The nice thing about the internet and our current global society is that we choose our influences. We choose our world. You may not realize how much of this you do. Our world is no longer the gas station attendant on Main street and the store clerk on Broadway. Our news isn’t from the local barber. It’s from around the world, even foreign websites if we wish. Our world is made up of people that we see everyday in blogs and news casts. I recently realized how different this makes my life while talking to my parents. My mom still gets her self-esteem from her high school days while my dad’s morality is from his own generation’s creed. And they are not alone. Certainly they aren’t the minority in this. It’s their generation.
I often daydream (seriously) about creating my town. I’d populate it with people I admire and enjoy being around, which can change daily. On the most part I choose people like Seth Godin, Derren Brown, and Meadow DeVor, because they represent the values that I want to encourage in my life. They value people and honor individuals. Who do you have in your perfect society?
What values would I want? I pick Seth Godin because he makes me think by saying things like this,
Society benefits when people selfishly choose the long view and the generous view. The heroes we look up to are those that sacrificed to build schools, to overcome evil, to connect and lead–even though it didn’t necessarily help them in the short run. Culture and Selfishness
I also pick Derren Brown, a British illusionist. He challenges my perceptions and makes me think. But not only is he an illusionist, he encourages people to live their lives to the fullest and not to let opportunities pass them by. I saw these on YouTube, episodes The Secret of Luck and The Apocalypse.
And I can’t forget Meadow DeVor and her blog. There are so many wonderful people out there, I can’t name them all. I think you understand. The people in my imaginary village are the laughing, kindhearted, generous people who make you proud to be human.
Many times in life we realize an old rule no longer works. We find ourselves going about the same actions because it’s familiar but our circumstances have changed. What’s that saying, Insanity is doing the same thing the same way but expecting different results?
Walking on thin ice.
I’m from the lower plain states. Every winter it freezes, just a bit. Not enough to freeze anything deep, especially not enough deep enough to walk on. Our rule is not to walk on the ice. Any story I’ve heard growing up that had ice and people in it, was a cautioning tale. Like the time my dad’s hunting dog drowned under a thin sheet of ice. It happened so quickly the dog was gone before anyone could save him. I listen with dread when I hear of people stories of trying to challenge nature every winter on one of the nearby lakes. Usually it’s some high school guy trying to prove something to his friends.
As children we have rules to keep us safe. As an adult now those rule need to change. It’s okay for you to walk across the street alone. No one needs to hold your hand. We know this and we adapt.
Recheck your rules.
- Old rule: Don’t walk on the ice. Why? It will break
- New rule: You can walk on the ice if it’s frozen deeply enough.
It’s difficult to adapt to new rules of living but it’s possible. At first thought there’s no way I’d walk on the ice. Old conditioning says it’s dangerous. But in frigid climates, they land planes on the ice. Polar bears walk across the ice.
Know your climate. Learn the rules that apply to your current life.
My difficulty is knowing what’s an old rule that can be disregarded and what’s an old rule that still works. Healthy eating is one. 4 square meals? Dessert? No pop?
One of my “no longer applies” is really just a useless fantasy. The fantasy of needing to be chosen. Of walking into a room or down the street and a modelling scout grabs you and must have you to model for their latest project. Or the boy who discovers that his quirks and shortcomings are actual strengths to help him on his quest of saving the village. We’ve read these books and watched the movies. It a common theme. The being chosen part isn’t so terrible if we realize it’s just fantasy most of the time.
When we are young, we do a lot of waiting. We wait for buses, teachers, lunch, water fountains, and bathroom privileges. At the time we didn’t control our own lives. Now, our adult lives are full of choices and initiative. More commonly we apply for jobs, walk into the office and hunt down the person in charge. We go from passive verbs to active verbs. There are no real map tattoos that suddenly appear on our bodies or diaries from our deceased aunt explaining our heritage. The difficulties of our lives are as simple as this question, Do you want to sit and wait to be picked or do you want to get up and dance?
- Old rule: Wait to be discovered and wow the world.
- New rule: Take a chance. Write the book. Grab the microphone and sing. Dance your heart out.
Years ago I read the book, Simplify Your Life by Elaine St James. I loved that book. It was my manual. But time passes and life changes. I realized last night that clutter has once again become an issue for me. I have become a pack rat.
How many shampoos does one girl need? It’s possible to go into any woman’s bathroom and find at least 5 bottles of shampoo in various stages of use. If it’s something you can replace, toss it, give it away, or don’t buy it. If you don’t have to own it to enjoy it, borrow it. I went through my fingernail polishes and at least 5 of the bottles were half empty and dried out. Why did I keep them? The color was pretty. Did I use it? No, but the color was pretty.
Life should flow. Never stagnant. Out with the old and in with the new. Use it and be done with it. There’s more after that. Part of the reason I keep have used bottles of nail polish is a completely irrational fear of not having enough. It’s irrational. It’s subconscious. I know in my right mind that I can stop by the store at any time I need to and pick up a red or a pink nail polish. If I think about it with my rational self I know better, but irrational fears, like arachnophobia, work at such a base level. It never gets to my brain for sorting. I cling to that half empty, dried out bottle. I look at it a couple of times and place it back in storage with all of my nail utensils for another day.
Now that I’ve made my fear obvious, I think I can deal with it. I don’t follow all the woo-woo beliefs of the think and grow rich crowd, but I get the point. For me this fear of poverty has roots in my lack of confidence and self empowerment.
How does it work for me? I joined the subscribe and save program for my toiletries through Amazon. Since I know I have a new bottle of shampoo coming in 2 months or so, I don’t worry about running out. It’s not that I’m wasteful with it, but I don’t have to hoard it either. I use the current bottle and know that next one will be available when I need it. Strange as it sounds, it releases that knot of worry.
When I was married, we lived in a house in Kansas with this beautiful Sunset Orange Maple tree. Every Autumn it turned a bright reddish-orange. It seemed to glow. Over the years I’ve thought about that tree and how beautiful it was. And it was now gone. I don’t live there anymore. Driving home from work today, I realized that my whole block and neighborhood complex is glowing with orange and red. Not Maple trees, but gorgeous the Eastern Redbuds, blazing with color in the Autumn. No more worries about not enough. There is plenty.
Quite a few years ago I watched an episode of Oprah that didn’t sit well with me. Like food poisoning it made me feel ill and I just wanted to expel it. Normally she doesn’t bother me. Normally I agree with her style. But this one episode was about towels. Towels that match, to be precise. Actually the episode was probably a lot deeper psychologically than the blues or greens of your towels, but it’s been a few years ago.
Of all the things I can do to help the world be a better place for my children or other’s children, matching my towels is very low on the list. I can think of feeding the seniors in the Dallas/Ft Worth area that Dogma Debate recently promoted until the end of 2013 Dogma Debate-donate. There’s supporting the gift of water to those who have no access to clean drinking water that Matt Damon’s organization sponsors, water.org. The ASPCA programs to help abandoned and abused animals. Kiva organizes low-interest loans to those wanting to better their economic circumstances. There are hundreds of projects and programs to help those around me.
Also, throwing away perfectly good towels just because they are red, blue, brown or pink when I really want a blue bathroom today, seems wasteful. Replacing the towels and wash cloths will cost me, and why? To help my self-esteem? No, it really won’t. So when I get up in the morning and take my shower, if my towel is the red and blue striped one with faded spots on it, I really don’t care. I got to share in the water.org project and feed a low-income senior citizen for a month instead. That brings value to my life, but most importantly is there’s absolutely no reason that our elderly should go without a meal, EVER! And you know those people in India or Latin America? They can cook their food in safe water.
Alright, I’ll get off my preacher box now. It’s not that getting new towels is so horrible. It’s only that people with influence over the minds of others could encourage us to so much more. It bothered me then and it seems it still bothers me. Please, I welcome your comments. For or against? Let me know.
How do you see something you can’t see? We gather information to find truth or to prove our point, but sometimes we want to learn something new. Our brain sorts through all the input from our senses and decides what is useful and what isn’t. It even has the ability to fill in the gaps to complete a picture. How do learn a new truth when our brain is picking and choosing the information for us? Your Hidden Censor – Scientific American
In the physical world, astronomers have the same problem. For years they relied on telescopes and light that was visible to their eyes. Instead of using visual light and eyesight, they needed to use other methods. Regarding the discovery of the now termed Dark Energy or Dark Matter,
How do you see something that is dark, if by dark you mean as astronomers in the 1970’s and 1980’s did, impossible to see. How do you do something that is by your own definition, impossible to do? – The 4% Universe, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
We have to do the same thing as the astronomers did. Ask questions, to our equals and our non-equals. Read, learn, and question. Be open to other possibilities. The first step is becoming comfortable with not knowing. When you step up and say, I don’t know if I’m right. Can you help me see this better? At that moment you will start seeing and doing the impossible. It’s like discovering a hidden door in your house. A room opens that you never knew existed. Wonder and delight are in that room along with the undiscovered years of dust.
When you make an empty space for knowledge, the information will come. The first answer may or not be correct. The purpose of seeing the unseen is to continually grow your sight. Never stop and settle. Never close the door and say, I’ve learned that. I’ll move on now. Anything closed is finished. Life isn’t a task list of items to be learned. It’s a constant growth cycle of building and destroying. Learning and unlearning. I wouldn’t go up to a 6th grader and tell him he’s finished learning math. Not even a college student. There’s always more to explore.
A hamster goes around and around on his squeaky wheel. If he could count, he’d do maybe 50 laps or 100 laps. And at that point possibly feel he is accomplishing something. It’s not that going around and around in an exercise wheel is pointless. He’s letting off energy that needs released, like a too full balloon. After all, he doesn’t have to run to escape any cats or owls. His life is safe.
Sometimes I count my laps on my own proverbial wheel. It makes me feel better. I’m accomplishing something. I cleared my emails. I’ve paid my bills, answered questions, and commented on funny posts. I’ve completed my tasks. Sometimes, though, I think I’ve missed the point. Life isn’t about achievements. It’s not about how many coins you collect or how many grains of sand you’ve sorted. As I dig into my sand pile I can count, one brown grain of sand, one off-white grain of sand, one lighter brown grain of sand, etc. It’s funny if you stop to think about it. We applaud some of the craziest behaviors. If someone has a need to climb mountains, to touch the tops of as many peaks as they can, that’s great. But that’s their quest, not mine. And just because I can count something doesn’t change its value.
What if life was meaningless? What if it doesn’t matter what you put meaning into, like counting your shell collection or keeping your priceless classic cars waxed? If you strip all of your accomplishments away, at the end of the day, we are all the same. It’s only what we value that matters.
We might discover at the end of our lives, the only thing that is valuable is our level of joy. The 600 thread count sheets are not your measurement of worthiness. Did you smile and feel the pleasure of sleeping on them? That’s what’s valuable.
What would you do if there was no one watching? If there was no one to approve or disapprove? Would you dance? Would you draw? Laugh at stupid things? Spin in circles? I think I would run. I also miss hiking. I haven’t been in a few years. I enjoyed the trails. I would do that even if someone was watching. We pretend we don’t care what people think and maybe that’s true. I may not care, but I don’t like being stared at. And doing anything outlandish makes them stare. So I won’t run naked down the street.
Shame keeps us in hiding. What are you ashamed of? Cracked feet? Mold in your shower? Thoughts that keep you awake at night? The funny thing is that we all have these things. I’ve never been great at cleaning windows. Like most of us, it’s the least important item on my list. Sometimes not even making the list.
I had a house that I never once cleaned the windows. Friends came by and never noticed that the windows weren’t clean. The carpet was pretty, the kitchen was updated, and the walls were newly painted. They praised my upkeep. And I kept silent. Later we left that house, rented it to some folks who didn’t keep it clean. Complicated story but, the friends from before wanted to buy the house. They had fallen in love with it. It was in a nice location and it was a perfect size for them. Later after they moved in, they remarked how the renters had let the place go downhill. Even the windows were yucky. They must have never cleaned them, according to my friend. It took a bit of effort on my part to stay silent.
It feels so good to have a loved one come and say, it’s okay. That ugly thought you have is normal. The hateful feelings are normal. The embarrassment you have is normal. It’s all okay. We all have shame. We all have embarrassing things like dirty windows that we cover up. Some of us just cover a bit better than others. My advice, for what it’s worth, show off what you’re good at. Don’t worry about all the other stuff.
And so we begin. Tune the instruments. Tighten the screws. Hitch up the horses. Wash the car and change the oil. We are going on a journey.
Every once in a while I want to go. Somewhere. Anywhere. I would like to travel, maybe even to exotic places. I read a blog from someone who had went to the Amazon. This couple travels to places like the Amazon, and I’m not talking about the store, so I enjoy reading what about their experiences. It’s exciting. Sometimes though I wonder if I don’t enjoy the thought of having been a world traveler more than I really want to travel.
The thought of commuting gives me a headache. All of the packing and catching planes and ticket purchasing and money exchanges. Just the thought makes my head want to explode. I remember various trips I’ve taken just inside the states.
I have started a travel fund. I thought I’d save up the money and then I’d be ready. No more excuses. Well at least not that one. I’m sure I could come up with another if I needed to. My main problem with travelling is that I don’t want to go alone. Very boring. Interacting with another person is some of what makes it special. I know, there are those who will argue with me about it, but I’m such a loner in the rest of my life that I can talk myself out of going and doing the activities during the trip. So imagine I’m in my hotel room in Paris and I can’t leave the room because I’m tired. Who will shove me out the door to go have coffee at the bistro down the street? I need someone who is excited about getting out and seeing the sights. I don’t want to go constantly but some is necessary or otherwise why go at all?
I found this http://www.sixthman.net/ and it looks interesting. I’d enjoy listening to music and meeting the band. I can drink and be a groupie for a couple of days.
How sensitive is your alarm? Too touchy? Or do you barely notice when someone disturbs your peace? Do you hear your friend sigh and wonder if you’re boring him? I have problems keeping my personal alarm calibrated. It’s got an electrical short I think. Let me explain.
Sometimes when I’m with someone else, someone I care about, I interpret their facial expressions. Shall I say misinterpret? Psychologists call this mind reading if it’s done in the extreme. I’m always trying to forecast if it’s the best day for an activity, because somehow I should know. I also try to predict how someone will feel before I’ve even asked them a question.
Over-prepared. Excessive. Like gluing and taping the envelope closed. overcompensation is what the true issue is. I feel vulnerable and incapable, so to make up for my insecurities, I overcompensate. Good girl scouts are prepared, right? I don’t like to look unprepared. Incapable. So I come prepared. I’ve read about every possible scenario and kick myself if I missed one. MapQuest, GPS, Google map or whatever it takes to confirm the correct directions.
What happens if I didn’t prepare? What if I allowed myself to run out of milk? Would the world stop? I’m learning to sit with that. Because my alarm system is set on a hair-trigger, I interpret every frown, sigh, or eye roll as displeasure. Another person’s displeasure is the enemy of my well-being.
Things I’ve learned:
- Speak up when something isn’t right. Too warm or too cold? If you have a group then negotiate your needs. Don’t just let your needs slide for the sake of civility. Giving up your rights, sacrificing your needs does not make a peaceful environment. Letting your opinion be heard and negotiating a beneficial compromise.
- Don’t turn your alarm off for the sake of peace. That’s not true peace, that’s a vacuum. Something or someone will fill that empty space. You are not the only one with those needs. There are probably one or two others who are thinking the same thing, but are too afraid to speak up. Awareness is the object. Letting someone else know they’ve crossed your boundary.
- The opposite is also true. Extremely overbearing, no one’s going to stand in my way attitudes are as hindering in life as being to nice. Just because we can’t change the thermostat all the way down to 68°F when you are having a hot flash, doesn’t mean your needs aren’t important. Maybe we can handle it a different way.
If you were walking across a bridge and a gang of scary looking teens were partially blocking your way, would you stop and go a different way or would you walk on through? I was asked that question by my yoga instructor. My normal response is to feel the alarm. The crowd in front of me would scare me and I’d want to turn around and run the other way. A strange thing happens sometimes. A person who grows up feeling vulnerable will sometimes overcompensate by pretending to not be afraid. For a period of my life my approach to the gang of teens in front of me would cause me to assess the situation and “Do it afraid.” Chin up, shoulders back, don’t let them see you sweat. During my youth I became “not afraid” girl. Dare me. Double dog dare me even.
Now that I no longer have anything to prove, I know life is walking the balance. Stand up, ask for what you want, and voice your opinion. It may not always be listened to, but that’s okay. I listened to a wonderful audio book recently by Brene Brown. I love her Ted Talks also. She’s been plowing through traditional taboos in the business world. Things like showing vulnerability. If you get the chance, listen to her talks or pick up her book. My favorite quote is, “Do not shrink. Do not puff up. Stand my sacred ground.” – Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.
Recently I ran into some trouble. Really I stumbled, tripped, and fell face first into it. There was a situation in which I felt I could be helpful. So I offered. I helped with advice and even did some of the effort to get the situation bettered. After a few months of everyone’s hard work, I was still in the position of helping but the mood changed. It was no longer appreciated. A lot of misunderstanding happened. All through that time, my mantra was, “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand my sacred ground.” It’s not always easy to say your piece without getting upset, but it’s important to remember that even though you may not be heard, it’s okay to speak up. I continually remind myself to not be overly brave or cowardly. Just be where I am.