the world.

Aren’t those cool?  I know that some of you might balk at expressing gratitude for your difficulties and challenges you face, but here’s the thing–you can be like Gumby when you give thanks.  Bend and sway and do the best you can, but do it because you really need to seize the day that is your life here and now.

I’ll leave you with this, words from a man I haven’t met but I’ve sure heard revered during my involvement with Unity Churches.

“If you want to change your life, begin with these words, I am responsible for my thoughts, words and deeds.  I am responsible for my feelings.  I am responsible for my reactions.  I do not fear what is within me.  I accept responsibility for my life.” ~ Rev. Jim Rosemergy

Carpe Diem to you!  Seize this day in your life but hold it loosely in flexibility and fun.

Are You a Compulsive List Maker?


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My sweetie gave me a coaching lesson last night (for free!) and I’ve been pondering her advice ever since.

I was bemoaning working hard all day–in my office for about nine hours–yet I had a sense of non-accomplishment.  Those kind of days make me a little crazy!  Do they you?

She asked me to shift my thinking about why I’m doing the work I do.  I’ve been self-employed for several months and am developing a client list of good people and organizations in a field that I love.

She reminded me that I no longer work from a “check the box” perspective that plagues those of us who have outlived our usefulness in a job.  Instead, my sweetie suggested that I focus on filling my days with the enjoyment of working and that I focus less on scratching tasks off my to-do list.

Are you a compulsive list maker?

Holy cow, I am!  It’s in my genes, I think.  My brother and I used to tease our mother for making lists of her lists!

I have vivid memories of Mom sitting at the Formica kitchen table with pieces of scrap paper copying the non-scratched off items from one to another.  Except, to be clear, Mom didn’t scratch through a completed task, she made a string of squiggly, curvy lines through it.

Her daily to-do list rested next to the ongoing grocery list on top of the monthly calendar (no-line blocks for each day) in the kitchen drawer.  For a good many years before she retired, I think Mom based the success of her day on the number of squiggly lines on the scrap paper.

Oh dear.

I think I’ve become my mother.

Compulsive list-making spoils Now moments.

Mom and all her lists (The annual family summer vacation list began weeks in advance!) were a part of an era that didn’t place a high value on living in the moment.  That concept was decades in the future.  Had I asked her back then if she thought all her planning took her away from being present, I might have been smacked for being smart-mouthed.

Fortunately, you and I are part of the Now era.  And I am aware that each time I am hyper-focused on my task list, I’ve stepped into the future. Plus, I’ve lost a snippet of Now.  

Now moments are precious and I don’t want to lose anymore than I have to.  Surely there’s a way to create a reminder list that isn’t inherently obsessive?

I’m open to ideas, my peeps.  I don’t know if I can work completely unstructured, meaning without a list, because there are things I must remember.

But putting an item on my list just so it can be scratched off is a tiny bit obsessive, don’t you think?  Oh, I know I’m not the only one!

Seriously, tell me your ideas.  But please don’t remind me that I have control issues.  I have that particular awareness, thank you very much!

Let’s make a list of how to use lists!  Now you’re talking!

Photo courtesy of hotblack