Tag Archives: peace

speechless

I imagined starting off this post with all the reasons excuses I haven’t been writing. My computer broke. I’ve been crocheting. I have more. If you’re interested, just let me know. But I highly suspect you aren’t.

The truth is, I’m speechless. At a time when I feel like I should most find my voice, I’m embarrassingly mute. It’s not that I’m disconnected; quite the opposite. I’ve become a news junkie. I go to bed at night wearing wireless earbuds and wake up in the morning wondering what I missed after I fell asleep with them in. It’s that bad.

I’ve always maintained that I can’t change what goes on in the vast world, and so I’m just going to pay attention to those things that I can change. Someone’s day. My outlook. A corner of the garden. That worked for me because I believed, and still do, that the majority of people in the world are good. I believed things would all work out in the end because good conquers evil most of the time.

So now I’m a news junkie and I can’t claim blissful ignorance anymore. I understand that the good majority is poor, and that money buys the world. And what does one do when her voice is small and peaceful in a world that is screaming injustice at the top of its lungs?

I became speechless.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. It’s just that there are others saying it so well and so loud with all the best words. (That’s funny, right?) I can’t compete. Nor should I. Just because I have opinions on the news doesn’t mean I ought to write about it. That’s like somebody who admires and critiques art feeling guilty for not painting.

In the words of one of my favorite millenials, I need to do me. And if my voice is small and peaceful and speaks of wholeness, balance and love, there’s room for it. And maybe someone will hear it and smile. Because if all I do today is make someone smile, that’s enough.

I’ll never rid the world of injustice, prevail over all evil, or move millions to march. But I am enough. For that one person who just needed a hug or a smile or to be seen, I am enough.

So maybe you’ll be hearing more of me again. But you may need to take out your earbuds and listen closely over the roar of the protesters.

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So proud of the women my daughters have become. They love deeply. They think critically. And on this day we became not just mother and daughters, but women standing as one with millions across the globe against injustice, fear, hatred, and bullshit.

Peace . . .


The Expectations of My Inner Child, or lack thereof

sc001a13aeIt’s that time of year again when I look at where I’ve come and where I’m headed.  When I think of the tumbling towhead of my youth, it seems impossible that I am the same person.  I sometimes think of her and wonder if I’ve become the person she had hoped I would.

The girl I was held high hopes for humanity.  She rescued injured birds from the middle of roads, and abandoned kittens, despite her severe allergy to cats.  She believed that everyone possessed a beauty and a kindness if you looked hard enough.  She appalled an unjust world that would deliver babies into poverty while others flaunted wealth.  She believed in the abundance of love, peace, and food, if only the obstacles could be removed.

She was no saint, and neither am I.  She had plenty of lesser values and unlearned lessons.  She had fears, and pride, and selfishness that all abide in the adult she became.  And as I look, I realize how much I am still her — for better or for worse. Bark

If she had known where we would be today, I’m not sure if she would have chosen a shorter path or ambled along the one I’ve taken.  Yet, this is the place in which we find ourselves, my little inner child and me, and we are quite happy.

I’m glad she held so few expectations.  It allowed me to stop and contemplate a bug along the way, or touch the bark of a tree.  Had she held me fast to some appointed destination, I’d have taken such a wider, paved road and missed the little things along the way.

The future is a mystery — like trying to depict a figure in the shadows.  But the little towhead I take with me suggests I hold no expectations for the crone I’ll someday be.  Together we will mosey down our untrod trail looking for the tiniest of creatures to share our time.  And someday I can say I found my way to an older age, and I’ll be so much richer for it.

bumble

Happy birthday to me, and of course,

Peace . . .


Seeking Peace and Balance as a Diet Junkie

UntitledI am a diet junkie.  Any new nutrition fad fascinates me.  The latest power food?  Tell me!  If you walked into my house, you would find diet cookbooks in every room — low-cal, low-carb, paleo, flat-belly, DASH, vegetarian, vegan — have I missed any?  You might think a svelte, muscular woman would walk out to greet you.  Let’s skip the Match.com body-type description, and just say . . . I’m not.

My mother fought with food all her life.  She often said she could live on a good loaf of crusty bread with butter.  After the loss of her son and quitting smoking, her eating was out of control.  She was the first person I knew to have a gastric bypass.  Many things have changed since then, but I think I can safely say that surgery is still not an easy way out, by any means.  I watched her recover, and although she was so pleased at the weight loss, she was often tired or ill.  There were certain foods that never agreed with her again.

Soon after the bypass, she developed a lactose intolerance.  One day they diagnosed her with diabetes.  When my father died, suffering from a broken heart, she malnourished herself.

She would look at pictures of momentous life events and remark not over the day itself, but, “Look how thin I was there.”  Or, “Oh my, I was heavy.”  She tried hard to be a good role model for me, and I think she succeeded.  But children notice things like that.  I think I joined her on my first diet when I was twelve or thirteen.

After a stroke that left her too weak to walk on her own and unable to keep most food down, her weight plummeted.  She joked that this was one way to lose weight.  And she was right.  When she took her last breath, she was tiny and frail.

My mother was a vibrant woman in life.  I spent most of my life living in her shadow.  Until the shadow was gone.

And all the things I had watched her do, and say, and be, became relevant.  Because at some point I stepped into the light and realized I belonged there.  People began to say, “You are JUST like your mother.”  And I was so proud, because she was everything I wanted to be.  But I was also so afraid, because of all the things I watched her fight. *One day, I said to myself,

“It is so wonderful to be just like Mom.  But I am not her.  I will live my own life, face my own demons, and clear my own hurdles.”

UntitledI think it was at that moment I veered off her path and started to live my life.  In the year that followed, I lost 45 pounds.  Life and I began a beautiful new relationship.  I got a tattoo of a dragonfly, symbolizing the change from nymph to agile predator.  No longer content to hide unnoticed, I was spreading my wings and meeting life head-on.

However, habits die hard, and I am still fascinated by this food thing.  I’ve found an ebb and flow between the control it has over me and the control I allow it to have.  Therein lies the peace.  Balance is not a thing — it is a constant shifting of yin and yang.

What I’ve learned is that there are many ways to feed yourself.  You can feed the body, feed the mind, or feed the emotions.  All three need to consume their own diet.  You can substitute one for another, but to do so is not healthy and will never produce good results.  It is also true that sometimes you need to let the mind, body, or emotions go without before you can truly feel the pain of hunger and know what is needed to satiate . . .

A good cry . . .

A good book . . .

or a good meal . . .

While one cannot substitute for the other, I have seen all three go quite well together, if necessary.

Peace . . .

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Meal by Meal:  365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance through Mindful Eating by Donald Altman

Available on Amazon.com

 


The Gift of Now

"Seize the day" (Horace, Odes) Franç...

“Seize the day” (Horace, Odes)                                                  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like most parents, I recorded every first of my children’s early years.  There are pictures of first trips to Grandma’s, first steps, first solid food, even taking their first poop in the toilet.  A post by Emily at The Waiting, reminded me how easy it is for the lasts to slip by unnoticed.

Do you remember the last time you were picked up and cuddled?  I have four children, and found myself searching the dark corners of my memory for any recollection of the last time I lifted each of them into my arms.  There is none.

We acknowledge the achievements, the going-forwards, the milestones of where we are headed and not so much where we have been.  Maybe it’s because we don’t appreciate the significance of what we leave behind until it’s gone.  Or maybe it’s because we just never realize it’s the last time . . . until it is.

Firsts, like lasts, are not eloquent or refined.  The last step we take will most likely be much like the first — feeble and clumsy.  Each brings with it a demonstration of progress.  But one is a beginning and one is an end.  One is noted and one is forgotten.

Humans, unlike animals, carry the burden of understanding time.  We romanticize a past we strain to remember.  We grieve its loss.  The future is hope and wonder, even amidst uncertainty and trepidation.

Between the first and the last is the present.  It is the center.  The now.  We forget to stop and live in this moment.  And this one.  And this one.  Each tick of the clock is another gone by.  The present moment is as steadfast as time is fleeting.  Always here, for better or for worse.

A moment in the present is not reliant on memory, nor hope, nor wonder, nor dreams.  There is no uncertainty or vagueness.  The instant you are in right now is as real as anything is ever going to be.

If we could know the last time we were picked up, or rode in a pedal car, or fit in the shopping cart seat, that it was our last, would we have enjoyed it more?  Would we have whined less?  Would we have grieved the loss?

Probably not.  Children don’t perceive the elapsing of time.  A baby lives in a constant state of “now,” his only concern if he is hungry, wet, or sleepy.  Eventually, he will understand time by experiencing it — what is a minute, an hour, a year?

Maybe this is what allows children to move forward at the speed of light.  If they knew all the wonderful things they leave behind — naps, strollers, wagons, wearing pajamas in the middle of the day and yes, being lifted high above someone’s head — maybe they would want to stay children forever.  Maybe the lack of grief is what allows them to grow.

. . . And maybe our grief of the past is a gift we are given that allows us to relish the present.  It permits us to cuddle their round little bodies one more minute, or stop and watch them as they nap, or slip into their world of imagination, or pick them up just once more before they are too heavy and we too weak . . .

Peace . . .


A Sharp Turn in Life

"Always fasten safety belt" - NARA -...

“Always fasten safety belt” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a kid, we never buckled up.  The cars were big, and the seats were hard and flat.  If the driver took a sharp turn, we’d slide across the back seat until we pressed up against another passenger and flattened them to the door.  Cloverleaf turns were the best because they went on forever, and you just couldn’t right yourself.

Sometimes life is like that.  I’ve taken a big turn, and I’m giggling.  It’s exciting and fun, but I’m pressed up against the side of the car and I can’t seem to right myself.  In the chaos, my purse tipped over and all my belongings are strewn across the floor.

If you’re not a woman or don’t carry a purse, you have no idea what kind of catastrophe it is to have it empty on the floor of a car.  There are cosmetics, credit cards, pills, scraps of paper, keys, and candy that will melt if lost and forgotten under the seat.  This is how my life feels.  It is an upside down purse on the bottom of a car, careening around a cloverleaf off of Interstate 94.  And I’m smooshed against the window giggling so hard I’m in danger of peeing my pants.

I know you were wondering why I hadn’t posted in a while . . .  You were, right?

The car is finally starting to come out of its turn and I’m thinking about how to put my purse back together without stepping on any of it first.  I chose to write here, because it seems to clear my head.  It’s some type of conscious meditation, connecting brain fibers, inducing deep breath.  It feels familiar, like soil under bare feet.

I see that there are two ways to go with this.  I can pick up the most important things first — the credit cards and pills — or toss the scraps of meaningless papers out the window.

No, I don’t litter in real life.  This is all metaphorically speaking.  Try to stay with me, here.

Isn’t there some saying about swallowing your biggest frog first?  Yuck.  It reminds me of a nightmare I once had.  I’m going to pick up my credit cards and pills first, which will make the rest seem like tadpoles.  Gross.

So here’s the plan.  It’s not etched in stone, but the internet is close.

  1. Pick up the credit cards.  I’m going to pay my bills before I forget them and they become overdue.  While I’m doing that, I can check my bank balances.  I’ll put all the tax documents in one obvious annoying place.
  2. Chase down the pills.  Take a walk.  It’s a beautiful day — the sun is shining and the dog is eager.  The fresh air is the medicine I need to complete the rest.
  3. Put the cosmetics back in the case.  Clean myself up — get dressed, from my makeup to my shoes, to gear up for the rest of the day.
  4. Throw out the scraps of paper.  Clutter is caving in on me.  I still have Christmas stuff out for God’s sake!  I’m going to pick up, tidy up, clear out, and throw away!
  5. Pick up my pocket calendar.  I’m pretty sure my son’s birthday was this week.  What was it he requested?  Vegetarian lasagna . . .
  6. Find my keys.  There are errands to run.  Groceries need buying — soy sausage, noodles, sauce, maybe cupcakes . . .
  7. Fish out that bit of chocolate under the seat.  Lastly, I’m going to treat myself.  Maybe I’ll watch a movie with popcorn or find a pair of shoes at the mall.

Another fun thing I remember about the old bench seats is a sharp turn followed by one in the other direction.  I never knew if Mom or Dad did it just to hear us laugh, but sliding from one side of the car to the other was a thrill I will never forget.

One best left to memory, and not encountered in metaphor!

Nowadays we have seat belts, helmets, shin guards, face masks, and anti-lock brakes meant to suck the fun out of everything keep us safe and extend our lives.  When they come up with one for the sharp turns in life, let me know, will ya?

Peace . . .


Are You Living a Life of Balance or Control?

 

Balance is a condition in which an object is subject to equal forces or weights, enabling it to remain steady.  The world is in constant flux.  Nature is in an endless state of rebalancing itself.  Humans, being more of nature than we are willing to admit, are drawn to the never-ending endeavor to balance.

Chances are, in the past twenty-four hours you have thought about balancing at least three the following:

  • Workload vs. Personal Time

    Yin and yang stones

    Yin and yang stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Relationships vs. Solitude
  • Spending vs. Saving
  • Weight Gain vs. Weight Loss
  • Sleep vs. Wake
  • Exercise vs. Rest
  • Perfection vs. Acceptance
  • Beauty vs. Function
  • Work vs. Play

Since the beginning of time, we have pontificated the meaning of balance.  Think yin and yang, buddhism and dualism.  The ancient Greeks, Chinese, and the Aztecs all had great philosophers of balance.  Give the word balance a go in your search engine, and you will see that nothing has changed in over two thousand years.  Humankind still seeks the point of balance.

The problem with being human, is that we not only strive for a thing, we believe we can conquer it.  We seek to achieve balance, as if it is something that is owned and kept.  However, balance is only present for the fleeting moment between too much and too little; on the border between light and dark.  The point of balance is so fragile that a soft breeze or speck of dust can overcome it.

A world with true balance would be one without wind or heat or rain.  The cost of balance is monotony.

Life is not meant to be balanced.  In our struggle to own balance, we have moved away from the natural ebb and flow of equilibrium.  We have shifted toward a desire to rigidly control it.  We believe that if only we could control everything (see the above list), existence would be a breeze.  In a balanced life, we are prepared for any situation, there is time for all our duties and passions.  We are healthy, happy, financially secure, and love what we do for a living.   The natural world is not one of total control.  It is fluid, in motion, swinging one way and then the next.

Barbara Billingsley in the pilot "It's a ...

Barbara Billingsley in the pilot “It’s a Small World”, 1957. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent too many years trying to devise the perfect menu plan, budget, schedule, diet.  I tried to control the motion around me.  Each day was a new chance and every bedtime was another failure.  Friends hear me say that June Cleaver was my idol, and we joke about that, but it was real.  Many of my best years were lived trying to be a fictional character in a time period that no longer existed.  The time with my children — the laughs, what I learned, the privilege — I wouldn’t trade for anything on earth.  If only I hadn’t felt such a need to control it all . . .

While the cost of perfect balance is monotony, the cost of maintaining control is turmoil.  A person believing he can achieve balance is one fighting against the natural movement around them.  He is trying to stand still in the surf or stop the wind from destroying a house of cards.  It is not the peaceful existence he had hoped for at all.

I am learning to enjoy a life of natural balance — shifting when the tide rolls in, regrowing after the fire dies out, appreciating the warmth of the sun before nightfall . . . because I cannot tell the sun when it is time to set.

I have found life is more peaceful this way.  Sure I am still drawn to making the compulsive list or two.  They can be found tucked in backs of drawers or folded between the pages of books.  And so I allow myself these occasional fits of contemplation, pen in hand, eventually admitting that the balance is in the imperfection.

Peace . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Click HERE for Validation

I was sitting at coffee, eaves-dropping on the table next to me . . . . er, uh . . . I mean . . . minding my own business, when I hear the guy say,

“Nope!  Never had a vacation in 15 years!  Never had a reason to leave home.”

While I sipped my whipped chocolate java goodness, my mind wandered to places I visited years ago.  It’s been a long time since I ventured very far from Minnesota.  Funny how one year can turn into four, and the next thing you know, you’re sitting in a coffee shop telling your buddy you have no reason to leave the comfort of your home

Now, I’m not one to eaves drop.  Well . . . okay . . . I am, and you can read about that here.  But let me be very clear that the guy deserved my eaves-dropping for two reasons.

  1. He was very loud.
  2. While I was enjoying my first sip, he said, “Good morning, how are you?”  Not in a your-eyes-meet-and-its-just-a-polite-thing-to-do sort of way.  He said it in a “Hey, little lady” I-hadn’t-even-glanced-in-his-direction sort of way.  It was awkward.

So yeah, he’s just asking to be overheard . . . and judged.

When I zeroed back in on the conversation, he was telling his friend all about what the people around the world think of Americans.  “They don’t like us,” he said.

Now, this may be true or not.  We’ve all heard people say it.  I’ve also heard people talk about their travels and how nice everyone was to them.  But here’s the thing . . . on what experience was his statement based?

WB11 News At 10 - What's his name?

(Photo credit: NYCArthur)

Is he watching his favorite news channel?  Back in the day,  it didn’t run all day and night.  There was the 5:00 and the 10:00.  They lasted for an hour, and if you only wanted the weather, you knew when to tune in.  How long does it take to report the real stories in a factual manner?  Now we have channels with nothing but news 24/7 and they have to fill in the gaps with personal accounts packed with opinions.  With all these viewpoints being aired, they found it necessary to have not one, but several, different 24-hour news stations to cater to everyone’s perspective.  Presto!  You now have your world views validated every hour of the day without challenge.

English: Newspaper "gone to the Web."

Newspaper “gone to the Web.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fewer people than ever have the newspaper delivered to their door.  When I was a kid, almost every house on my block got the paper.  My parents sat down each day to catch up on current events.  They budgeted time in their morning routine because it was important to them.  Sure, some newspapers lean one way or another, but they only have that one issue a day to interest everyone, so they tend to offer a buffered perspective.

These days our information is digitally delivered on the internet.  And do you know what the internet recommends for you?  Links that it knows you will like based on what you clicked in the past.

 

@brockuniversity Social Media

@brockuniversity Social Media (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)

It’s all just marketing.  You see, they need to tell us something we agree with.  Because the more people who subscribe, click, follow, like and retweet, the more money they make.  Unfortunately, we are all becoming convinced there is no other valid opinion but our own.

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.”
— Frank A. Clark

It is sometimes difficult to listen to another point of view; to find out that we may have been wrong — to think we may have spent 15 years sitting in our living room watching t.v. instead of seeing the world.  No one wants to be wrong, but when we are always right, we stop evolving.

Bringing myself out of my thoughts and back to reality, my loud neighbor was now talking about gun control.  He was quoting Archie Bunker who was not only a fictional character, but one who failed to evolve forty years ago.  I couldn’t wait to go home and Google “Archie Bunker on gun control” to educate myself.

I must always stay open to the possibility that I am wrong.  There is a splendid gift in being given the truth.  We need only be open to receiving it.

Please don’t make the mistake of interpreting this post as a political one.  This is about pulling your head of the sand (or wherever you might have it) and seeing all that is around you.  Challenge that which you have always believed.  Listen consciously.  Speak carefully.  Grow deeply.

 

Peace . . .

 

 


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