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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.

Sacrifice

Today is Good Friday. A day to ponder about what it means to sacrifice.

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Today, for some reason, my eyes hurt. I don’t know if it because of too much straining to read things but I’m not going to write much. I am putting drops in my eyes and resting them for the night. I’m a human with sore eyes but I did see this quote and it cheered giraffeme. 

Unkindness

This week I have heard two stories of people being deliberately unkind. In both instances it was totally uncalled for. It is amazing to me how mean ad hurtful some people can be. In one case the person hurt made no response. In the other the hurt was brought to the attention of the person with not a smidgen of remorse or acknowledgement that anything was said that hurt.

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How do we handle this kind of person? It totally depends on the situation. Unfortunately, in both of these cases there was no ability to dismiss the person and just stay away from them. The one person tried to deal with it and since it is a work situation will not be able to do anything until later.

The second one is dealing with family. Both of these people do not have the option to just walk away. That would certainly be the best choice.

Being unkind in return just exacerbates the situation. It is better to state your feelings in a calm and simple way and move on

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At my age I seldom tolerate those who behave in this way. I will either stay away from them after voicing my thoughts….quietly but with conviction….or if family point out the hurt and hope that they see. Sometimes I choose to speak to spare a family member from being the one in the cross fire. As we get older it is easier to absorb the fall out.

We do not have to continue to be hurt over and over. People who are this unkind are usually unhappy themselves. Their behavior is often the result of being hurt in the past. However, we don’t have to put up with it. Sparing ourselves is important to our health and well-being.

Ritual

I have been thinking about ritual.We often equate it with religion but that is not the only place that we see it. When I get ready for bed at night I wash my face, clean my teeth, ready my bed, lower the temperature in the room by opening the window or turning on the air conditioning, turn on the overhead fan and turn out the light. I do these things in order. That is a ritual. The doing of those tasks in order brings me continuity and peace.

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This is part of what ritual does for us. participating in religious ritual at its best brings us to a place where we can experience the infinite. For most of us this does not happen often. In the Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has a demon distracting us in church by having us focus on anything except on the ritual. Is the lady ahead of us wearing a big hat? Is that a different woman with John? Anything will do.

Ritual of any kind usually feels comfortable and calming. (if it is familiar) We have many rituals whether we realize it or not. See if you can identify the rituals in your life.

The wildflowers

Today I had to drive to the other side of town. Not a big deal since Savannah is not that widespread. On the way I saw that the Highway medians had not been cut. there were beautiful wild flowers blooming in them, It was such a beautiful site and gladdened my heart. They were not planted but come up on their own. I hope the powers that be decided to wait to mow until they are gone.

I love flowers and the wild ones tell us that nature is always working to beautify the earth. We humans can never match that. Here in Holy Week for us Christians it is wonderful to see the resurrection that nature provides.

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I was unable to take photos since I couldn’t stop but I wish I had. They looked a little bit like this. Maybe next time I will be able to get a photo.

Enjoy the wildflowers while they last.

The mystics

I love the mystics. Not just the Christian ones but any of them. BuddhaJalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, Joan of Arc, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard von Bingen, Confucius are just some of them. They are so focused. They spend time connecting with everything beyond themselves. Their understanding about what really matters is clear.

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I wish that I spent the time in meditation and silence that would bring me even a little closer to their link with “everything.” To be so synced with the universe and our role in it would be wonderful.

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I have experienced small amounts of this in the past and want to connect again. It is so hard to disconnect with everything going on around me. I continue to try and hope that I can find this kind of connection again. I will need to push to maintain a schedule until it becomes a habit.

Shared wisdom

gardentimeToday was my first major day of gardening ending my lull during winter. Now I need to keep to a schedule or else the whole thing will become overwhelming. I worked so hard last year to get things to a maintenance state so I hope this year will be easier. We have a huge yard with lots of leftover plantings my grandmother did. Some of it is wonderful but some things completely took over after she died my aunt was in charge. She kept near the house neat and ignored the rest. After clearing out last year I can now recognize the places where some change needs to take place. I can get that done this year and be in good shape.

I like some gardening. it is really good exercise and fun to see the results but I don’t want to feel that it demands my attention every day. There is something about planting something and seeing it grow that gives me a sense of the continuity of life.

seed growingA friend gave my grandmother a needlework picture that says: “Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see believes in God.” I have this memento hanging in my house and love it!

 

My grandmother was an amazing person. She was born in the 19th century and lived to be 100 years old. I often went to her for advice and to tap into her wisdom. She grew up on a rice farm and watched the help beat the rice in a large mortar and pestle and throw it into the air to let the wind take the chaff away. She played the pump organ at her church and loved music. I was blessed to have her in my life.

I hope that those growing up now are taught to respect and appreciate their elders. There is so much that can be learned from those of us who have lived and learned. Our experience is there to share and it’s free.

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