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.
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Have you known people whose whole life is a drama? Their life is really no different from any of ours but they tend to enjoy the hullabaloo. This morning the minister at my church talked about that. He pointed out that for them it is a way to make life more interesting. However, continuous drama gets old fast. The constant anxiety and stress related to it is not good for the drama queen/king. It keeps life in a continual adrenaline rush. Not good for us physically or mentally.
This lifestyle keeps the focus on the drama-maker. It is part of their way to remain the center of attention. It also wears out the people around them and can result in people not responding as in “the boy who cried wolf.” Their need for acknowledgement is sapping their life force.
I don’t know if this lifestyle comes from a childhood of being ignored. I am not an expert. But it does seem that they desperately need reinforcement of their goodness and value. When relating to people like this we can mirror their goodness back to them but we can’t be pulled into the drama. This can be a negative stressor for us.
Some of the people I love are like this and I have struggled with learning how to deal with it. I have found that giving them as much love and support as possible without diving totally into the drama works for me. I have to make a conscious decision to maintain some distance and calm or else I will be anxious and stressed too.
There are some things in this world that no matter how much we want to fix them we can’t do it. It is important absorb this and live accordingly.
The last few weeks have been busy and stressful. I would imagine that this is true for many people as they get ready for the holidays. This time of year can weigh us down. In addition, it has rained here for the last week. When I wake in the morning it is dark and dreary. I have to turn on lights to function. I am ready for some sun. The sun did come out this afternoon and it will dry up some of the giant puddles where the ground has just had enough.
Most of the time I like rain. I love the sound of it and the smell on the grass but when it is constant it is enough! The winter has enough darkness. We don’t need darkness caused by clouds and rain but we have to believe there is better to come.
Not having light can be depressing but the light is coming. If you are Christian then it is coming with the birth of Christ. If you are not then the winter solstice is on its way and days will be lengthening. The light will return, the season will change and life will go on. Hope can abound.
Today has been an interesting day. The plans for our trip are changing daily. I may stay home part of the time. Family may stay here. We will just take one day at a time.
Someone that I read today said that learning to turn ourselves off in prayer or meditation is an ego-ectomy. To do either we have to let go of ourselves and place ourselves in the unknown or the hands of god. We let our own thoughts and the clutter of our minds drift away. I used to be able to do that. I can remember being able to let go to the point that I felt “out of body.” I was lifted up off the floor. I long to have that experience again. I am trying to get back there but it does take time and practice. When you start out thoughts crowd in and want to take over. With time, the ability to “center down” (Quaker expression) becomes easier.
It is so easy to go off the deep end about something that is really not important. The fact that I can’t walk through my office is insignificant at this moment. My bed will get made and the laundry will get done. Eventually. There will not be anyone coming in to inspect. One day at a time is all we have to handle. Remember that!
This has been a difficult week and it’s not over. My husband is working on a house we need to sell as our age makes it difficult to care for it ourselves. We have been doing repairs on this rental house for years and it is time to stop. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan well and now we are trying to get work done so it can be sold. Nothing like adding this on in the midst of going to the Mayo Clinic, getting ready for Christmas and life in general. Our friend who loaned us the RV has never used it and we don’t know how to work the many devices that we have to use to work things. She has no idea either. I guess we will take it to an RV place tomorrow and hope they can help. I feel as is everything is frustrating. I find myself flying off the handle at every little thing.
I know that we can manage to work everything out but right now it seems too hard. I must find time to stop and take a deep breath…calm down and just let things come as they will. I will sign off for tonight and go meditate.
This is the time of year when the Scrooge story is on TV. I started to think about the ghosts that visit him. Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. I always think about Christmas Past. I think about the time when we had small children and Christmas was so joyful and exciting. Seeing the children as they opened their presents was wonderful. That time is gone for me. I’m not sure I completely appreciated it. I didn’t lock it away and say to myself “remember this, it won’t come again.” We don’t usually think such thoughts when we are experiencing life. I don’t know if we have to or should. It might bring sadness into the picture….the thought that time is moving on and this moment will be gone.
Each phase of life is different. Years ago I studied Hindu thinking with a practitioner and liked the idea of the eight-fold path. We have important things to accomplish in the different ages we live. My age should be concerned with understanding life in all its aspects. I think that is what I am doing. I can look back…not to bemoan my faults …but to glean the wisdom I gained. I want to accomplish this and share what I discover.
I do miss the joys of Christmas Past but it was a different time and I can’t go back. I don’t think I want to. I just wish some of it would stick around. Instead we have another wonky Christmas. We will be gone next week for Hap’s therapy and my daughter will come the Friday we arrive back to celebrate early with us. She will be working Christmas week. We celebrate with my son and his family Christmas week. My other daughter and her family we will not get to see.
It is life. I will concentrate on the reason for the holiday and enjoy the family time that we will have. I don’t have time for regrets and wishing the past was back. I have too much living in the now to do. After all, who knows what Christmas Future will be.
The other night I had the strangest dream. I was in a situation where all I did was wait. I won’t explain the whole dream but it was obvious waiting was the point. I was with others and waited for hours. I got very upset and angry because the wait was due to poor management.
I don’t like confusion, poor planning, and waiting.
Years ago I learned the response to poor planning: “poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine.” I actually used it once and then felt so bad that I have never said it again.
I think the dream was trying to remind me that there are times when we have to wait and we need to do it patiently. We also have to remember what we are waiting for, This season before Christmas is Advent. The dictionary says that Advent is: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. If you are Christian then the wait is for the Christ child.
I am not sure in this day and age how seriously we consider this. There is so much else….shopping, parties, baking, decorating and sometimes traveling. We are so busy that there is not time. I doubt that those who are celebrating other holidays do any better at paying attention to the meaning of the holiday. I hope some do.
During this time before Christmas I plan to concentrate on the meaning of it all and try to move away from concentration on gifts and gatherings. I hope that my times of meditation and contemplation will help me to focus on what I am waiting for.
Today I was listening to Christmas music in the car and it reminded me of the controversy over some Christmas songs this year. The protests over things has certainly reached the point of the ridiculous. Someone always has to put a meaning that reflects their negative attitude on something that has been around forever. As someone said there are more victims that people.
One song under contention is “Baby, its cold outside.” My parents were around during the time that this was written (I think 1944) and there was no ulterior meaning to this song. Some of the phrases used were common vernacular during that era. Now we have to put a spin on it that reflects today’s world and it just doesn’t fit.
The other song is “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.” Once again something is being made of nothing. I have always seen that song as a positive to Rudolph. He wins in the end and his skills become paramount.
When is this craziness going to stop? It is becoming impossible to say anything that will not offend someone. Any common sense has been thrown out the window. I can envision us in a future where there is no music, or books, or speeches, or talking, or ads, or TV, media or anything. It will be a silent and sullen world. Everyone will always be angry with others. Eventually we will kill each other and there will be no one to complain.
It is impossible to please everyone and offend no one. If everyone carries a chip on their shoulder there is no way to fix it.
When will we put away all this anger and contention and turn to kindness and love? That is the only thing that can save us.