Wednesday, December 7, 2011

O, Oh, Owe

I have some more Obscure words. This time they are Obsessions:

Oenomania ~ obsession or craze for wine
Oniomania ~ mania for making purchases
Hmm...methinks we could kill two birds with one stone there. Oh and this one is obsolete (take a deep breath and repeat as quick as you can):
Omphaloskepsis om-fe-lo-skep'sis, n
(Greek, from omphalos navel and skepsis query, doubt)
This extraordinarily rare word is not normally used literally, but instead to refer to the sort of introspective self-analysis all too common in academia and pop psychology. A favourite pastime of postmodern philosophers, especially when used facetiously to refer to the habit of mentally considering everything while ignoring the real world.

"I'm never overwhelmed or under it either; just nicely whelmed.
I'm OK.
Nothing spectacular but sometimes special.
I look in the mirror and see this medium average person.
A little tired, a little sad, but not falling apart."  
- Cecelia Ahern, Thanks for the Memories  

I have also come to understand the importance of having Options. They allow one to feel less wrought, less whelmed (I'm borrowing that word for ever!) I also absolutely love the colour Orange as an accent but never combined with chocolate as a flavour.

Thank you all for the kindness and support...means more than you can imagine

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

negative would have been positive...

“That’s the great paradox of living on this earth, that in the midst of great pain you can have great joy as well. If we didn’t have those things we’d just be numb.”

Kathy Mattea

Today didn't work out the way I'd hoped it would...the way I really thought it was going to.

My 'N' was going to be for negative but it turned out positive so all I have is numb.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mmm... thanks

"Mammograms are really sort of a gift. You can either catch something early or count your lucky stars because nothing was discovered. Either way, you're ahead of the game." Charlotte Ross

The recent celebrations involving thousands of turkeys led me to ask Uncle Google what the origins of this holiday were. He told me that it all started when a group of Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.
For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm- tossed sea. Finally, in late November, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.
This little Pilgrim has also had a journey of sorts. It all started in March when I was back in Cape Town taking advantage of vast supplies of wondrous Chardonnay my remaining health insurance and proximity to my Doctors, amongst other things! The year before when I’d been there getting my residence visa’s for Portugal sorted out I’d done the same thing and also decided that it was time to put on my big girl panties and have a colonoscopy as well as the rest of the usual check-ups. That was a joy as no sooner had I gotten those big girl panties back on I was in surgery having a chunk of my colon chopped out. Suffice to say that experience had left me feeling a tad vulnerable. Anyway on this trip back it was time for the Girls to be checked again.    
No it’s not a comfortable procedure but its quick and really should be compulsory. The crap part is the size of the cubicle that they sit you down in to await your fate. And wait I did. Eventually I realized there was something amiss which was confirmed 2 hours later after 5 scans of the left gal and the need for a few new magazines to read. And still there was debate about who was seeing what where. If you spend longer than necessary in these types of places you see lots of very sick people and start alternating between counting your lucky stars and shitting yourself. 
Eventually I was taken through for an ultrasound and I don’t know what I remember being worse...the dude sticking his elbow right into the colon op scar or him saying they needed to get hold of a breast surgeon.
You know we can sit and postulate all we like about what we will or wont do in this or that situation but here’s the times like these you hit the wall of your own truth so hard that there is no have to have an opinion and a plan. Okay first you have a panic. I was flying out 2 days later and in the midst of trying to keep a lid on my hysteria it hit me that I wasn’t just going overseas...I was going home. 
It was in that moment that I knew it was time to test out the medical system here on the island even though it, like the New World all those years ago was also filled with uncertainty, but hopefully not peril. I got the blessing from the woman who has been my Gynecologist forEVER and in a flash my entire medical history and all my scans were loaded onto a CD and I was good to go. One HAS to be thankful for the ease at which shit like that happens these days; at how small it makes the world and how international a language digitizing has become.
And I could not have asked for kinder care once I got back here. Slow...because we all bob along in the sea of the public health system so one does have to do a certain amount of waiting. One must therefore give thanks for the fact that one has a kindle! But they were thorough. All of the tests I’d had done in Cape Town they did again. They took 5 biopsies and could have waved me on my way saying all was well but no, they went the extra mile and booked me in for surgery to get an absolutely certain result. It is SO weird being so completely foreign in a hospital. The other 2 gals in the ward with me spoke no english so I really had no idea what they were having done. All I knew was that I was second in line for theatre. The younger one went in first and four hours later it was my turn so I knew it must have been major. And it was. Because her mother had died of breast cancer she was booked in for a mastectomy when her mammogram showed an inflammation - not cancer mind you, just an inflammation! So young!! Clearly these dudes don't take any chances!
And yes I’ve had problems with my scar and the stitches and the whole wound healing shit but this little Pilgrim is nothing but grateful for the fact that thus far she is intact. 
And at last...finally, late this November, tomorrow in fact, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, I am hoping for the cry of “Negative!” when I have - hopefully - my final appointment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

...we interrupt this long and winding alphabet wish y'all a Happy Thanks Giving
Artwork from Story People by Brian Andreas

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'ell 'ath no fury...

...ergo there shall be no angst whilst we ponder the letter L!

Of course the first word that springs to mind is Love. She is closely followed by Life and Laughter. And did you know that there are a whole legion of Lost words? I've read that there are rare words, and the there are even rarer words, but only a very special word qualifies as a bona fide lost word. And by lost it is meant never used on the internet. There is now a whole website dedicated to them ...hmmm... I guess those that were once lost are now found.
A few years ago I received a list of words that Collins (I think) were proposing to have removed from the next print of their dictionaries. Evidently they felt there were now too many words in the English language so the lesser or never used ones were lined up for deletion to make way for newer ones. There was a mad panic amongst writers to use these endangered words as often as they could before print date to try and save them from extinction. I must look for that list as they were truly worthy words...much worthier than the likes of 'unfriend'…’meh’.
I don't know about you but I can get lost in lists of rare finds words like Lairwite ~ a fine given to a married woman for adultery; evidently paid by her father! That alone might cause some to take pause and reconsider their morals! And what about Logogogue ~ one who issues laws or rules regarding words... not unlike the head honcho of Collin's but I guess CEO looks better than Logogogue behind one's name! And did you know that a Lambdoid means shapes like the letter Lambda (^) or "L"?

Anyway, in an effort to keep it Light and Limpid and not get too Largiloquent, my focus for this letter of my alphabet will be

It's colour, aroma and simplicity strike such a chord in me not unlike this picture. Suffice to say I have a Lot of it growing in my garden.

The last time I was in Cape Town I drove far and wide hunting down a pink flowered variety to go with my treasured white one. And don't raise those was only one little plant! The year before I transported...oh all curry tree, root cuttings from my precious rose bushes, the aforementioned white lavender plant along with a pink one and a yellow one...the last two subsequently died hence my quest.
I really do think we are getting off topic here people!!
Besides when I found a pink one, at a ridiculous price I might add, I was very thorough about washing off all the soil from the roots as its that that seems to bug the plant police. I guess they've had the Last Laugh as when it bloomed this summer it wasn't really that erm..Pink... not like the picture on the label. I Know...Lesson Learned...from now on I will just smuggle seeds in - although I'm pretty sure if they are hermetically sealed then it can't be deemed a smuggle! And no, there is no such a thing as a garden centre on this little island so to be fair (to me of course!) I have been forced into these bad habits!

I have a small plot of land that has lain fallow for all time and my plan is to slowly but surely grow enough of my beloved herb to replace the untold volumes of weeds that have found refuge there...imagine that!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oooo...K (particle too)

Okay so my pinky promise 'tomorrow' has turned into a 'today' well over a week later…so be it.
Anyway… today is the day and its an auspicious day with its three elevens.
Now where was I?
Oh yes, turning towards the looking glass…hmmm.

There is nothing more important than the relationship we have with ourselves.
We know this …don’t we? We are not stupid…are we?
Yet we have it drummed into us that we need to put others’ needs before our own; be kind to others first; that any attention to self is selfish. And then to compound the whole thing we spend even more time beating ourselves up…how clever is that? How UNkind is that?

We all know what that delicious moment between sleeping and waking feels like…before life comes rushing at us.
So why does that feeling only last for a moment?
I think it’s because every morning when we wake up, before we have a conscious thought, we immediately log on to mypersonalsoundtrack dot com which tells us we are ‘too’ this or ‘too’ that and all our negative energy of anxiety, insecurity, anger and resentment comes rushing in. It’s like we have a drop down list in our head that tells us we are ‘too’ something, or not enough something else; less than, more than, early for, late for. And then of course we have all the ‘shoulda-coulda-woulda’ sound effects to jolly things up even more. Of course we wash that all down with a cup of guilt sugared with remorse and regret and THEN we get up, get dressed and go out into the world – the world whose needs we’ve been told we need to think of before our own. And it tells us even more versions of what we do or don’t lack! And then the Universe whispers in our ear that nirvana will be attained if we just let go of who we or others think we are supposed to be and be who we really are.
Shit…sit still for a moment world!

That concept, that idea of being who we really are, that got me asking myself… who are you Possum?
One person could see you as a genius who is wise and knows how to solve problems but another could see that same you-ness as being a know-it-all; being an inspiration to one could be another’s bossy and manipulative.
And of course all we remember, all we focus on, are the negative aspects of this spectrum, the criticized versions of who we are. Right? This sometimes has us jumping through hoops or behaving like chameleons in order to ‘belong’…to fit in.
But … if you sit still and think … just think about it… we might be too something for some people and not enough for others so in fact we just are… we are not ‘too’ anything… we are Worthy. And the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is consciously focus on that worthiness, on feeling comfortable in our own skin; accepting that no matter what you do belong.
We need to worry less about what people think or say and more about how we feel.  Just mind our own business and ask ourselves every morning when we wake up: What do I need to take care of myself today. I am pretty sure that if we change that inner soundtrack...change that negative default setting in our brain...we could go a long way to extending that morning deliciosity.(my own word)
If you want to be kind to others start with self. It is the only way.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh....K (part won)


ManKIND is generally no such thing. Kind, that is.
I started pondering this topic a few weeks ago and kept hitting my head up against a negative brick wall. I KNEW that I wanted my K word to be about KINDness but all I could focus on was UNkindness. Do you find yourself doing that or is it just me?
Or was it just me and what was happening those few weeks ago?
You see what happened was I got a surprise visit from my ex’s mother. Not a biggie you might think but I live on an island and in order to get to it considerable effort needs to be made. So one has to take a moment and ponder what the Universe was up to when she conspired to cross our paths.
The ex's Mother now lives in the UK and works for an agency that does “caring” work - looking after old people in their homes – but the gig that had her sailing into town, literally, was looking after some wingnut who was being sent on her annual cruise and needed minding rather than caring.
So you can imagine the rise of my eyebrows when I got the text asking me if I was going to be around then and if I was able to see her.
I must say in terms of being kind, she has been nothing but.
And yes, I could have said no. But I felt it was important to acknowledge the effort the Mother was making and her moxie, cos if you think about it there is a big difference in keeping in touch with me via text message and birthday or Christmas cards, to having me arrive to collect you from a cruise ship and bring you to the family house for a visit with my parents and I! I don’t know if I would have the balls to do that if I had a son who had treated his partner as UNkindly as hers has treated me and risk the wrath of the family.
But it was lovely seeing her and so nice that she was able to see where and what my new life is like, and lovely that she was able to see my parents again even though the whole time she was here there was a huge big stinking elephant in the middle of the room, so to speak! Just before I had to get her back to the ship I brought out a large package of all of the Dorkus’s precious stuff and asked if she were able to take it as I didn’t feel comfortable throwing it all away.
(Yes, his shit from our life together in South Africa is still in our basement garage in storage where it has been since we moved over here!)
Talk about hitting the elephant with a stick!!
She got very tearful and felt the need to apologise to me for how her son had treated me.  It transpires that the Dorkus is now married to some poor unsuspecting slag with 5 children from who knows how many previous marriages and they live in a one horse town in the middle of butt fuck nowhere in the Texas Panhandle. Oh, that’s right…5 children, 1 grandchild and (drum roll please…) an American citizenship. Although I really don’t think that the old trick of marrying an American to be "in status" works these post 9/11 days…however this news really did allow a lot of pieces to fall into place…finally! Ironically the Dorkus' Father, the Mother’s now ex husband, treated her equally UNkindly after over 45 years of marriage – took off with all her money and some trailerpark-ish slag.
I was surprised how upset I was by all of this, but not for the obvious reasons.  Not because there is now some other female sleeping in what was my bed with what was my man…dear god…she is welcome to that part of him with bells and whistles.
No, it was the careful planning and conniving that had gone into making this all happen. Making it all look like he was the victim and I was the big bad wolf in the story. It was the very VERY conscious choice to be UNkind to me…not just in general…but to me. THAT is what hurt.
“A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” ~
Dave Barry, "Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn"
 When I read that quote I realized this was something that I had always known but chosen to ignore. His Mother even alluded to his streak of cruelty, how like his father he was behind his seemingly innocuous and kindly manner and this made her fearful for his sake. What I also realized was that for all this time that I have been getting on with my own life – laughing and doing and being and outwardly fine because the tears have stopped – the truth was there was still a huge amount of shit to deal with; still a whole heap of emotional cracks that I had just slapped a coat of paint over that actually still needed filling. Bugger!!
This also coincided with a gal here on the island, a so called friend, taking a big blunt knife and for absolutely no reason at all other then her own “issues”, sticking it into my back. So of course I made it all about me didn’t I?? I didn’t slip or fall, I JUMPED right back into that black hole of self justification, oh woe is me and how dare they, how could they; a veritable victim fuzz ball cocktail!
And all of this transpired when I was pondering KINDness! A big fat dilemma right? I just wanted to grab hold of it by the balls and shake it til it screamed!
But I didn’t. I stepped out onto my terrace one night when the bloody neighbours dogs were barking and keeping me awake; and realized why…it was full moon time. It was also time to call in the big guns; to practice what I have so often preached to my nearest and dearest; time to ask my Angels for help. But not just generalized help…very specific help. I asked them to get their asses right over to me and help me get right over this shit and let go of the sadness, the feelings of failure, the anger, the darkness. And I didn’t just want one of them here, I wanted the whole bloody “A” team!!
I really thought I had done this before but clearly I had not done it with intent because trust me, not a day has gone by since then that I have not received some or other validation that my Angels heard me and showed up. Silly little things like clicking on a website or blog and getting goose bumps because I just know that I have been pointed to whatever words I am reading, or whatever vimeo I click on either by mistake or on purpose, or even as far as when window shopping on Amazon for books to buy and the list of books that come up that “others” have bought that Amazon think I might like. Blow your mind away books that I DID buy and am busy reading!!  Even as we speak I know that there is more, that there will be more. And the recurring theme of the direction in which they have been pointing me is fear and forgiveness. Dealing with those two, in essence, is how I can be the kindest of all to myself. It is actually none of my business why the Dorkus chose to be so UNkind to me: my business is why I allowed it to happen to other people when I was with him – like the way he treated his ex wife, the way he treated his staff...
the way he spoke to the waiter!
In fact my only business in having allowed him to treat me the way he did when I was stuck out there in the middle of butt fuck nowhere in the Texas panhandle is not why I allowed it but how and what I am doing to move forward from that ever happening again and if there is a why…why am I not celebrating my freedom! Celebrating my me-ness
I have consciously resisted this whole forgiveness shit but I now realize that it is the path that I have to go down.
Okay change the wordage…not down…along…up…whatever J
It will most certainly not happen just because I say the words…it will happen because I feel them. And I must say there’s a whole lot of excitement I feel waking up every morning and consciously deciding that I will try to be kind in word, action and thought but let me tell you, it takes a LOT of intent and conscious effort.

But wait…there will be more…tomorrow!
Pinky promise people!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

it just has to be said....Job well done!

Steve Jobs
1955 - 2011
A visionary and creative genius
An amazing human being.

Hambe Gashle Makulu

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary." SJ

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jay walking into the light

I was strolling through words the other day...the ones we say on a regular basis, the ones that seem to pop into whatever we read or hear that then become part of who we are; ones that we sometimes stop and think and wonder.. "when the hell did that come into my vocabulary?". A word that I have long used but not used in a long time is jocular. It is such a jolly word; so apt. And also a J
That of course led me into another maze of 'J' words and I was astounded... okay not astounded as that’s a bit naive...lets just say I had en eyebrow-raising moment when I found a whole list of words with the same meaning:
jocularity   jocundity   jocoseness   jolliness   joviality
All of the above are nouns whose definition is: 
And in that same list of words was another that resonated...
joie de vivre
loosely translated from the french as: 
the joy of living
also a that feels very nice to say. Come now...say it with me...
zhwaduh vee-vruh
Isn’t that just a fabulous concept? Isn’t that what our energies should be spent on?
Sarah Ban Brethnach puts it so well: “when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present--love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure--the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth."
Yes I know, all too often life gets in the way and punches us in the throat and the whole heaven on earth bit might be a tad over the top. But I do believe that through thick and thin we can at least try to recognize and honour those bits of our lives that bring us joy. Its much like eating a plate of food, yes? How often do you cook a meal thinking of everything but the actual ingredients or process of preparation. You slap the food on a plate only to have the recipient maybe slurp it down whilst sat in front of the tv? Okay maybe a tad extreme....maybe not. What a difference it makes to consciously take notice of each and every element of that food preparation, each and every ingredient, texture and flavour and then have the recipients hit the pause button, sit down at a prepared table and en~JOY the meal.
I believe that one or two little moments of Joy in ones day will go a long way to diluting the sometimes unbearable pain we call life. I also believe that to get to this place requires a conscious decision...a choice. 
Don’t get me wrong..I have not come about this because my life is all shiny bobbing little ponytails and pockets of joy (and please don’t ask me what that all means; I have never used those words like that in one sentence...but it kind of conjurs up a picture that feels irritatingly slappable!) No, I’ve come about this feeling from a particularly painful place, a place very much like that wasteland full of illusions. 
I know there are days filled with overwhelm...I’m not discounting that and I’m not saying that those days don’t have their rightful place in our journey. But when we discount the joy, when we take it for granted, if we don't acknowledge it or worse still, if we don’t feel deserving or worthy of it, then sometimes all one needs is a good old jolt of pain to shake things up...shake loose the knife from between one’s shoulder blades and the other one lodged between one’s ribs.
I had one of those jolts last week. Luckily for me I was thrown into a cold shower of common sense along with some clarifying and caring words from near and far. Left to cogitate on this for a bit brought me to my conclusion that I a clear cut either savour each joyful moment in the moment; envelope myself...yourself...ourselves in them like a soft terry towel ...or not. 
I choose the moment!

Joie de Vivre

oil on canvas by leslie taylor

Sunday, September 25, 2011

me, myself and I

I had such good intentions to post regularly; if not daily at least weekly and now evidently I am unable to even squeak one out monthly. A post that is.
Not even making a finger to font commitment to get through a simple alphabet has borne much fruit.

But… forge on I will…. make excuses for life getting in the way I wont.
And that is where we are in this 26 step program…
the letter I...

I guess I could wax lyrical about Integrity, or it’s lack thereof, or bemoan the abundance of Ignorance. I could even talk about how old wounds surrounding Infidelity have been slashed open with a fleeting visit to the island from Dorkus’s (my ex) mother; but maybe I will leave that for another day when I am feeling less ragged around the edges.
Interestingly when I found myself staring at the blank screen with the letter "i" staring back at me, it occurred to me how that little letter has become an institution all on it’s own.

Not only do we have the iMac, the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod there are all of their derivatives. And when I say ‘we’ I don’t mean ‘I’. Okay to be fair I do have an iMac so of course iLust after an iPad but I’ve not joined the Pod or Phone iLists. I know once I do the whole world of apps will open up to me and I will be lost.
Just last night friends were over for dinner and were playing phone-phone. They had us all in stitches with the talking cat and tweeting bird apps. I have no idea what they are called but believe me if you can tickle the tummy of a cat on the screen of your phone and have it smile and purr you will never be alone or without a smile on your face.


So back to those aforementioned iDerivatives which take their inspiration from various Apple products and are making huge in roads into the urban dictionaries; words like:
iHand - When a person uses their iPhone so much it becomes a part of their body.
iKnob - Anyone on god's green earth who owns an Ipod and brags about it.
iLick - The act of licking ones finger before flicking the page on any touch screen.
iGuitar - Similar to an air guitar but with an iPod in one hand, headphones in, the other hand moving like playing a guitar. Because nobody else can hear the music, they look a bit more than stupid.
Surely that person would qualify as an iKnob as well wouldn’t they?
iLord - One who is all Macintosh all the time; a Mac fiend. He has everything Mac has put out in the last ten years. (This would be my brother; no contest!)
iLone - When you find yourself among other people glued to their iPhones, while you are still part of the dying race of people that uses a phone to call. (This would be me.)
iPhone effect - shortly after one person in the group brings out their iphone, the rest follow suit, ultimately ending all conversation and eye contact.
"Hey, what do you want to order for drinks?"
"Not sure, let's see what Imbibe Magazine has for their best beer this month."
First iphone comes out of the pocket--enter safari search.
Next iphone comes out--enter Facebook post.
Third iphone makes an entrance -- the iphone effect has arrived.

iPhoney - A cell phone which copies the look and features of an iPhone.
iPeeper - a person who looks at someone's iPod screen to see what it is they are listening to.
iShattered - what happens to the glass screen when you drop your iPhone or iPad

And these definitions are very clever...
iVodka - The mixture of apple juice (of any kind) mixed with vodka (of any kind) or
iPerbole - The hype surrounding any product Apple unveils.

I just love the ones that have no connection to anything fruity or Mac but use the same construction like:
iGuess - Not knowing what the hell is going on...
iMail - "Idiot Mail" or the endless amount of ridiculous and inane email one receives from idiots all day long, especially at work or in a corporate context.
And of course, as with 'idiot' the whole word ‘inappropriate’ can also been shortened to an i and added on to whatever it might be an iComment or iDriving or iDancing or to a person e.g iDave - one who has no social skills or generally doesn’t seem to be able to say or do anything right.

The iOptions are endless...see... you can just make them up as you go along!

I must say I was mortified to find a whole genre of urban definitions using Ikea as its inspiration!
"Shit! I got Ikea'd"
- when you open something that unexpectedly needs to be assembled...or...
The 5 screws left over from putting that armoire together are a sure sign of an impending Ikeatastrophe

One could go on and on but one wont... one will end off with another little iWord....
This has been identified as the biggest little word in the english language.
If can do many things.
It can stop a contract from going through. It can stop a marriage.
It can step in and change one’s life dramatically. All those what ifs.
If can change you point of view, perspective and interest all at once.
If can stop love.
Thanks to the Urban Dictionary for the definitions

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday 160...even so

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on this earth
Raymond Carver

"The Beloved"
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Monkey Man hosts the 160 Character Challenge

Saturday, July 9, 2011

H is a shape too

I love Hearts.
They make me smile; feel Happy, Humble, Hopeful.
They make me feel calm on the inside; balanced.
People who know me well know this.
People who don't know me well soon learn this.

This ancient Heart was spotted whilst visiting the islands' palace gardens.

My favourite cheese board
Made with love...wood from the knysna forest in South Africa

metal Hearts with love birds
metal Hearts hanging on a Church pew at a friend's wedding
metal wire pebble filled Heart hanging in the garden

circular Hearts
slatted Hearts 

a mosaic Heart
a precious gift that graces my bathroom

I love how Hearts can even be found in Nature

"Your body is free but your heart is in prison.
To release your heart, you simply reverse the process which locked it up.
First you begin to listen to messages from your heart - messages you may have been ignoring since childhood.
Next you must take the daring, risky step of expressing your heart in the outside world...
As you learn to live by Heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story...
It is the way you were meant to exist.
If you stop to listen, you'll realize that your heart has been telling you so all along."

from Finding your own North Star
Martha Beck


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Empathy, Forgiveness and Gratitude ...then you can eat, pray and love!

You can’t touch it but it affects how you feel.
You can’t see it, but its there when you look in the mirror.
You can’t hear it but it’s there every time you talk about your self.
What is this important yet mysterious thing?

es·teem: to regard highly; with respect or admiration; a favorable opinion or judgment.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that when it came to this letter of my alphabet it was going to be this word. But it soon became apparent that I was choking on it.
( this rate if I’ll be lucky if I get to Z by Christmas!!)
But finally...FINALLY...the Universe stepped in - as she always does when you ask her to...when you sit quietly and percolate your thoughts...mentally meander...when you listen and when you pay attention!! And I did.
 Best you get comfortable.
 Why is it that we always hold others in higher esteem than we hold ourselves? And why is it that this beautiful word is so often associated with pain and doubt and negativity?

Psychologists say that almost every aspect of our lives - our personal happiness, success, relationships, creativity, dependencies, actions, reactions, economic status, apathy, criminal behavior, harmful and defensive behaviors, etc - all of this revolves around one core characteristic: our precious self-esteem.

And I agree!

In the deepest part of ourselves we carry an image of who we are as a person and how worthy we feel in relation to others. Compare it to an oil painting; one that has layer upon layer of paint. Layers of colors; of light and shade. Layers that have been applied since our birth. Each time some one says or does something to us another layer goes on. All of this starts at a young vulnerable impressionable age and we just continue adding layer upon layer to our canvas. Other people’s paintings are always prettier and more colorful aren’t they? The grass is always greener on the other side. Like I said, more often than not we undervalue and devalue ourselves. Consistently and constantly. I know I have.

 “If you put a small value on yourself,
rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”

~Unknown Author

I LOVE the way a child can be wherever he or she is and let it all hang out and not give a shit! This epitomizes the true essence of living in the moment; of being oneself. Nothing is holding them back from being who they are meant to be.
I DESPISE how that joie de vivre can be squashed flat with cruelty. A single word, a thoughtless gesture or worse, nothing at all, can cut one to ones core.
And think how we all shrug our shoulders at the innocence of childhood and think/say/wish ..”yeah, but you just wait til life arrives and shows you its not all fun and games” (or something to that effect).
PEOPLE arrive!
Children do not have the emotional vocabulary to process the messages they get from screwed up adults.
And why are we screwed up?
Either someone says or does something to the child that makes him think that he is wrong and the other person MUST be right. Must be right because they are parents, teachers, friends …or significant others.
Or someone says or does something innocently and this is misinterpreted by the child.
Worse still, a person is not present in that child’s life; or they are but don’t show up!

Regardless of what it might have been the child comes to the same conclusion...there is something wrong with them...with me.
From that point onward they start to scan the world for these things; this is now the filter they pass information through; the tinted glasses through which they process or look at the world and doing this they will always find what they are looking for to justify their new self image, the world will tell them they are flawed in some significant way and Voila! a new self fulfilling prophecy is born. Our belief system absorbs it, we move forward with it and recreate it all the time so we end up being adults who carry around self-doubts that limit our potential.

That is why we are screwed up.
That is why people justify themselves saying “That’s just the way I am...That’s just who I am...take it or leave it” (always accompanied with that shrug of the shoulders!!)

I realize now I’ve always gotten stuck where the gurus say things like ...”this is where a choice needs to be made Possum: you can either let those self-doubts control your actions, or you can work through them by improving the things you can change and accepting those you can't. Only then can you start working on the most important relationship you'll ever have: the relationship with yourself.”

This accepting crap did not sit well with me. I wanted to know!! I have lost track of the amount of shelf help I have absorbed over the years but there really does come a time in your life when you say (bloody well) enough!
And then a light came on.
Knowing all the information;having all the answers. That alone cannot enhance our self esteem.
One can get a "How to" ride a bike book out of the library and learn how to ride a bike. Shit, you can get TEN “How to” books all telling you the same thing. But to really learn to ride a bike you have to “get” on the bike and wobble and maybe even fall to finally “get” the distinction of the concept of reading how and feeling how; of feeling what that balance is. You have to apply the facts to your life to “get” them. That is what this whole choice thing is about. You not only have to choose new behaviors, you have to to make the decision to hold yourself up to a new possibility. You have to ask yourself: “do I stay on the old path and keep the dysfunction or do I try something different and stop the spiral of self sabotage?”
You have to declare them first and then step into them. Declare that you want to be known for these qualities ...and then step into them. I guess it’s a bit like declaring you are going to get fit and then stepping into the new behaviour of an exercise regime. I believe if we shift the pictures that we hold in our mind we can change our reality; change the colors of our canvas; strip off the old useless layers and add our own new layers.
But we need to pick up the paintbrush and mix the colors to “get” the distinction!

I guess I’m fortunate in that I have had the time and circumstances to ponder all of this and make the choice to look inwards for answers; make the choice to sit still and think for a bit when an upset has happened; when health issues have made me take pause. I’ve realized that whatever’s been going on no longer works for me; it might actually have created actual dis-ease. I’ve worked out that when the upset happens it is a microcosm of the initial upset that hurt the little girl in me. I don't think we need to remember what the actual initial upset was because we know what it feels like; we’ve reproduced it all our lives!

I also get the concept that we have an emotional reactive form of listening. We don't just hear with our ears, we hear with our emotions. If it’s not going to be happy then it’s going to be either angry or sad or afraid. And then we will respond with anger, sadness or fear. For example, indignant anger...the “how dare you!” reactions...or the “oh woe is me” reactions...or those dreadful fearful reactions. This is how we head the hurt off at the pass to protect ourselves. The majority of us have lived out of any of these emotional responses for years and years. I know I have.
But guess what? If we reinterpret the upset we get to reinvent ourselves. This is the penny that I had to get to drop. If we simply make up something else other than the indignant anger or the fear or the sadness, if we simply replace it we will get a different result.


But seriously I have pondered this and it is that simple. Our emotional response is the big red flag. When I was able to identify my trigger I literally reinvented the situation that had caused it but attached no emotional status to it.
Next time someone cuts you off in traffic see what mood that triggers!
But take a moment and reinvent the situation. Instead of assuming the guy is an asshole who dared cut you off, do a mental 180 and assume maybe he got bad news and just did not see you or maybe he had a bad morning or ...whatever. We don't need to forgive the bad behavior we just don't need to let it ruin our day. We don't need to be addicted to the anger or sadness or fear anymore.

We all know people who are addicted to worrying. Right? No matter what is going on in their lives they need to have something to worry about. They scann and look for this and will always gravitate toward people and situations that will give them their fix. Just like I have clearly always gravitated towards people who will criticize me, reject me, abandon me, not love me. So when we know what runs us by identifying what our emotional reactions are we can heal our past hurts and that will raise our self esteem.

Or not.

We could just stay in an uncomfortable comfort zone because it’s what we know. Like new shoes...they can rub and pinch so instead of trying them on and walking in them we’ll stay with the old holed ones. And whine!
So when someone shrugs their shoulders and says that’s just the way they are my reaction will not be to jump in and try and save them from themselves or change them or god knows what else I have done in the past to gain their approval or acceptance or vent my will recognize that they are being who they CHOOSE to be and regardless of who they choose to be I am responsible for who I am. I shall mind my own business! I shall however mind it with Empathy, like we did with the 'asshole' driver remember?

We act out of whatever images we hold in our minds remember, this gives us our fix; our ability to vent to dominate, to be fearful or sad. Being empathetic allows us to not step into that victim status. Being empathetic takes away the perceived assault. Putting yourself in the other person’s world doesn’t mean we will now condone bad behavior but it does mean that we will take a moment to think about what it feels like for them. Accept that they are not doing it TO us...they are just doing it. We don't always see the big picture being in a row of dominoes. Empathy gives us the option of reacting to the world from the point of view that it is not actually always about us.
In fact it is rarely about us!

Did you know that depression can cause the brain to alter its chemistry? People can be addicted to sadness. It allows them to be never have to take responsibility. Assuming a victim status keeps us stuck; allows us to be right! You get that?

It. Allows. Us. To. Be. Right.

Yay! We finally get to be “right” about something when so often we have been told we are wrong. And being right feels good so we hang on to it for dear life! But all we are doing is keeping a chronic situation in place. Right? That lightbulb moment was a biggie for me.

After E comes F and after Empathy comes Forgiveness.

Hmm...I’ve alluded to how difficult this has been for me in other posts this is what I am working on. Daily!
Forgiveness starts with forgiving oneself for making mistakes; realizing we are not perfect. What do “they” always say: “we tend to hate in others what we hate in ourselves?” I can accept this but I also accept the fact that I can hate things in people that are nowhere near in me - Murder, infidelity, rape, and abuse to name the immediate few. Okay so let’s assume we can forgive ourselves yet still take responsibility for our actions; own them but not dwell and fester about them. Okay? Now we need to forgive others.

If forgiveness is about forgiving another for making the mistake and not about condoning the bad behavior; if it’s about saying I have a right to be angry but that I am not going to carry it around and vent all the time, then it works for me. This definition of forgiveness means that I can decide to be someone who is known for love instead of anger.
One can simply decide that that person made a mistake.

One can simply decide you are not going to look for revenge.

One can simply decide that the anger no longer serves you.

Forgiveness is the process of releasing it. The process of blessing that person. (okay I said I was working on it!!!) One does not have to agree with another person’s behavior or actions but you can simply decide that you are no longer going to be affected by it; you are going to move on. I do believe that when we release that emotion and are willing to move on and not let it dominate our lives with anger the loving relationships will follow. One can’t have anger in one’s heart and attract the things you want in your life at the same time. One has to be willing though, willing to move on, to let go of the juicy negative bits that have justified our very character; that have made us right. You have to be willing to step into and act on the declaration of who you have decided to be.

Finally Gratitude.

Why Gratitude? Because it is impossible to be angry and vindictive if you are grateful. Similarly, focusing on the negative does not allow us to be grateful. At all.
I am beyond grateful that I now live in a time and place that affords me the luxury of being able to focus on what is right about today; here and now and in the absolute moment. I am sure that this alone has led me into this dissertation very long post!

I think I got to do all of this backwards... from G to E.
I found myself in a good place so I started looking for more good and found it and the more I found the less importance the negative held for me; the more disruptive and exhausting the irritations and anger became. I think when we realize we have the ability to make more of the good on purpose, the ability to manifest the things we want, we then decide quite simply that we are going to look for the good ...because we say we are.
That is how we stop being apathetic, when we stop settling for less. The ultimate prerequisite for happiness and success is to elevate our self esteem so the sooner we start to believe in ourselves the sooner we will manifest a whole new reality!
That is when we get to design our whole new life on purpose.

That is really living deliberately.