To Love Yourself

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Love

Love (Photo credit: Swamibu)

Most of us would agree mutilating our body because we hate ourselves is unhealthy. Acting against our health by withholding food or making unrealistic demands on ourselves seems obviously wrong, but yet we see it happen. Neighbors, actors, models, even family members mutilate themselves out of hatred.

Sometimes we also try to better ourselves because of fear. We feel we don’t fit in or we aren’t pretty enough. We are too fat, too ugly or too nice. So we try to change because we fear rejection.

I’ve heard many times that we need to love ourselves as we are today. How do we do that?

  • Highlight one part of yourself, your voice, your slim fingers and focus on that one attribute.
  • Steal someone’s persona. If you adore a well-known actress for her hair and yours is similar, hijack that feeling. Someone once told me I reminded him of Kate Winslet. Recently Vogue photographed Kate and used Photoshop, as is their norm, creating a big brouhaha. Kate Winslet’s Vogue Cover.  Once before, GQ visually slimmed her down but stated it wasn’t drastic. I’m glad that someone noticed her original beauty.
  • Be. Just be who you are and meet your own needs. Don’t withhold food, clothing or love. Just as you would see a child’s need for these things, see your own need. 

That’s where I’m at. I’m still looking and may stumble upon other ways to love me. What’s yours? In the meantime, I refuse to be cruel to myself.

 

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Common Sense is Not Always Common

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I usually laugh when people state, well it’s just common sense. Do we think about what we are saying? We usually mean, that something seems obvious. But Common Sense is the values that we all share in common. Families are all different and we come together and create our own Common. For example, there are many families that think it’s common sense to be clothed when in public or in front of their children, but I’ve known families that had coed showers, father-daughter and such. These weren’t perverted families. Just ordinary families with different practices.

I mention this so we can make our lives a bit more relaxed. Maybe the person smacking their gum didn’t mean to be rude. Or the clerk that wasn’t super duper friendly is just from a family that’s not as upbeat. In Southern United States, Southern Thangs, it’s a common practice to serve sweet iced tea with most meals, but in the UK that practice is very odd. Also, a preacher going to the pub in Ireland or London and drinking a pint (beer) after a Sunday sermon isn’t scandalous. But if he ordered a cup of coffee it would be.

Before we judge a person’s peculiar habits we need to understand them better. Even then it might be best to keep our judgments to ourselves and not rely on common sense to guide our perceptions.

Seth Godin says it well, They’re your words, choose them

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Those Evil Villains

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The True Evil Inside Us All

It’s easy for me to get worked up about stupid people. Or those who don’t follow the rules. Or those who slap their children. You know who I’m talking about. Those people. They make us mad when they cut in front of us in traffic or have yelling matches with their kids in the front yard. Don’t they have any decency?

I was cleaning my car last Friday evening and saw a yelling match between a mother and her preteen son. Well, I heard a yelling match is more like it. All the same, it went on forever. Apparently he tried to hurry his little sister out of the car. Sisters don’t like to be hurried, so she did what comes natural, she fought back. Chaos! Evil sisters.  It ends up, sister runs and tells Momma what her evil brother did. Evil brothers. This I know because Momma declared it so, quite loudly. “Boy, is it true what your sister just told me?” Mmmm…boy mumbles something. Evil Mommas? I won’t bore you with the entire episode but wouldn’t it have been easier to take a reasonable action and not talk the child to death? I would have appreciated it.

We have things we vilify. They can be political parties or races of people. Most usually we aren’t aware of who they are until they are in our face, like the lady above. The more strongly I feel about something the more I’m going to use it as my scapegoat about why I can’t be happy. In my situation it would have been wrong to get in the middle of the squabble, but listening to the triad squabble was uncomfortable.

So this week I’m trying to look at these questions:

  • What demonic structures do I take part? Religious, cultural, style?
  • Who is my scapegoat? Who do I blame? Government, coworkers, neighbors?
  • Am I trying to be a part of a community that vilifies? Organizations, belief systems, online groups?

If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend listening to Peter Rollins, The Virtual Reality of Demons. Click on the word Demons. Right click to download.

See also There’s Always An Outside from the last post.

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There’s Always An Outside

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I listened to a talk by Peter Rollins about demons and those things we demonize. He quotes Bertrand Russell,

Imagine you are going to make a catalog, and the catalog lists every catalog  that doesn’t list itself. …and then you’ve got a problem. The problem is, well do you list the catalog itself? Cause if you don’t list the catalog, then it’s a catalog that doesn’t list itself therefore it should be in the catalog, right? But then if you do put it in the catalog, it’s no longer a catalog that doesn’t list itself, ’cause it lists itself, so therefore you take it out of the catalog

The Virtual Reality of Demons  Click on the word Demons to hear his talk.

This paradox illustrates that there’s always an outside. If you have a circle including all of your friends, you have now drawn an inclusive circle. You can include your friends’ friends by drawing a bigger circle. This could continue on forever. There will always be an outside. The poor you will always have with you as Peter points out.

How do we handle our exclusive/inclusive nature of life? It’s obviously not by vigorously drawing more circles. It’s by ignoring the circles altogether. I want to live as if the demons don’t matter. I may feed the poor and get involved with helping others but continue on living my life. Not out of indifference. Not by sticking my head in the sand. I want to live and celebrate life. There’s no need to proclaim my mission. “I’m of this belief or I’m of that belief.”

Do you remember the scene in 101 Dalmatians where the puppies walked single file into hiding and while they were single file walking away in disguise, Cruella DeVil is lurking about?

- She's watching us, Dad.

- Keep going.

I want to keep going. Even if I have no idea what spirituality I believe, I want to keep giving as I always did. Keep loving as I always do. No matter if I call myself Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or Pastafarian. The more you try to define what you believe and what you stand for, the more complicated life becomes when really we should be living from our heart. What if we just live? What if we just love? What if we just give and extend a hand when it’s needed.

 

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The Final Cut of My Dangling Faith

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Love is patient, love is kind, This is the Christianity I was taught overtly. The icing and the pretty decoration. The hidden “healthy” side was God is a just God.

First snip – trusting another’s version of the truth

I was walking up the stairs to get to my condo when I overheard my neighbors talking about God. “God only wants you to be healthy. He wants you to be happy and live your life.” I realized how far I’ve come from that statement. I said that many times myself in the last few years and believed it. But contrast that with other people who spout offensive words. God hates >>insert ugly word here<< and will cast them into hell. One person claims God told them to build a building that cost millions of dollars, while another person sells all his stuff, moves to India, and helps dying patients in a leper colony.

Second snip – infallibility of the Bible

For years this dichotomy bothered me. I taught voraciously that it was only about love and our personal relationship with God. Maybe I didn’t cling to the infallibility of the Bible, but I had my Jesus. I had a friend. Until…

Third snip - my friend in Jesus

With all the erosion that happened in my spiritual life, the last connection was my personal relationship with Jesus. This is what holds most people in Christianity. That feeling that no one wants to let go of. “But I know He’s real. He comforts me.” And yes it often feels that someone is holding you, even smiling lovingly on you. Here’s the counter, each person that tells you that they know what God expects, is only mirroring what they believe already. Those that are loving believe in a loving god. Those that are critical believe in God’s judgement. And He’s not here to correct them. The only proof we have is the Bible and our inner conviction.

My faith dangled 

Where’s my proof that I really am not hearing from God or being comforted by him? Derren Brown showed me how it is done. How To Convert an Atheist - short version.  In his simple demonstration with a non believing girl, he showed how quickly it can develop.

  • First, picture a loving father. He picks up his child and holds her tight and kisses her boo boos away.
  • Second, imagine the awe and wonder of life. The grand plan of the universe and it’s beauty.
  • Third, bring the feeling of being loved by that wonderful father together with the awe and wonder.

Poof! She felt it. I felt it. This is how it was for me almost exactly. Preacher after preacher. Song after song. Just as Derren Brown brought those concepts together in the atheist’s mind so did my influences. That was when I realized, there may not really be anyone there. Here’s a link to the full version, Full Version-Fear and Faith part 2.

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I’m Not Jealous

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While sitting in the waiting room at the doctors office, I had a funny conversation. HGTV was showing a couple buying a new home. This house was too little. That one was too old. None seemed just right just for their $300,000.00 budget. Envy. Jealousy. Annoyance. Comments were flying in that waiting room. We were incredulous. She wanted a bigger kitchen but she didn’t cook. She loved having a brand new home (2 months) but didn’t like the construction that was happening around the neighborhood.

Not that I don’t understand completely. If I were paying $300,000.00 for a home, I’d want it just right also. Okay so maybe I do see her side of it, but a part of me was jealous that she took it so for granted.

While waiting for the doctor in the examining room it suddenly occurred to me, I’m not jealous
really. I’m happy to be able to walk away from that TV show and live my life. My life with a capital
MY. Healthy, happy, mature, and well lived. Much like the skinned horse from Velveteen Rabbit story, I like spouting wisdom and realism. My life is full and ordered to my liking and I have no desire for a big house with empty rooms. I enjoy every inch of my cozy home. I love the yellow walls and the sunlight that streams through the windows. I love the tall Oak trees. I’ll keep my life thanks.

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The Process of Doing

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Choices

  • First, there’s the discomfort. It’s either boredom or dissatisfaction of where I’m at or how something is working. Inconvenience can trigger the discomfort also, like constantly walking around the same chair in my path.
  • Second, there’s dreaming, of wants, desires or possibilities. Do I like the chair? Should I put in another room? Rearrange the Living room?
  • Third, I bring it down to reality by choosing the most practical ideas. Sketch out my Living room furniture placement. Arrange it on paper.
  • Fourth, I write a plan. Maybe the easiest thing for today is move the chair into the bedroom.
  • Fifth, I take the first steps. Move the chair. I can decide over the next few days if it’s working.

Tailspin

What turns me into a confused ball in the corner of the room is a different solution popping up in front of me. One or two more ways of solving my problem and it starts my process over again. At that point I have to regroup and reassess. How does this change my decision? If I possibly can I like to ponder for a few days until I have my aha! moment. Otherwise I make the simplest choice first, like in my example of the chair. I can move the chair from one room to another easier than I can arrange the furniture again and again. Sometimes you have to do the big thing, but at least you’ve tried the simple ones first.

Sloppy vs Perfected

Life is about choices. Nothing’s inherently right or wrong, it’s only a matter of my preferences. Life is the rough draft and the final presentation is the last breath of life. In those last moments you review all the refining you’ve done. Sometimes the rough draft is alright. Hastily slapped together and just getting it done works better than not doing anything at all when it comes to kisses, food and proposals. I’d rather a quick kiss and an I love you than not ever, ever being told, but there comes a time for refining those choices. If you really love that person, eventually you have to refine your sloppy kisses into steps that have meaning. Whether it’s inviting them to coffee or not forgetting their birthday, you have to take the first step.

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Know Thy Species

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Self Portrait

You have to understand the rules before you can break the rules. At least that’s what I’ve been taught. One easy to understand rule is, people need oxygen. We can’t live without it. It makes us uncomfortable and we start to panic. We will fight against anything that keeps us from breathing. There’s no nice and compliant if someone is choking you. You will kick, claw, poke and jab.

I once thought it was important to be tough. Tough meant defying the rules. Defying what I needed. Things that were natural came too easily and where’s the challenge in that? Climb Mt Everest and prove yourself. Prove that you can make it to the top and still breathe. Scoff. It’s important to know the rule of oxygen. Humans just can’t live at 35,000 feet above sea level. There’s barely any oxygen. And it’s freakin’ cold.

By the same measurement, I wouldn’t expect to feed grass to a dog and expect him to leave the T-bone steak on the kitchen table. It’s natural and expected for the dog to eat the steak. So I realize I have to take a fresh look at being tough and strong. It’s not defying my need for oxygen.

…Know thy species…The best way to learn about a species is to study it in the wild, living in its natural habitat. This includes everything from what the species eats to how it moves, from common predators to mating behavior-everything…..This approach works for humans too…..To understand human health we have to study our own species, the human animal. The Paleo Manifesto-John Durant

Most of my life I’ve operated by existence. My thoughts were of what I needed to survive. And even then I questioned it. I scoffed at people who were high maintenance and was cocky that I wasn’t one of those women. I didn’t require a spa day or an entire room for closeting my shoes. I could travel with just one suitcase. I could get by on less. Now I ask why that was so important. My badge of honor looks rusty now. The truth has nothing to do with high maintenance or low maintenance. If I were an African Violet, I’d need x number of hours of sunlight and y amount of rain. It’s just the facts. Maybe I’ll still scoff at the women who can’t live without their mani-pedi, but I may also reconsider and enjoy one myself.

I want to dig into this more. One of the books on my reading list is, Me, Myself and Why: Searching for the Science of Self By Jennifer Ouellette

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How To Not Eat the Marshmallow

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I was watching the new Cosmos series with Neil de Grasse Tyson, when a new car advertisement comes on. It hits me suddenly and I have the urge, no, NEED to research Subaru. Why? Some subliminal reaction? I have a good car. I picked this particular car and don’t have a desire for a new one, but yet I still had the new car craving. Because if I had a new Subaru Outback I’d have adventure. I’d be young and trendy. I could explore and travel and I’d be happy! Subliminal messages are like a virus to me. Just like the latest diet craze, any new fact or interest I get tends to take me chasing rabbit trails.

Ways to distract myself from spending money

The trick is to catch it at the first urge. There’s a short pause between seeing the shiny apple hanging from the tree and thinking of the sweet taste it will leave in my mouth. Also, thinking of it being there, taunting me. It won’t stay there forever. Shouldn’t let it go to waste. Ah heck, I might as well just eat it. STOP. Somewhere before my hand reaches for the prize, I have to catch my spiraling thinking. Faulty logic. Enticing images. That’s my magic moment. If I can learn to catch myself before I hit the BUY button I’ll be okay.

There are methods to distract yourself. When I’m exercising I use distraction to hold a pose just a little longer. I sometimes tell myself I’ll run to the next stop sign, then turn around. Mostly it works. It’s almost like working with a child.

You may have already heard of the study done with the marshmallows. I’m going to repeat it because it fits with my thoughts on spending money.

The Stanford marshmallow experiment:

The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (Oreo cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table, by a chair.[1] The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.[1]

Mischel observed as some would “cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal”, while others would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.[1]

It’s a natural response to distract ourselves. You want to eat the cookie. The cookie is within reach, but you don’t. So from now on, if I can catch myself in that moment before I hit BUY, I will go clean the toilet!

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Talkin’ Around the Campfire

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For all the many changes in humanity, there are some essential things that haven’t changed. We still like to listen to each other talk. Whether it’s on an old radio show, around the campfire telling stories, a preacher behind a podium, a book being read or a podcast. For some reason the tradition of speaking and listening is still strong. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working. It’s either podcasts or music. I tried listening to books, but they are too distracting, after all I still have to work.

The oratory tradition

Stories are what we swim in, what we breathe, and what we consume. They are how we teach our children the values that are important. “Santa won’t bring you any presents if you’re bad.”  I couldn’t even guess how many times we watched 101 Dalmatians or The Lion King when my children were young. I can imagine my sons telling their children stories of a lion king and the evil brother lion who wanted the kingdom for himself. Very much like the Star Wars stories set my generation’s values, Disney has played a large part for the current generation.

The stories you tell, tell who you are

I’ve decided to search for other stories. My culture isn’t Jewish, but we adopted  the stories that come from a long line of Abrahamic tradition. Stories of a god that came to a man in the fertile crescent. A god that promised that man a nation of his own. These stories are about a group of people that were not my people. We as a Christian culture adopted them because we all want god to come to us and promise us glitter and gold, or sheep and children in Abraham’s case.

My first thought was, what other stories cover that time? The Abrahamic tradition takes us back to the first herders and farmers. I’m thinking of The Book of Invasions (Ireland) Lebor Gabala Erenn, which was the inspiration for Karen Marie Moning’s writing.

Norse mythology, which might take me a lifetime to read it all speaks of Odin, god of the 9 worlds and lives in his heavenly realm of Asgard. Norse Mythology – Wikipedia and Norse history and culture

I also found loads of writings on this site Internet Sacred Texts Archive

I think I will start with Myths of The Cherokee

I’m not saying that the Abrahamic stories and the stories of Jesus aren’t important. I would like to find and compare them to other people’s stories. If you have suggestions I would love to hear them.

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