Finding meaning

What Gives You Meaning Concept

I read the daily articles from Richard Rohr who is a wonderful source of inspiration for me. Today he quoted the works of Viktor Frankl who was a respected psychiatrist. Frankl talked about how most of us seek for meaning at some point in our lives. I know this has been true for me.

I have found myself at several points asking “what is it all about?”

Frankl posited three possible sources for meaning: in work, in love and in courage. He talks about the possibility of being able to do work that has some meaning. There are jobs where this seems obvious….doctors, nurses, social workers. (there are lots more) In other jobs meaning may not be so easy to find. I am sure that those of us writing blogs have found some meaning in the response we receive and the assurance that we are helping others. This is very affirming.

The second idea…love…also seems fairly clear. Hopefully our love reaches out to others. It allows us to help others in our everyday lives. Again this allows for meaningful affirmation.

The third idea….courage…means being courageous in difficult times. This certainly includes times of suffering. He says that suffering by itself has little meaning. The meaning comes from how we respond to it. We have the ability to use our suffering to be an example to others. Our response can encourage others who are facing the same kinds of challenges.

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It seems to me that many of the bloggers I read can find affirmation that their lives have meaning as so many blogs help others. The community members need to see that this work can bring meaning to their lives. You are important!

Meditation is worth the work

caroline-myss-quiet-mind-meditation-quoteMeditation can be a daunting idea. For most of us our minds are running full speed and we can even have difficulty turning them off to sleep. This is the most common complaint heard by physicians about insomnia….”I just couldn’t turn my mind off.”

We hear that meditation will calm us and release endorphins. We can listen to meditation tapes and find ourselves wandering from the voice’s instructions. Turning our minds off is a difficult task.

Our minds have been running like this for years. What makes us think that turning off the thoughts can be just a matter of sitting down and expecting it to happen. Just like anything else in life it is a skill that we have to learn. To learn it we have to practise*. I have friends who run marathons and they have to be consistent in their training. They can’t just go out and run without work.

The same thing is true of meditation. We have to retrain our mind. You can’t learn to shut thoughts off like snapping your fingers. It takes time, work and consistency.

When we start to learn this new skill we must have patience with ourselves. We try it and we can’t stop the mind and we think it is hogwash and a failure. It isn’t any more than trying to run a marathon by just deciding…”today I am going to run 26 miles.”

In the beginning the only thing that we may accomplish is just taking time to sit or lie quietly. This is not a bad thing in itself. It helps to just stop for a while. Paying attention to your breath and checking your body for tension is always good. The next step is to recognize the thoughts that are running through your mind. My first (and very best) yoga instructor told us to see that thought and mentally watch it slide across your mind and on out. Continue to do this with each thought that occurs. With practise* you will notice less thoughts intruding and by watching them go by you are not allowing them to really intrude.

meditation

Learn to take time for meditation. My yoga instructor said that when we are awake we are like a car in forward gear. When we are asleep we are in reverse. When we are in meditation we are in neutral. A good analogy.

Meditation is wonderful…learning it is a task worth putting time into.

*word press wants me to change practise to practice. Practise is the verb. Practice is a noun.

A letter to my grandchildren: Part One – Love

I have decided to write some thoughts for my grandchildren over time. This is the first.

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I think that I have lived long enough to share some things that I have learned in my life. As we grow and age we learn from everything we have been through. We probably learn the most from our mistakes.

LOVE

As I write this only one of you is married but I want all of you to take this to heart. Love and living together is a tricky thing. We are joined to another person whose upbringing and life experiences are different from ours. They have had good and bad in their lives and some things will trigger memories that will translate into actions and reactions. The same is true of you.

The things we have been through in our lives can cause us to react in ways that don’t actually fit the current situation. It happens because that memory has left scars that hurt when exposed. Think about how hearing a certain song can take you back to the memory you have of that moment. For a brief time we are back there experiencing those feelings. Another description might be that we have recorded certain events with their feelings attached and they will pop up when triggered.

When there is a reaction to something said or done that surprises or hurts you see if you can discover what is behind it. You may be angry but let that go. If you can spend the time to discover what is underneath your significant other’s or your action you may be able to understand and accept it. This is not easy in the heat of argument or upset but it can save so much pain in the long run.

As an example, someone in pain may be negative about everything. This may not be normal for them but they can’t help it at the moment.

There will be days when you may question your love for another. This culture has taught you that love is a feeling. That is NOT TRUE. Love is a decision. Never ever forget that. That excitement that you felt when you were first together may come and go through your relationship. Time spent on your relationship can help to keep that feeling in your love….but not every day, every moment. It can come and go. That does not mean that the love is gone.

Being with someone long term is work. And it is worth it. Today people jump from one person to another looking for something that they may never find….wanting to hold on to that passion and excitement…..like cows reaching under the fence to get the grass on the other side. The problem is it will not be better forever.

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Each morning you need to make the decision to love that person and then act on it. Having been married for 56 years I can tell you it is worth it.

(Obviously, there are exceptions to this. There can be truly bad relationships that need to be ended but I think today we are too quick to run away.)

For further thought this is part of the Greek’s description of long standing love:

  1. Pragma, or longstanding love                                                                                                           …..described it as a mature, realistic love that is commonly found amongst long-established couples. Pragma is 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, we should surely think about bringing a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.

from: https://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

 

 

Things can change

life-quotes-Some-lessons-cant-be-taughtToday I am continuing to rest in the epiphany I have had a few days ago. I am sticking with remaining in the background and supporting ..not leading. After so many years of leading this is going to take some work on my part. I know that little demon will keep saying “show them how it’s done!” I’m not going to. My journey’s path is to share my love, my experience (without taking charge) and (I hope) my wisdom. Time has taught me many lessons, some totally unwanted, but I have lived and learned through each one.

This part of the journey will be a stretch for me. I know how much I love taking over but I will try my hardest to bite my tongue when I start to get off the track. I know that I still have much to learn. I learn so much from the blogs that are shared with me. I also see places where I hope my experiences can help others.

It is easy to get off track and anxiety and sadness can kick in and cause me to question why I am at this point? IBSD can knock me down and send me scurrying for help and medicine but I am changing one day at a time.

symphony_of_love_small_changes_can_make_a_world_of_difference-e1432670360330The hard part for all of us is consistency. Habits can only be changed by making new ones. Those new ones must be done day after day after day. Then they become the habit and the old one is gone.

Do not be afraid if nothing changes as soon as you would like. Keep plugging away each day. The change will happen. We get impatient and give up. Don’t…..change will come!

The end to the beginning

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This struck me as being profound and encouraging. I heard it somewhere else and then found it. Sometimes when something comes to an end we feel a let down. Something is over. We don’t think ahead and see that something new is beginning. We may not know what it is or when it will begin but it is there. Each time we start something we are beginning at the end of something else. It is a sort of circular thinking.

In the past year I have struggled with where life was taking me. Something 20 years long and fruitful was ending and I couldn’t see the beginning of anything else. Now I realize that the ending was but the beginning of a new journey. One that would teach me much about myself and force me to spend time with me. Not something I really enjoy doing.

Now I am in a different place. I still have a journey ahead of me and a lot more to learn. I have turned loose of the desire to be “out front,” I had always needed this to counter my sense of unworthiness. Hubris still rises from time to time but I am learning to push it back down. Anxiety can still attack but I am better at fighting it. I don’t always win but learning takes time. I have learned much from hearing the stories of others.

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Each day is a new beginning. It is the end of the old day. Change can happen.

How are the children?

family-counseling-main-58a72ddc45d4aSchool is starting here and it has made me think about children. I have a great concern about the children of today. They have so much to overcome. I haven’t read the statistics lately but I wonder how many of them come from homes with divorce or unmarried parents or any home that feels unsteady. The climate today is ok with there being children and no marriage.  I certainly don’t condemn the people who choose to live this way but I do question how it is for the children. Marriage doesn’t necessarily help to keep people together but there may be more incentive to think harder about the decision to separate.

To get to the point I am worried for children who grow up in uncertainty. I don’t know that so many of us did in the past. Children need a base. They need a place of safety. Somewhere that feels rock solid. It doesn’t have to be a place….it can be a relationship. That place of safety allows a child to reach outside of that circle without fear. We all need some place to stand anchored.

relationshipsWhen parents have little commitment to each other and no incentive to stay together that place of security is threatened. Children need to know that there is a safe place in their world.  This doesn’t mean that it can’t be found in the new ways of living but I co think it is harder and may have to be more intentional.Without a safe stand they may seek it elsewhere and it may not be someplace that is really safe.

This has been difficult to put into words that aptly explain what children need. I hope I have, at least, gotten my thoughts across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we don’t know how to help

thumb_i-stopped-waiting-for-the-light-at-the-end-of-20625406Today for the first time in forever I feel a sense of accomplishment. I only have one more day of major work to get the vines out of the azaleas. There actually is a light at the end of the tunnel. Then I can get back to routine house and yard work. Seems appropriate since it is now August.

Some of my stressors have eased. My friend, whose husband died, is coping and I will keep close as she grieves. My friend, whose husband in hospitalized, is hanging on but the stress of this long term up and down has stretched her to her limit. Long term anxiety with no let up causes so many physical problems. Staying at an adrenaline high is not good for our body and after the stress is reduced it is a long time recouping. I worry about her and her own health.

She has little time for the things that can hold us together: time out, meditation, time with friends, a break day, or something fun. She is devoted to her husband and spends each morning at the hospital. By the time she leaves to go home (usually around 1 pm) she is exhausted and just wants to rest.

It would not be surprising to experience symptoms of PTSD when faced with unceasing stress. Each of us has struggled with anxiety and know the toll it can take.

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I have tried to find things to help. We invite her to lunch often as she is too tired at night but she is usually tired and just wants to go home. I speak with her every day and have offered to take her place at the hospital. I would like to think of something to help break the monotony of her life and find something to help. I plan to take some art supplies to her as she likes to paint and draw.

If anyone has any suggestions please pass them on.