Success: How Distant a Star?

morning

Insanely, voracious reader that I am, I picked up the book, Get Motivated by Tamara Lowe and powered through it in a day.    Self-help books often appeal to me.  I learn a lot.  I’ve also discovered that if I took everything I read to heart, I would be so messed up I would need a caretaker and a padded room.

Feeling the love, I’m hoppity, skipping through the book, ready to light the world on fire (ok, well a little candle, but it’s a start) and then I hit my brick wall.  Lowe says that we have five high-priority areas:

Career

Finances

Sense of spiritual fulfillment or purpose

Relationships

Health

After this list she simply states, “Nailing four out of five, in my opinion, is not enough.  If your business is thriving and you’re making money hand over fist –but your teenager is on drugs and your marriage is disintegrating–you’ve failed.  Likewise if you are healthy and have fulfilling relationships–but your career is tanking and your bank account is anorexic–you are certainly not winning at life.”

Apparently, I am not winner.  My life is so off-balance that I don’t know which end is up.  I could list all the reasons why I’m not a winner but that’s only going to depress me and take away any hope of deluding myself I am a winner long enough to start clawing my way out of the loser hole I’ve dug.  (After that last sentence, I feel even more confused.)

So, you’d think that all the good things I read in this book would be what I carried around with me all day.  Oh, no.  In unexpected moments, I hear my inner, crazy person tell me,

“Geez, you really are a loser.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to display some compassion toward my “inner, crazy person.”  Really, she isn’t to be taken seriously however, she does have strong feelings and I feel empathy.   We’ve been to the same places, talked with the same people, lived the same life, it’s just that she is whacko and a total happiness killer.  Indulging her is always a major mistake.  No body can get in my way like this inner, crazy person can. Yet, there she is screaming, “You’re a loser.”

Great!  She’s gone for my juggler, my emotional Achilles heel.  I fight back.  I tell her,

“Sorry, you are so wrong.  It’s just been a rough few years.  You can’t always see winning from the outside.  I’m a winner.  A loser would have quit years ago.  I’m still in the game.  There is still time for me.  Even in my “loseriest moments, wearing the toilet ring of shame around my neck, looking like a peasant from Les Miserable with spinach in my broken teeth, appearances can be deceiving. Winners don’t quit and winners don’t whine.  They take a licking and keep on ticking, You! . . .You!. . . crazy person, You!!”

Granted, the images I have just conjured up don’t argue well for my sanity.  I do feel better.  Maybe my toilet-ring-0-shame wearing self, needed to be assertive.  She is my hero.  We may still be in the trenches but we are aiming for the stars.  How can we lose?

 

Wordy Wednesday

My woes on Wednesday come from an excess build-up of words that have no place to unleash themselves.  So many words have built up in my head that they have started to leak out.  I can’t stop talking.  No one is safe.  I want to communicate and communicate I am.  Apparently, all those built-up words have layered themselves on my tongue and are finding an outlet.

This need to communicate is why I write.  There is no real sense or reason behind.  I write because I can but since I can’t always write (Life has a way of interrupting.) I talk to myself in my head or any one who happens to wander into my “field of conversation.”  (Some times, this is a pretty big field.)

Maybe, I should start talking to the dog.

She can be an amazing listener.  Although, right now she has some insane idea that there is something out side that she must bark at.  It’s probably a squirrel or the wind.  She barks at both.

When she isn’t barking and isn’t sleeping soundly underneath her blankets, she listens.

Her comprehension is questionable.  The average dog is said to be as intelligent as the average two-year-old child.  Ruby, our mini-dachshund, does display an advanced degree of toddler cunning.  She’ll never understand the meaning of all my words or begin to comprehend the subtle nuances some of the carry but she is an excellent listener.  She could be teaching a seminar in listening.  I think I’ll sign up the husband and the kids.  They should sit in the front row. . . and take notes. . . careful notes.

Maybe she is such a good listener because she is trying to understand.  Maybe, she is trying to learn something new.  Dogs can learn new tricks.

Maybe she listens because I am that important to her.

The “why” of her listening matters not.  The fact that she listens to me with her ears at attention, her eyes searching my face with eager expectation, that matters a lot.  Her listening is therapy, free and sweet.  It calms me.  The clouds of emotion that have obscured rational thought are gently lifted away beneath the gift of her attention.  Listening is this valuable.

Her lack of comprehension doesn’t matter.  Her immature, solitary desire focused on the possibility of a food reward doesn’t matter either.

What matters is that my words have found release.  There is no critic, only dumb, lovely acceptance and hope.  Maybe, just maybe, this is why ‘dog’ spelled backwards is “God.” In her listening, the genius of dumb coincidence meets the knowledge that in a world filled with words, there is one creature who listens to me as if I were the only one.

 

Rethinking Wednesday

Did associating Wednesday with woe cast a dark malevolent shadow on all things pleasant and positive?  Lately, Wednesday’s have been challenging and I don’t know why.  Maybe, thinking about woe on Wednesday is a really bad idea.

When curious teens ask me questions that I can’t answer, I respond,

“I don’t need to go looking for trouble, trouble will find me when it needs to.”

Since this statement is usually too obtuse for them to fully grasp my meaning, I usually resort to a quick,

“Don’t ask.  Can’t and won’t tell.”

This Wednesday, I think I might have been a bit too focused on finding what was wrong with the day and failed to find what was right.  I’m sure something was right.

No meteor collided with earth in the school parking lot.  The great earthquake that is sure to come, didn’t.   My dog is alive and well and didn’t eat my homework.  Hey, I don’t really have homework!  How fabulous is that?  I got a senior discount at Value Village even though I’ve got a year to go before I qualify at 55.

I didn’t discover uranium or radium or some such but I don’t have radiation poisoning either.

I didn’t sail around the world but neither am I shipwrecked on a desert island talking to a basketball named, Wilson.

I didn’t lose my new iphone because I don’t have one.

I didn’t step in a cow pie in high heels.

I made it through the entire day with only a slightly damaged inner optimist.  (Cynic and pessimist were alive and kicking!)

Now, I came close to tears twice and actually had to wipe away a tear or two once in the privacy of my home. No sobbing buckets until one’s face is splotchy and swollen.   I may have looked a little worn near the end and hence the senior discount but this day really did earn a slightly haggard look.   So, maybe a little discount was in order.

I didn’t call anyone an idiot.  (Well, not out loud at least.  I might of thought it once or twice.)  I got really frustrated about the demands on my flexibility but I can be flexible.  I will adapt.  I will survive precisely because days like today give me some important practice.  A little woe on Wednesday doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Maybe it’s a human thing.

This issue demands more thought but tonight I have earned my rest.

“Goodbye, Wednesday.  Let’s try again next week.”

Shine

Inspired by the book I’m currently reading, Edward M. Hallowell, MD Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, I’m devoting this Sunday to the “Shine.”

Dr. Hallowell’s intended audience is mainly managers in the business world.  Since managing myself is my greatest challenge there are some ideas in his book that I can apply to myself.   Shine is the end result of the “cycle of excellence.”

Cycle of Excellence

(Each steps builds on the other.  They all work together to create the last step, shine.)

1.) Select

2.) Connect

3.) Play

4.) Grapple and Grow

5.) Shine

Hallowell defines shine as, “. . . what happens as employees work hard and advance.  As they gain recognition, which affirms what they have done is valuable, they experience one of the greatest feelings a person can have (Hallowell, 38).”

Sign me up!  I want to shine.

Some times my soul wears a dull matte finish.  No happy beaming there.

How can I reflect the good in others back to them if I’m not shining?

On this January Sunday, as you look out on a winter world, ask yourself what shining means to you.  Then, go after it.  It’s a perfect task for a day devoted to the sun.

Smart Work

This Saturday’s child is in over her head.  My to-do list is a cruel master and I suffer under its watchful eye.  Last week, I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, like I’ll never catch up.  With so much to do, I felt like I didn’t do anything well.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that adds a greater burden to work than necessary.  I focus on what I don’t get done and fail to count what I do.  I also fail to plan.  This has got to stop.

I’m working too hard but don’t have enough to show for it.

First, I have to eliminate those things that eat up time but don’t contribute to my over all well-being, such as:

Online games

Worry

Clutter (inner and outer)

Procrastination

Eating for comfort and recreation

Lack of exercise (this is already a negative so eliminating a negative requires a positive.)

As I write this, I keep stopping to do something else.  This topic hits too close to home.  My office/sewing room is a bit too cluttered and I’m having a time focusing on one-thing-at-a-time.  I’ve got a handful of receipts sitting here that are begging to be carried to the shred bin but I’m doing my best to resist.

Now, that I know what I need to eliminate, what am I going to put in place to help me be more efficient?  Hmm. . .

1.) Creating a work and play schedule

2.) Committing to the schedule

3.) Building in rewards

I actually think it may be that simple.  Of course, if creating and committing to a schedule came easily to me, I’d have done it by now.  I’m more free spirit but I’m also done with the feeling of guilt that follows me around like a bad odor when I don’t get things completed.  Guilt interferes with satisfaction and it’s simply got to go.

I’ve got work to do.

 

 

Polar Wednesday

Woe can sometimes come from unexpected sources.  Waking my son up on this last Wednesday morning wasn’t fun. The woe alarm was clanging in my head.  I’d rather wake up an angry polar bear.

My son was an angry polar bear this last Wednesday.  How easily this polar bear undermined my pleasant morning.

I do not wake up with the heart of the polar bear.  I’m more of a happy hermit crab.  I carry the comfort of a warm, soft bed around with me to start the day.  My muscles are relaxed.  The day is still pleasantly fuzzy around the edges.  I can retreat into my shell with a good cup of morning coffee and this hermit crab is as happy as a clam.

I’m sure polar bears would eat crabs, clams and anything else that got in its way.  My polar bear wouldn’t bat a paw at eating anything, least of all me, his happy hermit crab mother who often tries to sing him into a pleasant state before he roars out of his cave.  Maybe it’s my singing.  It is really terrible.  The lyrics I create to go with my off-key singing might also be a factor but you can’t fault me for trying.  I’ve looked into this bear’s eyes and I know fear.

A mom does what she’s got to do.  As much as I dread jeopardizing my happy morning mood by tossing it to an angry bear, it’s got to be done.  The alternative is to let the bear stay home all day, eat junk and play non-stop video games.  Polar bears who do that all day lose all social skills as well as the opportunity to get an education and participate in the normal life of a American boys who drag themselves off to school reluctantly and spend most of their day talking about video games and thinking about how to trade lunch for some junk food.  A mom does what she’s got to do.

I’d prefer not to be called to truancy court which actually goes through a lot of hoops, loops and whistles before juvenile hall but the polar bear doesn’t have to know that.  I haven’t pulled that out of my arsenal of weaponry yet.  I’m saving it for the last ditch effort before one swipe of a polar paw leaves me a pile of bloody ribbons.

Wednesday morning’s struggle was intense.  The clock was ticking.  The bear was still in pajamas.  The sound, pounding in my ears, was my heart.  My voice was not singing.  It rose about an octave and I spoke in short, curt shrieks that even hurt my ears.  It doesn’t help the bear.  It made him more angry.   Handing him off to the next “zoo keeper” on this sojourn to school was a relief that I was too upset to enjoy, at first.  I drove to work sputtering with complaints I didn’t want to hear.

And, then I began to hatch a plot.  Psychology is at my disposal.  Am I not the wily human one, the happy hermit crab who just might have a powerful weapon on my side, my intuition and ability to alter my response and thus redirecting the polar bear’s behavior with clever mommy manipulation?

Watch out polar bear.  I’m getting ready for you.  No more woeful Wednesday mornings.

Fear in the Attic

Fear.

It’s Marvelous Makeover Monday’s topic.

Fear is the thing in my head that keeps me a prisoner of myself.

Fear is the feeling that gives in to doubt until doubt is all there is.

Fear is an ugly coat that I need to stop wearing.

Fear etches deeper wrinkles in my face.

Fear stands in the way of trusting and believing that I was made for something greater than any fear.

Fear whispers and sometimes roars but always speaks in excuses.

Fear has a place but most of my fears have escaped the small space they were allowed.  They fill my head and heart with the heaviness of regret over what I failed to do.  They waste my time imagining might have beens that never were.

Makeover Monday is as good a time as any to face them and round them up and make over the attic they live in.  I’ll remodel this attic with skylights and fans.  It will be the attic of my dreams, a place to create and laugh and ponder the great mysteries of life with wonder, reverence and abandon.  Fear doesn’t belong here.  I peel back the first few shingles and from below the rafters, I glimpse, a slice of the night, ablaze with beautiful stars.

“I have nothing to fear but fear itself” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt Inaugural Speech 1932).

 

Simply, Deeply Sunday

This morning, I was reading updates from Beliefnet.  The following quote from Rainer Marie Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, said what I needed to hear this cold winter morning.

I think you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in nature, in what is simple in nature, in the small things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor; then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your inner-most awareness, awakeness, and knowledge….

I would like to beg you … as well as I can to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that—but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2013/01/living-the-questions.html#ixzz2HDWPYGWD

Saturday’s Child

satplay

 

This Saturday’s child avoided work most of the day.  Now, I’m trying to catch up on business and housework.

The kids and I played.  One of my favorite things about having children is that you have an excuse to play like a kid.  Here, they are outside of the world-famous Target posing in some weird gestalt style.   I love my kids and enjoy their company!

Keeping this short and sweet.  I have work to do.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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I am reading

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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