Meager (revisited)

It’s time for a shift in perspective.

I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or said another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head because it’s not an either-or choice. I need money. I want money.

Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off so quickly. In my work, I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances? There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb,

It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.- Proverbs 25:24

After living with a workaholic for years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. Happiness suggested less money than we had before. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my knowledge.

It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have the money, or you don’t. There are no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, and no damn lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.

Check out Stories We Tell and Change It Up and the original Meager post from 2014.

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Hard Times Come Again No More

1803421922-tumblr_mevga9vhge1rla79eo1_500Some weeks are exhausting. Getting out of bed is more than I can do. But then I meet people who are suffering, lost their job, a child has cancer, and it makes me realize I’m okay. Just whining here. This song is for those who have had some real hard times.

Maybe this is you. Did you take two steps forward and slip three steps back? If this hasn’t been one of your good weeks and it seems that only the vultures are your friend. I’m sorry. I wish I could be there with you and help. Could you consider singing part of this song with me? It’s one of my favorites. The band is Eastmountainsouth.

let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears
while we all sup sorrow with the poor
there’s a song that will linger forever in our ears
oh, hard times come again no more

’tis a songa a sigh of the weary
hard timesa hard times come again no more
many days you have lingered around my cabin door
oha hard times come again no more

while we seek mirth and beauty
and music light and gay
there are frail ones fainting at the door
though their voices are silent
their pleading looks will say
oh, hard times come again no more

’tis a songa a sigh of the weary
’tis a songa a sigh of the weary
hard times… hard times come again no more
many days you have lingered around my cabin door
oh, hard times come again no more

’tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
’tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
’tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
oh, hard times come again no more

Read more: Eastmountainsouth – Hard Times Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I hope tomorrow is full of joy and delight.

Check out Crimson, Eleven, Delight, Smell of Dust After Rain

Are You Just Sitting There Doing Nothing?

Sit in the middle of the day, in a public place, not with a cup of coffee or a book, just sit. Someone will stop and ask you if you need something. They’ll worry. Are you okay?

People don’t know what to do when someone is just sitting. And pity the homeless person sleeping on the grass or the steps. We poke them. Are they alive? I work downtown, so we see a few in the week.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how out of control most of our lives seem. Or maybe it’s just mine. I posted a while back the conundrum that I have or shall I say the elastic stretch, between medication and being well. Slowing Down to a Human Crawl The medication prevents the illness, but it also causes fatigue – in degrees. The fatigue and the spinal issues have caused me to reevaluate the heads down, let’s push through to make it happen, bull-headedness of mine. I’m a bit stubborn. I like to win. I like to get things done. I’ve been known push until it hurt. Well, I’m rethinking. Recalculating even.

How Leisure helps take control of our lives.

“Leisure lives on affirmation. It is not the same as the absence of activity … or even as an inner quiet. It is rather like the stillness in the conversation of lovers, which is fed by their oneness. – Brain Pickings How leisure helps us reclaim our human dignity in a workaholic culture

Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss (July 25, 1901–July 10, 1993) click on picture to see the entire book

I’ve been trying to discover this new life I have since I’m walking instead of running. The colors are different. Sounds and tastes also. I’m kidding a bit. But I am adjusting. It’s been a year of weight loss. My styles have changed. My wardrobe has changed. Today I just purged my closet. I should feel excited, but I don’t. I feel off beat. I keep walking hoping that at some moment along the way it’s going to feel alright.

Here’s the truth of it. There are life changes that I want to make that aren’t happening yet. That leisure I talk about is my way of saying that I need more relaxation in my life. I’ve had to push for it. When others were demanding I work overtime; I was pulling away. I had to respect myself over the job. This stuff isn’t easy.

I want to fill my space with music, my walls with color, and my life with people who know how to enjoy living this life to the fullest – however it may look.

I Have X-rays, But Not X-ray Vision

I’m looking through 18 pages of X-ray films from my MRI on Thursday. I’m to hand deliver them to my doctor, when I have my follow-up. The brain films make no sense to me it all. The one that starts from the back of my head and progresses through to the front of my face is either funny or slightly scary. I look like the angel of death in the last frame. A specter. But I still see nothing that makes sense. I almost didn’t do the MRI. My insurance has a deductible and on top of that is the 30% for diagnostic tests. So hello payments. Saint Francis and I will have a nice arrangement.

We grow

Through all of this ordeal, I thought I knew who I was. Some of that is a topic for another blog, like the fact that I’ve denied my chronic pain for years. My health issues have been completely overlooked in my mind. It’s surprising the things we don’t see of ourselves.

I’ve found surprisingly also that I’m more than that person. I’ve taken this in stride better than I expected I would. I haven’t panicked. I’m not afraid of some dire diagnosis. Really I just need a direction. Because I know it wasn’t what I had believed it had been for so long, migraines. Yes, I have migraines. And have had them since I was young. Sometime in my 30’s a different headache started. I felt similar, but different from the migraine, so I had no idea how to explain it. And when it recently didn’t go away, even after treating it for 3 months, I thought I might go psycho.

When I was in the MRI machine, the tech had asked me if I’d been in a wreck and twice he asked me if I had any pain running down my arm. This caught my attention. When I went through the neck scans I had an idea what I was looking for. And I think I’ve found it. I’m no doctor and I haven’t been in to have it confirmed, but the tech highlighted an area. There’s a narrowing in the spinal canal that looks like it’s the source of my problem. So BINGO. On a bad day, a long day, there’s tightness, swelling, and pain. Lots of pain. Make my head pop off, pain. Next step – follow-up with the doctor.

Not official

My unofficial self diagnosis is Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Let’s see how close I get. Oh, and one of the symptoms of this is clumsiness. Well anyone that knows me, knows that I stumble over ants. When I tried to put the X-ray’s away they all fell on the floor. They’re crazy to read and slippery to sort.  I’m glad they’re numbered or I’d feel I was in a Lucille Ball episode trying to put them in order again. Embarrassing. Hello Nurse. 

Barriers

There are so many walls, closed doors and iron bars in my mental picture that understanding life can sometimes be difficult. I’ve spent the last 10 plus years unlearning religion and yet I find so much of its cages still there. If I could find proof in a god or even if there was no god it would seem easier. But yet in the old behavioral science experiments the opposite is the case. In spite of the door being opened the animals still had difficulty leaving.

Is there a reason for the friction?

If you want to visit DisneyWorld, you’ll need to buy a ticket and wait in line.

If you want to see the full moon, you can go outside and look up in the sky.

Often, we’re tempted to create friction, barriers and turnstiles. We try to limit access, require a login, charge a fee… sometimes, that’s because we want control, other times we believe we can accomplish more by collecting money. Clearly, people value the moments that they spend at Disney–with hundreds of dollars on the line and just a few hours to spend, there’s an urgency and the feeling of an event occurring. – Seth Godin

When I can, I don’t make life so difficult. If I see a need and I can help, I help. God doesn’t need to be consulted or any religion. If I need money, I work. If I can make money at what I love doing, then great, otherwise I’ll do what someone else will pay me to do. I’m not going to sit around and worry because I’m not making money by being impressive. I want to just live my life without difficulty.

 

My Version of Confirmation Bias

I did something really stupid over the last 3 or 4 months. I hesitate to tell it because it seems so embarrassingly obvious now. And I bore you with the upfront explanation because I’m vain. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe, but I’d hate for anyone to think I’m as ditsy as my blonde hair appears.

I have one credit card that I run my monthly expenses through, as suggested by many financial experts, such as, Ramit Sethi, although I’m not a total fan of his.

I had some unexpected expenses so I didn’t pay my card in full and thought I’d catch it up later. Well this is the silly part. I downloaded the online spreadsheet each month to keep track of my monthly expenditures. This sounds smart, right? Until I misread the spreadsheet. I glanced and glazed over at the charges, mentally noted the total at the bottom. The next month the same. By the third month I’m puzzled. The balance was growing tremendously. Curious, I went back over the expenses and mentally added them up…whoa wait a minute. There’s a payment credit and it’s numbers offset the balance. Ugh. Classic mistake of confirmation bias. I had looked at the total I wanted to pay and just went with it. I liked that number. It’s what I wanted it to be, regardless of the true amount owed.

In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe. Psychologists call this mental gremlin the “confirmation bias.”- JASON ZWEIG

How to Ignore the Yes-Man in Your Head

Have you ever read through something you’ve written a month or a year ago? Amazing how you notice the errors later, but you swear they weren’t there when you posted the writing. That’s why we hire editors for the really important stuff. I call it confirmation bias, but it’s also called not seeing your own imperfections. You can’t. You’re too close. You need the skill of another person that’s not your mom or dad. Someone not too nice or not too critical. Truthful.

Humans are pattern-seeking animals. Once we have determined that a pattern exists, whether it actually does or does not, we tend to look for ways to confirm our suspicions. This is what is known as a confirmation bias. It can influence you in almost every area of your life; from school, to work, or even with the news or entertainment you may enjoy. However, recognizing that you have such biases is the first step in overcoming them and having a more objective view of the world. – Examples of Confirmation Bias

The next time something doesn’t seem right, but you just don’t “see” it, ask for a second opinion. Maybe someone else can help. We all have confirmation bias. Sometimes it’s as plain as the nose on your face, but you look right past it.

What is a Confirmation Bias? – Psychology Today

Now for my other bias, I love this music….

Meager

Money
Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

It’s time for a change in perspective.

I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or stated another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head, because it’s not an either or choice. I need money. I want money.

Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off easy. In my work I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances. There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb, It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home. – Proverbs 25:24

After living with a workaholic for so many years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. It seemed happiness equaled less money. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my belief.

It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have money or you don’t. There’s no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, no lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.

Check out Stories We Tell and Change It Up

 

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You Can’t Bottle Beauty So Live Now

 

Beauty 6
Beauty 6 (Photo credit: Leah Makin Photography)

Why is it when I see beauty I think I need to own it? And when I think of owning something I become distressed because I can’t afford the object of beauty. So my faulty reasoning kicks in and tells me if I can’t own the beautiful object then I can’t enjoy the beauty. Not true.

I can still enjoy the beauty and the warm glow inside of me from seeing the beauty. Touching it. Smelling it. No one owns the sky and the clouds, but yet on a warm sunny day I feel the pleasure of the birds flying and the soft clouds floating.

Beauty can’t be contained. You can’t bottle it up and store some for later. It’s that moment. Only exactly that moment. Trying to describe the beautiful ruggedness of the Rocky Mountains and how the air is crisp in the morning when you climb the trails, is like trying to explain a joke. The punchline loses it’s punch. If I see something that I think is beautiful I have to stop at that moment and appreciate it. Someone beside me may see beauty also but I can’t explain the awe to them. Not with a thousand pictures. Take fewer pictures and live more moments.

When you call me close

to tell me

your body is not beautiful

I want to summon

the eyes and hidden mouths

of stone and light and water

to testify against you.- Leonard Cohen

 

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How To Not Eat the Marshmallow

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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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.