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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

Perspective

perspectivePerspective is a funny thing. Each of us has our own. Ours is like ourselves. It is unique. Different from anyone else. Initially our perspective came from our family. As children we were influenced by how the people around us felt about things. Probably, at least initially, accepting their point of view. As we grew and our horizons widened we began to measure that perspective against the wider world. We were influenced by our teachers, and our peers. We began to question the ideas we learned from our family and measure them against what we were learning. We began to make our own choices or match those of the people who influenced us.

When we became adults we already had a set of values that came with us. Those ideas are the perspective that we use to weigh ideas. The viewing point from which we function. For most of us the perspective glasses that we look through will change over time but for some people it is ingrained and any suggestion of change is beyond imagining.

glasses

We can see those people in our world. They are the ones who see gays as sinful, trans people as unthinkable, people of a different color as “other,” mentally ill as those who should be locked away. Sometimes life events can work their magic and these people can alter those glasses but sometimes not.

We will encounter all sorts of people in our journey through life. We have to learn to recognize those who are unable to change and let them fade from our vision. They cannot change and their aversion and hatred will just color our own view. They were shaped the way they are and we must move on and not let their negative persona influence our lives.

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There are people who are open, accepting, and who offer love and support. Let the thoughts of the others roll off you and into the void where they belong. God has created only good. That includes everyone. Even those whose glasses will never change.

Finding balance

Today, as usual, I was doing yard work. Maintaining the flower beds is an enormous job and it’s all mine. My husband takes care of the grass. The property was initially bought by my grandparents and left to me. It is on a tidal creek and we can swim from the dock. We allow some neighbors to use the dock with their son. They use paddle boards and have lots of fun.

yard workAs they were on the way to the dock today they passed me, sweat soaked, red faced, and dead tired. A while back my husband and I lived in their house. I commented “when I lived in your house I had fun! Now all I do is work in the yard.” It really hit me. I spoke the truth. I don’t swim off the dock…sit out and watch the water or just relax in the hammock. I just go out and do yard work.

I can’t afford to pay someone else to do the work as with a big space it would be very costly. So what do I do? Several times I have written about choosing how much you set for yourself to do but I am not doing it myself. My mother always said that the things you didn’t do would still be there when you got back from doing something fun. She was good at creating a balance.

happiness balance

Somehow I have to find that balance. I am tired and missing out on fun choices. Feeling pressured to work all the time is not the right thing. Life is too short for that. Balance is critical to wholeness and health.

Love for a lifetime

relationRelationships seem to be a big topic lately. I can understand why. Relationships in today’s culture are really tricky. I’m not sure that any of us understand. Whether it was good or not when I was concerned with discovering someone to become part of my life it seemed simpler. People were expected to get married. Some marriages did badly but it seemed that many did well. I think that marriage was considered a commitment. You were assuming that you were planning a lifetime together. Divorce was available but I don’t think people took it lightly.

The other factor is that the sexual revolution hadn’t happened. No birth control pills so pregnancy was much more of a risk. Society frowned on pregnancy without marriage and it made deciding to raise a child alone meant you could be a pariah.

These things made marriage a more serious undertaking but of course that didn’t make it easier. Some people stayed married when they should have been divorced. Many stayed with their children in mind for good or ill.

love lifetimeI think that relationships today are much more difficult. Choosing to split is taken more lightly. I think many times people split rather than doing the work required to make a good marriage. How do people approach commitment? Does a relationship begin with at least one party thinking “let’s try this out and see if it works?” There may not be many long term partnerships like the one that my husband and I have.

A while ago I posted a blog about different kinds of love. It was called “Commitment, why? I found that the Greeks actually had more divisions of love than I previously thought. They have a definition of the kind of love that lasts through all the storms and trials. It is called pragma and here is the description.

  1. Pragma –Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples. Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, the Greeks would surely think we should bring a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.

nelson mandelaI worry about people trying to find a fulfilling relationship. There is so much uncertainty involved and I truly believe children suffer when they grow in a environment of uncertainty. They need solid ground to hold on to. The world is a scary place and we all need someone to depend on. Someone who we can trust with our life. Not just our physical life but physical, mental, emotional, and psychological being. We don’t just find someone who can be this but we both grow into it over years of companionship. God willing that you too can have this.

When things go awry

crazy-daysThis has been an odd day. Today I was asked by a friend to drive her to pick up her car from the shop. I was glad to take this on. We had fun talking in the car. I dropped her off about 11:45 and tried to decide how to manage the rest of the day. I was due to mediate a law suit at 1:30 and if I tried to go home I would arrive just in time to turn around and go back. I decided to just find a coffee shop where I could sit and read for a short while.

Good idea. Not so easy to execute. I wanted to find some place near the mediation center so that it would be easy to be there at 1:00 as we usually arrive 1/2 hour early to prepare. This neighborhood is near two hospital. Since it is an area where I don’t know about coffee shops or hangout places I started to drive around….and around.. and around. There were plenty of restaurants, fast food places, gas stations but no place to sit and chill for an hour. After going around in circles I finally found a great coffee shop. (They must do well since they are the only one.) Got myself a coffee and a scone and sat down to relax. I had been there about 15 minutes when my phone rang and the mediation center let me know that one of the parties wasn’t going to show up and it was cancelled.

In the midst of all of this I had spoken with my husband twice to re-schedule our afternoon plans and now had to call again. I went home.

Was the day wasted? I really don’t know. The time with my friend was well spent. I loved the coffee and scone and our afternoon worked out.

logo-work-it-outHave you had days like this where nothing went as planned and you spent the day revamping your life? For me this was a microscopic example of how all of life proceeds. Just when we think we have it all worked out we have to start over. It may look like things are going to be a mess but in the long run they end up working out.

It reminded me to take things as they come. To not obsess about the changes but just roll with it all. I was able to do that today. Yea!

We are free to think

tolstoy

I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.

I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.

As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.

freedom with God

This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way.  It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.

Sadness and grief continued

life-is-so-ironic-it-takes-sadness-to-know-what-30714385Today I was very disappointed. On Tuesday’s I have lunch with two wonderful people from the church where I worked. While there I asked the pastor (who is an interim) if the “weekly” (lands in the pews each week) could include the address of my devotional blog Hear God in Other Voices. (heargodinothervoices.blog) He said that other people had asked that their addresses be included and that it couldn’t be done. This is not his being unkind but it is just policy and probably  shouldn’t be his call at this time anyway. New pastors are coming in August and it really is up to them.

It did, however, make me sad. For many of the 20 years that I was there I wrote and published devotionals for the church. People were very complimentary and I was asked by many to continue doing it.

I guess this just (again) brought home to me how disconnected I am from those years of work. Part of this is (of course) my own fault for not attending church there but I felt it was the right thing to do to help people adjust to my not being there after so long.

I am sad and will send a link to some church members I suspect would enjoy the blog but that doesn’t really help how I feel. I know that this is part of the changes we face in life but at times it can really hurt. I am so thankful that the church I attend with my husband is happy to include the link in the newsletter.

moving-on-quotes-18

Life moves on and we have to move with it or we are left in a past that is no longer there. My life will continue to be fulfilling as I branch out into new paths. My writing is a blessing to me and is healing in itself. We each have to find the things that provide solace and healing  when we are down and remember to use them.

 

Beware cultural cloning

Cultural cloning …levels human personality and deifies predictability. When this is the goal, diversity is no longer recognized as a strength in this culture. Sameness becomes the bottom line.  —–Michael Yaconelli in Dangerous Wonder

Are we headed in this direction? It seems that we are but I really hope not. Are we destined to be identical robots? Will we lose the ability to think for ourselves?

1984Just picturing us all being the same reminds me of 1984 and Soylent Green. If anyone thought for themselves they were corrected…that is reprogrammed. In a society such as this anyone with any kind of mental disorder would either be reprogrammed and if this was not successful, eliminated. Aberrance would not be tolerated. Most of us who express our opinions on blogs would be done away with.

And yet, it seems to be that the function of society at this moment appears more likely to create people with emotional distress. The more we separate ourselves from each other the more our mental stability is at risk. We are humans who need others to thrive. Isolation causes emotional distress. We are communal in nature.

need help

I have noticed there are two types of people. Probably related to introverts and extroverts (but not entirely). Some of us feel better if we can share our emotional distress with someone else. Usually with someone we trust deeply. Then there are those for whom sharing makes things worse. They may have had a bad experience with this in the past. I feel better for sharing.

This is the beauty of these blogs. Even those who feel insecure sharing can share in a community of understanding. It has been a blessing for me to be able to share my anxieties in this format and find support, positive feedback and understanding. I know that occasionally someone will respond in a negative post but I hope that is the exception.

Mental disorders are difficult to cope with and just as difficult to share. Too often the response of the public is one of disdain or, at the least, not understanding. Understanding comes from those who have experienced similar things in their lives. Helping others by sharing is a gift.

God willing there will be no human robots.