Posted in Lore

Coffee, a Good Friend and a Dog

As I sit in the quiet of my own thoughts, I am reminded of one of my best practices, “Be your own best friend.”  I love to sit on the couch before the house wakens and watch the sun come up.  The sky changes hues, the clouds shift, and the world comes alive.

There is no one else I would rather be with in these moments than my self.  We sit, the two of us, in our honesty and peace, and share a steaming cup of coffee, perhaps with cinnamon or cream.

“How delicious,” I say, as the warmth fills my chest.

I remember the week, with its lists and rush and habitual planning.  I wince.  “Remember what I said to that guy at work?”  My self smiles, and remembers.  “He knows you didn’t mean it like that,” she says.  “You probably didn’t sound as crazy as you think you did.”

My self is practical, and forgiving.  And she’s right.  The guy probably doesn’t even remember what I said, much less how I said it.  I reach for a doughnut hole that Bubba brought home the day before.  It smells delicious and pairs well with the coffee.  My self smiles.  “Don’t forget how well you’ve been taking care of yourself.”   I haven’t forgotten, and I promise my self that I will savor it and eat something healthier later.

Mount Kinabalu Clouds 2

The dog lays her warm head on my knee.  Her brown eyes are irresistible.  I trace her forehead with my fingertips.  The sky is beginning to lighten.  The clouds are purple-grey.

Funny stories from the week return.  Bubba using foreign accents just to hear me laugh.  A coworker teasing me on the phone.  My self chuckles, and says, “What would it be like to see nothing humorous in the world?”  For a moment, I feel guilty.  “I suppose there is enough suffering in the world that I shouldn’t make idle fun at every turn.”  My self thinks this over for a moment and replies, “I suppose there is enough suffering in the world that one should find humor where one can.”

We balance each other.  Me, putting my best foot forward in the world, and my self justifying the way I do it.  She eases my guilt, my shame, my embarrassment.

clouds

Blue is beginning to break through the clouds.  White, fluffy puffs race across my window, right to left.  Silhouetted branches dance in the wind.  Cars begin to move on the street.  Voices.  A stirring from the bedroom.

“I could take a walk.  You know . . . get a few steps in before I start the day.”

My self considers this.  “I’ve been looking forward to this time all week.  The peace and quiet.  Just the two of us.”  We guard this tranquility jealously.  I tuck my cold toes under my leg.

“We have all day to get more steps.  We can go to the dog park later,”  I say.  She smiles.

“I’m really happy with how my resume turned out.”

“You did a nice job.”

“I hope they think so.  I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Nor I without you.”

I think about how far we’ve come, my best friend and I.  She isn’t always my best friend.  At times she is my own worst enemy, letting anxiety and fear mushroom to the surface.  But for all the times I’ve despised her, she is the only one who is with me every minute of every day.  When it seems the world is against me, she is there still.  When I’m in a crowd, or on stage, or in the dark, she abides.

Sometimes I see her looking back at me from the mirror.  If I could remember when I was a baby, I would remember loving seeing her there.   Babies gaze into mirrors, laugh at them, touch them, and sometimes try to kiss them.  When does that end?  Is it with our first bad haircut?  Our first pimple?

There is so much we share that the world will never know.  A random act of kindness is made more precious by keeping it between the two of us.  She is the only one I can trust with wicked gossip or spoken confidentialities.  My self even holds secrets from me too, revealing them only when I am ready to know — she can be very sly!

We celebrate together.  We never wait for others to acknowledge our birthday.  If she wants a party, I plan it!  If I want a special meal, she comes up with a menu!  If we want a gift, we go shopping!  No one knows how I want to celebrate better than my self, so why would I place that expectation on anyone else?

I value this relationship I have with my self, and make time for us.  It requires life to slow down.  It necessitates waiting and listening until her voice is clear.  It takes being honest with my self and accepting what she says with love and understanding.

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The dog’s wagging tail tells me that Bubba is waking.  My cup is cold and empty.  Heavy blue November clouds now hang in the sky.  Our quiet time is coming to a close.

I reach for another doughnut hole and my self says nothing, but I know she’s thinking it.

“What?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You didn’t have to.”

It’s true.  Best friends don’t have to say anything.  They just know.

Peace . . .

Posted in Seasonal Sunday

The Days are Short, the Winter Long

DSCN1074The rooftops look like marshmallows, puffs of steam trail off in the bitter cold, the January sky is icy-blue.  The days are short, the winter long.

This is the weekend, and my large south-facing picture window invites the sun in.  During the week, I work in a small windowless office.  Daylight is down 18 stairs, across a warehouse, and through the doors.  It is dark when I wake and barely light when I leave the house.  The sun is low on the horizon for my drive home.

I don’t go to bed any earlier in the winter.  I don’t rise any later.  Yet there are fewer hours in my day.  Maybe it’s the damn Sims game my daughter suggested I download to my phone.  My reality is now based on Life Points and making Woo-Hoo.  I know I need to quit.  But my tiny people would starve and pee all over their little houses.  I just can’t bear the thought.  Or maybe I’ve just lost my mojo.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is something I’ve often thought I might have.  I try to disregard things I think I might have as opposed to those things I know I have.   However, for the last five years that I’ve worked in this fluorescent box I call an office, the winter months are insufferable.  And last November when we turned the clocks back it was like someone flipped a switch.  I’m moody.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m hungry.  My thoughts are disjointed.  I feel socially awkward.  There might be something to this S.A.D. thing after all.

8611015067_3b448750eeA simple trip to the grocery store is suddenly a major event.  It is unlikely I know how much is in my debit account and even less likely I have a list.  With no plan in place, I buy a few of the usual items from the usual departments.  Vegetables.  Eggs.  Meat.  Yogurt.  Toilet Paper.  I hope against hope I find the ingredients for a meal when I get home.  Thankfully Bubba, engrossed in his everyday rituals, is fairly unaffected.  Fairly.

Bubba:  (At the deli counter)  I’ll take a half pound of turkey breast.
Me:  There’s a coupon.
Deli Man:  You want a pound of turkey breast?
Bubba:  Oh, the coupon is for a pound.  No, just give me a half pound.
Me:  I should get some ham.
Bubba:  (Realizing the guy is measuring out the whole pound anyway)  Hey, just take a handful off the top of that, and it will be fine.
Me:  I don’t want him to measure out whole pound of ham though.
Bubba:  (Thinking he heard me say I didn’t want a half pound)  Just get a quarter.
Me:  Are you telling me or asking me?
Bubba:  Huh?
Me:  Why are you telling me what to do?
Bubba:  Should we just go back outside and start over?

“Poor guy,” you’re thinking.  It’s a good thing we can keep a sense of humor.

And there is anxiety.  Looming bills, stubborn weight-gain,  errors at work, unwritten letters and cards, forgotten birthdays, dusty shelves; all encroach like a tidal wave gaining size and momentum at sea.  Unwritten lists build hour by hour, day by day, filling my murky brain.  Yes, I have been too overwhelmed to write my damned lists!

This is the time that one must go back to one’s best practices.  Shed the heavy winter coats of burden, and pry off the snow-caked boots of guilt.  Go naked against the day.  Figuratively, please . . . hey now, this is a family blog!

  • Drink water:  Flushing toxins, rehydrating the skin, muscles and brain, drinking water is one of the gentlest things you can do to begin healing from anything.
  • Eat mindfully:  Paying attention to what goes into your body is important.  This doesn’t stop with purchasing and preparing your meal.  Really slow down and enjoy your meal purposefully.
  • Be present:  Include activities that bring yourself closer to now.  Cuddle your children.  Pet the dog.  Tend a plant.  Meditate.
  • Dance:  Let your music move you.  If you are so inclined, SING!  (A big thank you to izzwizz for that suggestion!)
  • Go on outdoor walks:  Bundle up, if necessary — we are 5 degrees at 1:00 p.m. today — it’s necessary!  Let the weather hit you in the face; rain, wind, sun and snow.  Trust me, you will feel more alive for it.
  • Make an intention every day:  Some days we need to aim low.  Today my intention is to write this post.  Another day it might be to move a mountain.  But that is another day, and another day will come.
  • Be your own best friend:  I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family who care for me.  None compare to the friend I have found in myself.  I always know what is best for me at any given moment.  The trick is to allow myself to give and receive graciously.
English: A 30 kHz bright light therapy lamp (I...
A light therapy lamp (Innosol Rondo) used to treat seasonal affective disorder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are the tools I have chosen to shovel myself out this winter.  I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve, like vitamin supplements and a small therapy light, both suggested by my doctor last year.  While it is normal to feel down some days, if you feel down for days and cannot seem to get motivated to do the things you usually enjoy, please see your doctor.  This is especially important if you have changes in your sleep patterns or your appetite changes or you feel hopeless, suicidal, or are turning to alcohol for comfort.

Never take depression lightly.

Peace . . .

 

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Posted in Lore

Use Eye Contact

glasses
Photo credit: Pixabay.com

There are a few Best Practices I’ve found help me through life.  I’m going to post the list here on a page of the same name, just for the record.  I may also decide to add to my list, and you may decide to adopt a few of these and make a list for yourself.  You see?  It is a very fluid list!

The first item on my list is:

Use Eye Contact

When was the last time you made a conscious effort to use eye contact?  I’m going to guess it was either when you were interviewing for a job, or the last time you were telling a lie.  Let me give you a little tip.  Overusing eye contact when someone is trying to determine if you are guilty of something is a dead giveaway that you are.  But I digress.

Why is eye contact a good idea during a job interview?  Because it helps you connect with people.  And if your potential new boss connects with you, you are more likely to win her over.  It works that way out in the world too.  Can you think of anything our world needs more than honest to goodness, face-to-face connection?

As a little experiment before you go adding this to your Best Practices list, I’d like to challenge you to use eye contact in the different scenarios you encounter during your week.  You may find this harder than you thought.  Eye avoidance isn’t just for shy people any more!  In my opinion, society has come to place multi-tasking at too high of value, and we are all too busy looking somewhere else when should be looking someone in the eye.

The first thing you will notice when you meet someone’s eyes is that they will almost always smile.  If you are not already smiling, you will probably smile back.  There is proven evidence that just smiling alone can make you happy.  See?  You have already started making the world a happier place!

  • At work.  This is best if you actually greet the public at your work.  If you are handing over a shopping cart, a bag of purchases, a plate of food, change, or whatever it is you are offering, try to meet their eyes and give them a sincere thank you.  You may even experience a double-take, as if they think there is something wrong, or they might know you.
  • Shaking a hand.  The worst handshake I ever had was from a pastor.  He grasped my hand firmly while shaking and telling me how nice it was to see me, yet he was looking at the next person he wanted to greet.  That was my first impression of him, and let me tell you it went downhill from there.  You can gain a lot of information from a handshake.  Make sure you are looking someone in the eye when you send out your own impression.
  • Making a Purchase.  You could be just another customer, or you could be that one person that the cashier remembers at the end of the day.  He’s a real person who spends a long day getting money shoved across the counter at him.  He probably has all kinds of places he would rather be.  Look your cashier in the eye and wish him a good day like you mean it.
  • With your family.  Feel free to hit the pause button to look your family in the eye while they talk to you.  Both children and adults react positively to this simple act of patience, love, and compassion.  Yet it takes so little effort.

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You can expect awkwardness at first.  You might be compelled to meet eyes and then pull away, turning your eyes to the ground.  Of course, success depends on the other person meeting your eyes too.  Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can’t get the other eyes to connect.  Eventually you may find you enjoy the game.  So few people offer up this simple measure of connectedness.  I’ve had some very interesting reactions.  I challenge you to give it a try!

Peace . . .