Cluttered

I feel pretty cluttered. I seem to have too much stuff in my head like an attic of someone who tends to save things. A lot of things. Someone who is ancient and fearful with parchment hands and long blue veins running close to the surface.  A person who holds on to things they might need one day, only most of the time those days don’t come. Needless to say, there isn’t a lot of room, not even to turn around and survey what is in those tippy stacks of odd shaped ideas, memories, bits of flick and flack. I understand they are my things, and it’s my attic, and though I am not ancient, there are times I feel it. Not in my bones too much but in my heart, in my head and my eyes.  Sometimes my eyes are the most tired.

I need to lighten, to unpack, and just toss things, both inside and out. I need to find clarity.  As time goes on I seem to like to travel lighter and lighter. I started with my closet and chest of drawers. I thought doing this physically might help the metaphysical, the spiritual and the social-emotional arenas as well. I am someone who cleans out drawers and closets a few times a year, but wanted to go deeper and really peel back the layers of attachment. I started with my pale chiffon pink skirt.  I love it, but only have worn it once. It just does not do either of us justice; the shape and the color, nothing works. It’s okay, but together we are less. I have had it almost 15-20 years which is a crazy amount of time for me to think about. I have almost given it away many times but held on because the silk waistband to the pleated chiffon swirls beneath is just beautiful.  It makes me sad to finally give up on it, but I am guessing it will be someone else’s beautiful soon.

Writing about that skirt makes me wonder how many times I have held onto someone else’s beautiful for too long.  Do I do that with relationships, jobs, ideas, ways of seeing myself that are outdated or untrue? I don’t know, but this is great food for thought. I think since life is one transition after another it is inevitable we hold on too long. Self-assessment and feedback from people and the Universe try to give me tips and bread crumbs to point the way to growth. Then there is ego chiming in and the Bossy Betty in my head, so with the racket in there it can be difficult sorting through what to jettison and what I need to keep.

I worked my way from the closet to the drawers, where every piece of old lingerie, and uncomfortable, complicated or unflattering dresses were pitched in a pile; any kind of fat-sucker-500 or restrictive fancy bullshit was gone in a blink. Impossibly soft old tees were all tried on and only the ones that felt best were kept. The tee-shirts from vacations past were ruthlessly edited. I have pictures I don’t look at for memories, why was I holding on to the tee shirts too? The vintage Apple tee-shirt that is at least 30 years old is now in rotation again for the first time maybe in 28 years. What was I saving it for?

Mid-point as the day heated up, I pulled out two old fans to run as I moved about the apartment, their whir whisking away stale air and kicking up dust.  I stopped after my bedroom closet and chest of drawers to take a breath. My eyes wander down the hall to the closet filled with placemats and table clothes I don’t use anymore, old sheets and napkins, I sigh. I need so little of these things’ I think, shaking my head. In fact I need very little, so maybe that is where I need to focus as I move through my head and my apartment. What do I need?

I understand there is a time I needed to hold on to that pink skirt or tee shirts from trips. Those things represented memories, things that were embedded in the vignettes of my life. The reality is they don’t enhance my days or bring me joy in any way. I rarely see them: I look past them or through them like the ghosts they are. As I get ready to step into August and my birthday month and another fall semester, I plan to take time each weekend and go through a closet, a drawer, under my bed and edit. I also plan on pulling out my journal and looking at what do I really need? What matters to me, who matters to me, and try my best to keep it simple. My wants can come much later; my needs are the focus now. I think it is time for bigger changes for all of us. I want to be more deliberate, a little reckless yet conscious in how I live and what I do with my time and love. What that translates to is not known now but gives me a month, a bunch of giant garbage bags, a journal, some long walks and maybe some champagne for break time, and I think I might have some room in my attic.

Posted in Being Open, Champagne, Change, curiosity, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, intent, mind shifts, Summmer, truth, Uncategorized, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chasing the Edge

I have noticed I seem to resemble a shark, not in the eating seals or surfer’s way but in the constant motion. I started thinking of it as chasing the edge. What this means to me is I am wildly curious, restless, and continually looking to be better, do better and just scare the crap out of myself on a regular basis. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but it is how I have been most of my life. It is like one part of my brain says, “Cool: great job, good money, nice house, just breathe and enjoy”. And I do for a little bit, and then I start to itch, not in the goat-girl three-day marinate way but under my skin, deep in my core. The itch turns to a twitch, then to investigation or research, then to moving on, up, or out to something new. I then land in a new place, an uncomfortable place, feeling awkward and fourteen again with arms and legs akimbo stumbling about at a new edge yet again. The edge is past my comfort zone, knowledge, and feeling of safety all rolled into one, but there is exhilaration too, and a powerful pull.

Sometimes this looked a lot like running from the law. At one point, I lived in five states in ten years. I had friends asking if I was running from something, so I took a long look at that to see but alas it seems that for the most part I was not; I was instead wandering, testing, learning, seeking out, and soaking it all in. I constantly look at my life and evaluate it through being self-reflective, talking to others, studying, and more than I would like taking the train to crazy town. Obsessing is part of this, not a good one but one I work at trying to keep it in check. Though keeping it in check is at times like trying to herd 33 willful kindergarteners on a bus after visiting the Jelly Belly factory, having made their lunch of the free samples.

My penchant for chasing the edge does not mean I can’t sit still and just be. I can, but my mind is whirling and it takes a great deal of work for me to slow it down. I have to remind myself that this might be a time to pause, look, listen, and gestate what I have learned and absorbed. It is the hardest part of my process and the most humbling. You would think trying out the new scary stuff, like, uh, standing up on top of the Pilates reformer  for an exercise where your legs are moving in opposite directions on that crazy contraption and praying that you don’t go ass over teakettle taking out that row of the agile unwitting in front of me. Nope, that is humbling, but nowhere to the degree of humbling as looking at your life and knowing something is coming; you are preparing for a new adventure but not knowing for sure. I sometimes have an idea what it could be and maybe what to do next but because of the timing I am just simmering at the edge. It feels like I am waiting for the window to open and the opportunity to appear. I am mulling over things and I am restless; itchy and now living in crazy town as a permanent resident.

I understand the concept of patience. I work very hard at trying to be patient. I also stand in front of the microwave and yell at it to hurry the fuck up. So there is that – I have that going for me too. I also understand I am deeply flawed and just human, which I really, really hate. That whole feeling: my feelings thing, finding balance, resting and being thoughtful all play havoc with a good to-do list. I understand when I can relax into the pause it helps. I also understand given my shark-like nature that giving myself other things to focus on while someone is building that door or window of opportunity helps. It helps me to learn something new, take on other challenges, and keep the 33 kindergarteners in my head hopped up on sugar busy while other parts of me are doing the hard work of growing. The tough part is that growing only happens from the inside out, so sometimes we don’t see it or see evidence of it at first. This can be frustrating and kind of sucky. This type of inside work I am talking about is about being present, seeking answers, growth, and a naked wonder about life. It is a search for clarity and being honest with myself. These elements pull me to the next edge. What I always forget is that I have to be quiet and still to get to those moments, those elements, so I can know what direction the next edge is at…. Drats!

Posted in Being Open, Change, choices, curiosity, Faith, Fear, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, humor, Learning, Listening, mind shifts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer’s Signature

The first summer cocktail I invented came from necessity, as most good things do. My sister, Chris, was visiting some years ago over the summer and we watched Grey Gardens or part of it. She has to this day never made it all the way through the disturbing documentary of the two reclusive formerly upper class women; a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale, part of the Bouvier clan. We decided to retire outside after a bit to the back forty, which is a cement pad in back of my apartment building, for some late afternoon sun in beach chairs. In prep, we decided to glam up like the crazy Beale’s in the documentary. So there we were Chris and I sat wearing all the jewelry in my house, red lipstick, dark sunglasses and toasting to life and the absurd with An Evening with Edie, the cocktail I concocted for the evening. Our beach chairs tilted our view to the sunset above the row of trash bins, that moment began a summer ritual and a way to be or see life differently. The ritual of creating a libation each summer and a way to be in being able to look above the rubbish to see something beautiful; both exist in the same landscape but choosing what to focus on is important.

That was five years ago. I have kept the ritual of creating a new libation and a way to be in summer alive and well in my repertoire. The next summer I moved away from working with vodka as I did with An Evening with Edie, a berry version of a Cosmopolitan with a heavier base note and decided on checking out tequila. I wanted something lighter, more refreshing so in turning to tequila I added cucumbers, mint, club soda, and Rose’s lime juice and out came the Flying Nun. Here was my lighter, quirkier way to see what my summer brought, looking at things from above seeing the improbable and the impossible unfold, all good lessons to take forward.

The next summer during conversations with an old friend and former student, they recommended I use PIMM’S. PIMM’s No 1 Cup as it is known,  is popular in England and used to make PIMM’s Cup: a drink that is a staple for Wimbledon and the Chelsea Flower Show, neither of which I have attended. I was up for the challenge: I bought some of this reddish brown, citrus-herby-boozy-hell and started working. I started with ginger beer and then moved to pineapple cider and more crazy concoctions with each shake and stir. What should have been more fun wasn’t and my starter of PIMM’s was not to my taste.  It took weeks and with each revision of the drink I sent the recipe to my friend to try out. They and their friends gave me feedback. I worked hard, it was tough stuff but eventually I paired it with some Limoncello Italian liquor and Italian blood red orange soda, and with a little fresh lime the Bloody Brit was born. I went through at least 3 or 4 total overhauls in trying to work with PIMM’S. What I learned there was not to assume I would always start out at a good spot or a level playing field.  Sometimes I won’t, but I can still get to where I want as long as I use my imagination, tenacity, and of course, have a good cocktail and friends along for the sometimes arduous climb.

The following summer I wanted an easy start and I had a fairly intense interest in moonshine. I would think a sentence like that would have appeared in a whole other type of writing.  The kind of story that Tennessee Williams, Fannie Flag, or Pat Conroy might have written in a coming-of-age tale in South Carolina perhaps?…but I digress. I did a little research and found a cool looking bottle of moonshine with good reviews. What surprised me was how smooth this stuff is…wow! I had some ideas around a slushy style libation and a bad choice of a not-too-ripe watermelon answered the call of duty. I cut up the little bastard and threw his bits in the freezer. I took watermelon, some of the left over Limoncello liquor, berries, Rose’s lime juice, and moonshine and mixed it up in a blender for a freezy-breezy-summery treat. The worst part of the drink was the name I picked, Summer in a Glass. Bland name for a delicious treat; I don’t know why I picked the name but never renamed it when I could and so the name lives.

There are rules to my rituals, traditions, what-ever-the-hell-this-is… I started with some things born out of curiosity, i.e. moonshine, an un-ripened fruit tossed in the freezer out of necessity, and lack of imagination when it came to the name. What Summer in a Glass showed me is with a little curiosity in the beginning helps even things out, and even stupid names and a lack of imagination in the moment can lead to something good in the end.

This leads me to this summer: year five of this tradition. I looked at what I had in my house and chose what I wanted to work with. I had a sparkling rose wine I like and that sounded like a good base. I never look to see what professional bartenders are mixing. I just try stuff based on what I have, what might taste good or if someone offers up an interesting idea i.e. hello-goodbye PIMM’S. This year I went back to vodka as it was still on the shelf from An Evening with Eddie and thought it might go with the rose wine as well as other things. I started to mix away on Memorial Day weekend with diligence. I am writing this the weekend after and I can say I am pretty close to what I want. There is a martini start, as in stirred not shaken, for cranberry vodka(the vodka from An Evening with Edie wasn’t quite right), some of that leftover bottle of Lemoncello swirled around ice and poured straight up in a cold glass, and finished off with the sparkling rose wine along with a few frozen blackberries. I think some Chambord might appear but so far no. I could switch out for the limon liquor. I try not to buy too much for these concoctions, and the cranberry vodka was an unseen purchase. Though as I started to work as a mixologist in the supreme amateur status, I can honestly say, “I wanted it, I really wanted it,” and gave in.

This year was simple yet complicated, each piece, every component really had to make the whole better, no digressions. I wanted it clear, shades of pink, effervescent and refreshing, just like I wanted my summer. I learned that sometimes simple things take a lot of tweaking, thought, and work; little things matter when it comes to clarity. That it takes focus in seeing the rosy side. That levity and light are sometimes added after the fact. I named it after a scene in a great old movie “Steel Magnolias” for two reasons: the first is a scene in the beauty parlor when Julia Roberts is asked what her wedding colors are and her mother played by Sally Fields says, “Pink and pink.” Julia Roberts comes back with, that pink is her signature color and these are two of the most beautiful shades of pink, blush and bashful. I was working with pink and shades of it and that line always comes to mind when I think pink. The second reason is that, like the movie title implies, these beauties are as strong as steel, and their beauty can be deceptive. My summer cocktail is pink, clear, and effervescent: pretty, albeit deceptive in that it is all alcohol and packs a punch. I am not sure what that means for my summer other than it might look pretty and there may be hidden depths, beauty, strength, and craftsmanship ahead. Cheers!

Posted in celebrate, Creativity, curiosity, drinking, Health and Wellness, humor, intent, mind shifts, Play, Summmer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What I remember

I have been thinking of a story my sister, Chris, reminded me of the last time we spoke.  I had forgotten it completely but it seems not to the level of her remembering. Years ago we were having a conversation about the book Beach Music by Pat Conroy. A favorite read for both of us and a beautifully crafted book for a myriad of reasons. During that conversation Chris was trying to remember who played the main character in the movie based on the book. I said, “Nobody it was never a movie.” She was emphatic that not only was it a movie but we went and saw it together. She then pulled out her phone and went searching for the movie and the actor she was trying to remember.  What she found was that it had indeed never been a movie so her memory of seeing it and seeing it with me was fiction. She had not only cast the movie in her head but produced, directed and released it. Then of course was the memory of us seeing it together and the details that went with that set of events. She was stunned, especially since all the memories were so rich in detail.

So what does this mean, besides Chris has a vivid imagination and rich inner life? It means we create stories about things we believe, events, people and well everything. We then hold them as fact, as lines in the sand, as ways to live, as whatever we need that story to be. I don’t see this as good or bad unless we don’t understand that it is our nature to do this. It is part of our nature to find meaning, or look for understanding in the chaos around us. So yes memories can be benign and fun like in Beach Music being a movie or they can hold us prisoner. How would that look? Maybe we remember a conversation with a parent where we were shamed, or being rejected by a lover, a teacher who told us we were stupid. Perhaps we got left out of parties, or passed over for a promotion we thought was ours. These things we can make up stories about, embellish, or misinterpret to fit a narrative in how we define ourselves. Then it becomes dangerous.

Voltaire said “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.”  Being certain our “stories or memories’” are wholly true, pure fact, might be a dicey bet, not unlike eating gas station hot dogs. I am not advising throwing out our stories or memories or carving them in stone. I just have been thinking about what stories I use to define myself and which ones no longer serve the life I live now and who I have become. What did I invent or massage over the years to fit my narratives of self? What ones have you invented? I think just noticing where our stories come up, what we use them for and what we are certain about could be interesting.

The times I am certain of something is when I have been the least open. This is true especially when it has been around painful memories, or stories. The times when I have not invited in the pink elephant of doubt to the table in the moment, and not after the moment in the retelling sets me up for a greater fiction. Knowing I was wholly in the right in a fight or even in a disagreement where I felt justified in my action is particularly dangerous ground. Hindsight usually shows me I was generally partly culpable or responsible for things going south and other times much more. So building my life on memories, stories of what may or may not have happened seems like a less stable foundation. Perhaps instead just considering them part of the fabric of my life not fact or fiction but stories that illustrate who I have been and what has mattered to me over time might be truer and more beneficial.

In adapting this approach I am not stuck in the realness, the point of order but rather in the spirit of the tale and what it gave me in its inception and life. That does not mean there is not truth in our stories, and there can be fact as well. Both exist in those stories but treating all of the memories as gospel is where we run into ego. So maybe we need to think more of our closely held beliefs about ourselves and others as mutable, flexible and try to be more open about inviting in doubt.  Try to remember with the lenses of kindness, compassion and humor what is painful, playful and purposeful. The certainty we want may leave us too rigid for the long run and we might miss the best of our stories and others stories. By relinquishing certainty to invite in a little doubt, we garner the opportunity to see a movie that never existed but should have and we had a hell of a time seeing it.

Posted in Being Open, choices, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, humor, Listening, mind shifts, truth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Goodbyes

Saying goodbye is an art. My dad was awful at it, his goodbyes lasted 30-40 minutes in the driveway of uncles or family friend’s houses. We’d start in twilight and it would be well past dark by the time we got in the car, my mother heaving a heavy sigh. Saying goodbye is difficult I think. The situations run from leaving a party, to the big goodbye when someone dies. Each of those acts has societal norms stamped on them; most of the norms are cultural, and subjective yet can bring folks to flash judgements. I don’t believe there is any right way to grieve or say goodbye I think there is just our right way most especially when there is a death.

Between the middle of March and the middle of April two men I knew by the same first name died. Neither were intimates but I knew them well. In dealing with all that comes with my goodbyes and watching those around me deal with it, I noticed that we all do it differently. What I mean by differently is that each relationship is unique and complicated. Relationships are not all good or bad, they are a blend.  So when someone we have been angry with, perhaps estranged from or working our way through forgiveness with, suddenly dies, there seems to be this chaotic tail-spin attached to the process. There is a wobble there in addition to our feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, as we second-guess each one of those states. We feel like we have to justify how we feel to ourselves and frequently others. This is hard stuff; there is no rule book on how to feel when someone we have a complicated relationship with dies. It feels even more unfinished in a way, like walking into your home after a burglary and it is all pulled apart and then having to live in the dishevelment of what is left going forward with no chance to neaten it up.

As I walk through this I can tell you what has helped me. The first thing has been checking in with others who are also walking through it and with others who are not attached or involved. Those who are grieving as well are comrades in arms and one type of conversation happens there. Those not attached give perspective, are non-judgmental in just listening and being a thoughtful sounding board. Both types of conversations help in different ways. Taking time for myself in quiet reflection, sorting through my beliefs and feelings and even spending time to play back conversations help me. Writing, whether journaling or this type of writing helps and others I know have written letters to those they have lost. Physical activity helps with the anger and frustration. I like to match a feeling with an activity; for example if I am angry a soak in the tub does not feel good.  I need something that matches the dynamic feeling and vibration of anger I am in need of releasing. that is active. Sadness is more of a tub event as are comfort movies and books. Bringing in activities that historically signal healing and soothing feelings help. So does spending time in nature, whether it is a park, the front steps with coffee or a slow walk around campus; it all helps.

One thing I notice is sometimes there is a belief that letting go of pain, diminishes the love, the importance and the relationship with our loved one. That is not tru: we want to let go of the pain but keep the love, the memories, all the good stuff. Healing is not a disingenuous act here, it is merely letting go of the pain to some extent if at all possible. Sometimes that is not possible and that has to stand as what is at least for today. We can try again tomorrow and the day after. Then there are times we forget and are brought to laughter, or gallows humor overtakes us in dealing with what can be horrible. I can remember covering my mouth as a guffaw broke loose and feeling shame, confusion and yes relief. How can I laugh at a time like this? The reality is we do laugh, we release, we cry, and we are numb, sometimes all at once. Mostly we want it to be over, to feel better, or to go backward, many things that frequently will not happen or not yet. It takes time. I cannot will my broken leg to heal faster no different than I can tell my broken heart to heal faster. What I can do is create the best circumstances for that to happen and wait and work towards feeling better and wellness despite my breaking.

I think being kind to ourselves as we walk through this helps. As we know, berating that broken leg is the least likely way it will heal, as is keeping the cast on forever so it never breaks again. We just have to practice our goodbyes and make peace that these experiences are part of life. And sometimes it will still be twilight when we are done and other times it will be way past dark.

Posted in Change, Faith, Fear, forgiveness, Health and Wellness, life and death, love, Uncategorized, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Hate That

 

How many times a day do you think, feel or say, “I hate that?”  Usually it is small things that break a relationship, the one small oversight or transgression that builds to epic proportion in our heads and makes us blow. It was just such an event with my 9-year-old DVD player. It started out skipping small things in the beginning, a line of dialog, small but meaningful gestures. I let it slide; we all do in the beginning. It’s me; I expect too much, I’m too picky, too demanding. Then it began to skip whole scenes, lose plot points, and check out for whole sections of what made my evening good. I still let it go; I would cajole, curse and push all of his buttons to no avail, the rat bastard. Finally it was a friend who brought it to my attention that this was an easy quality-of-life thing to fix. I knew it, but had chosen to muddle through, be a big girl and make it work. Unfortunately I was the only one. My DVD had no such plan and I was paying Netflix to watch 2/3 to ½ of all the movies I was renting. I was a dolt.

The fix was a new DVD but I was putting it off because it felt like a luxury expense and not a daily quality-of-life issue. What I did over the years, as this went on, was minimize its impact. I love movies, documentaries, episodic TV series and all types of film. Film is a way I learn, relax and explore; they are a healthy coping mechanism and they bring me immense pleasure. I was spending half my night fighting with the remote, cursing like a truck driver, bringing up my blood pressure and making myself a cranky old thang. It sucked. It was a small thing I had control over and put it off not realizing the fix would have a huge impact on my life. It did.

But then there were the 20-year-old mugs. Ugh. Tea and coffee stained scratched glass I could not make clean no matter what I did. They still worked so I hated to give them away.  It was just a mug after all, why the big deal? Why did it make me frown to pour my hot morning beverage in something ugly? What can I say I am aesthetically driven and they were an eyesore, that and I am a shallow wench.  To replace them or even just one with a special mug for my tea or coffee seemed so small and self-indulgent that for 5-6 years I just thought about getting a new mug.  Not even a set mind you, just one and I still never got around to it. One day in Marshalls for $2.99 I found a lovely little mug and remembered my promise to myself and kept it. I would smile every morning I filled it, it was bright, clean and made me happy. If someone told you that you could make an investment of $2.99 to start your day with a smile instead of a frown wouldn’t you do it? The point it took me 5-6 years to do it. Why? I thought the small things were small and did not make or break an experience, my minute, hour or day. I did not take the time to adjust my life to me. One size does not fit all folks!

I started to pay attention to all the little things in my day that annoyed me, that made me think “oh I have to fix that”, “I hate that.” I started to realize it was not the big things that made for a good day or a bad day but the little things because that is what life is, small little moments strung together. Yea sure there are big days in there, promotions, moving, falling in and out of love, but it’s everything in between that we forget to examine. We look forward or we look back but fail to recognize exactly where we are at this moment and that that moment is all we have. Why not make it great?

After those last two incidents I got a pad out and sat down to figure out what other little annoyances ticked me off during my day. I sat, and sat and got nadda at first. I left the pad on the dining room table and went on with my life. Then as my day and evening wore on I would get tweaked by something and walk over to the table and write it down. These things can be so small, so fleeting we don’t always remember them but they pop up every time we go to do something.

Here is the sticking point: you need to have control over it to fix it. That doesn’t always mean throwing money at it either. One item that went on my list was my filthy car; I live in a flight path, on a city bus route and park beneath where Pterodactyls nest. Back east it rains so god washed my car. Here it doesn’t rain near enough for me to get in and out of my car without feeling icky about the crust, dirt and dust, and that is just on the inside.  The outside is a hundred times worse depending on what the Pterodactyls ate. I have taken to washing it once a month. This was prompted by a friend who put on a HAZMAT suit to drive with me. He made me realize that I had let one more thing bug me yet not fix it till it was way over the line.

So get a pad and write down 5 small things that you have control over that get on your nerves every day. Your partner chewing with an open mouth is not a good one choice for a few reasons; you have no control over them is one. As to your partner if they have resisted learning the closed-mouth-chewing skill till now you best forget the duct tape option and choose to sit next to them rather than in front of them when they masticate. Or leave the room when they eat. However, if when you get dressed in the morning your closet is jammed with clothes and you can’t find anything you want, are tripping over shoes, etc. that is a lousy way to start your day and something you have control over. Think about taking an evening or a Saturday morning, put on great music make a cup of fabulous tea and clean and organize your space. Make it an event, not a chore. Hell, invite a friend who has OCD like me and open a bottle of wine. Life is meant to be enjoyed why not inject fun everywhere you can?

Start to look at your life and how to make every experience better. A great example is sitting in traffic. That was the first thing my sister thought of to fix. I pointed out we were looking at things she had control over and that traffic was not something she could control but she could have influence over the experience. I suggested trying books on tape, lectures or a specially mixed CD made by my niece just for her commute. She could pick up a favorite beverage and sip it on the road planning her evening in the quiet of the car. Though she cannot change traffic she can make sitting in it a better experience.

So the exercise is to get that pad out and pay attention to the things that tweak you during your day. Think about how to make things better. Can they be removed, replaced, organized, and improved upon? Doing so will raise your overall mood and quality of your day.  I recommend starting small, like my mug. The payoff is big no matter what, so keep it simple.

Life is full of choices, putting your head down and pushing through “this is the way it is,” your “have to’s” and “it doesn’t matter it’s just a teacup” is one way. Why sit there waiting for those great moments instead of making them? Why spend your time living for your weekends, evenings and the ‘good times’ when the other option is ditching what doesn’t work.  And for what has to stay: reframe it. Think about how to make it better, think “Ah hell might as well dress that pig up and teach it to dance.” Again except if it’s your partner then it best to pay someone else to give them lessons.

Posted in Being Open, celebrate, Change, choices, Fear, foundation of change, Gratitude, Health and Wellness, humor, intent, Play, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When things fall apart

There have been many times in my life when things fell apart, whether due to my illness or injury, a loved one’s, a death, or outside circumstances, whether that is work or the world. When we feel like things are falling apart we have to remember all the other times when things fell apart and then came back together differently, newer, sometimes better and sometimes worse until ultimately we were ok again. This process is part of transition and change; it is ugly, feels destructive and overwhelming as we walk through it. It feels awful, but it is not awful, it is natural. I don’t think a seed thinks all is lost when its sides split open and long green tendrils start to shoot out of its ass. I don’t think a tree frets and eats too much chocolate when it is about to drop a leaf, or a snake freaks out when it sheds its skin. These are part of a cycle, and part of life and death and transformation.  It does feel like everything is falling apart true, because that is what happens in a natural part of transformation. What is imperative during this process is to be present, awake and active in choice and action during transformation. The second imperative is being brave and choosing love, acting out of kindness, not pushing against but pushing forward in a direction that has light. Don’t blame the darkness, turn on a light, or be the light.

This is meaty and abstract stuff here folks not unlike what fast food burgers are made of. That being said, I will do my best to walk you through some of this as best I can.

Some of the feelings I associate with chaotic times or when the shite hits the fan is anger, fear, helplessness or hopelessness.

Anger is a motivator for change, it can be a powerful fuel but we have to be mindful of how we use it. So as an example:  if I have been in a messed-up relationship or situation where I have been hurt and betrayed, I can choose use anger, that fuel to retaliate and seek revenge, or I can take myself as far and as fast from that person/situation down the road to a better, healthier and joyful life. That doesn’t mean thinking about throwing a skunk in that ass-hat’s hot tub isn’t fun for the first 24-148 hours after the crash. Long-term the only person hurt when anger is involved is the person holding it. I want to feel anger, process it and drop it as fast as I can to start the healing and get gone to better places and people. Anger can take you places but be clear which direction you want to go, whether it is higher or lower with your vibration and lightness. So, you might want to think about not hitting back and choosing how to move forward instead. What do you want to happen rather than retaliation or stuckness?

On a larger scale, if I am unhappy with my boss, a corporation or company, or politicians I can use my voice for what I want and marry actions to what I need. I can ask for a raise, stop doing business with or boycott a business, and write an op-ed piece to my local paper to advocate for change. I can find organizations that support what I believe in and stand with them figuratively and literally. I can move in a direction I believe to be true and ethical, as examples that might be genuine real connection, inclusiveness, kindness, tolerance, equity and to be heard. That means I have to be willing to listen if I want to be heard. I have to be willing to build bridges to places I don’t understand or may not like, yet I have to go. Compassion is easy when it is given to those we believe are worthy, people we like, but we have to remember everyone is worthy of compassion, especially if we don’t agree, like or understand the other side, person, point of view.  Just by stopping to listen we will understand more about where they are coming from, how they feel and what they need and want. We are all human, and connected in that humanity for better or worse.  What happens to one of us happens to all of us. We must remember that above all else.

Helplessness and Hopelessness are paralyzing emotions. We don’t know what to do and if we did we think it doesn’t matter anyway, as we are only one person. Well let’s look at history at what one person did: We have Einstein, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and on a darker side we have Hitler. One person can make a great change in their own life and the lives of others. So when I feel like I am helpless I think of those folks, then I think I am no Steve Jobs so maybe I will just keep my head down and hide a little more. Then I remember that life is like a messy room; it doesn’t matter where or what I do to clean up, it just matters I pick a shelf or a corner and start.

I remember I can take baby steps to feeling less helpless, like getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating something my body needs, sitting by a sunny window and remembering I have choice. I have to remember that not choosing it is still a choice. Inaction is a choice and not neutral, as everything and everyone is connected by source.  All the choices either tip up toward love or tip us downward toward fear. We are in one boat.  We have to pick where we want to go in our lives and paddle like hell. One thing that helps me find center again when I feel helpless or hopeless is to be of service to another. To help someone else or do something kind for another seems to open a hole in my heart and let a little light in. I also make sure to take care of myself by getting sleep, eating well, exercising when and if I can and not beating myself up when I can’t. When I can’t, I can’t, and letting that be where I am without judgement or rancor.  I am not competing with someone or running against them, I am running with them in union, in solidarity in the exhilaration of the running and doing and being alive.

I left fear for last. In this negative emotion runoff, it is a core emotion, like love. In fact, love and fear are the first two branches off of the Tree of Life. All other emotions stem from one of them, the light and the dark roads we choose. Fear is a motivator like anger, and like anger can also be very dangerous. When we make decisions solely out of fear, those decisions turn out badly.  I have talked about this before: When we take the easy way, the less scary way, it turns to poop pretty quickly. When we chose what scares us because we know it is what is best and what we need, it can be difficult at first but, it quickly becomes expansive and easier, more fulfilling and life changing. Fear makes us smaller. There are not many times in life we want to make ourselves smaller even when someone is taking pot-shots at us. Picking a path based on what we don’t want to happen or avoid one out of fear of what could happen is a bad practice. As an example: if you are offered a job you don’t really want but think that it is the best you can do and you might not get a chance at another job and will be living in a refrigerator box if you pass it up, accepting the job is not going to be a good choice. If someone offers you a job you are not crazy about but you think it is a great first step to solvency and better things then it is a good choice. It is about your point of view and intent, not about what is being offered. That is static. How you see it and use it to move forward or backward is mutable and substantive. How we move through the world on a daily basis has affects our life and those around us and moves outward.

How do we not give into fear or any of the other negative emotions attached to great change and transformation? How, when things feel like they are falling apart do we stay centered and whole? We stay awake; we acknowledge this is uncomfortable, painful and scary. We reach out for support to those we love and steady us. We take time to sit and remember who we are and what we are here to do. Whether that is to be a good parent, a life changing teacher/mentor, a loving spouse, an artistic voice and voice of change, or any other roles we lead in our lives, we get up and try to be the best version of ourselves we can manage on a daily basis. We have to give compassion to ourselves in our shortcomings and others in theirs. That is the dance that is human: we are fuck-ups, greedy, fearful, petty and cruel at our worst but at our best we are loving, humble, kind, adventurous and filled with wonder and curiosity. We need to be aware and participate but not immerse ourselves in the negative.  Limiting time in that area is good when we need to, some quiet and reflection is good. The other end of that spectrum is we can’t hide and numb 24/7, that will blow up ugly. So a little distraction is good, but having your head in the sand and being in full on denial is bad. Like everything, finding a balance in distress as best as you can is hard but important, to try and stay trying.

The Universe’s Magic 8-Ball has answers that come up in fear or love every day, every minute. When things fall apart, we have to notice how and why we got to this place, knowing we made every decision to land us here collectively or apart. There is no them and us, only us, one boat, one planet, one love. We have to remember that this is part of a natural process and decide how we are going to take our baby steps forward. I recommend trying a bit of bravery, lots of humor and kindness toward ourselves and others, and as always I recommend a wee bit of something delicious that reminds you that life is still good even when it scares the crap out of you.

Posted in Being Open, Change, choices, curiosity, Faith, Fear, fellowship, forgiveness, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, humor, intent, Learning, Listening, love, mind shifts, truth, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Oh When the Saints….

This is an oldie but a goodie for a laugh and a think, enjoy…

 

Well I have a brand new niece and her name is Grace. I love that name.
If I was going to have a kid that name would be on the top of the list.
Well, only if it were a girl, otherwise the therapy bills would be
enormous. My sister Susan tells me it is time for Grace to be baptized.
Something I have had done but don’t recall much about. In fact I don’t
remember much of anything significant from my religious upbringing only
the odd memory stands out. I was raised Catholic and my mom was fairly
involved in the church when we were young. My dad was Lutheran and
according to him those folks didn’t have to dress up in itchy dresses
and go to church early on Sunday. You can bet I wished I was Lutheran
growing up.

The things I do remember from those bleary Sundays were things like the strange lace doilies we used to wear bobby pinned to our heads when we went to mass, the taste of the dry paper wafer we were carefully administered by equally dry paper hands that smelled of soap and something mustier. The hard wooden pews and harder kneelers we
perched on in a series of movements that reminded me of Simon Says.
These are the things I remember about church, not exactly well rounded.
Now as an adult I am a heathen, a good aunt, but a heathen non-the-less.

One of my other sisters, of which there is a bevy, is Chris. She and I
are not active in the church in the traditional way, not even in passing or a drive by. We are more obsessed with the odd rituals of things surrounding our childhood and parental dogma rather than religious.  We hold a quiet fascination for the duality of what things look like from the outside, as opposed to what they really are when you’re in them. Home life for us looked like Donna Reed to the world, but up close it was more Mommy Dearest.  Kind of like an Etch-a-sketch, it’s creative fun on the outside but break it open and oops toxic by-product from Hoboken on the inside.
So Chris and I were conferring about what was a good baptism gift for sweet little Grace. I was between flights at O’Hare, the only place I have ever been in Chicago; I am not pleased to say. I traveled frequently for business and in those days cell phone cost
a fortune and were as big as a Buick so I was positioned at a pay phone
in the boarding area of my connecting flight killing time till take
off.  With the warm moist swirl of humanity pressing in around me, it
was hard to concentrate at the task at hand. That and the damn overhead announcements kept cutting into our conversation.

“So what do think is proper for a baptism gift” I said.

“I thought we should get something kind of religious” my sister replied.

“Like what, a Challis, a Host dish, or something?” I offered.

“No, I was thinking something along the lines of a gold cross necklace,
your idiot.” I grimaced just barely making out the “you idiot” part over
the loud nasal voice asking Mr. Gluckman to report to the ticket
counter.

“Oh” I breathed just catching on. “You mean like a medal with a saint
on it or something like Aunt Lily gave us when we were born.” Aunt Lily was a
beloved great aunt we had.

“Yes, a medal would be good” my sister Chris agreed smoothly.

“How do we know which saint to pick” I asked.

Chris was quiet for a minute, maybe longer. I started to think the
airport phone was dead and I should rap it on the Lucite dividers
between the phones which give the illusion of privacy, without really
providing it. I was staring at mine now in earnest and noticed the man
standing next to me had become self-conscious as he punched the numbers
on the face of the AT&T monster. Does he think I am a crook taking down
his numbers to publish in some underground newspaper for
sleazeball-get-ahead-without-working-for-a-living-take-advantage-of-mister-avererage-guy?

Chris’s voice came over the line and I realized she was talking to me
and I had been very far away. I stuck my tongue out at my phone bank
partner and return to mental health to hear her.

“Can’t you just pick a saint?” she asked.

“What if we pick the wrong one? What if we pick some saint for garbage
men or worse hit men?” I said.

“No, I don’t think it works like that. They’re all pretty much good guys. For Christ’s sake, they’re saints. Well except for Judas though and I don’t think he was a saint.” I can hear she was thinking out loud and sorting it all out as she went. This worried me a great deal. I like her to know more than me about these kinds of things, not only is she older
but it takes the pressure of Emily Post normalcy off me. My mother was a
fanatic about the Do’s and Don’ts of well-mannered society as we grew
up. The turnaround time for us to get a thank you card in the mail
after we received a gift would break the sound barrier.

“Oh God, now that you mention it I remember grandma saying prayers to
Saint Jude or Saint Anthony for different things.” I say to Chris. I
started to think we needed to do some in-depth research on this saint
thing, so as not to scar our niece.

“Yes” Chris said slowly drawing out the memory over the telephone line.
“Saint Christopher he was for travel, right?”

“Yup, and Saint Anthony was for lost things, or lost hope. Hell, grandma
used him when she couldn’t find her glasses.” I had become animated at
this point, I could tell. How I could tell was to look at the older
gentleman sitting in one of those joined at hip airport chairs watching
me. It wasn’t an outright stare. It was the checking the crazy person
out of the corner of your eye so as not to cause them alarm at their
strange behavior stare. I took a deep breath and turned my back to him
so he could only witness one wildly gesturing arm, not the full frontal
nut view.

“I am sure” I continued with a lower voice “these guys specialize much
like doctors. You know internist, gynecologist, and dermatologist, like
that.”

“We don’t want to give her a medal with a Gyno saint” Chris mused.

“I don’t think saints actually mirror doctor’s specialties, that would be
too weird” I said.

“We are going to have to research this more”

“We can ask mommy” I suggest. “She is back stronger than ever in the
church, right?”

“Well,” my sister paused, “Terry is getting tutored in saying the rosary
beads right now” she whispered. Chris hasn’t referred to our mother in motherly terms since she could tie her own shoes and hitchhike to kindergarten.

“What?” I had become distracted by the edge of a steal tipped briefcase
as it clipped my shin sailing past, the gray stripped Armani never broke
stride.

“She is getting tutored at doing the rosary, because she hasn’t done it
in forever, remember that little falling out she had with God, you know,
when she said he killed daddy. Now she just needs a hand at figuring out
which prayer goes with which bead” Chris finished.

“Oh, I guess that leaves her out for now. Hell, I thought those beads
were accessorizing” I tossed out.

“No,” Chris chuckled knowing full well it was the laugh I was going for.

“What about a cross?” she offered.

“That’s an easier choice, except what about the ends of the cross do they have to be straight or is that just a Catholic thing?” I queried.

“Yea, that’s just a Catholic thing that the ends have to be straight” Chris
said, sounding tired.

The overhead announcements were blaring something about getting ready
to board special passengers first, those with friendship miles, gold
cards, people with small children, the old and the sick, the weak and
the depraved.

“Well I know they aren’t Catholic, what are they Methodist, Baptist?” I
had started to shout a little so she could hear me over the din, and I
was trying not to spit too much on the receiver while doing it. I did an
eye roll and threw a nasty glare at the booming nasal voice as it
blabbered on about gate information.

What about a silver cup and a spoon with Grace’s initials on them?”
Chris surrendered with a sigh. We had hit the metaphysical Emily
Post/proper baptism gift wall.

We said our good-byes and agreed to discuss this further when I got to
my final destination.

On my way down the gangplank, at least that’s what it always feels like.
I thought about our discussion on this whole saint thing. If they do
specialize, but not exactly like doctors, but along those lines, who
figures that stuff out? Is it like a bunch of church guys sitting around
in snappy hats and nice brocade? Are they the ones who appoint the
thematic slant to the new saint in town? Like Saint Christopher who is
the saint for travelers or travel. Did he hold a frequent flyer card
equivalent in his day, like most miles logged on his sandals? My
grandmother would misplace things and call for Saint Anthony to help
find them. I remember she used to say he had a keen eye. Like my friend
Eric, who could always find two seats in a crowded movie theater in the
dark. Now, that’s my kind of saint.

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Spirit

As the holidays are rushing by and through us like a December wind, I want to once again make a plea for you all to stop, or just pause and take a breath. Drink some nog or champagne and look around at your life. Look at those you love, even when they leave dishes in the sink when there is a perfectly good dishwasher right there. Those who make you laugh and make you cry. Yea those guys, the family you were born to, the family you choose and the trusted friends who know your brand of crazy. Stop and look at what you have achieved in relationships, through both difficult and joyous times over the years. Celebrate it all and revel in the fellowship that is connection to others and the rollercoaster ride that comes with our ticket to humanity.

This time of year has many expectations of what and how we should do everything. As our lives change, our relationships change and so do our rituals, from who is sitting at our holiday table to who gets the ecard verse the paper. These changes are neither good nor bad, they are just changes. How we see those changes or feel about them, is what makes them good or bad. Taking time to embrace what is, find a new normal and invite in generosity of spirit and heart is not only good for you but everyone around you. We sometimes want to jam our life into a cookie cutter and we do this with a vengeance at holiday time. It creates stress, conflict and anxieties, making us want to add brandy to our nogged coffee or hit the cooking sherry with breakfast even if we have to flambé a bagel to do it.

What would it be like if we saw those around us for who they are, instead of who we wanted them to be? Better yet, what would it be like to see ourselves for who we are, instead of who we think we should be? Oh goodness those are powerful lenses to view the world through, and they are most beneficial to our sanity. How can we do that though?  We can start by taking time to sit with a book, a cup of something good, a fire or a friend and enjoy that perfect moment between our expectations, our agenda and our angst. Taking that moment, can be a lovely little antidote to the shoulds or have tos. That step back from the whirl might give us some clarity and help us to realize we are playing old roles, old tapes and old drama we no longer need nor want. Simply by choosing to put it down for a little bit, whatever it may be, can help; if you really need it you know exactly where you left it.

Take parts of your day for yourself, even if only 30 minutes, to savor doing nothing but watching the crowds going in and out of airports, malls or tree lots all around you. Watch your fellow humans leap, struggle, grit teeth and laugh at wherever they are. Stop and think about that connection to others, strangers and loved ones. To those who are brave enough to love and be loved fiercely regardless of consequences. And to those who need to sit on the fence a little longer to watch, because the game of life looks so very dangerous that they fear they might make a mistake. Think of those times you have done just what they have done in some way or to some degree. The world has never been them and us; it has only ever been us. One boat, one people, one heart.

So maybe in the spirit of the holiday look at those we love and those who make us crazy, angry and scared—and many times those all are the same person—and find our humanity in theirs. Find compassion for them and for ourselves. Find laughter in the small moments, and let go the difficult ones, knowing this too shall pass. I think finding space to love where we are and who we are with for this very small slice of time is a powerful tool. We can do this by making this day, this shining moment, perfect in its imperfection and beauty and perhaps use it as a blue print for the holidays and beyond. Come on, we have all seen the films that make us fall in love with life… Love Actually, Stranger than Fiction and About Time, to name just a few.

In the last lucid conversation I had with my sister Amy shortly before she died she said she knew she was going to die and very shortly. She paused after this and said, “What I could do with one more month, a few more weeks.” Well folks, most of us have that time don’t we? So let’s take advantage of the love, the laughter and what really, really matters. Nobody at the end of their life I have known ever said they should have worked harder, they should have made more pies, sent out holiday cards or lost 10lbs to fit into that dress. They always say they should have been braver, taken more risks, loved harder and more, been kinder and let things go. They also say they should have had more pie, champagne, or naps.

Maybe we can look at the holidays to reconnect, rewire, to find love and forgive for others and ourselves, and build something wonderful with everyone around us. Light the fire of kindness, compassion, tolerance, and do it with laughter; build belonging and connection. When we feel loved and that we belong we can do anything and be anything. So that is the gift to give this season: above all others the generosity of spirit, give it freely to everyone and most especially to yourself. So here is some homework from this giant elf: first do something special for yourself, something thoughtful and kind. Then reach out and tell someone who has made a difference in your life, call them, or even send them a note and tell them how grateful you are that they are/were in your life. This can be a grade school teacher, your mother or your partner in crime and life. In fact the more people you tell and show your love and gratitude the better your world, and all of ours will be. So grab your nog and champagne and start to make a new list, this one based on love, gratitude and generosity of spirit … they don’t call them spirits for nothing folks, cheers!

 

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Thanks

In order to be thankful, to be grateful, we have to have the ability to recognize our gifts, blessings, good juju, and great fortune. Most of us don’t, but then we have not trained ourselves to stop or merely pause and take it all in. What does that mean take it all in? Do I mean our life, the moment, a gesture, all of our surroundings, or ourselves? The answer is all of the above. Our ability to recognize kindness, good fortune, and beauty in our lives is in direct correlation to our happiness and overall life satisfaction level. Like an Olympian trains using practice, awareness of skill level and focus on mastery: We can use these same techniques to achieve a higher level of satisfaction, happiness and hopefully joy. That said, I am not running, jumping or getting on any kind of balance beam to do this; that is nothing but a long-ass-day in the ER if nothing else. What I am doing is actively practicing the skills that will rewire my brain.

My taking time each day to look for three new things to be grateful for either at the end or the beginning of the day sets my intent and my brain in looking for these moments all day long. That action then makes me more aware of what they might look like, feel like, and gives me the ability to recreate more of them, more often. The difference in recognizing things I am truly grateful for has more to do with feeling than thinking. Here is what I mean: I use the following exercise in class and it helps to make the distinction of thinking about being thankful and feeling thankful.

Think of something that you love, like a great burger, a sunset on the beach, a nap. How does that make you feel? Now think of someone you love, think about how they make you feel and how they add to your life. How does that make you feel? For most of us the first example made us happy, or smile; it felt nice, even good. In the second example, where we are thinking of a person something in our chests expands like in the Grinch who stole Christmas at the end of the book—our heart feels expanded. There is warmth and an expansion in our core that is visceral, we feel it deeply. That is what I am talking about, feeling what thankful feels like. This is an indication of the level we want to look for and find daily. At first it might be smaller things but in time it grows and deepens. It’s all good and it all counts.

Sometimes talking about our trifecta-of-goodness list is a nice exercise to do over dinner at night with those you love around the table. It invites in lots of interesting conversation and creates a culture of positivity, wellness and being open. What happens when we retell a good experience is we release all the good chemical compounds like dopamine and endorphins, and we start to feel like we did in the moment and derive the same physical, emotional and spiritual benefits as if it were happening again. On the same note, if we retell stories where we feel wronged, that reminds us of instances that made us angry, hurt, cheated and dismissed where we are making our selves small same thing happens. In telling those negative stories either out-loud or in our head we are re-traumatizing ourselves over and over, releasing detrimental chemicals like cortisol and other stress hormones. Doing this long term we damage our endocrine system in that we burn it out so it no longer can regulate.

We need to process things and talking about bad experiences is a fine and a healthy way to work through those experiences—being self-reflective is good. Defining ourselves by reliving old anger, painful filled stories over and over, is not. Forgiveness is an act for self, not for others. It does not condone or minimize what happens to us, it merely means we are not defined by those actions and chose to learn from them and move on. That doesn’t mean that there is not an external benefit to forgiveness in relationship or community in building bridges and empathy, there is that as well. Anger is like a hot rock, the only person hurt is the person holding it. Complaining falls into this category: it does not fix anything, it makes us feel awful, and we are then focused on the problem and not on a solution. It is a way to self-sabotage that is social. Some folks feed on it; some folks are repelled by it. Be mindful of where you fall on the spectrum of negative spewing. Again, we all do some complaining; however, if you do it all day long, that is a problem Eeyore.

Sometimes we are much more aware of our blessings after bad things happen. Then we recognize how precious our health is, the comfort of a bed, food to eat, our family and friends. Sometimes we have to lose something or someone to find what we need, or to find ourselves. We cannot have light without darkness: each brings gifts to recognize the other and we learn from each. We learn far more from our struggles, our challenges and losses, here is where our true character is revealed and hones itself against the rough. There is a reason we are drawn to things that are shiny: they have been crafted through blood, sweat and tears. We also then understand that all the goodness we have is but fleeting, as is our pain, and all of it deepens our appreciation of our lives and those in it. This brings us to deep gratitude for what is.

Taking time to find, recognize, then revel in moments we are grateful for is time well spent. It is wonderful to find abundance in your life by stopping and looking for it. It is there and always has been but we generally speed past it unless we practice taking that pause, that breath and soak it in. Then in turn we role model that practice for others and show them how to do it. That can be our children, our partners, our friends and colleagues. Happiness is external, it is derived from external stimulus and how we chose to react to it. Joy however is internal, it springs from deep places and it is brought on by practices such as gratitude, learning to be compassionate, kind and finding out and accepting who we are in our light and in our darkness. We are a mirror of what we think and believe, so by changing how we think, we change our lives. By reaching for meaning, and space to appreciate what we have and what we are, we then can connect to ourselves, to others and to our lives in a deeply satisfying way. This practice grounds us and sustains us through the winds of fate and of course the martinis of doom. So go out there and practice thankfulness or gratitude not just for the turkey or tofurky come thanksgiving but every day, all day and in building these skills your build a life worth living.

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