Finding Meaning in Life

In a split second, we make judgments. Is a person tidy or dirty? Creepy or beautiful? Whether we are determining the fate of another person or choosing which shirt to wear, these observations slip in before we can reject them. And do we know why we’re attracted to another person? Is it their looks or kindness?

Do you want to get real with yourself? Find out what you value. I’ve spoken about this before in a previous post, How To Be Strong, but I believe it’s worth repeating.

And if you don’t know your values at this moment, there’s an easy way to learn. What excites you? Angers you? If you don’t give a shit about it, then I’d say it’s not a value. There’s also a link to a helpful site at the bottom of this post.

So how does knowing a value change your life? Well, maybe you’ve always let life happen. Whoever was helpful or befriended you became your bestie regardless of their character. But this person might be a user, borrowing money all the time and smoking in your car. If you know your values, you can say, enough. “Man, it’s nice to have a friend, but I value keeping money in the bank and a clean smelling car.”

People who know their values such as “family time” or even “alone time” have more direction in life. Imagine knowing yourself that well, enough to know that being a charitable person is essential. It’s more important than taking an extended vacation. For some people this statement is true.

So, what do you need? A clean space? Steady work? Adventure? Family?

#Mindtools

#Self-authoring

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

Muriel Rukeyser

How To Be Strong

Are You The Choices You Make?

bliss by jakki moore- painting shared from thegirlgod.com

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Lies, Lies, Lies

Simple little lies seem harmless. Your cooking is great. You look great in that dress. Those never really bothered me. I tried usually to ask what the person thought. A lie in itself is only a cover. An actor is lying when he plays the part of a police officer when he’s on the stage. He limits himself to the stage or his role in a movie. He isn’t an officer in real life. It’s a lie. It’s pretending.

There were a couple of shows that reminded me that sometimes harmless lies can be forgotten to be lies. They are the new truth. Up becomes down and right becomes wrong. Or, is it wrong becomes right? I’m confused. Anyway, the first was on Netflix. Kumaré-imdb. The second was an episode of Derren Brown which starts as a lie, but for some becomes the truth. Derren and Dawn Porter try to convince an entire town that a statue has special powers. Todmorden’s Lucky Dog (Long version click here)
Here is the short version:

Lies – Ones I’ve told. Ones I’ve believed – Spiritual Mentor that’s in my head:

  • If I don’t go to school, I won’t get a better job
  • If I don’t get a better job, I’ll struggle financially
  • Having all of my needs met is the most important thing.
  • I am better than others because of my aspirations, opinions or knowledge. I’m enlightened.

These are also illusions. Warped truth, not lies. These are just things that my eyes don’t see clearly. I don’t want them to become my truth. I squint and rub my eyes to try to look at them clearer. The crazy part is that they may be truth for someone else, but that doesn’t mean they are for me. I want to remain true to myself. What’s my truth? What’s the most important thing for me?

I received another invitation to Yoga church. The concept is interesting. I’m not sure how it’s different than going to a temple Sunday morning. Tell me what you think, hype, lie or truth? Yoga church. http://www.truenorthyogacoaching.com/yoga-church/

Join me every week for a new post.

Grandma and the Big Oak Tree

My grandmother was a very superstitious lady, black cats, ladders, salt over the shoulder, and all of that. I remember once, walking across the yard with her and my mother. We lived in a small town and had walked to the hair salon to get Grandma’s hair fixed. On the way back into the yard I parted ways and ran ahead. I had been warned previously by my mom and knew that Grandma had very superstitious ways, but I was an irreverent child to these superstitions at that time. I ran to the right of the big oak tree while Mom and Grandma were walking around the left. The two women stopped. Mom looked at me and told me to get back around with them. Grandma was very serious about this walking stuff. After much stalling, I started walking forward towards them. And I was chided more. I skulked back around the tree. I made it obvious that I thought they were stupid and rejoined my mom and my grandma who greeted me with a big approving smile. Lesson learned. Do not provoke Grandma.

Somewhere in the middle of the silliness, there was a nagging doubt. What if these things mattered. That little doubt has stuck with me most of my life. I was around 10 or so at that time. Church and all the spirit woo-woo added to the accumulation of cause and effect evidence. So until this day I still get that nagging feeling, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, or may I should have said or done something else. And, I wonder, is any of this true? What if I could toss all of this stuff in the trash? Life would seem so much freer.

It made me believe that everything that exists was caused by another thing. Cause and effect. Or also called the Rooster Syndrome:

The rooster crows and the sun rises: cause and effect, or red flag?

If I tripped and fell it’s because I wasn’t paying attention. So I could prevent the fall by paying closer attention and clearing my path. You can see this if you look at my life. I was always a very attentive person. And yet somehow I’ve had similar incidences as those that haven’t been as careful. I’ve been attentive and fallen. I’ve been attentive and broken my arm. It’s all just superstition in some form or another. Live and let it all happen as it will, because some things can’t be prevented.

To quote Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory:

Sheldon (on phone): Oh, hi mom. … The Arctic expedition was a remarkable success, I’m all but certain there’s a Nobel Prize in my future. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I’m entirely certain. No, mother, I could not feel your church group praying for my safety. The fact that I’m home safe is not proof that it worked, that logic is Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. No, I’m not sassing you in Eskimo talk. – “The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation”, The Big Bang Theory

Do your work as best you can and be kind.

 

 

What’s the Rules?

Pool Rules
Pool Rules (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

A baby is born into a family and immediately there are expectations. There are rules imposed upon him. Only he has no idea. If he’s born in the United States, he’ll likely be in a hospital and there’ll be immunizations and tests. Since he’s a boy, we’ll wrap him in blue. And if he is born in a religious environment he might be circumcised. These are rules and processes that we rarely think about but will follow religiously.

When we’re born we inherit a set of rules. They’re your parents’ rules, but they are also your culture’s rules. Your friends and associates. The church and local bar. The store, the coffee shop, the park, and even the mall have policies and rules. The unfortunate part is that no one thinks about them. They aren’t always written and if you walked up to someone they’d probably deny having rules. We don’t see the rules, the rules sometimes change, and no one talks about them. What kind of crazy game are we playing?

Can you imagine a playing a game and you’re not told the rules. They throw you a ball and you don’t know if you can kick it or toss it or run with it. Which direction? Then they yell when you are wrong? We are sometimes left guessing. Madness. That’s our world. Here are a few examples:

  • Don’t brag about your accomplishments
  • Be friendly and extroverted
  • Don’t be too friendly
  • Never mention bodily functions
  • Never be too needy
  • Don’t be pushy
  • Don’t cut in line
  • Wear black or boring colors to work and funerals
  • Bright colors are for summer or islands

My favorites:

  • Don’t tug on Superman’s cape
  • Don’t spit into the wind
  • Don’t pull the mask of the ol’ Lone Ranger
  • Don’t mess around with Jim.

Here’s an article with an interesting list, Unwritten Rules Everyone Needs To Follow 

Related articles

Society Changes

Society adapts over the years. Styles change like the seasons. Hemlines, sleeve lengths, fabric weights, these are all expressions we allow ourselves as humans.

Religion constrains. The Bible has strict guidelines, laws not generalizations . The rules don’t adapt. They are like a Polaroid snapshot that over time loses its relevance. 20 years ago that was a crisp photo of you in front of your first car. The memory is forever etched in your mind as well as on the photo. The car however is not as relevant. If you have it still today, it’s taken some work to keep it looking new. And if you compare it to the cars on the highway, no matter how good of shape it’s in, it’s not a current model.

Here are a few misquoted and misunderstood “truths”

  • Jesus taught us to love our neighbors. He was referring to the old testament’s teaching of taking care of your own family and tribe.  Under Jewish customs, you never charged usury or interest to your people, the Jews.
  • Jesus taught others to walk the extra mile as a way to get along in society. His homeland was overrun by multiple armies. To stay alive, it was better to swallow your pride and walk the extra mile. It wasn’t about love for a foreigner. And it wasn’t about loving your neighbor.
  • Religion meets the need of governing people to build society. It’s an infrastructure of the people. That was its original purpose, as well as to explain all the unexplained. Thunder is a god bowling.
  • I once believed that Christianity was God reaching out to man instead of man reaching God. We have the only divine word and the only instance of God reaching out to man.  All religions claim this.  In Judaism,  God spoke to Abram. And Mohammed. And Oral Roberts. And the crazy lady that drowned her children.
  • God doesn’t change. But I can read many times over that God changes his mind. If he keeps changing his mind, then who’s to know what to believe? Paul’s teachings don’t match those of most Christians today, but they are still considered the words of God. So who is wrong? Society, modern Christianity or the older teachings?
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Dad, The Faithful

My dad had a birthday last week which reminded me of this poem I had written for him years ago.

The race is not always won by the fastest,
the war not always won by the strong.
The faithful will be there when the war is over,
still standing, holding to the truth and waving its banner;
calling all to the challenge and helping others along.

We give gold statues to those
who flash and amaze us, or even just tickle our fancy.
But not many recognize the faithful.
It’s the faithful who inherit the kingdom.
It is the faithful to whom God will show himself strong

Because the race is not always won by the fastest.
The war not always won by the strong.
Sometimes, the faithful are the only ones standing
and have stood there all along.

My dad’s a steady person, the type that people rely on. I was over at my parent’s house and his phone rang. It was his pastor asking for advice. Then I remembered all the times as a child I’d learned how important it was to be faithful. Steady wins the race. Pastors frequented our house while I was growing up, asking for advice or just talking to blow off some steam. Dad always had the pastor’s ear, but not because Dad was charismatic. It was because they trusted his advice.

From The Power of Habit,

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they learned.  – Tony Dungy

Thanks Dad for teaching me your habit of being steady!

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Humanism isn’t Evil and Christianity isn’t Good

Most religious people believe that our moral goodness, our kind deeds, come from Christianity. At this I completely disagree. That’s like saying if you live in Wisconsin, you’re a Green Bay Packer fan. There are many cheese head fans that don’t live in Wisconsin and there are many Wisconsin citizens that are not football fans.

Morality is the main reason most religious advocates say we need the church. This is by formal religions such as Catholics and Jews, as well as fundamentalists. One debate I watched was a female minister who stated that without the religious community, our society wouldn’t have anyone to turn to in times of crisis. She disregarded much of the teachings in the Bible as literal fact, but still held to the concept of formal religion. She stated that it was the church, temple, mosque or chapel community that provided support after a death or during stressful times.

Is Christianity true to its heritage? Why say you’re a Christian? Most say it to mean that they are loving, kindhearted, and generous. They want to portray themselves as loyal to their country and family orientated. We have a picture in our head of the Christian as being the person who comes during a tragedy with the food supplies and blankets. If there’s a fire, the Christian is the kind person providing you with shelter. Why do we have to link Christianity with kindness? Can a person be kind and not Christian? On the other hand, can a Christian not be kind?

Friends are enemies sometimes, 

and enemies friends. -Rumi

I want us to unlink these assumptions. The next time you do a kindness, think about it. Are you doing it in the name of your god or are you handing a child a glass of water because he’s thirsty and you are a loving person? Is that hard to imagine?

The philosophy or life stance of secular humanism (alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, social justice and philosophical naturalism, while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism,pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.[1][2][3]

Story Eater

Philadelphia Story

Stories are the way we navigate our world, our chance to make sense of who we are and what we do. -Seth Godin

I like TV shows. I love to get into a good story and the very best ones you can get so lost in them, you forget they aren’t real. I’ve watched so many that it’s hard to remember them all. Some are still going strong, some have ended whether gracefully or not. Doctor Who, 24, Lost, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, just to name a few. I’m not sure what captures my attention. It’s not all in the suspense. It’s not all in the realism. It’s really not in the looks or sex appeal of the actors. I’ve watched shows that didn’t cast the best looking, but by a few weeks into them you adored the character and the actor. There’s usually an emotional tug of war. You can feel their struggle, either with their own temptations or their failures. Sometimes they are weak, but yet there’s some part of them you relate to. All I know is they have sucked me into their drama.

I sometimes wonder if this life is like that. If there is an afterlife, maybe we will look back and say, that was a damn good story. It might be like walking out of the movie theater after an intense show. Everything else seems a bit unreal and you just want to run back in and watch the movie again. Yeah I can imagine that.

What do you want your story to say? What emotional flavor is it? Happy? Charming? Cozy? Horror? Eek. That one’s not for me. I have mine pictured in my head. Lots of golden lighting. I update it now and then. I see the person I want to be as I grow older and how I want to live my life. With a name like, Wisdom and Grace. Or Sunlight on Raindrops.

Here is an interesting look at charity as it relates to stories:

What do we get when we give to a good cause?

Why on earth would a rational person give money to charity–particularly a charity that supports strangers? What do they get?

A story.

In fact, every time someone donates to a good cause, they’re buying a story, a story that’s worth more than the amount they donated.

It might be the story of doing the right thing, or fitting in, or pleasing a friend or honoring a memory, but the story has value. It might be the story that you, and you alone are able to make this difference, or perhaps it’s the story of using leverage to change the world. For many, it’s the story of what it means to be part of a community. – Seth Godin

Seth’s  full blog is available if you follow the above link. Thanks for stopping by and being a part of my story..

My World

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.

 

Strong Enough to be Me

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.

See also:

Personal Alarms