Revitalizing the Triad of Sorrow

Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won’t all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good

– The Heart of Life, John Mayer

melancholy man sunset

They say bad things tend to happen in threes. As ominous as that may sound, I’ve experienced these superstitious threesomes on more than a few occasions. But, I wonder, do bad things really happen three in a row, or do we get caught up in negative thought patterns and seek out more bad after the first one appears? What if we changed that?

What if we simply let ourselves focus on one sad occurrence and show it proper respect on it’s own? What if we could be open to feeling our feelings and discover what purpose that feeling is meant to serve us? I believe the energy that you put out there attracts more of the same back to you. So instead of saying, “When it rains, it pours”, actively and mindfully notice the “rain” and dance in it. Endure the experience with the strength and fortitude that is your birth right. Before you say “I can’t…” maybe try a new way. Before you blame a self instigated negative pattern on an emotion, pause to question how that is serving you and remember that “the heart of life is good”.

Our human experience allows us to feel and revel in so many different emotions that we often miss the opportunity to actually be aware and sensitive to those perceptions. So many missed opportunities to feel our feelings without judgement (good, bad or otherwise) because we are too caught up in forcing culturally learned thought and behavior patterns attached to those emotions. Why do we not question some of these norms that spin us off into a negative divergence? These are the opportunities for small changes that can have major impact on your overall wellbeing. Gather your strength and create more positivity.

So, for my dear friends who have been hurt and saddened by the heartbreak of my recent triad of sorrow, I wrap my loving arms around you and hope you can find peace. I will see them each as a separate loss, feel a bit somber, reflect on my relationship with you, and wish there was more that I could do knowing full well you all have to deal with your own grief in your own way. I’m here with an open heart and two willing ears should you need to vent, cry or just chat with a friend.   

Instead of just accepting every melancholy cultural expectation attached to loss, I challenge you to get in touch with your own human emotions and sort through them in your own way and in your own time. Allow yourself to feel, don’t think, just feel. These experiences do not define the person you are, they are a part of the story that you create for yourself everyday.

“Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” -Mary Oliver

gratitude to StefaninLA from morguefile.com for the beautiful yet somber photo above that fits so well with my message today. Namaste.

Counteracting the Inevitable Snake Bite

brown snake

It was all just one big misunderstanding. I really just didn’t know, or at least that’s what I tell my middle aged self that is just trying to be as happy as possible without making anyone else miserable.

There were so many things I didn’t know that I didn’t know about getting older. I did a lot of assuming along the way, maybe had a little too much faith in some things and disguised it to myself as hope that everything would turn out like the end of a tear-jerking, problem-solving, life-lesson-learning movie. But real life is not lived in 2 hour movie chunks and “half the promises people say were never kept, were never made.” ~Edgar Watson Howe.

You know what people say about making an assumption….

So here we are, mid-life. I may be a bit wiser than I was a decade ago, but I don’t feel much smarter. Maybe I have a little more patience, or maybe I just have a higher tolerance for ignorance. When you are force fed the same drivel and balderdash for half a lifetime it’s possible to develop a tolerance to it, like a daily dose of serum to counteract the inevitable bite of a poisonous snake. You do what you have to do. But, what do I know?

What I do have is permission. It’s a gift I have given myself. I have granted myself the permission to make myself happy even in the midst of all of the unhappiness and intolerance I often feel around me. I have allowed myself the time and space to sort through half a life of perceptual errors and mountains of guilt given to me directly or indirectly by a life lived hard. Years of trying to do the right thing and please the wrong people has given me quite the pile of sorting to do. It seems that each time I climb up to a peak on Guilt Mountain, I see another off in the distance that beckons me forward.

It was all just one big misunderstanding. You don’t arrive at mid-life knowing what you want and feeling ready to take on all the responsibilities, even if you were sure you would. You fumble through your days with good intentions, feeling sometimes exhausted and unsure of the decisions you’ve made. It seems we all endeavor to make it seem that we are exactly where we want to be, doing it all with ease and, of course, flawlessly…. but if you are looking at someone else’s life through a lense of expectations and assumptions, then you are not seeing them clearly. It’s like constantly photoshopping reality. It may look prettier, but it’s just not natural. 

If you know the snake will inevitably bite, then it’s smart to drink the serum. It’s smarter to get the hell away from the snake. But what do I know?

gratitude to paulabflat from morguefile.com for the above photo

Being Present

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Being present means living in the moment. Being present means enjoying right now instead of replaying past events or role playing possible future scenarios. There is a time for each of these to take place, but when it’s time to be present, it’s good to be able to relax into the moment at hand. It’s a skill worth mastering.

Our ability to be present depends a lot on having good boundaries. Your boundaries should be intentional and unapologetic. Keeping good control and understanding of what you want and need helps you to stay “in the moment” and enjoy more. Having weak or undefined boundaries makes you more likely to be passive or let others define them for you. Taking responsibility for yourself avoids the opportunity for others to take control of us. At the same time, respecting other’s boundaries will demonstrate how you want to be treated.  This means often letting go of our attachment to outcomes and need to control each result. Inner peace comes from letting the outcomes naturally play out in each moment without judgement or attachment. Being present means paying attention to yourself and whether you are trying to alter the moment and outcome instead of just observing and accepting it.

When you add judgment, comparison, or competition to the present moment, you are no longer being present. If you can let go of what you think “should” be happening or what “might have been” then you can more easily let go and enjoy being present. There will be enough time to lick your past wounds later. Trust that you can handle this moment, you deserve to enjoy what’s happening now and you will be capable of juggling whatever is thrown your way next. “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” -author unknown 

Do you have a mind that constantly races in every direction? One way to bring yourself into the present is to learn how to quiet your mind and focus on what matters right now. Taking yourself out of the moment and becoming an observer when you begin to feel anxious or fearful may help you to gain insight into whether or not this moment really requires that response. Fully experience this moment until it’s time to move on to the next. Being an observer of yourself may help you learn more about what triggers those moments of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power. Observe and breathe…

The moments are going to keep happening. Fighting against the moment does not make it go slower. Each moment comes when it is supposed to come. Take a big, deep breath in. Now let it out slowly. You either took the time and felt present enough to enjoy that breath, or you rushed through it to see what was next. Each breath happens, quick or slow is an illusion and a judgement that you put on those moments. Time never speeds up, time never slows down. Even if you fight against the present moment it will still happen and still move at the same speed. Change will happen, change keeps coming. No matter how hard you try, you can only breath in OR out… never both at the same time. Each breath comes when it is time. 

Staying present means realizing that you can only do one thing at a time. Whether it be work, pleasure, obligation or otherwise, multi-tasking with either your body or mind is just not possible. Being able to do several things in quick succession with great ease should not be confused with multi-tasking. Complete one thing, then move on to the next.

Let time move and change and flow while just being within the movement of each moment. The less expectation of the next moment, the more you can fully enjoy the present. Reflection has it’s time and the process of learning involves thinking beyond the moment at hand and there will be time for all that too. But, when you can live and breathe in the now….. just be.

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myhappypromise

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