Make Peace With Your Life

When I read self-help books, I feel all jazzed. They excite me, but I find them lacking in one aspect, application. I’m thinking of one type in particular, which refers the reader to visualize their perfect day, to help make it real. I picture myself waking up at 8:00 in the morning and eating a healthy breakfast. Work on my writing. Hmmm. Sure, I can do this.

I know a man who cleans floors for a living. He’s a janitor at a middle school in town and has been for many years. He’ll probably retire there. He sweeps, mops, waxes, and buffs those things until they shine perfectly. It brings him great satisfaction. He likes the solitude. And the immediate reward. His art is not the Mona Lisa, but it’s his. At one time he was a contract painter for a local business, painting walls. He enjoyed that also.

I’m missing the feels

Why do I mention this? Because I have to remind myself, there’s a reason for work. Am I working for big dollars? Or hoping for fame? (good luck for either of those) Truthfully, I long for the same feeling as that man, and the same as anyone who finishes with an end stroke, be it an ink pen or a sewing needle. Yes! I did it.

Being satisfied in life is vital. It brings joy and meaning into our life. Some jobs have no end in sight. The gratitude level is too low. You need outside support or the chaos becomes more than you can bear. How do we handle these things? If you’re a mother or caregiver, the work can overwhelm you. Where can you find purpose? A caregiver for an elderly parent is one of the most thankless responsibilities, and our society undervalues caregiving.

We can only live one life, and that’s our own. Each day is ours to choose and a new day to live.

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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.

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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