“We are constantly invited to be who we are.”

Henry David Thoreau

Everyday, as the sun rises and we open our eyes from the fuzzy interlude of sleep, dreams and silence to find a new invitation before us: You are invited this day, to be who you are.

While there may be routine, mundane, predictable parts of the day set before you, there will also be moments of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprise. These moments of synchronistic opportunity that catch us off guard provide us this invitation to be who we are. Not who we are expected to be, predicted to be…but who we ARE. And most of us, I believe, find we are able to RISE to a level we never expected.

Perhaps though , we have to train ourselves to be aware of these opportunities…mindfulness. Perhaps we will be called to muster up some courage and will ourselves to say “I will allow myself to submit to this moment in order to come closer to being the person I am”.

I go through days that are fairly routine, and within the routines, I find myself at risk of being in a rut. If I am in a rut, I most certainly am not living up to my fullest potential…the person I AM. I am not that routine, I am not that rut. I may have to live through those moments, but when I open the invitations that are presented to me throughout the day, and have the mindfulness to take action, I have greater, longer, more frequent moments where “I” am truly “me”. And I surprise myself!!

Sometimes it is an invitation to be kind, or take a risk, or say “no”, or for that matter “yes”. Sometimes it is closing my eyes, or taking a breath, or standing up instead of sitting down. Sometimes it is something big and scary, other times small and seemingly silly. Sometimes it may mean being assertive or confident, other times humble, accepting,  or forgiving. But an invitation is an invitation. And if we don’t accept them and take action on them, they may stop coming. And then we may be alone with our routine, mundane, rut living self, rather than OUR SELF.

So, when your invitation arrives today, open it right away! Accept the invite and explore who you truly are!

The Delights of Life

September 23, 2012

I was going to call this entry “joy is in the journey”, but the word “delight” got the better of me!

Every day we get up. Sometimes refreshed, sometimes not so much. Maybe we tossed and turned with restless thoughts or are clinging to the dream of chocolate waterfalls and trying really hard not to open our eyes. Perhaps the sun shining through the window in the morning warms our body and makes the world seem soft and perfect. Maybe the pitter patter of rain makes us frown. That nagging worry from the day before may have already taken over every thought even before we can get a cup of coffee…..our mental list of everything that has to be done today gets longer with every waking moment…….we know all these scenarios.

I suggest that these could be labeled the ‘delights of life”. Why? Because they mean we are alive.

I have no magical ability to weather with grace or patience, the ups and downs that create my days. I get frustrated. I cry. I laugh. I feel dread and anxiety. I experience giddiness and anticipation. And as I age, ( like a fine wine, versus “grow older” like rotting. Could have said ‘mature’ but wasn’t in the mood.), I notice that when I try to embrace everything, I am surprised to discover that I can begin to see them as delights in my life. Even if they make me grumble or bitter. I find my mind chatter chortling “it will be OK”, “there is a reason for this, just let things play out”, “This seems really unpleasant, but you will get through it”, etc. And after the fact there is usually an internal or external smile or smirk: a sense of ” I got through that”.  And it is a delight because I always see things differently afterwards.

We are who we are because of the experiences we have gone through, because of the road we have traveled. There have been times I did not like who I was at some specific moment. There were roads I did not want to be on, and experiences that brought great pain and sorrow. I have a co-worker or two who tosses me a curve ball every day. They are delights in my life. (although I often do need to be reminded of this)

All those uncomfortable, unpleasant, people and things. Along with the love of my family, the gift and beauty of my children, the ache in my hip, the bad meal at a restaurant……the sun shining, the snow fall, the frustration with world news…..delights. Because I am here. Because I have emotions and choices, the ability to do things for others, the opportunity to advance positive change, to learn and to grow.

I asked my facebook friends to share some of their delights. There was a lot of family, friends, sunshine, time to oneself, things in nature. One said a clean house, someone said scarves, and one said when her child is well fed. It’s different for all of us. The delights of life are all around us, don’t you agree?

http://www.quotesea.com/quotes/with/delight

The In-Between Spaces

August 4, 2012

ECOTONES: the in-between spaces in an ecological setting.

It is a  transition area between two biomes

or different patches of the landscape,

like the space where the ocean meets the shore.

We have spaces like this too. In-between spaces, where the boundaries are blurred. It is not always clear where one emotion or thought begins and another ends. There is a symbiotic relationship. Each “part” needs the other to be balanced, but sometimes the boundaries change or are blurred making it difficult to feel we have completely moved on from one to another.

Emotions, thoughts, feelings that we might consider separate, actually coexist. There is no finite  boundary, no solid line where one begins and another ends.

For many of us this lack of clearness can be difficult. We want to know that one thing is ending, finished, and another is beginning. But it isn’t always so easy, so clearly defined.

We have pain and sorrow right along side joy and happiness. Anxiety can be cradled next to assurance. Perhaps trust is holding hands with doubt.

How do we live with dynamic boundaries where variables blur the edges? The in-between places where we are just not sure of what is going on, of how we are feeling, of where are going, or where we have been? What we may have lost? What we might have gained?

In nature these areas are sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful.  Waves on the shore may carry sand and plants away, eroding the shore. Other times the waves bring new sand, plants or animals to the beach. Sometimes these are “good” changes, sometimes not. There is a give and take. Sometimes the balance is quick and easy.  Other times, the compromises cause the two sides to give something up.  But in the end it is Nature’s way. Nature is life. And death. And violence. And supreme gentleness. In the ebb and flow there is all that represents life: change, uncertainty, risk, balance, loss, pain, joy, gain, happiness, sorrow, life, death, beauty, “ugliness”, fear, calm, love……without any one part, the other pieces are diminished.

Think about the synonyms for “transition”:   changeover, conversion, development, evolution, flux, growth, metamorphosis, passage,  progress, progression, realignment, shift, transformation,  turning point, upheaval.

What are the whispers from your in-between places telling you? Take some time in this space and listen to the possibilities.

There is a car I seem to follow through town quite a bit.  There is a bumper sticker on it that says “Progress Not Perfection”.  I really like that.

I think we spend a lot of time and energy on PERFECTION. And, I think it bogs us down and sometimes puts us in a quagmire that we struggle to get out of.

I feel like “perfection” is s bad word.

My husband went to a Cognitive Behavioral therapist for awhile. He came home one day with a big grin on his face and announced with great certainty and obvious sense of relief: “I don’t have to bat 1000. 300  is okay!”

Here was a moment of awakening for me too. We are bombarded by so many things that tell us very clearly, if we are not perfect we are not good enough. Look at TV and magazine ads. Reality TV shows. Look around you…dress like this and you’ll be beautiful. Get hair cut like so and so and people will like your hair cut (not you). Get a big gas wasting car so people will think you are important. Do this so you can be better than them.  Appear this way and people will think you are powerful.  Bat 1000 and the world will be yours. And if you don’t, you are failing.

Well, for me, batting 300 is pretty great. And I am much happier and more confident in believing I don’t have to bat 1000 to be a good, kind, valuable, contributing, caring person. I can take pride in batting 300 and work towards batting 302, or 305.

I think progress can lead to a different type of “perfection”.  The kind of perfection that isn’t absolute. Rather, something more about being able to change and grow, something that is fluid and dynamic, not static and with an end point.

We are all thrown a variety of pitches every day. Some could be called:

CATASTROPHIZING  CURVE  BALL – Making mountains out of molehills.

RUMINATION  SLIDER- Thoughts going around and around in your head.

PROCRASTINATION SINKER  – Can’t make final decisions.

WORRY  AND  GUILT CHANGEUP

WORRYING  ABOUT  OTHER’S  OPINIONS KNUCKLE BALL

SECOND  GUESSING  OTHER’S  THOUGHTS  SCREWBALL

REGRETS  AND  SELF-BLAME SPLITTER

RIGIDITY  TO  CHANGE  FORKBALL- Usually  when we keep looking for excuses or reasons why things can’t change – or when we need to get out of our ‘comfort zone’

For each one of these we need to learn how to stand to face it with authority. We need to know how to place our hands on the “bat” so we can send the “Catastrophizing curve ball” flying. We need to learn not to flinch when a “Regret and Blame splitter” is thrown at us. We need to learn to see a “Procrastination sinker” coming. We need to learn the mechanics of how “Rumination slider” moves. And we need to adjust accordingly. We need to make progress through practice and experience, with the help of mentors and team mates. Then we can keep our eye on whatever pitch  is coming our way, make commanding contact with it and send it out of the park and out of play in our lives.

And when we begin to understand that with all of the above, 300 is really good, we can begin to believe in ourselves and work on making progress on learning, practicing, trying new things, paying attention, and seeing. We can be unflinching and live fully on the premise: Progress not perfection. Some days we’ll bat 250, or 300. Maybe we’ll get to 375 or as low at 200. But whatever our average, we know it is all about Progress and not Perfection.

Batter UP!!

Mind chatter is the mind noise that never stops. It is the inner conversation or inner monologue that constantly goes on in the mind.

We are often unaware of this mental noise, because it has become a deeply embedded habit, something we may consider to be just a part of life.

Mind Chatter is like an inner voice that constantly analyzes everything about our lives, surroundings and the people we know. It is a voice in the head that just keeps talking and talking! It starts sometimes before we even open our eyes in the morning making a mental list of what we need to do, and follows us through the day, and is even with us when we close our eyes in bed, wishing something different had been done or said. It happens when we gossip, or think negative thoughts about others.

These thoughts can loop, go round and round, over and over. How lucky we are if this “broken record” thought is a positive one! What a struggle it is if it is a negative thought filled with worry, stress, anger or frustration. How horrible to have that noise chattering away inside our head all day long. We really could do without it!

The first step to quieting this chatter, is to realize it exists! Then we have to sort out if it is our True Self talking, or is it our sub-conscious? Often the cause is fear, in some form: the “what ifs”. This chatter tries to bring some sort of order from the perceived chaos: we have to consider all the options so we will be safer.

When we get wrapped up in this noise, while we are focused on it, listening to it, we are missing out on life going on around us.

We need to stop the Mind Chatter by learning how to stop our unconscious mind’s habit of “running off at the mouth”. Pay attention to what it is saying. If you hear negatives: “I can’t”, “I should, “what will I do?”, stop the dialogue. Make the conscious effort to change your thought process: tell the chatter to “STOP”, say ” I can”,” I am OK”, “I can handle this, I can figure it out”. Take control. We need to repeat this every time the negative chatter gets going, until there is a natural replacement of positive, rather that negative dialogue.

We will always have this mind chatter going on. Our mind loves to be busy. We can, however, change the topic! We have to be careful because when our mind chatters, we listen, and we remember. If our chatter is negative, guess what we remember? Information is continually being recorded and stored for future reference.

Brian Tracey says, “Perhaps the most powerful influence on your attitude and personality is what you say to yourself, and believe. It is not what happens to you, but how you respond internally to what happens to you, that determines your thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, your actions. By controlling your inner dialogue, or “self-talk,” you can begin to assert control over every other dimension of your life.”

Remez Sasson offers these insights on what mind chatter is :

  1. Thoughts that repeat themselves like a tape that keeps playing the same tune.
  2. Reliving negative past situations or visualizing fears over and over again.
  3. Dwelling on the past or fearing the future. This prevents us from enjoying the present. The past is gone, and the future is the product of our present thinking and actions. The only time that exists is now, the present moment.
  4. Compulsive inner monologue that disturbs our peace and makes the mind busy.
  5. Never being here. Always thinking on something else, instead of what we are doing now. If we always think on something else we never enjoy the moment.
  6. Constant analysis of our and other people’s situations, reactions and behavior. Analyzing the past, the future, things we need or want to do, our day, yesterday and the distant past.
  7. Almost all involuntary thinking and daydreaming are some sort of mental noise. This is often a constant background noise, which often intrudes into foreground in the middle of everything we do.

How do we gain control? Through some hard, thoughtful work and patience.

We have to be aware of this noise. Then we have to understand that it is our brain’s attempt to protect us from the unknown by pretending it knows what will happen. First we have to tell that noise, the chatter, to STOP. Then take the negative thoughts and turn them into positive: “I can’t do this…” to, “ I can do this”.

Breathe, count to 10, sing a favorite verse of song…let your mind know you are not interested in the negative chatter. Learn to “see” the chatter, imagine it written on a blackboard and watch as it is erased and the see the board clear and clean and blank……and then keep the board blank, do not let anything else be written.

We can also work to change the chatter, and make it useful and powerful in a positive way. Begin a routine of beginning your day with positive thoughts. Instead of “oh, I HAVE to take a shower”, turn it into “The hot shower will feel good.”  Replace “I have so much to do today”, with “I am going to accomplish a lot today”.

Mid-day, find a few moments and slow down. As thoughts creep in…erase them. Be still. Pat yourself on the back, “I’ve made progress”, “I am handling things well”.

At the end of the day, tell your mind to STOP chattering. When it starts up, divert and recite a poem, sing a song, do a multiplication table! Do not let it get chatting….

Some ideas of how to quiet your mind chatter include this from

Swami Nithya Bhaktananda

  1. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Do not make excuses, “I am busy then.”, “I already have plans.” Make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean. The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful, you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it. Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill. Do not tell someone you will call if you know you won’t. Telling the truth prevents the mind from having something to chatter about!
  2. Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone. “Make a commitment to yourself, that you will not say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world, to everybody. Make a commitment to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.”
  3. Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside. When the chatter starts, especially when the thought is full of negativity like “I am so stupid”, or “I feel like a failure”, say to yourself, or even out loud: “STOP! From today forward, I choose to let this thought go, for it does not uplift me. I am exposing this thought as being false, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from this thought.”  Whatever thought you are not able to say out aloud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean. While you may share your self doubt with others as a means of processing, you would never go around introducing yourself as “stupid” or as a “failure”, so stop your mind chatter from saying it to you.

Don’t let Chatter say it unless it is true, useful or kind. Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:

Is what I’m saying …

  • True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
  • Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
  • Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help.

Don’t let your spoken words run rampant either. Be conscious of what you say out loud. Your mind chatter will begin to reflect that, and you will not have to battle the mind chatter caused by speaking meaningless, gossipy, hurtful words.

http://thinksimplenow.com/clarity/how-to-quiet-your-mind/

Another interesting site is: http://www.aquietmind.com/2011/09/28/day-1-quiet-mind/

It offers simple, short, day by day suggestions to slow and quiet your mind chatter through attainable steps.

As we change and grow and move towards fulfilling our potential, free from mind chatter that slows us down, we also begin to change those around us. And one by one, the change spreads. You are good, and strong, and kind and of value. Make sure your mind chatter is telling you the same thing, or else tell it to STOP, so that you can GO forward.

Familiar with The Society Of Friends? The Quakers? They have in their history a beautiful “dance” song called Simple Gifts. You may know it from Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, or from Obama’s inauguration when YoYo Ma and others played Aire and Simple Gifts. The music is breath-taking. The words speak of ideals few us might ever even consider: “to bow and to bend”, “tis a gift to be simple”, “to come down where we ought to be”. Words of humility.

How do these words have the power to influence our potentiality? The words remind us of what is important, no matter the time we live in, our social status or anything else. If we remember we are a part of something bigger, or that there is something bigger than us as an individual, we can be at ease with humility (to bow) , to turn and be able to compromise, to be grateful, to bend and seek simplicity rather than complexity. We can be free from self-importance, wanting, desiring, wishing for…..and find satisfaction with the moment.  We can “come down to where we’re meant to be”, and realize that for most of us, especially if you are reading this, our lives are OK.  “And when you find yourself in a place just right, you will be in the valley of love and delight”: when you look around and start saying “thank-you”, “I am thankful for ….”, “I love you”, “I forgive you”, “I am sorry”, you will be in a place of gratitude. “When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed”: Tagore said,

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

We don’t always have to be strong, right, domineering, forceful, insistent, in control….

“To turn and to turn will be our delight till by turning and turning we come round right”. Dance. In gratitude, in peace and with peace, with others, by yourself. Dance because you are a part of Something that will work with you to discover your potential. Turn to face the light, the possibilities…when True Simplicity is gained life can change.

“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” -Anais Nin

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
―Marianne Williamson

If we are in fact here to “become”, do we have an obligation not to be comfortable with where we are in life and personal growth, and to strive to grow/change?

If by allowing our own personal light to shine we give permission to others to shine themselves, then doesn’t that add to the responsibility we have to strive towards continuing the process of becoming to benefit others?

Do we have a responsibly to banish fear in ourselves for the the benefit of others as well as ourselves?

Process Theology

April 8, 2012

On Christmas Day, one month and two days before my father died, he gave a Christmas dinner blessing based on an article in one of the Process Studies journals. The article was called You Are`What You Eat. But, it wasn’t about food. It was about the sustenance we receive from other people, other experiences, situations, events. What we experience, absorb, shun, embrace, hear, say…..create the person we are.

Jay McDaniel outlines 8 points central to PT.

Everything is in process…always flowing,all things are inter-connected, all of nature has value and deserves respect, we find happiness in sharing experiences with others: we become whole through reciprocity, the universe is a continuous creativity: all things are expressions, all beings seek harmony, thinking and emotion cannot be separated, every human experience begins with feeling the presence of the world and being affected by it.

The world is constantly in process and everything changes. And so do we.

How do we learn to be pliable in order to flow with being in constant process and change. What do we hold on to, what do we have to let go of in order to hold on?