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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.

Nothing comes to mind

An illustration of the girl who feels a doubt.

During the last few weeks it has been hard to write. I feel as if my mind is in the doldrums. Off and on something has come to mind but today I feel blank.

I know that happens to most of us but it is frustrating. I want to write but can’t think of what to say. Oh well, I will just say shelter from the cold if you are in a cold place and enjoy the weather if you are where the temperatures and comfortable.

potato

Maybe I will have something more logical to say tomorrow.

My list

I have gotten better about some things as I have aged. On Friday I will turn 79 years young. The year before eighty. It seems like a milestone. It has made me think about the things I really can do something about and came up with this list.

  1. My choices and actions
  2. My attitudes and priorities
  3. The people that I chose to be with
  4. How I use my resources both physical things, my energy and my emotions

If-you-create-a-vision-for-yourself-and-stick

These are the things that I have some control over. Anything else is not something I need to worry about, stew over or waste time on.

Now the only things I need to do is to stick to this list.

Life and death

Years ago I was distressed by  a family’s loss. In an auto accident one young daughter was killed. I felt that her life had been cut short. A minister friend had a different perspective. He felt that each of us has a life span that is ours alone….just as we are all individuals.

khalilgibran1-2x

I was reading a novel today and came across a similar thought that was attributed to the Gullah people of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. The book is “Gullah Secrets” by Susan Gabriel. Living near and having cared for Gullah people I have always respected their wisdom.

An elderly Gullah woman says: “Like a story, every life on earth has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sometimes a story lasts only hours. Sometimes days, years, or decades……It is not about the lucky or the unlucky. The good or the evil…..Life and death are in an eternal dance just like that whirlwind. Wind and sand. Sand and wind. A dance across time.”

This vision of each of our lives is comforting to me. My birth and death are mine and are as unique as I am. Life and death. They both continue.

 

 

How things change!

Today I heard and interesting statement. “Laws are based upon values and then support the values.” This thought has made me think about how things are changing in our country and other parts of the world.

The phrase came in church after an discussion of The Leverite Law in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Levirate Marriage

When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 

Times have changed since this was in effect. The woman was not considered at all. Now our laws recognize women as equal.

changing values

However, as we look at the initial quote we begin to question exactly what the values are today. So many are changing so fast that we can’t keep up with them and are part of our divisions. Even various religious denominations have switched from one idea to another. The earlier position of life at first breath came from the Bible: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7

It is debated if the shift to life at conception was a political one or a change due to science or some other influence. Either way it was a big shift that has led to a conflicted country regarding abortion.

This is just an example of how “Laws are based upon values and then support the values.”  I never thought of it from this perspective and it is interesting to do so.

Love is infinite

I have been thinking about love. I’m not talking about romantic love but a more expansive love. Love, if nurtured, does not decrease…..it grows. Not just for one person but there is always more to share with others. Our ability to love can be endless if we encourage it.

love-is-infinite

Christ called us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This statement reminds us that it is important for our love to both reach out to others but also inward to ourselves. Both are necessary.

Most of the major religions consider love to be crucial. It is unfortunate that mankind has skewed the original tenets and intentions of them so much. “Religion” has encouraged divisiveness and exclusivity. Each “sect” is touting its “truth” and denigrating all others. So many splits and divisions have occurred that I am not sure we could name them all.

We have lost the call to love. Love our world, our earth itself with all its plants, animals, and beings with a fierceness that forces us to consider the good of it all. How far we have strayed.

best-unconditional-love-Dalai-Lama-2016-700x675

We have to speak out with love. We may only reach one person but each one is one that is changed and with hope that they will pass it on.

Work place stress

One of the joys that I have being retired is that I don’t have to work with bullies or crazy people. Over my years of working I have had to deal with many different types. Fortunately for me the people closest to me were usually wonderful.

types-of-coworkers

Over my working years I read a lot about how to handle situations at work and sometimes the advice worked and sometimes not. In my last job, as a parish nurse, the major frustration was not the staff but those elected by the congregation to sit on a board. The major headache is a typical one for any workplace in that the people who don’t do the work make decisions for the workers. If you are not the person doing the job you really have no idea how improve the work.

I think they were glad to see me go as in that job I didn’t have to work and was free to bring up any problems. May be why I am not there.

I once heard a consultant who “fixed” major corporations asked how he found out what needed to change. He said that he dressed like the workers, had no one tell anyone he was there, and spent time with those doing the jobs. He asked them how they did their job and how and what they would change to make it better. He took that information, wrote it up as his report and submitted it. I wonder if the companies followed his advice.

 

Learning and using it

Today I had to attend a class to re-certify as a mediator. The class was helpful and interesting but I realize I am no longer used to sitting in class all day. At one point I stood up for a while to just get out of the chair. We were given breaks but the first one was long in coming.

It is interesting when many things that you have done in life enrich whatever you are doing presently. I have noticed this happening several times in my life. It’s as if I am being prepared for the next thing to come. Today was mostly about listening, discovering what lies beneath problems, and helping to find common ground between people. I have used and taught communication skills many times in my life and this was mostly a endorsement of what I have already learned. I will be using it in a different way and learning that was helpful.

Learning-never-stop

If we are truly living we are learning all the time. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. Maybe from TV or books or other people. It is interesting to think at the end of the day about what is new and how can you use it.

Nothing is ever wasted. As you age you learn something you thought was useless 10 years ago is just what you need now. Absorb everything you can in life and somehow it will be used.

Choose one of the following options

If anyone wonders why we use the internet to take care of things then this will help you to understand.

Today I called a Dr’s office. The first thing I got was a voice telling me that I had reached the ”Surgery Center” and to listen carefully to the options offered. The first option told me that if I was a physician to press one. The second offered to take me to the physician’s office where I could make an appointment. Ok, I pressed 2. A voice told me that my call would be answered in the order that it arrived. Fine. So I waited. Voices assured me that my call was important and that someone would be with me soon. This repetition went on for 6 minutes. Finally the phone started ringing. It seemed that someone would actually answer my call. Well…..maybe. The phone rang and rang and rang…………. I watched the clock. It had actually been ringing for 2 minutes when someone picked up.

call wait resize

This was not my first rodeo. I once called where I was born to get a copy of my birth certificate. That was after I discovered that the original was no longer acceptable. I called the number listed and I was given the multiple choice quiz again. I punched the number for birth certificates and got a nice lady who assured me that I could get a copy. All I had to do was mail a check with the request. I asked her for the address and was told that she didn’t have it. She couldn’t transfer me to the other department instead I had to dial in again and listen to the choices. Fine. After getting the address I had to dial in again to find out how much money to send. Each time I needed something I had to start over. It was a matter of “you can’t get there from here.”

Whenever possible I avoid calling. I email, text, chat, whatever but I don’t call unless it’s 911 for an ambulance.

Anamnesis — Remembrance

Today was All Saints Sunday. Brought forward from the actual day which was November 1st. All Saints is a day of remembrance in the church.

Remembrance..a word that brings forth things gone. I have long felt that those who have gone on before us are still with us. Not as ghosts or some kind of spirit but as memories. I feel that as we think about those in the past we connect with them and they still live in us. We are a part of all that has gone before. Some old Biblical translations used the word anamnesis. Later it was changed to remembrance but I think the earlier word is closer to the original meaning.

an·am·ne·sis
noun
the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence (often used with reference to Platonic philosophy).

remembering

I still feel the presence of my mother, father and other family members. Their love and caring continue on. As do the lives of those who are in my past and whose lives brought mine about.