What If Today…You Forgot and Let Go?

From Google Images

“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.” ~ Anthony Robbins

Do you ever wake up in the morning refreshed but confused? When everything is perfect but then a teeny-weeny thought creeps in and asks, “Aren’t you supposed to be upset about something?” And you start driving around your brain in search of a memory of something that did upset you the day before? Maybe it was a relationship issue, a bill that came in the mail that needs to be paid (last week), or an assignment or favor you’d rather avoid. Whatever it is, as soon as you remember, your perfectly refreshed and anxious-for-the-day-to-start self suddenly feels burdened.

Do you know what I mean? That’s how I used to live. It has been a very long time since I broke that habit, and it feels wonderful!

What if you started the habit of forgetting?

I’m not suggesting that we forget “stuff”, just letting go of the negative feelings associated with them that tie us to the past for no good reason – like an anchor to our ship that was made to sail not sit moored in a harbor, exposed to the storms of our emotions.

It had been less than 24 hours since our little rift at work (the one I told you about HERE) and my boss called, asking me to pick him up and head out to a new client. His car had recently bit the dust, so, for the time being I pick him up and drive him home. That used to be a lot of fun, but then that day happened and things got weird and uncomfortable.

But it was a new day and I was in a good mood. So I got in my little yellow Beetle, started it up, hit the hula dancing girl on the dashboard ’cause it makes me smile, and started out for his house.

And then the Battle of the Thoughts began:

“Don’t you remember how upset you were with him yesterday?”

“But I’m not upset anymore.”

“What are you? A doormat?”

“No. Well, maybe it’ll look that way. I don’t know! Maybe I should act mad?”

“But I don’t know how to do that.”

“It’s going to be an awfully quiet drive!”

“I like quiet.”

“You’re going to get a stomach ache repressing those emotions!”

“But I don’t want to feel mad anymore. Let’s just get there and see what happens.”

I pulled in and jumped out as he came down the driveway. We had a quick laugh and a mutual, “I’m sorry,” and that was that.

Yesterday, a week later, he came out and looked suspiciously in the car. I was in the passenger’s seat.

“You’re driving. The keys are on the seat.”

He’d told me the day before that he’d found a truck and that he needed to practice driving a manual since he was going for a test drive soon and didn’t want to look like a beginner since he hadn’t driven a shift for 8 years.

“Really?!” he smiled.

“Yup. All day. And you can call me if you need to borrow it for more practice time.”

As he drove our hearts were healed. He apologized over and over again for the grinding sounds when he made mistakes, and for the multiple stalls on hills, but I kept quiet because I know how it feels to be learning (relearning) something new.

I could tell that his opinion of me had changed. We still have really solid boundaries when it comes to playing – I’ll wait for cues from him on that one. But we found a new beginning, a fresh start devoid of negative baggage from one experience the week before.

I have people in my life that sit me down regularly and remind me of the past. They want another explanation and clarification of words and events from long ago.  At first (yes, every time) I stare and wonder what it must feel like to hold on to a memory so tightly. It takes so much mental effort to recall an event from the recesses of my brain, but the tragedy is that my emotions that were attached to that memory come effortlessly with it, and before I know it I’ve been masterfully anchored to the past again and the Battle of the Thoughts begin anew:

“Explain it again.”

“No! Don’t engage! Walk away! RUN!”

It’s quite an exercise in self-control! I don’t explain things anymore. I just listen to feelings expressed, knowing that it must be a nightmare to live in the past, never feeling like life is getting better because of imaginary splinters that fester and ruin the present.

I’ve learned what a gift it is to show up whole and ready to move forward. I get funny looks sometimes from people who expect me to be upset. I just choose to spend my time on Earth differently. Sure, I could dredge up plenty to be upset about. But that would rob me  of a great moment with you – the you that you are today not the one I knew yesterday.

It’s really quite fun.

Most things are when you learn to live in the present, acknowledging feelings, but not letting them rule you.

But first we have to learn to forget why we really don’t want to!

THEN and only then does life flow unhindered.

So much more to say, but 7-yr.-old Kenny wants his turn on the computer! Have a good one and have some great adventures. I am rope-swinging into the pond today! Wish you could come!

 

What If Today…You Lived With Arms Wide Open?

arms

“I’ll take a breath, take you by my side

Under the sunlight.

Welcome to this place

I’ll show you love;

I’ll show you everything

with arms wide open” ~Creed

“Ugh! Winter!” she’d groaned. “I hate winter!”

“I’m determined to like it this year,” I challenged. “What a waste of months of my life always wishing for something else!” She and I both suffer from the winter blues, when we become lesser versions of our best selves.

She and I had noticed the leaves on the trees earlier – the ones that are harbingers of the cold and limited daylight that are creeping in closer and settling down in our lives for the next five or six months. I’d noticed the pattern years ago and had tried various things like hiking to higher places where there were no trees to obstruct the light. But winter remained the enemy.

That was until I started my polar plunges last January – New Year’s day 2013.

“So, you know what my one goal is this winter?” I only have one goal at a time ( that’s a lie that I like to believe) because it’s the thing that shows up as a wall to my joy – the thing that if I refuse to push through it, it’ll continue to control me.

“What?” she asked as we rounded the bend and saw the beach. I’d missed the turn we were supposed to take because I can’t talk, shift gears, and pay attention to where I’m headed all at the same time. Funny how we ended up at the beach since we both crave a glimpse of it daily!

“I’m going to stand open-armed on the beach before my polar plunges and let the winter wind go through me instead of fighting it and wrapping my arms around me to stay warm (er).”

“Well, THAT’S a fun goal!” she said while rolling her eyes and silently admitting that she wasn’t going to enjoy THAT journey with me.

“You know, like fire-walkers. They just walk over the coals…”

“You’re going to find your chi, ” she interrupted. She uses different words to tell me that she understands what I’m talking about. I had to look up “chi” and I guess it’s true – I’m going to find my chi. That makes me laugh.

Whatever “chi” is, I know that I don’t have to “find” it. I have to stop fighting against it, blocking it, or whatever one does that stops one from feeling what is there to be felt at any given moment. It’s different for each of us. Isn’t it? What’s a struggle for me is  cake walk for you. But what IS the same for all of us is the choice we make to be the person who’s fully present and alive despite the circumstances – knowing that everything shows up as a challenge to choose how we experience the moment; it’s either a blessing or a curse, depending on our choice.

I’m done seeing winter as a time of fighting cold and darkness, even if that is only part of my experience.

I can’t wait! I’m so looking forward to bitter winds and stormy seas to knock me off my feet and swallow me up.

When I woke up this morning I had a private message from Lisa (my polar plunge comrade) waiting for me on Facebook. She wanted to go for a dip in the wee hours of the morning “if we were both up.” I was. She wasn’t. But that’s okay, ’cause it’s still too warm out.

But there will be other things to push through or work with today, I’m sure – many opportunities to find and balance your chi!

I just hope that today is your day to live with your arms wide open….even if it’s just a little wider. 🙂

What If Today… You Lived a Generous Life?

“Generosity is not giving me what I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.” ~Khalil Gibran

Generous people are fun. They aren’t afraid of a return on their “investment”, being thanked sufficiently, or of doing without. I honestly don’t think that the genuinely generous among us have many of those thoughts.

They just give in the moment and walk away. They are truly my mentors of happiness and real love – what it means, what it looks like, and how it feels.

I’m surrounded by generous people who have no idea what a joy they are because they are so devoid of fear. They don’t have time for it.

Abbott and Costello are real-life examples of generosity.

(No, not the real ones. These are mAbott and Costello. I’ve named them that because they are my entertainment these days.)

As I sat across the desk from Costello, sharing my mints, and my sense of humor and curiosity of why he does what he does, he shared with me some insights he’d had about the pattern he’d watched in his business – how he’d become successful after he’d started thinking about his clients more than his money in the bank, even though he’d chosen to start the practice of generosity right when he was about to lose  everything.

Abbott walked through the office looking beat up.

“Uh, oh! Someone’s not a morning person!”

“Geez! It’s only 9!” he grumped as he walked out the back door.

“Want a mint?” I asked Costello, getting back to our conversation.

“Sure. I’ll take two.” I laughed.  That’s the other thing about generous people that I’ve noticed and adore. They’re self-assured. They don’t believe they’re taking anything from anyone. They’re just in the flow of giving and receiving and feel no pride or arrogance about who they are in the world.

They just “are”.

While we were waiting for the documents to be printed we talked about his goal to lose weight, his balding head, how he fell asleep in his daughter’s comfy bed the night before after her back rub, his dream to remodel the building we were sitting in, and his new office where Abott was going to be transferred to.

Generous people are open about their life. They love to tell their stories – the things that make them human.

“So,” he said, “this business has made me dumb! I did something wrong from the start. I should have shared my knowledge and experience with someone so that they could replace me.” I guess that Abbott is now that guy.

He went on to tell me about how angry he gets because there’s so much to manage every day and how he decided to read Buddhism For Dummies, by Jonathan Landaw to learn how to meditate and “let it go.” I laughed so hard as he told me about his dog escaping that morning when he was walking out the door to bring his daughter to school, and how when his daughter said, “Daddy, go get him!” he replied, “Nah. The neighbor will bring him home,” and he ushered her to the car.

You see, some people get it. Everything works out because…well, it does. The problem of the moment eventually gets solved somehow if you let it go (the fear of how and when) and keep moving.

I left his office and hurried off in my little yellow car, excited to see my boss because she’s another one of my generosity mentors.

“Sit down. Drink it,” she commanded. “Isn’t it a gorgeous day?” she said as she passed me a Protein Zone Double Berry Naked juice.

She sat down next to me and proceeded to tell me how her mother had managed to poison herself by eating the insides of cherry pits (that would be cyanide) and how she spent too much time in the ER with her trying to figure out why she was sick until she remembered the bracelets her mom was making with the pits.

“Betsy,”she said very seriously, “I need you to be me.” It took a minute to understand what she was talking about.

I knew what she meant and it scared me to death. Take over her business. She has been one of the greatest gifts to me this year as I’ve reentered the work force after decades of raising children, focusing on writing, volunteering in family history, and working occasionally on my artwork in my free time. She has trusted me, enjoyed me, and taught me how to be that way with other people just by being herself.

“I don’t want to be you.” I really didn’t. I’d just decided that morning to start the process of getting Board Certified in genealogy. I’d even started filling out the application! And I have a piece of artwork that I’m thrilled about, and another waiting in the wings! What about THAT life?

“But you’re doing it anyways. You can do it.” I know. I just hate commitment. That was my fear.

So, I let go of my fear of what would happen and let the possibilities sit with me instead.

But she was thinking of me and my life, my circumstances, my needs, and how her opportunity was looking like one for me.

That’s how generous people think and be.

I love them! Don’t you?

There are so many ways that we are generous.

We can share our time, our stuff, our smiles, a listening ear, our hopes and dreams, our love….all of it – ourselves.

But truly generous people don’t think about themselves when they give and as they “be”.

They think about you and me.

What If Today…You Lived With Your Head In the Clouds?

This TED talk made me so happy! Now I want an iPhone to use the app for the Cloud Appreciation Society!

Gavin Pretor says about cloud watching:

“It’s a pointless activity, which is why it’s so important.

The digital world conspires to make us feel eternally busy, perpetually busy. You know when you’re not dealing with traditional pressures of earning a living, putting food on the table, raising a family, writing thank you letters, you have to now contend with answering a mountain of unanswered emails, updating a Facebook page, feeding your Twitter feed, and cloud-spotting legitimizes doing nothing.

And sometimes we need excuses to do nothing.”

Cloud lovers, watch the video and join the Cloud Appreciaton Society and download the free app today!

I Choose Light

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“Well, Betsy, you do play around all the time!”

THAT was the one that stung.

The way it was said turned me inward for the better part of the day because it was true. Something I’d said in jest triggered a fear in a coworker, and before I knew what was really happening, I was being reprimanded by him.

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked with a smile as I stared across the room into once kind eyes that had turned dark and beady. Where was this coming from?

“No, I’m not.”

After dealing with the shock of that confrontation, apologizing for what I could and promising that I understood the new boundary that was set, I felt an impenetrable wall go up around my heart towards him, and went back to work in silence – the joy, the playfulness, and the love of life had nestled itself deep within me and told me it would come out when the coast was clear.

But I, on the other hand, vowed to keep it safe. And that’s how I spent the rest of my day.

Safe.

Dull.

Perfectly serious and careful with a smile on my face at all the appropriate times.

“You’re angry with me, Betsy. Let me explain….”

No, I wasn’t. I was composed and lifeless – not something he was used to and something that made him very uncomfortable. You see, he wanted to play with me still, But I didn’t trust him anymore.

“You were clear. I apologized. I crossed a line with you. Let’s just work. Okay?”

 (Just so you know, what I said was said in front of our boss, who also has a sense of humor and is always a part of our playful bantering. I’d just said something that triggered a fear in him about the reputation of his work ethic.) I got the message loud and clear.

I wasn’t really upset with him. Blindsided? Yes. But I didn’t feel the need to lash out or explain myself to him. We just worked quietly and pleasantly.

However, I was angry with myself and I didn’t know why.

I visited with my mom on my way home because she has great, positive energy. Yeah, I stole some from her! Then I took the boys for a walk and met a woman on her way to a Yom Kippur “break the fast” gathering in a nearby neighborhood. I felt the spark of joy starting up again, and the peaceful feeling that all was right in the world guide my steps home behind the little boys who’d once again left me in the dust!

(How ironic that I had that chance meeting with a woman celebrating Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. If you break down the word it is: at-one-ment. Seems like a message to me of becoming one with the light from God within me…if that makes sense.)

This morning it dawned on me that what had really happened yesterday was a moment of darkness meeting light. I was engaged in a war within me and had nearly lost another battle…again!.

Today I want to say thank you.

Thank you for your fears, your insecurities, your anger – your darkness in all its forms. I’m happy to know today that they are yours, not mine. I have enough of my own, thank you very much.

Thank you for being vulnerable enough to show me what scares you because you gave me a gift – I see that we are separate and yet we are connected; you have moments of darkness that confront my light and joy and say, “Prove to me that you are who you say you are! If you really are full of light, don’t be dimmed!”

I can tell you today, because I’ve been tested in the darkness – a darkness created by my reaction to your fears – that I have a light burning inside of me. A light that only I can extinguish. It doesn’t depend on your kind words or actions, although those things do strengthen our relationship. I know the truth now because I decided to stare down the facts – that the repeating pattern of shrinking and hiding my joy to make you feel better or comfortable, is “killing” me.

I can’t change you. I just enjoy you…sometimes. I’ll learn to respect your boundaries.

All I can do is choose to let the light inside of me shine. It’s so hard to fight the desire to hide out. But when I choose light, I choose to grow in courage in the midst of uncertainty. It’ll probably get easier over time.

So, if we meet in one of your dark moments, I’m going to be practicing. And if you want to continue playing with me, you’d better enjoy the light ’cause that’s where I’m headed.

My Dragonfly

“Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly

Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:

So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.

Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,

This close-companioned inarticulate hour

When twofold silence was the song of love.” 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti The House of Life,’Silent Noon’, pt.1.

Do you ever end up in a place that you didn’t plan to end up in, and the only reason you’re there is because it’s where your feet took you?

I was having a very happy morning, but I was feeling restless, so I got in my car to go to work, knowing that they didn’t expect me there until tomorrow, but feeling like I had to channel my energy into something. When I’m at home, I read, write, draw, or take quiet walks. None of that was going to do today….

… I ended up at the beach watching a dragonfly, realizing very quickly that there was a reason for seeing it even though as I write this I still don’t know what that reason is.

I’m just supposed to share the experience…

As soon as I sat down at the edge of the sand dune I was enveloped by the warming chills of the spirit that help me to recognize a moment of truth. I nearly cried because it was so unexpected. I was so grateful because I need that experience regularly to feel alive and to be reminded of things that matter.

A movement to my left caught my eye. It was a dragonfly –  a delicate, skinny, solitary and silent insect going about its life as mine intersected his. I watched and marveled at how easy it would have been to miss him because he didn’t care if I noticed him or not.

The dragonfly flitted from a piece of driftwood saluting the sky to a blade of dead grass balancing upright in the sand. I was amused at his sideways flight and how he kept his nose to the wind as if to keep smelling the ocean.

I understood that one.

That smell always reminds me of home.

As suddenly as he came, he disappeared, flying upwards and blending in with the blue-black of the water, off to do what dragonflies do.

And then it was over. The spirit left and I sat befuddled. The only thing left to do was to head home (my daughter was baffled by that one) and to read up on dragonflies. I did and was led to a poem / story called “The Dragonfly“, author Unknown. (I’ll share it in a minute). As I read I think I began to understand a common thread to my day and what to share. You’ll have to tell me if it’s true for you. As I sit and write, it’s really all I have to offer as I try to connect the dots between early morning reading and later morning doings.

Early this morning I came across a true story of a man working as an indexer of documents related to genealogy (the millions upon millions of documents  that still remain unsearchable on the Internet because they need to be transferred to a readable format from film and paper files by volunteers to places on the Web where they are accessible to you and me, mostly for free). Long story short (read it here. on Facebook) he was changed and started seeing the people on the documents as real. He started to feel something for them. The way he interacted with his family changed for the better after his experience.

I was moved by his story because I understood it. I’d experienced it so many times. But every few days I forget about those who have died and have to be reminded that like the dragonfly, they go on living and being whether I notice them or not.

But, unlike the dragonfly, they care.

I know that’s true because my heart tells me they do.

This is not a message, I don’t think, to convince you about the value of family history or getting to know your ancestors.

It’s more like it’s a message of being still and “seeing the silence” around us – that invisible world that goes on imperceptibly day by day, like the dragonfly, nose to the wind, flying sideways and parallel to our life, hoping to remind us of home. You see, to me, it’s all “home”.  I just have to quiet down every now and then to remember that there’s a reason we can’t see them. It’s for our benefit and growth.

Life and death are the way that they are to help us to grow in love with the people that become silent and invisible to us. If they were always here, well, how would we try harder to see and to hear them? That’s a pondering for another day.

I’m sure that there are more messages in there somewhere for us to contemplate. Maybe you see one that I need?

For now, that’s it.

Here’s the poem / story that I learned is used as a tool to help people, especially children when they experience a death in the family or community:

The Dragonfly
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water beetle in a community of water
beetles.  They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again.  They knew when this happened; their
friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge
to climb up that stem.  However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever.  He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap.  As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.

So, fly he did!  And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never
known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead.  He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before.  His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.

But, his new body would not go down into the water.  He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news.  Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew.  So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!

~Author Unknown~

Use Your Smile to Change the World

I’m leaving in a second – out the door for another day. But I wanted to share something before I go. If I don’t I know the feelings related to it will fade.

So, here goes…

People in general are living their own lives in their own worlds. We make up stories about why they show up the way that they do in ours, but mostly we don’t really know the truth about why they do what they do or even what they’re thinking or feeling when we pass in a hallway or sit beside us in a waiting room, bus, or library.

We just make up stories.

But here’s the truth;

We can change our world – at least how we perceive it.

Yesterday I was watching people. Again. I watched a janitor mopping a hallway. I watched a man pushing a gurney out of the elevator along the same hallway. There was the young woman behind the counter of my favorite pizza place, and a man unloading a semi at my favorite bagel shop – the one I stopped at for two Asiago cheese bagels, one for me, one for my friend.

At first they all seemed so consumed with their own stuff, and I felt disconnected from them and invisible. They barely made eye contact. And that was fine with me.

And then I started holding their gaze a few seconds longer than they were comfortable. But instead of looking away I smiled and said hi. I started to change. I felt so happy. And everyone around me seemed happier. I didn’t even care that I might be making them uncomfortable. It was so much fun!

After my friend and I spent a few hours together she said, “You make me so happy I just want to kiss you all over!” to which I clapped and laughed. That was the strangest statement, but I knew exactly what she meant!

It’s fun to be alive. As far as anyone knows I’m having the time of my life on earth (which I am).

What’s crazy is that I keep getting caught eating pizza while daydreaming at my favorite outdoor spots.

Must be my little yellow car. 🙂

Have a good one.

Go make someone uncomfortable by smiling and getting happy in their face. It’s fun. It’ll change your day.

(Sorry. No time for Spell Check)