Saturday, April 26, 2014

Elements #28

Start concentrating on the things you can control. You can't change everything, but you can always change something. Wasting your time, talent, and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery, and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can control and act on them now.
I've been thinking about this one all week. I know that I worry a lot about things that I have no way of changing and I can see the added stress about it. I believe everyone does something like this and perhaps it is simply the way we are built. I hear people stressing over the weather, the traffic, the price of gas and I catch myself doing the same thing. Me? I stress over other people's reactions to what I do. I stress over whether or not I'll be able to keep up with all the things I tell myself that need to be finished by the end of the day. And the future, of course, I'm always worried about the future.

KeyholeSo what should I do about my part? I could easily say to myself, "Just stop worrying about things," but I know it isn't that simple. Instead, I think it might be better to look at the things I can and do control. Managing my time, crafting, staying in touch with friends who matter, what I eat, how I move... all these things and more are on the list of what I can control. Some of the other things I will concentrate are classes I wish to take, some with Brianna and some on my own. I'll concentrate on the energy I allow in my home and the people I talk with. I'll stop and look around me at the things that bring a smile to my day and I'll enjoy them.

Looking back over this I can see that I've simplified it all. Perhaps it really is simple to make these changes. Perhaps I can truly just choose to focus on what I can change and control. Perhaps it only takes that decision.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Butterflies and Bullies

I know I should be sleeping...

A butterfly can emerge after a struggle, beautiful and strong, but when every triumph is drowned in a layer of concrete, the butterfly begins to die. It is not the responsibility of a person to make things harder for those they love so that the loved one gets stronger. Through the years, I was strong enough! But with each show of strength there was rebuke and chastisement. With each spreading of the wings came another layer of shellac and when I'd break through the shell to rise again I'd be doused with another layer, stronger and thicker than before. The world is hard enough and when those who claimed to love me would put more roadblocks and tests in the way of my growth, when they kept adding more layers of concrete, they were only being bullies. And they didn't deserve the butterfly's beauty.

Once I would dance around the house or out in the yard to whatever song played in my head or on the radio. I'd twirl or jump or whatever felt right at the moment. Children do that sort of thing more often than not. It's a joy of living and an exuberance of freedom. Over time, as my mother's anger at the world grew, I learned to curb my enthusiasm and keep my movements more sedate while I was indoors. Eventually the stillness bled into every area of my life and even into my soul. After all, if you are still and quiet you don't get noticed and there is less trouble and fewer things to answer for. This stillness continued through my marriage even though I wanted to dance again.

When the marriage ended, when the second child was born, when I got a better job, when I finally had a place of my own, the stillness began to fade and I started to twirl again. My spirit shone brighter and stronger each day. Even a car accident couldn't dim the light inside.

But then came a time when the ground was littered with eggshells and shards of glass and I stopped dancing. After all, you can't move with the abandon of a free soul when you're afraid of breaking something or spilling blood every step you take. There would be bright moments and the appearance of a clear path, but they weren't frequent enough to allow the unrestricted flow of life. And so my steps faltered and I became still again.

I hadn't thought about any of this until recently. After all, when you're in a situation, you become numb to it. But I found myself tapping my feet at work. Then singing along to the radio. Then spinning in my room. Why did these things feel both familiar and foreign? Because I'd nearly forgotten this freedom of expression, this spontaneous lifting of my Spirit.

I don't blame those who held me down. I'm not even sure they recognized what they were doing. I allowed it and that was my wrongdoing (well, as an adult since a child doesn't know better). It was my responsibility to treat myself with the love I have for my Self. I don't absolve them, either. It was not their place to make my life harder.

I forgot that part when I became a single mom and again while I was in a relationship that included his kids. It wasn't my place to make life harder on my kids, it was my job to give them the knowledge that they could fly regardless of what was in front of them. I hope that they will forgive me of the times I wronged them and that they will fly with confidence.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Elements #18

And so it begins... I know that many of these posts might not be filled with awesomeness (possibly most of them), but I am looking forward to the exercise just the same. As you may have read, I am going to be using a list of "things to do" as a prompt for a weekly post. I don't know how insightful or these will be, but it might be fun to see what I come up with. Without further ado:
Start forgiving yourself and others. We've all been hurt by our own decisions and by others. And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go. Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn't mean you're erasing the past or forgetting what happened. It means you're letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
I think it's interesting that this is the first one chosen since I've actually been working on forgiving myself. While I can repeatedly tell myself that I made choices based on the information I had at the time or that I should remember that we don't know what the morrow brings, I still am more than a little harsh with myself in many situations. Over the years I can look back and see mistakes that I made and I can't help but cringe about some of them. I agonize over how things might be if I'd made "better" decisions.

And yet...

I had lunch with a friend not long ago and she pointed out that we really can't know the true outcome of the choices we make until we've already gone through it. Another friend pointed out that, no matter how well we think we know a situation (or a person) when we look at it from the outside, there are still missing pieces that our minds fill in with our own personality and our own outlook. Each step along the way helps us to fill in the blanks but, even when we are living the situation we will still not see the entire picture simply because it's unknowable (I think even the Vulcan mind meld wouldn't be able to give us the whole picture).

With these thoughts repeating in my head, I thought about how hard I've been on myself for many things. For moving to a new state only knowing one person, moving to another state only knowing two people, putting all my eggs into one basket and getting them all broken only to do it again, for staying too long, for not staying long enough, for too much time away from my kids, too much time with my kids, for pushing myself too hard to please others, to not push hard enough in defiance of others, to start, to quit, to cry, to laugh, to let go, to hold on... these are all things I've not forgiven myself for and I can see the hurt I've inflicted on my spirit because of it.

And I've held grudges against other people because of the hurt they caused me. I harbored animosity toward one woman for over ten years, the father of my son for about fifteen years, and a few other people for a shorter time. Eventually, I let go of the anger toward my Mom and stopped wishing harm to Bruce, but I see the cycle starting anew with other people. Not as rigid and unyielding as it used to be, but the cycle nonetheless.

So what do I do about it? I think the first step is to really look at the things I hold against myself and others. Expose them to the sunlight and see if they truly are as dark and vicious as I perceive them to be. If they are, reevaluate my path. If they are not, let them go and move forward. I know that won't be as simple as it sounds, and yet, we are in charge of what is simple and what is challenging and I will make it as I want it to be.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Things to do...

So... I have loved reading Liz's blog (belovelive) over the last several months and have felt inspired by many of the things she has posted. One of the things she's been doing is randomly choosing one of the Rules of Living that are credited to the Dalai Lama (wrongfully, as it turns out, but no less filled with awesome) and blogging about them each week. Her words are insightful and resonate with something deep inside my own soul.

I wanted to do something similar, but nothing else really called out to me or sparked my creative flame enough for me to say, "Eureka!" until last night. I was tired, up way past my bedtime, and was still feeling stress over looking for a new place to live (more about that later). I checked into Facebook once more and responded to a friend's comments about homeschooling & Common Core then saw a link about 30 Things to Start Doing For Yourself. Normally, I don't click on these since they are usually common sense. This time I did and a soft note began to hum inside. They are still common sense items, but why should that make them any less inspirational? And so I will begin challenging myself each week to write about these things. I will decide later which day to publish them, but I've already decided that I will print them up, cut them, and choose them randomly each week. I do like how Liz has titled hers as "Wisdom Wednesday" and I might do something similar. Thoughtful Thursday or Monday Meanderings or some other alliteration. Interestingly enough, if I start this week, this project won't be done until the first week in November. That seems pretty far away right now, even though I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.

Elements. I will call them Elements. At least that part is figured out, right? I'll figure out the rest after work this afternoon.

Oh! I nearly forgot about the apartment hunting. Yuck. We looked at a couple places yesterday and have an appointment tomorrow as well. The way the prices are around here, we may end up in a one-bedroom to keep Brianna in the same school (she would have the bedroom, I'd sleep on the futon in the living room). It won't be ideal, but we're flexible.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Topsy turvy...

Dogwood blossoms
As some of you know, I'm being asked to leave my apartment. For those of you who don't know; my lease doesn't expire until August, I've been paying my rent, I'm a quiet tenant, and I'm taking good care of the property. The owners were offered some amount of money by the Kia dealership (right next door) and they sold the place. I was first told by the landlady that my lease would be honored by and recently was told by the landlord that Kia would be asking me to move by the end of May (a few weeks before school ends for Brianna).

I have an open case with Legal Aid here and am hoping something good comes of it.

There are so many other things going on in my life that also seem to want to drag me down. My loved ones are suffering through challenges of their own and it breaks my heart a little that I can't really help them. Cancer & chemotherapy, PTSD & counseling, kidney failure & dialysis, and the list goes on. I know that other families are going through so much more than these things and my heart goes out to them, too.

Even through this I am think about the good things. I am mostly healthy and have met a few nice people, Brianna is healthy and has found a few friends, the sun shines more often than not, and I'm learning about forgiveness & letting go. There is a peace in it. Even if you are unable to speak to the person (like my Mom, for example), letting go of the hurt and the anger lifts your spirits and lets you continue to move forward.

Have you ever heard of the 7 Laws of Yoga? I hadn't and will admit that I haven't done any research yet to see if they really are "laws" of yoga. Regardless, it's a nice way to start the day and to help a person stay focused. For today's message (The Law of Least Effort... which, quite frankly, sounds lazy, even though that's not the point) I have been thinking about how everything boils down to "stop struggling so much". I know that I still have so much to take care and many responsibilities that require my attention. But, I also know that stressing over most of them will change nothing.

On that note. I hope you all have a wonder-filled day (even as the weather shakes things up for most of us) and that you find reasons to smile.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Arrival of Spring

As I watch the flowers round here open and show their color, it occurs to me that spring will not be a bold burst of green that I had sort of gotten used to that during my time in Ohio. I say "sort of" because I don't think I could ever really get used to going to sleep to a drab and seemingly lifeless world and waking to one that has a haze of green in the early morning light that bursts to full green by afternoon. No matter the science behind it, there was a magic to it, too.

Here... it seems that the change is more gradual. The grass is already green everywhere I look and there are flowers blooming everywhere. Entire trees covered in white or pink blossoms, daffodils, forsythia, and lots of others. And the green? It seems to be just growing, not in sudden bursts, but in a slow and steady pace. Almost as if someone were using a dimmer switch instead of a regular flip.

Regardless, I relish in the open windows while I'm driving and at home. I can't help but smile at the sun catching the crystals and throwing rainbow on the walls. And, as usual, I  feel the morning has a good start when I get to listen to the birdsong all around me.

I hope that, however spring is coming to your part of the world, you get a chance to enjoy it.