I feel like I should have an acceptance speech ready, and, quite honestly, “I got nothin”.
After my post “Spit out the Mouthguard and Step Away from the Corner” was named “Highly Recommend” in the Personality category in Jon Morrow’s Serious Bloggers Only Best of 2014 Competition, I must admit I’ve been pretty excited.
There are a few reasons for my giddiness; the first being that I almost chickened out and didn’t enter at all. That would have been pretty silly (but sadly not atypical) behavior. Happily, some bold and wild side of me said, “Oh, what the hell”, and entered anyway. Two points for the bold and wild side.
The next reason I’m so happy is that I’ve been wondering if I’ve “got what it takes” to start querying articles outside of my beloved but poorly paid niche of horse magazines. I’ve also been wondering if I could actually bring anything to the table in terms of voice. I mean, I know I’ve got one, I just wasn’t sure anyone wanted to listen to it…
So, if you’ve made your way to this blog because of the SBO Competition, thanks for the visit and please feel free to visit my horse related blog site, TheHorseyLife or my writer’s website, www.TheHorseWriter.com (apologies for the lack of a link, my phone is refusing to play nice).
Being given this honor has been even more appreciated because I’ve been in the hospital since Monday with a kidney infection (hence the lack of laptop).
I hope you enjoy my words. Please feel free to leave comments. My reply time is likely to be somewhat erratic for the next couple of days until I go home, but be patient (no pun intended), and I’ll get back to you.
I hope you have a peaceful and joyous remainder of the year and that 2015 is your best year ever.
It’s been a tough year. To be more precise, it’s been a tough 11 months and 1 week. With any luck, once the first week of December rolls around, I’ll have this abysmal 12 month period behind me and be on to bigger, or at least better, things.
I won’t bore you, or ruin your perfectly nice day with the details, but it’s been rough. I’m normally a sunny, optimistic sort – and this year had me wondering how I could survive one more blow. And then when the next one hit – wondering the same thing again. I guess I’m a lot more resilient than even I realized… who knew?
Truth is, I’m sick and tired of being resilient. Trust me, I know, – it beats the crap out of the alternative. And really, it’s not that I’m tired of being resilient. Being resilient really is a good thing. I’m just sick and tired of *having* to be resilient. I’m tired of having taken enough body blows to send a prize fighter back into his corner spitting out his mouth guard and considering his second career choice of being a human cannonball.
I want things to go right. I want there to be enough water in the well to wash a load of laundry and take a shower on the same day. I want to sit down and pay my *all* of bills once a week and not play checkbook roulette, wondering if I will have enough to pay at least the critical things. I want to experience less pain on a *normal* day. I want my friends and family who have experienced rough times to have peace and healing and all good things. I want an end to strife, and pain and misunderstanding – at least for a little while. I just want a chance to take a breath and get ready for the next round.
So I came up with a plan. I decided to call a truce. With life. I planned to officially wave my white flag and offer to sit down and work on a peace accord. And then I came up with a snag in my seemingly perfect plan. Concessions.
No, not who sells popcorn at the peace talks – concessions as in “what am I going to give life in exchange for life no longer using me as a personal punching bag”.
Yes, things have been difficult this year — I’ve been in a lot of pain, but am I willing to give up my (mainly) good health in exchange for a shoulder that works or the end to the fibro issues?
I’ve had awful financial issues — but am I willing to lose my house in order to get away from the ridiculous interest rates on my mortgage?
I’ve lost animals this year — but am I willing to experience a life without any animals to spare myself from the pain of losing another one?
When I looked at this closely, I decided to call off the peace talks and re-define my relationship with life. Maybe we needn’t be adversaries. Perhaps we could work together. Maybe I’ll be a bit more grateful for all of the wonder and wealth in my life. And maybe life, in return, can take it just a bit easy and let me catch my breath before the start of the next round.
And maybe, just maybe, the root of my problem lies in that last sentence, “…the start of the next round”. Perhaps if I stop dressing for battle each morning and instead greet each day wrapped in gratitude, I’ll see a different life than the one I’ve gotten to know over the past year.
I have no control over many of the situations in my life (and I don’t mean this to sound like victim-speak – simply a statement of fact). What I do have control over is my response to those situations. I can choose to be the injured party, the warrior, the tilter of windmills. Or I can choose peace, acceptance and gratitude. I can choose to understand that we make our life by our responses to situations. The situations themselves are simply that – situations. It is what I make of them that makes my life.
So, just for today, I’m going to choose to spit out the mouthguard, lay down the gloves, drink a cup of tea and say a little prayer of gratitude.
Will 2015 bring an easier or more pleasant set of circumstances to my life? I have no idea. But if I go into it with an “attitude of gratitude”, I guarantee that, no matter what the circumstances, life will be more pleasant. And that’s a good place to start.
I’m in a good place right now. I’m physically in better shape than I was 5 years ago, I’m happier than I have been at any time in my life. I have a loving family, a home with “good bones” (which is a nice way of saying it’s a work in progress), I’m doing yoga, drinking water and meditating. Yes, it’s a pretty good place…and it’s time for me to move on.
Oh, I’m not talking about ditching my husband and hitting the road as a groupie for a rock band, I’m not selling the house and moving to Milwaukee – nothing that drastic (or, for me at least, just plain silly). I’m talking about becoming involved in a new project or course. I’m talking about upping the game with my writing, converting the guest bedroom into a studio where I can write and exercise and meditate without the aid of the dogs deciding it’s time to eat, or go out, or play tag around my chair. I’m talking about taking my horse for lessons with my trainer again, and finally going to a few shows. I’m talking stepping up my exercise program so I can finally run the 5K that’s languished near the top of my bucket list for years. Life is wonderful, but it could be even better.
The good is the enemy of the best
I’m not sure where I first heard that phrase, but it stuck. It’s amazingly easy to be lulled into complacency by a wonderful life. And why shouldn’t I be? What’s not to like?
In reality, not much; at least not right now. But without change, especially growth, that wouldn’t remain the case. Think of your life like a lily pond – a peaceful, beautiful setting – quite wonderful in every detail. Now think of what happens if that pond doesn’t have a supply of fresh water circulating – the water becomes stagnant, algae forms; it pretty much starts to smell. It doesn’t happen right away, if you look at the pond every day, you might not notice anything for months; but then gradually changes begin to appear. The pond loses its beauty and vibrancy. It’s still a pond, and in many ways still useful; supporting fish and as a watering place for wildlife – but that extra something is missing.
The real thing that’s missing isn’t the beauty, that’s just a symptom of the lack of fresh water. If you don’t have fresh experiences (i.e. growth) in your life – you’ll become like that stagnant pond. So take a good look at your own lily pond today. Do you have a good supply of fresh water, or has it gotten a bit murky? Your lily pond is really just a mud-hole, or even a puddle? Go ahead – plan that pond! Think about the experiences and beauty you want in your life and take one action to get out of your comfort zone today – beauty awaits! And be sure to let me know about your lily pond in the comments section!
We’ve all heard it a million times – “It’s better to give than to receive”, and most women I know have bought into it – wholesale. I could be the poster child (or at least the poster middle-aged woman) for the cause. There is certainly nobility in giving, and I’d be the last person (since Mother Teresa is no longer with us) to stop giving on a daily basis. But – and here’s the catch – giving and never receiving can actually be a selfish act.
Creative Commons by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamsjoys/
Selfish? To give and give till you’ve given all you think you have and then dredge up just a bit more? To finish your day exhausted and then nobly wave your weary hand dismissively at any morsel of succor offered? Yup, I stand by my claim – it can be selfish. Now far be it for me to call Mother Teresa selfish, but I think we can safely exclude her from the rest of this discussion and just focus on us mere mortals – we are NOT Mother Teresa.
So how, you may ask, is it possible to be a generous person and still be selfish? (And I’m not referring to hiding the last piece of Godiva Chocolate from your loved ones so you can savor it later – that’s not selfish, that’s just human!) I’m also not saying that everyone who gives is being selfish. This isn’t about giving because it makes you feel good, that’s part of why we give. What I’m referring to is having a highly developed capability to give while your ability to receive is withered like the potted plant you left on the porch in September and then forgot to water until last week (not that I would have any experience with such things). Follow me on this – the act of receiving is a gift to the giver. Let me repeat that:
The Act of Receiving is a Gift to the Giver.
Think of the joy you receive when you help someone. It can be a small act, like letting someone with a screaming child in front of you in the check out line (OK, poor example, that is an inherently selfish act). How about letting a car out into traffic in front of you, calling a friend who has been unwell, or picking out the perfect present for everyone on your Christmas list? Don’t you get the warm fuzzies just thinking about it?
It feels good to give.
By practicing the art of gracefully receiving such gifts yourself, you are allowing the giver to feel those same warm fuzzies. It is generous and kind and good to give, but it can be even more so to receive. Always doing things on your own feels noble, and powerful and exhausting, trust me, I know. But the art of gracefully accepting is also noble, and powerful, and once you get used to it, far less exhausting.
Give it a try. Today, yes – this very day, when someone offers help, accept gracefully, then watch the smile on the face of your helper. You may just learn that receiving can be one of the greatest gift sof all.
I recently posted on Twitter, “Today I will lead with what my heart knows is right, rather than with what my ego thinks should be.”. It’s a challenge I have faced for a very long time, and for most of that time, I was blissfully unaware that I even had a challenge.
One of the challenges I’m facing, now that I’m facing the original challenge of being relatively unaware, is to be aware humbly. It’s sadly rather easy for me to feel somewhat superior for being good (like a karmic version of being a good driver and feeling far superior to those who don’t yield, merge, stop or generally drive as they should….. Not that I have ever felt that way……)
One of the points of becoming conscious in the spiritual sense is to become more at one with the universe and all of it’s occupants. I recently completed a personality profile for an amazing program I’m involved in and one of the questions asked if I felt connected to all human beings, animals and nature. Despite my complete love of animals and my physical and spiritual need to spend a great deal of my life outdoors; I had to answer No. Although I consider myself a people person, feeling connected to all humans is something with which I struggle. Given the choice of spending time with humans or animals, I would normally choose animals. Given the choice of being by myself or in a crowd, I’d normally choose solitude. That being said, I love my friends deeply and have the ability to strike up casual conversation with complete strangers in supermarket lines. I genuinely enjoy human interaction – but I still feel myself an island – and all too often, a somewhat superior island to much of the human flotsam and jetsam I see in our universal sea. For someone who has very little self-confidence, it amazes me how many times a day I manage to feel superior to my fellow human beings.
The earlier reference to drivers was not a random choice. I am constantly amazed by the ineptness, dangerous practices and general rudeness of other drivers. Before my personal campaign to become more spiritually evolved, life was more simple – I simply engaged in road rage. I would rant and rage, simmer and swear; all of this vitriol directed at the offending driver, yet affecting only me.
My new approach to such drivers is to try to understand that they may be coming from a more difficult place than I and bless them on their way (admittedly, this usually comes after a dose of annoyance – this is a work in progress).
The challenge with all of this is that as I bless them on their way, I do so with a feeling of moral and tactical superiority, and I drive off extra vigilant to the traffic code. The point of my spiritual evolution is become more connected with the universe, not to use my growth as an excuse to see myself rise on my own. This doesn’t mean I will choose to “sink” to the level of human behavior which so frustrates me – quite the opposite. My goal is to continue to rise in consciousness in such a way that it will also help elevate the awareness and growth of others. What I need to constantly remind myself is that connection (and indeed leadership) must come from a place of humility. I can best help others when I shed my feelings of superiority and realize that we are all divine beings…. Even the guy that nearly hit me by running the stop sign in the Wal Mart parking lot last night.
A recent challenge on the South Beach Diet website has led me (yet again) to a realization – I have balance issues 🙂 Trying to balance the many aspects of my life has often driven me to guilt and despair (oddly enough, I also have Meniere’s syndrome, a vestibular disorder which causes physical balance issues – wonder if anyone has done any mind-body research on the correlation?) Anyway, as I’m a master at rationalizing, I’ve come up with a few ways to deal with (notice I did not say “combat”) my tendency to laser-focus on one or two aspect of my life while others live in an attention desert for a while.
Several years ago I read in a book by Stephen Covey (I’m a real fan of his work), the story of his daughter who was lamenting the lack of balance in her life. She had a new baby and everything else was falling by the wayside while she cared for the child and herself. He (master of prioritizing lives that he is) wisely counseled her to just enjoy the baby and take care of herself – balance would return as this stage of her life passes (and all too quickly). Every thing has a season… and a reason.
Right now, I’m spending very little time on the computer, very little time on housework, not too much time reading and no time on my exercise videos – however, I’m spending lots of time outside, riding several horses a day, walking an amazing 10.9 miles yesterday (just in the course of my normal activities) and generally enjoying life to the max. Does the fact that I’m not doing yoga and meditating for a half hour every day, that my wood floors could use a coat of wax, that I still have a load (OK, 3 loads) of laundry to fold and that my writing projects sit gathering dust pop into my consciousness from time to time? You bet, but it’s what I do with that fact that’s really important. I acknowledge it, know that each of these activities’ times will come and let it go. I have learned to evaluate the level of balance in my life over a more generous period of time (such as months, years, decades or even my whole lifetime)rather than an hour, day or week.
Keeping the Meniere’s devil at bay is can be a genuine challenge, but at least I’m finding it easier to believe in my heart that I’m achieving some kind of balance in the rest of my life – and I plan on wringing out the enjoyment from every single moment.