Small Change and the Importance of Dailyness

For a little over a month, I have been adding specific daily activities to my life.It started with a daily 30 Day Cycling Challenge that ended successfully on 9/15.Before the challenge was over, I added a few other daily activities such as stretching and meditation and plan to add a few more, week to week.Most of these only to 10 to 15 minutes out of my day.

This is not only for self improvement but to answer the question, ” can small amounts of daily and mindful effort make a measureable difference?” I have always believed so but now I have set out to prove it.

I remembered a book I purchased some years ago called Small Change by Susan and Larry Terkel.I would flip through it from time to time but never finished it.This seemed the perfect opportunity to do so.As it turns out, it has been a lovely companion to this journey. It encourages making small, seemingly insignificant, changes like improving one’s posture or adding exercise into the workday, in a way that feels light hearted and doable.

This is probably obvious but in case it isn’t, I am not a graduate nor an advocate of the ” No Pain No Gain Kick Your Ass School of Self Improvement”. It would be closer to the truth to say I am a proud dropout of such an institution.I found it to be ego based and destructive.Those who continue in it usually end up injured and disillusioned.I have seen this.It is completely unsustainable.

Small Change touches on another concept I find intriguing; dailyness.

Dailyness, as defined by Collins English Dictionary, is the quality or nature of being daily.As I get older, I am more and more facinated by the way regular routines shape our lives, day by day, moment by moment.

There is also something incredibly democratic about this process.Each one of us have the power, ability, and freedom to use our time to improve ourselves and our world.My interpretation of the American Dream goes like this; no matter who you are or what your background, if you are willing to work hard and refuse to give up, you can achieve your goals.

I think we could all benefit from a reminder of our history in that regard.In today’s environment, where huge corporations and carefully manufactured superstars would appear to reign supreme, we individuals still have power.For me, making small changes is a way we can use our power, each and everyday.Small changes, over time, make a difference.

I am excited to share my journey and celebrate my progress with you.Stay tuned.

Ch- ch- ch- ch-ch- ch anges!!

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30 Day Cycling Challenge

On 8/17, I started a self imposed 30 Day Cycling Challenge.This means 30 consecutive days of cycling. Although I didn’t establish a mileage requirement, I have been riding anywhere from 5 to 16 miles a day.This commitment to daily activity reduces the modern malady known as ” decision fatigue “. There is no choice. In the time it would normally take to decide what to do, you’re already done.

This was originally intended as a running challenge or ” streak ” but my husband discouraged it as I was only recently recovered from a back injury. “Fair enough,” I thought. However, when he mentioned cycling as an alternative, as an off handed remark, I jumped at the chance.

This was an opportunity to try something different.I had done yoga training, marathon training, and some weight training but never given quite the attention to cycling as exercise.Would I get stronger? Improve my aerobic function? Will it help my running? Is that even possible? That all remains to be seen.

I am at about the halfway mark now and, so far, I can confidently say that, if nothing else, this challenge has enriched my life.Being outdoors, daily, on the bike has been like a mood altering drug.The sights and sounds of nature create a shift in consciousness that lasts for hours. What’s more, being exposed to this beauty somehow makes ME feel beautiful. How ’bout that?

The husband accompanies me most days although he is not doing a challenge as such.We are both astounded by and grateful for the ability to be active and are pleased to have a bike trail so close to where we live.We see familiar faces that we recognize as ” regulars”. Some have baby strollers or dogs, some are runners, walkers, or fellow cyclers.We nod in passing and say good morning.Barely anyone appears annoyed or depressed.

So far the weather had been cooperating with us.Some muggy days have left us drenched in sweat while others have been crisp and refreshing. If it storms, I can ride indoors at the gym but I am dreading that.

What will happen after the 30 days? Will I continue? How do I integrate my other fitness activities, especially running, without losing the ease of having a single consistent activity? I am not sure but for the moment, I will just enjoy the ride

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Showing Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I write this, it’s Christmas and we are closing in on the last days of 2018.
My desires and expectations for the coming new year are more focused than in previous ones.There is a certain clarity of purpose as well as a quiet determination that says to me, “ Yes, I am going to do it this year.This year will be different.” This could easily be the result of a fast approaching milestone birthday coming up in February. Although I am not one to put much thought into a number, I must admit that this one is a little intimidating.

On the surface, my life does not appear to be exciting or successful.I have very few, if any, accolades or achievements and even less in the way of material possessions.However, in the last 2 to 3 years I have taken the time to cultivate a more satisfying inner landscape.

What does that mean ?

Hmmm….where do I begin.

I think that somewhere along the line, it started with aligning myself with some core beliefs.

I am more valuable than money.

Life is not about having a bunch of “stuff ” (although I do like stuff, I can’t deny.)

I am more than what I do or have.

This, consequently, resulted in letting go of some situations and relationships that were chaotic, combative, and draining. Once I stopped being continually sabotaged and giving my energy where it wasn’t wanted, I could see a clearer picture of who I am and what I need to be doing.This was not an easy task and it came at a price but it was well worth it.

Now the real work begins.

This means adopting an ” attitude of gratitude “.

This shift in perception requires discipline, especially during stressful times.I can honestly say, now, that I am grateful to have the simple things like a peaceful home, a warm bed, and food to eat.

This means being an impartial observer of my own attitudes and beliefs, accepting and processing my feelings, calling myself out on my own B.S., recognizing my own prejudices while, at the same time, not being too hard on myself.

Being more present, more mindful, more conscious…….

Yada, yada, yada.

Blah, blah, blah.

I am aware of  how flimsy that all sounds.

You would think with all this precious self awareness I would be on top of my game but I still don’t always follow through as expected.Things don’t go as planned either because of my negligence or some circumstance beyond my control.

The other night, my husband and I played a show that I, for one, felt less than prepared for.We have both have been working more than usual and our practice time was limited.

We were to follow the lovely Tiffany Harmon who kindly invited us to play her Sunday night show at The Ghost River Brewery. When we loaded in, she was already playing .Her performance was smooth and professional with beautiful singing, strong playing, and a lively banter with the audience.

I felt discouraged, like, ” who am I kidding?”

I made a conscious decision to stay focused and positive, in spite of how I was feeling.When we got up to play, I looked out at the people, the audience, and sought to connect with them on some level.

Then, I had a realization.

There is something to be said for showing up as you are, in that moment, and giving everything you’ve got, even if you don’t think it’s enough.The idea that it has to be perfect is bogus.It has to be real, heartfelt, and meaningful.Most importantly, it has to BE THERE, not just in theory, but in reality.

There are some days where the best you can do is just show up and give what you have that day.That’s what I did and although it was flawed, I was satisfied with the results, for that moment, for that day.

I have important goals, high hopes, and big plans for 2019.I do realize that, in spite of our best efforts, life happens. John Lennon once said, ” Life happens when you’re busy making plans “. How right he was!

LIFE is the necessary ingredient and showing up for life is essential.

Here’s to more life in 2019.

Merry Christmas!!!

Love, Anne

 

 

 

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Comparison and Discontent

Recently, I admitted to myself that I have an on going struggle with jealousy.

I have been harboring this feeling in my heart when I see what others have, or seem to have, or what they have done, look like, etc.When I finally addressed this, within myself, I began to feel a release.It was not unlike feeling a sensation of nausea or a headache slowly subsiding.It was still close by but it wasn’t crushing me anymore.It fact, until I faced up to this jealousy thing, I had no idea how much it was weighing me down.
To covet means to yearn for, crave, or desire to possess. “ Thou shall not covet “ is one of the Ten Commandments.I would venture to say that is not viewed with the same severity as a commandment like “Thou shall not kill“ and it is often overlooked or misunderstood.For one thing, it is an internal act where as “Thou shall not steal“, for example, is an outward action.We tend to think that if we can’t see it, it isn’t happening. It doesn’t count.For another, we live in a society that applauds, encourages, and strives to create envy.Where would advertisers be without the constant message of, ”You want this don’t you? Shouldn’t we want what others have? Aren’t we entitled?”

The passage from Exodus states the following, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Upon reading this, I realized, in essence, this was not just about wanting certain goods.It was about desiring what belongs to someone else.That endless comparison of what they have verses what you have.

I was beginning to see a bigger message to all of this.It is wrong to desire someone else’s LIFE.

Damn, mic drop moment….

Here all this time, I had been desiring to live out someone else’s life and destiny and not fully embracing my own.Once caught a glimpse of this, it became easier to be happy for others in their and good fortune.Yes, I still want “things“ whether they be material objects, relationships, achievements, or opportunities but I want them to be fully mine.I don’t want what is mine to in anyway to detract from what belongs rightfully to someone else.

There is a common, underlying, belief in scarcity in our culture.This belief is rooted in the idea that there isn’t enough to go around.We must complete with others in order to get our needs met.” Dog eat dog ” as they say…

Is this true?

Who benefits from this way of thinking?

I like to think that we all have a unique contribution to the world.I also like to think that comparison doesn’t have to be adversarial and discontent can be a doorway to a deeper conversation with ourselves.

What do I truly want and how can I make it, truly, my very own?

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Your Funeral, My Miles

Last weekend, I finished my 5th Half Marathon.This time around, I did a different training method created by Dr. Phil Maffetone appropriately named, "The Maffetone Method ". It required using a monitor to keep track of my heart rate and staying within a specific range determined by my age.To put it simply, this meant, for me, running SLOW, VERY SLOW during my training runs.This is done to build cardiovascular strength.Along with a low carbohydrate diet, which I dabbled in, training at a specific low heart rate causes the body to use fat as it's primary fuel.I probably didn't follow this method 100% correctly but I will say this; I began to fall in love with running in a way that I never expected. I was able to get up out the door in the early morning, without anguish or dread, and run, on average, around 6 miles on an empty stomach.

In the past, I pushed myself to exhaustion, finding only fleeting moments of enjoyment as I dutifully logged in the prescribed training miles.Now, I have exchanged this " no pain, no gain " type mentality for a more sustainable one.This applies not only to running but every area of my life.

Yes, I will show up, yes, I will work hard, and yes, I will be committed.

BUT

No, I will not knowingly subject myself to injury, abuse, or humiliation.

Life is too short.

I counted my training as a success even though it may have resulted in my second slowest half marathon time ever.Why? It was by far the strongest, most enjoyable race I can remember. The weather was near perfect with blue skies and a slight chill.I drank in all the sights and sounds with heightened awareness.I was steady and focused throughout the course, waving, slapping hands, smiling,  and calling out to a handful familiar faces I saw along the course.If nothing else this race benefited St.Jude Children's Hospital, which is a worthy cause and and it was an honor to take part.

I spent that Saturday afternoon and evening  indulging in some well deserved, delicious, and delightful relaxation.

Sunday morning, we received word that a dear friend had passed away.

My husband and I knew of Patrick's illness for about a month and a half.We received a text from his fiancee Karissa on a Saturday morning and decided to drive up from Memphis to Bowling Green to see him in the hospital that day.I believe we both knew this would be our last visit.
We planned another visit but never got the chance before he passed.

Pat was a man who lived on his own terms.He read books, studied music, and played in various bands on the Nashville underground music scene.He is the bass player on an early recording my husband and I did.He rode and repaired motorcycles.Though he was born in Germany and spoke fluent German, he embodied a noble part of the American South; independent, resourceful,  and honest.Today we could make the mistake of using the term redneck to mean southern but there is a huge difference.
He lived with, and for, what was essential.

When I first came to the South, via Nashville in the 90's, I was impressed with how much space there was.( Things have changed quite a bit since then,I am told.)Not just space to live and move but also space to think and grow.One could sit with friends on a patio, under a canopy of trees, and take time to read, discuss, and BE.Having been raised  in New York, everything was so high pressure.The South seemed like a place to find my feet, so to speak, and discover what I wanted, what I truly believed,  and who I really was.

Pat would refer to certain artists, like Louis Armstrong for example, as being " fully formed ".I am not sure I agree. I think artists do go through a learning curve or period of development unseen from most.However, if there was anyone I have met that seemed " fully formed " to me, in terms of personality and character, it would be Patrick.He was solid and grounded in who he was.

 It would seem that being an individual these days is to be an endangered species.A true individual is not defined by something external like blue hair, tattoos, or some non specific gender identification.It is not so obvious.It is something that begins on the inside.It is the cultivation of one’s identity, however flawed it may be, independent of and indifferent to society’s desires or expectations.

This was why a person like Pat inspired me.It gave me hope that real and true brilliance was and evident in the everyman.It was possible to educate yourself.You didn’t have to follow a program that someone else dictated to you.Even if you learned from or were influenced by others, at the end of the day, you lived your own life and took responsibility for it.As the popular phrase says, “Run your own race”.

There is an element of danger, to be certain, when living on your own terms.I believe Pat may have suffered, namely in terms of his health, as a result of this.Perhaps different choices would have yielded different outcomes but there is no way to be certain.Today’s society wants to minimize, if not completely eliminate, the element of risk in our lives.Although I am not recommending being reckless, I think risk goes hand and hand with freedom.To live each moment, we face the possibility of failure or, at the very least, the inability to control or predict the outcome of a situation.If nothing else, when facing a loss, we should take the time be mindful of the choices that present themselves to us in each moment rather than just “sleepwalking ” through a series of reactions.

Attending yet another funeral for a friend serves as a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time.I have more than my share of miles on the odometer.The memories and experiences I have are important to me, though, even if they are invisible to the naked eye.It is currency that I bury deep within me.It reminds me and inspires me.I still have days yet to live,choices to make, and opportunities that have not been revealed.I may be slow right now but I am still in the race.

This is Patrick’s legacy to me; to stay true to myself, live my own life, and run my own race, as only I can run it.
This is a birthright, for all of us.

Patrick Hans Albert

July 10,1965 – December 3,2017

Rest in Peace

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Learning From Resentment

 




imageI have been fighting a cold for several days.One thing that illness does  is force you to slow down in spite of pressing responsibilities.I feel as though I am a car that is not running on all it’s cylinders.Rest is essential and yet I feel restless.

I have been struggling with what would seem to be a toxic emotion, resentment.It bubbles underneath the surface, seething and stewing.It is different than anger in that it is internally processed.It is a sense of injustice that becomes stronger over time.

Resentment, to me, is when instead of wishing others well, you want to see them fail.You want them to ” pay ” for the harm they have caused you.You want to see them publicly shamed so you can say, ” See, they deserved it.”It is difficult, if not impossible to see people that have hurt you, cheated, stole, or lied, and and see them appear to be happy and prospering when you are struggling.

There is a degree of familiarity to it.It makes you want to ” bite the hand that feeds you “. Instead of appreciating or accepting what is, you ponder about what could have been or should have been.

Unlike anger, it can be hidden behind a smile, a kind word, or silence.We don’t always want to admit how we feel, even to ourselves.

When I sat down with my journal to write, I posed this question; what can I do?

The first thing that came to mind was to forgive.

Ah, yes.Like the saying goes, ” To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness does not make any sense to the rational mind.In fact, my response was,” yeah, yeah, I know that already” but there is a world of difference between knowing something and the act of doing it.Once I actually sat down to do it, I felt a release.A burden was lifted and I received some insight.

For one thing, prayer and forgiveness gives you a place to vent.By being willing and making the effort to forgive, you have to acknowledge your feelings and  no one can dispute your grievance.There is no need to justify yourself or convince anyone.You are being proactive in the situation even if you never verbalize it outwardly.The choice to ” let it go ” is yours and yours alone.

There is energy locked up in resentment that can go towards fueling your future success.We don’t even realize how this drags us down and holds us back.As it says in the Lord’s Prayer, ” Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we don’t forgive, our prayers are hindered and we stay stuck.

When we bring our offenses into the light of forgiveness, it is easier to detach from them.

I have taken steps in my life to set boundaries, communicate my needs, and honestly assess what I can and can’t do.I make a sincere effort to obey the golden rule and put myself in other peoples shoes.Believe it or not, that is still not enough.I have been burned anyway ( and so have you ).

I minimize my contact with people and situations that are potentially hurtful or toxic.This may seem like a good idea, and it is, but it is also unrealistic and inadequate.We are surrounded by wounded people who wound people.They are our friends, family, co workers, neighbors, leaders and we, sometimes, are those wounded wounders.

They are everywhere

Day to day, we are forced to interact with one another. Some would seem to be wrapped in barbed wire.They cut us and cause us to bleed.Some would seem to be sweet but they are also sticky, drawing us in effortlessly, then leaving us drained and empty.

In spite of our best efforts, we can’t completely avoid this.

Resentment is culmative.It is the result of enduring behavior, treatment, or circumstances that we perceive as unreasonable or unfair,  time after time.

At first, I though forgiveness was it, the solution, but that wasn’t all there was to it.

Here is the surprise, for me.

We use resentment as a distraction and an excuse. Facing it forces us to make changes, big changes, as a result.These will ultimately benefit us but in the meantime, it requires us to face fear, discomfort, and the unknown.We HATE that, at least in the very beginning.

This applies in our personal life but also in how we relate to the world at large.We resent our government, the media, the system, but are we willing to do anything to help change it?

Facing resentment is like a spring cleaning, shaking the dust out and cobwebs out, letting the sun shine in.It is also a day to day maintenance thing.You think of a situation, grrrr…You hear a name and your jaw is clenched.Why?? Can you let go? Forgive ?? What do I do now ?

It may be the motivation we have all been waiting for, but not looking for.

 

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The Substance Within


IMG_0753I took a snapshot recently of a gorgeous fall day.

God was showing off ,no holds barred, brilliant sunshine, soft breeze , and a touch of gold and red in the fall foliage.Simply breathtaking.There was a strange sense of peace within me; the culmination of a growth process I have been experiencing.If that sounds a little lofty, I assure you it’s not.

I have been writing and performing music, my own music, for 20 years now.These were years spent learning and growing, albeit in relative obscurity.Sometimes, let’s be honest, there is a touch of shame in this.The idea is to win the prize and get the glory, FOR REAL.At the very least,  you want people to acknowledge your work.I will admit, I have not always been the best marketer.Looking back, I can see my priorities were different than what others who were deemed successful on the music scene.I wanted to get better and create honest,and powerful work and that takes time and effort.It has been a slow process.At any rate, when I get up to perform now, it’s the culmination of years of effort that went largely unseen and unnoticed.What is amazing is that there are some nights where I can reach inside me and draw from that well of experience.This is reassuring.

Over the last few months, I am beginning to recognize a glimmer of hope, a sense of connection,a new found strength, along with the quiet assurance that I am on the right path.This is not something I can explain to anyone else, but I know it to be true.

That is not to say I do not wrestle with crippling doubt.I most certainly do.The difference is this; at any given moment I can take a step back, check in with myself, and get back on track.

Like most of us, I spend more time than I care to admit on social media.I see others posting about traveling to exotic locations, landing their dream job, completing grueling workouts, giving birth to their longed for child, or meeting the love of their life.They smile for the camera and display themselves in the best possible light (I have done the very same thing).The photos would say, “This is my life and it is all SO wonderful.I have it together, just look!”

Listen, I post on social media.I read and comment on social media.All and all, I like social media (no pun intended).I AM concerned though,  with how superficial it can sometimes be.We can alter photos and text and create the impression of a reality that doesn’t exist.Most of all, we can lose sight of the full experience of living that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Here is an idea; there is a large portion of our life that is lived within us.It is not visible to the public.

Are we too busy presenting ourselves to the world to take time to really know who we are, how we feel, and what we truly believe?

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in “doing” as well as paying attention to what the rest of the world is “doing” to enjoy just ” being “?

Here’s another thought to consider.

There are some victories in our lives that don’t require applause, validation, or acknowledgement.In fact, these are the ones we can truly savor because they belong to us alone.

When I looked up the definition of substance it said,” the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists and which has a tangible, solid, presence.” This would imply that substance is always physical but I disagree.There is a substance within that is created through years of effort.Just like the roots of a tree, this substance runs deep.Roots keep you grounded when you are in the midst of turbulence.Roots also provide the stability for what is visible.

It has been almost 2 years  since I did a post called ” Inside Out ” which dealt with how our perception can determine how we experience life.Maybe what I am experiencing is just a shift in perception but, if so, that is only a part of it.

There is something inside me I feel like I can take hold of.It is like an invisible thread that runs throughout everything I do.Say what you will, it’s  real, but like the saying goes…..

I guess you had to be there.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do You Want To Win The Game or Do You Want To Eat Chicken?



imageLast night, thanks to my dear friend Anna, I went to see the Grizzlies game at FedEx Forum.In fact, at the last minute, there was another extra ticket and my husband was able to go, too.What a welcome surprise!

It was a delight to be walking around downtown on a  chilly Saturday night with Christmas lights adorning the streets.The usual Beale Street neon and steady stream of carousers seemed especially jovial as we walked to the arena.As we cued up to get in, I noticed that the ticket said if the Grizz scored 100 points, the fans would win KFC chicken.This didn’t interest me much because I don’t eat the stuff but my husband was enthralled at the idea.I was more concerned about the Grizzlies NOT losing as it has been their pattern lately.I am not a die hard sports fan because I simply take it all too personally.Anna follows the Grizz religiously and seems relatively unphased by this.She says, ” Anne, I think you take their losses harder than I do.” She’s right. This night, however, I hoped being at the game would bring them some good luck.

When we took our seats in the stands, I quickly remembered the excitement of being at a game.So high up, it felt as though I could dive over the railing and on to the court and I love that breathless feeling.I also love the sound of the players’ shoes squeaking as they move.I settled into my chair and set my gaze on the ball.

Winning isn’t everything but it sure beats losing.In life, winning and losing isn’t always as easy to define.In sports, it is cut and dry.Anna seems to see the Grizzlies as going through a cycle of sorts.There are good seasons and bad seasons.I am not a sports analyst but I believe that to be true.It is also true in our personal lives.There is an ebb and flow.At the end of one year and the beginning of another, I am sensing that big change is inevitable but it’s taking it’s time.WHY??

I think there is a payoff to staying stuck where we are or else we would moving forward.Once we identify the problem, the challenge is fixing it.I think it’s also safe to say that there is a fair share of  ” crazy ” afoot these days.If the problem relates to someone else’s behavior ( and many times it does), it’s temping to just place blame and smugly make accusations without really doing anything to create positive change in our situation and ourselves.We need to be the change we want to see in the world and you know what?

It ain’t easy

It is easier to hold on to resentment and be satisfied with the cheap door prize of, ” I am RIGHT. You are WRONG.” instead of going for the big win, what we truly desire.

The Grizzlies managed to get a lead in the beginning of the game and hold on to it, which has been rare for them.In the past,  they would get a lead, squander it by the 4th quarter, and have us all hanging by a thread until the end of the game.Sometimes, more than a few times, this resulted in a win,which was forgiveable, but not lately.Lately it has resulted in heartbreaking loss.

The Grizzlies won last night with points to spare.My husband wanted them to make it to 100 points so we could get the chicken but I was more than satisfied with the win.I was also happy with the way they won, keeping the lead and not ripping our hearts out toward the end.A win is a win, though, and we needed it.

I would like to believe this is a symbol of hope for the New Year.For the love of God,does it have to be a last second, down to the wire, knock down drag out fight every time? Can it start strong and end strong, NOT gasping for breath at the end? I earnestly pray for this and I realize a large part of it begins with me ( sigh…)

I hope everyone reading this has a Merry Christmas and fully enjoys everything this holiday season has to offer.

Lots of Love,

Anne

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It’s All About The Frame

image Continue reading

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Right Now Revisited

Winter is nearly over and yet the weather outside fails to reflect it.Being a northern girl, I do enjoy a little snow and cold.I think the bleakness of a winter landscape can be a call to slow down and look inward. A ” snphotoow day” can be a time of reflection.I like to bundle up, brave the sleet and snow, and take long walks.I like to think that this inner journey can help prepare us for the rebirth of spring which is,  truly, right around the corner.

I can’t remember why, but recently I decided to Google ” Being Fully Present ” in a search. It was on my mind.Yes, it was the title of a December 2013 post I did.For some reason, I needed to explore this topic once again.This post could easily be called “Being Fully Present Part II “.

I stumbled on a site by author and speaker John Kuypers.There were many great points he made about the subject.In fact,when I taught my yoga class that morning, I shared some of his writing  during the final savasana ( which I NEVER do, by the way ).There was one point he made in a piece called  “Opening To Presence ” I found especially revealing.

“We aspire to develop openness to situations as they are by practicing awareness, acceptance, and presence.We learn to relate to people and experiences without strategy or manipulation.”

Without strategy or manipulation.

That really spoke to me.I think there have been times I have had expectations of certain people or things that made me feel as though I had to prepare and protect myself.I think that this could explain a little bit about why we are NOT fully present at times.Here are some examples.

We may block out our feelings during a crisis because we need to function without breaking down.After the crisis is over,we may not have an easy time processing those feelings once we have repressed them.

We may anticipate hurtful comments or criticism so we prepare to defend ourselves.By doing so, we may not really be able to hear what the other person is saying.

We may be resistant to change and blind to the possibilities that are available to us in the present because we want things to be as they were in the past.

Sometimes I think of how our minds and hearts can be bogged down like the hard drive of a computer with too much useless data and/or viruses. Once they are deleted,we can be more aware and alert.

Coincidentally, as I looked at more posts on John Kuypers’ site, he also did a blog post on Robin Williams as I had done some months back.He argued that William’s was not “weak enough”. In other words, he was not able to accept his, as the saying goes in recovery, ” powerlessness over addiction”. As a result, he did not seek out help.This made me think  that this kind of vulnerability is not only necessary in the face of addiction but as we come to grips with life’s challenges moment to moment.Somewhere along the line, we were made to feel like we are supposed to have all the answers, look amazing, and never make a mistake.If we do “the right thing ” ( whatever that is ), everyone should agree with and applaud our efforts.On top of that, if we are hurt, angry, or disappointed for any reason we should “get over it ” because our feelings don’t really matter anyway.God forbid we admit we don’t have it together and need some assistance.

I can see now how we are stifled by experiences that  were painful and we have to take time to examine them if we want to move forward. In childhood, we may have been trapped in situations we had no control over that made us feel powerless.As an adult, we may hold on to beliefs that limit us. such as ” I am not deserving “, ” that is impossible “, or ” if I am successful, I will lose my friends and be alone “.

I think what I have come to realize since my last post on being present is not just why we should be present but why we are not present.The challenge to being present is when we see what is not working and need to make changes.It may mean letting go of a relationship, adjusting to a new way of doing things, facing fears.When we exercise, we build muscle after we exert ourselves, break down muscle fiber, and allow for repair and recovery.This causes the muscle to become stronger.It works in a similar fashion with flexibility and endurance.Even gaining balance can mean falling down several times before we can maintain it.We have to go beyond our ” edge ” to see the changes we seek.

The tricky part, in exercise and as in life, is not going too far and getting injured.Injury can be a result of doing too much too soon which can backfire costing us more time, Maybe you set an unrealistic goal that sabotaged your efforts.Perhaps you ignored what your instincts we’re telling you about someone else’s motives and trusted them when you shouldn’t have.This made you feel embarrassed and disheartened and undermined your confidence.Sometimes we get injured randomly, by no fault of our own.Regardless, injuries take time to heal and when we consider all the potential for getting hurt, we can easily justify staying “stuck”.

Last week, I made the decision to leave a job that I found very stressful.It was also, in sharp contrast,  a situation I felt comfortable and secure in.Wow, now there is something to think about.How many times can we truly identify a situation or relationship that is stressful and yet feels secure at the same time? How can that be? Maybe we have accepted or adapted to a level of stress or discomfort in order to maintain a sense of comfort or security.A trade off.There comes a time when we are willing to leave the “devil we know” to face the unknown.There, most likely, will be adversaries on our path wherever we go even if they are within ourselves.When we get to a point where we are  truly ready for change, it’s usually because we have simply had enough.

Change requires effort and action but also a shift in perception.This can happen in an instant if we are truly present.I had an opportunity to see this in “real time” yesterday.Someone made a remark that caused me to be agitated and upset.It wasn’t so much the remark as it was what was underneath it; a history of disappointments, hurtful remarks, and resentment. How can this be different? I stopped to jot down a few things.

We get angry when……

# 1 We are forced to set boundaries.We would rather if people would just ” know” our limitations and respect that.We don’t want to be the bad guy.We resent having to say no.

#2 We want to meet others expectations and we can’t.Many times this is because we have no idea what they are because they are not communicated ( or they won’t admit they have any).We are made to feel like we failed and yet we were never given a chance to succeed.

#3 When others do not meet our expectations OR they do meet our expectations in the worst possible way. For example, if it looks like a snake, it’s probably a snake.If it bites you, why are you surprised? It’s a snake.Unless you want to be bitten, avoid snakes.Sounds simple right? Even so we expect others to be what they are not and get angry at them for being themselves.

This observation, which I received as a result of being present, helped me to feel better because it helped me to acknowledge my own need for growth.Sometimes it’s them,sometimes it’s us. Most times, it’s both.We have to take some responsibility.What do I need to view differently? What are my motives here? Am I projecting my own frustration on someone or something that is not capable of being more than it is ?

The sun is out, the snow and ice are melting.Maybe it is just within me.

 

 

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