I am Done with Great Things

Absolute Patience - Live Life

I am done
with great things and big things
with great institutions and big
success.
And I am for
those tiny, invisible, molecular
moral forces
that work from individual to individual
through the crannies of the world
like so many rootlets
or like capillary oozing of
water
yet which, if you give them time
will rend
the hardest monuments of man’s
pride. – William James
From a letter to Mrs Henry Whitman, June 7 1899

A hundred geese propelled their V
across my sky today
I don’t know why they honked at me
I wasn’t in their way – Irene Warsaw
A Word in Edgewise

If you are looking for big events or big changes, small accomplishments mean less. The problem is that life is generally made up of a lot of small positive events and relatively few big positive events. If you ignore the small ones and wait for the big ones you are going to feel unfulfilled or unhappy much of the time. – Monica R Basco, Never Good Enough

Limitations, Boundaries, and those cute Picket Fences

mskittyshoulderSometimes when I’m in the bathroom my cat will sit on the floor and stare at me. It’s annoying. You may ask why I don’t lock her out. I feel guilty. She is home alone all day so I feel I shouldn’t limit my time with her. So I resent her stare.

Games we play

This is the game we play and you may recognize it. She stares and I feel guilty. I pet her and allow her to rub around my legs, until. There’s only so much I can take with all that attention. We both mean well.

The funny thing about it is, when I am with her overextended vacations, she still meows when she doesn’t see me in the room with her. If I step outside to take out the trash or go run an errand, it’s no different. She still wants the same amount of attention as she did when I’m only home for a few hours. So in my great reasoning, I don’t think it’s because she misses me.
I read somewhere that a cat’s memory is only a few minutes. She doesn’t know how long I’ve been gone.

This guilt I feel is just empty guilt. I am projecting how I would feel in her shoes (paws).  So why am I feeling so miserable? What do I really want? I like it when we snuggle up on the couch together. I like it when she greets me in the morning. Even when I come home. The time when I’m in the bathroom and she’s staring at me is my fault. I let it happen. If I really want to be alone at that time I need to close the door. A simple thing really.

picket fence
picket fence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How often do we do this? We yell at people unnecessarily instead of metaphorically and physically closing the door. Have you ever told someone “Yes, I’ll do that for you,” when really you feel like vomiting at the thought of doing it? We go along with things when we have other plans. We say yes to their idea even when we disagree. It’s not necessary. We think we’re being kind. All we’re really doing is building up a reason to hate someone who we would normally love. That’s what resentment does. It builds a wall of hate. Get enough resentment built up and what happens? We yell. We scream. We blame. We walk away in anger. Is this what we want? Is it inevitable?

Kids need boundaries

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-children-need-boundaries
In the study with a group of children on a playground, the children without a fence around them did not play close to the edge but clustered towards the center. The children that were in a fenced area used the entire playground to play. So it would seem that if you place boundaries in your life and those around you, you are actually giving yourself freedom. Ironic isn’t it? I know in my life, I feel freer creatively, if no one is around to disturb me and there are no other pending appointments. When I know my creative time is short I feel pressure, which goes against every creative bone in my body.

Right here and now

I have the right to close my bathroom door so that I’m not stared at by my cat. I have the right to not answer my phone if I’m needing to work. I feel so much freer knowing that I can put a fence around my time and declare that this is my time. I can put up a fence and stick my flag in the ground. This is my time! Right here and now. Kings do it, presidents do it, astronauts do it in the name of their country, and so can you. If it helps, you can make yourself a flag and put it in the middle of your room or outside your closed door. Name your kingdom. Just remember, you are the enforcer. Even if your best friend calls or your mother, you have to let them know that you will have to call them later.

If this has not been a part of your life before, people may not honor your boundary. But if you continually tell them, eventually they will learn to respect your fence. With cats, children, spouses, or parents, it’s no different. They learn what we teach them. If we teach them that it’s okay to call us names and hurt our feelings (by allowing it), then that is what we will get. Some people in your life will need retraining. But that’s okay. Think of it as an experiment. Who is the easiest to teach? How long did it take? How did they react in comparison to a different person? Be firm, but not rude. repeat the same line 30 or 40 times if necessary. “I can’t talk now. I’ll call you at 5:00.”  Don’t explain. Don’t vary. I’ve used this technique several times and it’s like magic, but you have to state it firmly and without emotion.

What works for you? Leave a comment.

All up in the Air with Personality

Waiting on the porch on Mother's Day 2007
Waiting on the porch on Mother’s Day 2007 (Photo credit: leewrightonflickr)

Do you remember the old televisions from the 1970’s with the picture tube inside? It was before digital, so I’m telling my age. When I was young, we had this television that the picture would start rolling up like the credits on a movie. You’d  bang it really hard with your hand on the side to get it to stop. Smack it. Our TV was dented on the side.

A very caveman way of handling a piece of equipment.

Today that wouldn’t work. Our televisions are now electronics, with circuit boards. Hit it like that and you’ll hurt your hand on the hard plastic and knock loose a circuit. Won’t fix anything. You have to know your equipment.

We also had an old Chevy truck. It had a choke that you opened. Just a knob that you pulled out on the dashboard. You pumped the gas pedal to let a bit of fuel into the engine. Then you could start the truck. Oh the joys of vehicles before fuel injection. If you knew your truck, you knew from experience  how many times to pump the pedal. If you did too many, you’d flood the engine and have to wait 10 or so minutes for the fuel to trickle out. Too few and the truck wouldn’t start. In these beautiful days of fuel injection there is no worry of this. No chokes to pull. No cranks to turn. Please don’t pump the pedal. Just start your car.

We have to know our equipment.

Whether it’s a car or a television. Know what you’re dealing with. If you have a classic vehicle it will handle differently than a newer sports car or even a normal sedan. You might not break the thing but you won’t be driving it at it’s best. You probably won’t appreciate it for its own beauty.

LA VATA LOCA
LA VATA LOCA (Photo credit: OrniCosa)

I would hope you wouldn’t treat a newborn baby like a mostly grown teenage boy.  Once when I was teaching 1 to 2-year-old class in a church setting, one of the children came in very distraught. With a red face and tears all pouring out her eyes, she was clinging to her mom. For this little girl it was unusual. Some kids go through this normally but not her. Mom was becoming hysterical herself. She said she didn’t know what to do. That her daughter had started being “rebellious” soon after mom had went back to work. My first thought was Rebellious? The whole thing was so obvious. The girl wanted her mom. Her schedule changed. During the week, she’d been forced (from a child’s perspective) to stay with people she didn’t know and now Mommy was leaving her again. She only wanted the comfortable spot on her mom’s lap.  Rebellion requires a much more developed mind than a 2-year-old has. Even the so-called terrible twos are not really rebellion, just checking out where the boundaries are.

If you know what’s normal, it’s easier to know when things are not right.  If you know what’s normal for your personality it’s so much easier to help yourself in a difficult time. I was once concerned with being too cocky, too proud. I had it repeated in my formative years that God hates a proud heart. Pride goes before a fall. Me, being the compliant child that I was, tried diligently to not be proud. For a compliant child that meant never bragging or talking about achievements. And loads of guilt for thinking anything positive about myself.

Rebellion of the sweets
Rebellion of the sweets (Photo credit: Wimena Kane)

Who of us hasn’t been there? We have to understand who we are. I’m speaking only from my perspective at this time since it’s currently the only one I really know. I realize your perspective is different and I don’t mean at all to leave you out of the conversation. I would like to hear your experience also.

I was sitting on the floor with my favorite yoga lady one day. We were talking about food and books we enjoyed. She remarked that I seemed very Vata-Vata. Basically if you don’t know of the Indian Doshas, Vata is the air-like, ether-like personality. All dreamland and spirituality. My Vata-ness was showing I guess.

I had tried recently and in the past many times to eat lighter. More fruits and raw vegetables. This goes along with the advice of all the super knowledgeable people out there. The diet leaves me cold, physically and mentally. I realize to these experts, lightening up seems right. For me I crave potatoes and cooked carrots. Warm oatmeal with toast and jam. Warm tea. I seldom crave a pop. Occasionally yes it hits the spot but not everyday. Too much activity and caffeine makes my head spin. Energy drinks give me a headache. So when people recommend these things I just nod at them and realize I probably need to do the opposite.

All up in the air.

I often listen to the wrong advice it seems. They recommend that we as people need  more spirit.  More meditation. So I try. They say we need to visualize. Okay, no problem. Then my head hurts. Suddenly, I understood what my yoga teacher had tried to tell me and what others have said, that I’m wired backward. I need more physical not spiritual training. I’m at home in the temple praying. But take me to the swimming pool or the ski slopes and I’ll run away scared. She said I was all up in here (as she waved her hands in the air). I needed to learn to come back into my body. To live in my body and stay at home there.

So when they say I need to control my anger, I have to pause. Back up and reverse. Me, I tend to hold my tongue too long. I think about everything I say. I think twice or three times about all my silly emails and Facebook posts. Things like holding my tongue? Seriously I really need to speak up more, not less.
So now when you get advice, take it into consideration, but also know your own nature. Is it just adding a gag along with the muzzle? Duct taping over the superglue? Redundant redundancy? Or is it helpful?

Here are a couple of places to get some perspective on personalities.
Keirsey.com
Dosha Quiz

Read All About It!

Book CoverAnd finally! Drum roll please….It is here.

Oops! I Forgot Myself is here.

I have writer’s cramp. Below is the PDF version only. The Kindle Version will be available on Jan 2, 2013 from Amazon and it will have a free preview. I will let you know. Thanks for playing!
Oops! I Forgot Myself
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AVG0D6O

Piecrust Promise

English: Screenshot from the trailer for the f...
English: Screenshot from the trailer for the film Mary Poppins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well what did you expect to happen?

There’s something both wonderful and  scary about expectations. It’s just a dream, a wish in your mind. It floats there taunting you and teasing you making you believe it could happen. It really could. The rainbow’s end and the sunbeam through the window. Like the kitten that is chasing the flashlight beam, we crouch and then pounce. After a while of chasing after the illusive dreams we become cynical if our hopes have been out of reach for too long. We hear of people who have put their hands into the heavy pot of gold. Surely it’s real. Right? What about true love? Is it as false as the Easter Bunny?

I get aggravated when I’m watching a television show and the character – who is definitely in charge – instructs everyone to trust him. Just trust me. I’ll handle this. And it’s always in the high crisis moments and you can tell that he/she expects everyone to blindly follow his sage advice. I cry foul!

I want to know which direction we are going. Yes, it’s scary and potentially deadly, but just let me know. I might want to just jump out of the moving train. Especially if it’s heading for the cliff. Trust me. I won’t let anything happen to you. It reminds me of the chivalrous days. The knight on the white horse shows up at just the right moment,  last desperation. He saves the day. The damsel in distress prettily wipes her brow. She knew he’d be there to save her. She expected it. She trusted him with her life.

What kind of game is this? Do you walk out to the edge just to see if they will save you? What did you expect to happen? Would the town be saved and the big scary monster die a bloody death, then we’d all live happily ever after? No more bad things?

If you’ve been around me any time at all, you know that I love a  good drama.  Movies, books, around a campfire, I don’t care. I want to get lost in the drama. But life is not a movie. It’s not a game that we can play and get to reenter at our last saved spot. There’s no pause or no rewind. We would all like to rewind. And there were some moments that I would love to have just lingered in the euphoria.

I’m probably looking at this whole process wrong. It’s possible I am missing a key ingredient. If I’ve missed something, feel free to email me or leave a comment. I do want to see this all through clear eyes. Are there those you can just blindly trust? Is that a realistic expectation? What about expectations? Can we blindly walk towards the rainbow without looking for the cliff? How do you follow your dreams? Do you keep your expectations in check or  let them run wild? I don’t know if I have all the answers now. I want to hear what you say.

A little further on….

I love it when movies do a funny twist. You know what I mean? You might have watched a movie or two like that. The usual story is going along and poof! The story line took a sudden turn. The Sting is one of the older ones, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  And did you expect The Sixth Sense? But I guess we should have. The little boy kept

Cover of "The Sixth Sense (Collector's Ed...
Cover via Amazon

saying “I see dead people.” If you haven’t seen it, well now you must.

The expectations we hate the most are the ones that leave you flat lined  You’re walking along, maybe taking in your groceries, like I was doing one afternoon, then boom, you’re face down on the ground. Speechless. You just lay there for momentarily, your lip bloodied. How did that happen? And even, what just happened? It’s the unexpected phone call in the middle of the night. Your daughter was in a car crash. You need to come to the hospital right away. The look on the doctor’s face. You know the surgery didn’t go well. the call from your boss telling you there’s not enough work for you. Can you clear out your desk? These are the moments that you’d like to fast forward through. Not at all a Hallmark moment.

What do these moments have in common? Interrupted expectations. You got ready for work and expected to do project A and make a few phone calls. Life happens. Doesn’t it. There’s no way to plan or foresee any of the events. Some wonderful and some not so much.

I read in Psychology Today  that our anger and disappointment comes from your unfulfilled expectations. You can read about it here Psychology Today. I expect traffic to flow smoothly. I expect good weather. I expect for my children to go to bed without a fuss. So when I’m angry at the creeping car driving in front of me, it is because I expected it to flow at my pace. That’s an unrealistic expectation.

So do I expect anything out of myself? If I lower my expectations about life then I will always be happy, right? I think that would be a pretty pathetic way to live. Low expectations are worthless. My way, I let my dreams float up there in the ether of my mind. Yes, I’m blonde. They are like beautiful butterflies. Not all dreams are flights of fancy though. Growing up is real. Going to college is believable. You can put some feet to your dream of a good paying job, writing a book, and  traveling to Europe.

So what makes a dream or a promise just a pie crust promise? Can you take a step towards it? An action you can make? Dreams are wonderful. There are those that I really do trust. You cannot help unexpected events. And you surely can’t stop traffic on the freeway on Monday morning. What’s a girl to do? Dream.

See also: Burnside Writers Your Wonderful Powerful Imperfect Story

 

How To Live Your Life as a Novelist

David Oscarson - Valhalla
David Oscarson – Valhalla (Photo credit: s.yume)

One of the first things you learn in the craft of writing fiction is how to develop your characters. You place your characters in a setting as a child would place his toys. They are ready for their lives. Each one with his or her own agenda, wants, and desires. Let them glimpse their future. <insert evil laugh here>

 

Their winning is there for the taking. You can see the lust for the finish line twinkle in their eyes. When they are almost there, thwart their efforts. Weather, family, or disease. the evil novelist rules the world.

Sometimes it seems our lives are like that, like some malicious author is blocking our moves just to develop our character.

 

This is character development by chaos 101.

 

Welcome to class. In front of you are your notebooks and pens. grab the funky pen or the bright-colored one, I don’t care. Begin.

 

What’s your dream goal? Happiness? Hmm, I can’t work with that. A job? Simple enough. A spouse? That’s possible. But we all know that just any ol’ job won’t do. We want a powerful or high dollar job, right? Or a glamorous job, with flashing camera lights maybe. High dollar shoes and high dollar cars. And the paparazzi following your every move. Am I right? Well at least until you get those things. What do you really want? Write it down.

 

Truly we all want something different. You might want the bright lights and the paparazzi. Some want the money so they can afford more fuzzy slippers. And pajamas. Who doesn’t want to live in their pajamas.

Me? I want to feel I’ve helped someone. That I will always be brightening other’s lives all through my existence. How about you? fame? money? health? children? Whatever it is, what is in your way? Time? Are there not enough hours? Maybe it’s just a clear idea of how to get there.

 

Prim and Crazy – A Tale of Two Sisters

English: A roll of silver, Scotch brand duct tape.

Let the wild woman free.

I sometimes don’t know what to write about. I’ve made a goal for myself. I must get in my 1000 words a day. I feel as if I haven’t completed my task if not. And that makes me unhappy. I like meeting my goal. Of course that same side is the perfectionist and she feels untidy and lazy if I just write nonsense as I am now. The other side? Let loose the horses. Let the wild woman free. The one who splashes in mud puddles and chews her nails. What to do?

The two sides

I name myself the two-sided twin. Maybe I will come up with a more nonsensical name, but for now, it’s two-sided. I can see this becoming a good chapter of a book. I could explore the two sides of my personality. The tidy perfectionist who can’t stand wasting the bread crust. Then the crazy bitch that just needs turned loose. Let her out of the freakin’ cage already. She’s shaking the bars and the other inmates are screaming at her. She extends her long claws to snagging the guard’s arm. Of course the other one, the prim one, is sitting on her neatly tidy bed in the corner. If she’s quiet enough maybe no one will associate her with this she-monster.

Dichotomy – division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.

Now that image is probably taking it a bit far, but I feel the dichotomy of my personality or should I say personalities? I’m standing in line, the long line at the grocery store. I’m trying to decide if I want a candy bar or a pack of gum. There they are, the crazy bitch and her proper escort.  I think the bitch has duct taped Ms. prim’s hands. It keeps prim from dragging her away from all the ice cream and candy. Prim’s filled her basket with pasta and vegetables. She has her list neatly printed and has marked off the items in order. She’s the picture of calm and orderly as she rips the duct tape with her teeth, peeling it from her wrists. Her eyes never leave her monster of a sister. She’s not afraid. She knows Crazy too well. Later Prim will clean up the mess while the crazy one passes out from exhaustion.

Duct Tape Flip Flop
Duct Tape Flip Flop (Photo credit: Clint Lalonde)

Prim never gives up.

Quite honestly I love them both. The sparkle and the shine of the bitch makes me smile. She is pure joy to shop with. She loves life and can work a room like nobody’s business. I laugh at her quirky view of life. Her bubbly laughter. You may think Crazy’s my favorite. Some days she is. It’s only when I get the credit card bill and the bank overdraft that I ask Prim for help. She’s good to help. Sometimes you can see her frustration. All her long hours and careful budgeting, shot! What’s a girl to do? She catalogs and notes the accounts, checking for ways to get back any lost ground. Well she’ll just take the loss this month. Prim never gives up.

I have to free fall

Is this any way to live? Is there another way? Can the Critic and the Creative ever cohabit? I really don’t know. When I write, I’m in complete creative mode. No holds barred. I have to free fall to express in all the full color lively verbiage. when all is fully expressed, the critic may enter, but only then. If he comes out early, the Creative will shut down and shut up. And beware of having those two out at the same time. There isn’t a fight. The Critic is too scary. He has no remorse. He will open up a vein on the creative and leave no blood. To the critic, the creative can’t be trusted.

Can’t we all just get along?

I’m sure that we each have our own version of the two. Who are your people? Or are they people? Monsters maybe. Wild things. What seems abhorrent one day seems perfectly reasonable the next, depending on which personality is in charge. Tell me, please, how you deal with a dual personality? I know I’m not the only one with these issues. I will admit to having a few, but I’m certainly not the only one.

Can’t we all just get along? Is it possible? Is that even what I would want, for my two sides to come together in happy harmony? Truthfully, I don’t think that’s what I want. I like both sides as they are, with all their duct tape and personality differences. There is balance in the differences. I certainly wouldn’t want the personalities to converge into one happy medium.

What do you think? Would you meld your various personalities together? Would you prefer them more mellow? Or do you appreciate their separateness? Truly I don’t have a multiple personality disorder. No blackouts or loss of memory. but I do find it funny to think of the two sides as being opposing singular beings. They, in their slices, make me whole. With each perspective I can do the entirety of living.

I am the dichotomy

I’m the one with the duct tape, the one with the claws, the one with the excel spreadsheets, and the one with the grocery list. I am the dichotomy and so are you. We are the frivolous and the detailed. Live it.

Have you read Where The Wild Things Are?  How about Women Who Run With the Wolves?

Check out Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, to learn more about your wild side.

I’m concluding with a video called Let Loose the Horses by The Rescues. If you count my words, I’m lacking a few to make 1,000, but what’s a girl to do?

Perception and Perspective

Where?  There!
Where? There! (Photo credit: John Fraissinet)

Perspective is a hot topic for me now. I would like to understand it better. I watched a Ted video that I’m going to re-watch soon. I will add it below. If you’d like, you can watch it now. But please don’t forget that I’m here waiting with bated breath..or something like that.

Through different color variations that had light and shadows mixed, Beau Lotto showed color shapes that looked the same color, but were really very different colors with various shadows or lights.  His main delivery point was how your brain needs color, but also that your brain learns in response. Even in just a few minutes of watching a two toned color with the dot in the middle to fixate on, your brain learns to filter by the two tones side by side. When you refocused upon the scenery,  you see the scenery with a mental color filter. Your very own brain was using the colors and projecting them on the picture you were looking at. That was a fascinating experiment and I would love to learn more.

I wonder if that’s what is happening in our world now. We have fixated upon certain events so that when we refocus our attention on the scenery around us we are prejudiced automatically. Wow. That’s a deep thought. That one will take a bit of time to ponder upon. Very good thought, but also very scary. I have to share this one.

“There’s no inherent meaning in information.  It’s what we do with that information that matters.” Beau Lotto

http://www.lottolab.org/

Touchstones and Totems and how we handle life

Cover of "Inception"
Cover of Inception

For some, it’s a ritual, the lighting of a candle, the touching of a bead. For others it’s a prayer or a song that brings them comfort. We all have something. In the middle of chaos what helps you find your home? If you  dropped into a foreign land what would you do every morning or every evening to remember yourself to not forget what matters the most to you?

I am often reminded of scenes in movies. One in particular, is the movie  Inception. In the movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a group of people  (extractors) trained to gather information for the purpose of corporate espionage, with the help of a military engineered machine. The tricky part is not to lose themselves in the other person’s subconscious.

There have been many movies about delving into the subconscious of others and the fear always seems to not to get lost. In Inception, the extractors each carried a personal totem. It had to contain a strong special meaning to the person which held it and only he could control how it would behave. In this case the DiCaprio kept a spinning top which he could spin on a table  to find if he was in his own dreams or in others.

The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again

In our lives, we develop totems or rituals of our own. They keep us from losing our balance when life gets too difficult to handle. We take comfort in them much as a child would with her blankie. It’s a comfort to know that when I get stressed I can take my hot bath. Candles burning in front of me help to calm my fears. I can say a prayer with the candle flame burning and afterwards I feel the relief as if I really had accomplished a task.

rituals
rituals (Photo credit: The hills are alive)



Once, when I was in a particularly stressful time, nothing seemed to help. I felt completely lost as if my world had spun upside down. My entire nervous system had seemed to shut down and I was a messed up girl. I was standing by the window watching the sun set and it struck me not as beautiful but as absolute. It was the one thing that felt the most steady, the most solid and the most predictable. The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again in the east and I could once more see its bright rays fall across the lawn.

I learned to take steps once again

That one simple fact got me through. Afterward my faith strengthened. I felt myself grow a bit stronger. I couldn’t control the loss of my marriage but I could trust in a few things. I learned to take steps once again and hold on to whatever brought me comfort and strength again. 

Life is a process

When you’re swimming in the deepest of emotional turmoil, you need something to grab on to. And the time to prepare is before you are treading water. When you are on the dry land and in your sane mind, prepare. The day will come if it hasn’t already. Find one thing at least that you can look to which will remind you that a better day will come.

Remember a song from your childhood. A funny or a simple little ditty that doesn’t have to have any meaning but reminding you of a memory, a beautiful day. It could be a photo album or a diary you have kept. A prayer altar that you can set up with small items such as a dried flower or a river rock that smoothed and worn over time.

Life is a process, a wheel of time that takes us through the seed-time and the harvest. Through this wheel we have births and deaths, but in between the surety of the many sunrises and sunsets.

It’s not the item itself that has any power

Many cultures throughout history have had totems and rituals and yes I do put those two in the same group. In the time of tragedy a child will grab a doll or a blanket, a preacher may grab his Bible, a musician may grab his violin. It’s not the item itself that has any power. As I heard from the movie Practical Magic, the metal star of a lawman,  is just a small symbol. It has no true protective or comforting power of its own. Only the authority that we as people have given it.
In our culture we honor our dead by burying them in their nicest clothes. We place objects that have meaning only to us and that other person in the coffin with the deceased. This is normal for us and we think nothing of it. But there are other cultures that burn their dead. Some even mix their ashes with water and drink together the ashes of their loved one so that person’s spirit continues inside of each of them. Since I’m not from that culture I think I’d have a difficult time drinking the ashes of my grandmother, but I do understand the adoration and the honor that is given.

There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting

These are totems, these are rituals, these are steps we take together to honor each other, and to keep our civilization intact. We, like the sun that sets in the west and rises in the east remind ourselves with rituals and customs that there is love and there is good and there is comfort. Even though that today is difficult and we are in pain, tomorrow will come. And that day may bring more pain but hopefully that pain will not last forever.

When a person has nothing left to hold  they go into a blackness which they don’t know how to pull themselves out. That is why I am encouraging you to find something to help you balance. I realize that a candle will not replace a lost child. Nothing can ever take their place. But you have to continue on.

Those that we love that have died are gone. They are in our hearts and in our memories and we will miss them dearly, but what reason, what comfort can you find that will help you find your balance? If you need encouragement to make it one more day or if nothing makes any sense to you anymore because someone you believed in betrayed you, what will help you?

It was once said that if you are grieving, comfort someone else and if you have loss, give to someone else. If nothing else in life makes sense, bring your life down to the basics of humanity. There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting. There’s no purer love than giving a cup of water to someone thirsty. It may not take all of your pain away but you have made a choice towards life and the living of it.

And at that moment that is what totems and rituals are all about.

Straight and Narrow

Healthy Couple 7“Tigers don’t know if they like ice cream until they try every flavor there is.”  Calvin and Hobbs

Sometimes I have to risk being foolish to find my potential. I have to stray from the safe. I have to make a mess.

I admire the straight orderly lines that others make. I’d like to follow them and order my life in such a way. I’ve always been fascinated by the minimalist with their neatly trimmed greenery and lack of clutter. Buddhist monks with their orderly lifestyle. No frills. I’ve tried to convert to the Macrobiotic diet and vegan-ism.  I crave simplicity, but only for a time.

A beautiful landscape with green grass, trimmed shrubbery. One or two outfits. Utilitarian shoes. Practical flooring. Food for a day. Why does this intrigue me? Could life ever be so simple? Could I actually live in a house decorated only in white? Or black?

In one of my many times of wandering around the internet, I bumped into this: The Minimalist Religion.

“At its heart is reverence for a divinity. This is a single being for, as the medieval philosopher William Occam said, why multiply entities (or assumptions) unnecessarily?

We may pray to this divinity for guidance or assistance in serious matters (why shouldn’t we?).

We should avoid giving attributes (either limbs or supposed qualities) to the divinity because the more we attribute, whether by imagination or inference, the more likely we are to make mistakes. As we don’t really need a portrait to revere God, mystery seems preferable to misconception.”

After mulling some of these things over, I understand my fascination with minimalism. There are no decisions.Thinking is optional and absolutely no conflict. In the choice for dishes to eat from, no worries. White. Clothing? The white shirts please. It limits your options so you can concentrate on other areas of your life.

But I love color. My walls are yellow. I have red, turquoise, yellow, gold, brown and many other colors and it makes me very happy. When I am trying to keep things simple, I become obsessive. Afraid to move. I feel constricted and agitated. That’s not a good way for me to live. Life is messy. I’m good with that.

If you draw a straight line and EXPECT to follow it perfectly, then watch out. You will fall short of the mark. But, if you are using that line as a general guide and realize it is only a focus point or a mark to help you keep your bearings, then you will wander and stagger but you will be able to right yourself easily. You will be able to find your way back to center. In that way, having a line, a religion, a moral stance can help. Somewhere inside us,  we have our center. The place we can return to if we have spun off the center pole. The irony is,  even the North Pole shifts.

Some find Buddhism as that foundation. If you have a favorite color, theme decorating may be for you. Many would agree that it’s smart to buy only quality items, especially for expensive purchases. In that case, staying with the tried and true name brands would be good. Many of the philosophies of minimalism rings true. I will always lean towards being a vegan since my digestive system prefers it. But there are moments that I crave variety. I like messy.