Choose Love

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. -Yoda

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Choose love. Choose to be the light in the dark. In this time of change, when fear is ruling the world, choose not to give in.

Change begins with you and with me. I choose to take care of me and my own. To spread love in my little corner of the world. To offer respect and support to those around me, no matter their views. I choose to take action in my life to make the world a better place for me and my loved ones, right here. I will do what I can to make the world better.

If you do the same, the ripples of our kindness and our change will spread and intersect. We will change the world, one person at a time.

Choose to keep doing what you need to do. Choose to do it with respect, kindness, and love. Choose to be the change.

Choose love.

Practice Makes Perfect 

Clearly I still need to work on this whole daily post concept. It’s been a busy week, and all too easy to set this aside. So now I will stretch my brain a bit to see what I’ve been thankful for these last few days.

I am thankful for pizza.

I am thankful for flirting.

I am thankful for lazy days.

Not so hard to think of things. Especially when I don’t try to confine myself to “big, important ideas”. I can be just as thankful for pizza as I can for the miracle of a sunset, or the joy that is connection with others.

Maybe this means there are other areas where I don’t have to try so hard.

Waiting

never wait

Image

New Year, Not So New You

Ah, New Year’s Day. The day when we all get to be shiny and new. Yesterday we promised that next year, we would be better: healthier, happier, kinder, more forgiving, more generous, more thoughtful, more organized. Today is the day most of us try our best to fulfill that promise. Tomorrow is the day most of us give up.

We’ve gotten used to instant gratification. Practically everything we could want is available the moment we want it. But changing yourself takes more than a day. It takes more than a promise, or a hope, or even a commitment. It takes work. That promise, and your commitment to it, will need to be reevaluated and renewed. Every single day. Change is inevitable, but if you want to be in control of where change takes you, you have to choose to be so. How many of us are familiar with deciding to work out more often? And when we make the decision, we are so determined, so full of the rush of knowing this will help us feel better. Then we get caught up in daily routines, stressed about work or family or money, and even though we’ve been working hard, there is a day when we don’t stick to our plan. No big deal, we can pick up tomorrow. But then it happens again. And again. And in a while, we realize it’s been weeks since we have actually worked out. We aren’t sure how it happened, but there it is. And now it’s starting over from the beginning, and that’s just plain exhausting.

This is why I say we have to decide to change, every day. There is just too much going on in our lives, we are all moving too fast for a lesser commitment to be successful. Time moves so fast, and in order to make the most of it, we have to take charge.

2014 was a hard year for me. I went through some really rough times, lost some important people, and perhaps most importantly, lost a part of myself. It’s taken me most of the year to realize I will never get that part back. The me that was can never be again. I have become a new shape, smaller in some places and larger in others, and I have to choose how to fill that shape in. And this is a constantly ongoing process. In the midst of all my struggles, I started a career that so far has been an enormous blessing. I’ve moved forward in so many ways. I already started my New Year’s resolution. Two weeks ago, I decided I was done with feeling weak and out of shape. And every day since, I have done something about it. I am very out of shape, so nothing is too strenuous, but there is yoga, and stretching, and the beginnings of boxing practice again. Every day, I tell myself I will do something. And there have been days it almost doesn’t happen. But because I make that promise to myself, it does. Sometimes it is just a little stretching right before bed, but it is something. And slowly, that will grow into something more. Big dramatic promises don’t work for me. I am changing slowly, a little tiny bit at a time. And I am taking charge of how that change happens.

So, my not-so-new friends, I wish you the best of luck in 2015. Whatever your goals, your dreams and desires, whether or not you turn them into resolutions, I wish you the strength and determination to see them through, and to take charge of your life. Blessed be.

One more step

Take a step.

Just one.

Doesn’t matter how big or small,

whether you move left or right, forward

or even back.

Take a step.

For the love of all that is holy, don’t stand still.

When we don’t move, we stagnate, suffocate

…fade.

Don’t fade away.

Move.

One more step.

Every day.

Perspective

I struggle with maintaining a perspective. Whether I am too close or too far away, I tend to stay there, viewing things in the same way. I like to see different perspectives, but sometimes it really takes a push for me to do so, especially when I am stressed.

Really, I blow things way out of proportion. I’m an expert at turning molehills into mountains. Take my upcoming craft fair for example. It’s a lot of work. I’ve never done one before, and I’m stressed about the whole thing. How much product should I have on hand? Do I have a receipt book? What about change, or a cash box? How should I display it? And that’s just the start of the list. In the back of my head is this little voice telling me I’m overreacting, and that I will be just fine. The rest of my head is screaming that I only have nine more days to finish preparing.

So I started small. I created a custom order form for people who want specific pieces or alterations. Two days ago, I was freaked out about this concept, with no clue what I wanted the form to look like, or even what information I needed for it. Tonight, I sat down, opened a new document, and ten minutes later decided I was satisfied. The form is simple, elegant, informative and done. Cross that off the list. What a relief.

Two days ago, that piece alone looked like a mountain in a long chain of them. Tonight, it is less than a molehill. It’s my perspective. I stepped away, and took a moment to breathe. And when I sat down to work on it, I did it with the determination that I would finish it and be able to cross something off my ever growing list. It’s very satisfying to cross things off lists.

This perspective thing applies to lots of other stuff too. Had an appointment with my therapist today. Six months ago, I thought the idea of seeing a therapist meant there was something irretrievably broken in me. Today, I was just glad for a chance to take a walk and talk to a good listener. Judgment wasn’t even in the equation. Sometimes, we can’t see anything other than the mountain in front of us, and it can be so hard to move away from it. I have a lot of days when I just can’t do it. Today, I managed. It was hard, and I have no idea how long it will last. But it’s a blessing every time it happens.

Also, giving myself points for completing another blog post. Maybe it’s silly, but the personal challenge of seeing that I can do this daily is kinda nice. And yeah, I celebrate when I do it. Everybody needs another reason to celebrate.

The Power of Words

In our monthly staff meetings, my coworkers and I have all chosen to end the meeting with a hope or goal for the coming month. It is an effort to end the meeting on a positive note. We share these hopes to inspire each other, and to encourage a little bit of accountability for ourselves.

Yesterday’s meeting had tempers running high, because we were discussing many changes to the rules. We were all pretty worn out by the end of it. We also have a big transition coming up in a few weeks as we change classrooms for our new school year. This has everyone pretty stressed. As we went around the table, I heard many variations on the hope for a smooth transition. By the time it came to my turn, I knew I had to say something special. I was hearing words that expressed hope, but voices that spoke only of defeat. So I took  a deep breath, leaned forward, and this is (roughly) what came out of my mouth:

“I do sincerely hope that we have a smooth and easy transition. But much more importantly, I hope that each of you will take a few minutes every day to be mindful. Get in touch with yourself, with how you feel and where you are. Be wholly present in the moment, just for a bit. Because in the end, if you take care of right now, then three weeks from now will take care of itself.”

I stopped there because I didn’t want it to turn into a rant, as some of my more passionate thoughts tend to do. But as I looked around the table, I knew I had said exactly the right words. People began to relax. Some even looked hopeful. The strongest and least sentimental person on my team was wiping away tears. My supervisor said “thank you” in an uncharacteristically soft voice. And as we continued around the table, I could hear the strength and vision that usually define my team creep back into their voices.

I am far from perfect when it comes to ideas like mindfulness. Usually, I’m so good at ignoring myself and my emotions that I don’t notice something is wrong until it is too overwhelming to ignore. But I try. Not always. Not even as much as I could. But I do try. And moments like that one tell me that I am doing something right. If I hadn’t been mindful of myself and my environment at that moment, I wouldn’t have said anything close to that. We would have just kept on the way we were, and all gone home stressed and a little defeated. But because I made the choice to be aware, to pay attention, I had the power to speak words that could change that. It’s an incredible feeling.

We all have that power. Every minute of every day, if we are paying attention, we have the chance to do or say something to change a life. Recognizing that is exhilarating and uplifting. Remembering it is challenging. But now that I have a fresh reminder, I am going to try a little harder. I wonder how much change I can encourage if I can be mindful, truly present, for just five minutes a day.

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