In followup to the rental situation, I met the challenge head on by pursuing multiple lines of inquiry and search: several realtors, several mortgage brokers, buy vs. rent, rent a full unit vs a room, me and my son together vs separated in different residences with room rental only, garaage vs no garage plus storage unit, … I opened my mind to possibilities. In pursuit of the opportunity we liked the best, I filled out more paperwork than with prior home purchases; a truly ridiculous amount of paperwork. However, the end was met. Although the prospective unit owner had several offers to choose from, we (my son and I) were chosen. There were so many other aspects to the comprehensive situation that could have made me crazy: including thinking about the whole moving process, going through inspection, getting renter’s insurance, the cost of the unit which is far more than I expected or wanted to be paying. However, I’ve been taking it one step at a time. Now that we’ve closed the deal, my next step is to start figuring out how my furniture and affects will be transferred. And, the money aspect I’m tabling. While I started getting anxious about various aspects of things and started talking from a negative point of view, my emotions and projection not totally controlled in a positive bent, I observed retrospectively what I was doing and at least worked on keeping the vision in mind most of the time. Also, I decided instead of worrying about how much money I would be spending and not saving in paying more for rent, I can use it as impetus to figure out ways to generate income and improve my financial circumstances to make the increased costs overwhelmingly compensated by increased wealth.
Since I was recently notified of our landlord selling our rental unit, I’ve had an underlying level of pervading tension, but I definitely attribute the participation in MKE in having it not being at a very ratcheted up level of stress. Rather I focused on one thing at a time. First step, taking care of the owners interests, meant cleaning and organizing for showing in short notice. That was quite successful: the first couple who saw the unitimmediately put in an offer. Because the owner was motivated to sell, it was accepted in short order. Now, second step was taking care of our own interests. Although I have major concerns about credit issues that have impacted me since my divorce a number of years ago, I determined simple steps and took action to start developing a portfolio to put my best foot forward in moving along a new rental: such as getting references from my landlord and management company, getting paystubs, bank statements, et. In other words, I didn’t let myself get stalled in worry and paralysis; rather, I decided to work on creating the circumstances that would help me get a good unit.
I received a call this week from another mother and part of our conversation was discussing the common occurrence of being a recipient of blame. Mothers often inflict self-blame because they love their children so much and want to be perfect parents for their children but recognize and amplify in their minds their imperfections. Parents will blame each other for differences in child rearing practices and perceived short-comings vis-a-vis treatment of their own children. Mothers will be blamaed by their children’s siblings for unequal treatment. Other extended family members will blame parents for what they see as mistakes in raising their children. Outsiders, often with no child-rearing experience of their own, will avidly observe and blame parents for what they perceive as short-comings, possibly even filing reports to Social Services. These are only a few possibilities of the negativity that can be heaped on mothers. It is not a job for the faint of heart. What is the message of all this guilt? That we expect perfection from ourselves and others? While as human beings we may have a bias to expecting perfection from ourselves and others and judge far too easily, i
t is something we can learn to recognize and release. Objectively observing how we relate with family members and reasoning out what we might have better done is not quite as simple. Truly knowing the cause and effect in the family organism is a complicated thing. So, personally, although I definitely have moments where I absorb shame and guilt that gets heaped on me by judgmental persons, I am working on being more forgiving of myself and not accepting the judgments. Like a saying I remember from Buddha perhaps that if someone offers you a gift, you have the right not to accept it. The same goes for judgments.
Many years ago, when I was first married, it was always uppermost in my mind how fleeting life was and that it was important to cherish the moments of relationship. While the idea of it never left me, somehow the emotional impact of that thought wasn’t as strong as the continuing years of challenges sapped my emotional and physical strength. I also used to have a very strong sense of discipline. I think that also collapsed as I felt a sense of hopelessness insidiously infiltrate my consciousness. However, participating in this course has awakened a sense of fresh possibility in my life, and our recent scroll has reminded me even more strongly of the importance of each day and galvanized a strong impetus to really make strides in seizing each day. In the last couple weeks, I not only successfully completed some projects that lingered undone for decades, I also started a new diet that I’ve successfully adhered to for the last week and a half with a sense of discipline I haven’t felt for a very long time. This moment, this day is the most important day in my life because, while nothing else is guaranteed, I have this moment and this day right now to live life to its fullest.
After having started a new job, I was concerned about fitting in and creating a good network of relationships. It can be difficult to break into the network of preexisting relationships, because you start as an outsider. I focused on being friendly and showing interest in others. However, I have never been a very gregarious person. The reaching out I was doing was on the edge of my comfort zone, and I was feeling disappointed and alone because I didn’t feel like most of the other people were interested in connecting with me. While I few would interact nicely with me upon my overtures, I didn’t see that they were making overtures towards me. I suppose it was like planting a new seed and applying water and expecting to immediately see the sprout. Then, it seems as if all of a sudden, I had people coming by: a couple people unexpectedly dropped by little gifts, I was invited to a group lunch, someone was asking me for help, someone was swinging by and asking how I was, etc. After I was starting to feel loss of heart and hope, I started seeing the fruition of my prior efforts. So, the moral of the story is: stay the course and don’t lose hope.
From personal experience, in the past when I got stressed about something, my mind would go into an endless loop over the worry, and I could barely focus on anything else. My grownup children are frequently a source of major stress. Money issues, my job, and my health are a few other major sources of stress. Frequently, when something happens, I react without pausing to take a moment of silence to center myself and think over the appropriateness of my reaction. However, what I have found, even if I still remain highly reactive, is that I’m much calmer and trusting that things will work out OK. I also find myself having a moment of reflection and consideration about my response happening earlier in time than before. I am making progress. Regardless of my circumstances, I am choosing to be OK. I am choosing happiness. I am choosing wellness. I give myself permission.
Reading obituaries brings up lots of different emotions and questions. One emotion is obviously sadness – for the person whose life ended and for the people in their life who were left behind. Was the passing person’s life purpose served? Did it appear that they touched many lives? Did they appear to have been loving and loved? Even with today’s society and a pervasive sense of isolation, most people do touch other people’s lives in some way. Likely they don’t even realize how much of an impact they have on those around them. Our energy, our love, our actions, our ideas, the environment we create all have influence. Obituaries are only a trace of a person’s life and legacy.
It’s somewhat disheartening how someone’s entire life history can be distilled into just a few lines, usually indicating marital/blood succession and some words about work history. But, really, just like I have old books and photographs I never really look at, it’s heart memories that are most important. I could prospectively compose an idealized epitaph and obituary for myself, but I think that would be less moving than imagining how I can improve my actual legacy. If anything, thinking about obituaries reminds me of how short life is and that it’s important to put thought into the impact we want to make and seize the day to start making it.
Stomach flu knocked me out this week, so I wasn’t very active on many levels. And, on the topic of permission, I realize I gave myself permission to slack off in the aftermath of the severe aspects of my illness during the recovery phase. I let myself “slip, slid’n, away” into some old habits, like binge-watching Netflix. Once I let myself start a series, I compulsively complete the entire season. And, then, being hooked by the excitement and associated flood of hormones, once I start down that slippery slope, I, oh so easily, find myself clicking the button to start the next series. It is an addiction. I admit it. I am a “Netflix-aholic”.
I was very proud of my mastermind partner who has undertaken some decisive and courageous moves this week to manifest movement around her DMP. Her gentle and kind spirit is inspiring and I am grateful for that relationship.
It has crossed my mind that we could as a group consider the possibility of collectively aligning our thoughts and energy, like a prayer circle, to help each other achieve particular goals or constructively resolve specific areas of struggle.
My character trait of focus this week was decisiveness. If I actually marked a dot for every decision, the boxes would be shaded black. We are constantly making decisions in every aspect of our lives, whenever there are moments of choice, however apparent.
The very first moment of conscious awareness in the morning we face our first immediate decisions: how am I starting my day? Am I hitting snooze to delay engaging or am I jumping out to meet the day head-on? Am I starting the day with prayer or meditation or centering myself and setting some kind of intention for the day or am I just approaching the day in a reactive helter-skelter fashion? Am I going to squeeze in some TLC for myself during the morning rush before any self-care is usurped by my work demands and other daily responsibilities? And, on, and on, and on.
We are choosing our attitudes, our actions, our reactions, our focus, etc. Notwithstanding the contention that many of our choices may be automatic or pre-programmed by our subconscious, for purposes of this exercise, I would include everything within the framework of choice/decision. One thing that paralyzes me sometimes in making a decision is the desire to make the best possible decision within the circumstances while fearing making a wrong decision that may yield adverse consequences. The more important the decision and the higher costs of making the wrong choice or more difficulty in making course corrections, the higher the degree of stress and paralysis.
Even for seemingly minor decisions, such as deciding on the type of ketchup to buy, a complicated decision-making process can ensue. What kinds of ingredients are listed and in what order of concentration? Are they wholesome? Is the manufacturer tricking the consumers by the labeling and way in which they are listing ingredients? How high is the salt and sodium content? Is the pricing reasonable for the quality? Is this a brand we enjoy or could enjoy? How many other options are available and how do they compare? Do I have any choice? Etc.
In our diverse and fast-paced lives, we have such an immense variety of selections available and such a demand for fast-paced decision-making that it can make decision-making complicated, stressful, and mentally exhausting. It is no wonder that the general level of happiness in advanced societies is not advanced. It is also not surprising that people enjoy escaping into Netflix or other addictions.
Personally, throughout my life, I have found decision-making incredibly difficult. Every so often, I keep reminding myself of my son’s suggestion to give myself permission to satisfice, to give up an expectation of making a perfect decision and not stew about it, to expect no greater than an 80% success rate in my decisions and be OK with it. I also pray that God will make things in our lives work out to our best possible good in spite of our imperfections in making decisions and living our lives. In combination with the course precepts and practices, I do believe I’ve made progress in making decisions more quickly and being at peace with having made choices: good, bad, or indifferent. Given that choices and decisions are a constant in our life, this peace with the decision-making process has given me an overall increase in my level of life contentment.
Kindness week has been quite revelatory, both in the amount and types of kindnesses that occur all around on a regular basis but simply may not be fully recognized and appreciated. Certainly, the first day I was rather stunned. Off the top of my head, only 3 or 4 kindnesses stood out; however, once I started writing them out in a sequential fashion from the beginning of the day to the end, I generated approximately 30 kindnesses! I won’t say that every day this week was like that, but numerous things occurred to surprise me out of the blue. For example, an unused packet of a particular kind of tea – organic yet! – that I would ordinarily have to search out and special order was randomly offered up at work to anyone interested. In another instance, a store clerk graciously rang up the full discount on items I would ordinarily have to prove membership for (but was unable to at that moment).
Another aspect was giving myself and others recognition for things that might be expected or taken for granted. For example, every day, whenever I see our counter water pitcher running empty, I fill it, primarily with the intention of making sure my son hydrates sufficiently. I’m fairly certain my son simply takes the magically filled pitcher for granted, so this is one of my perpetually occurring acts of kindness that never gets recognized. It was nice to take credit for it with a point on my cards! Vice versa, it also felt good to appreciate others all around us who perform small kindnesses on a regular basis.
This was a great way to set our antenna for positives to override our negativity bias.
I am loving the RocketBook Everlast my son bought me recently. It is so nifty and light and easy to use. My boss saw mine and liked it so much he got a large one for himself and talked his brothers into it as well. Sadly, it is a private company because I was totally ready to invest. [The SharkTank investors had their chance and blew it; this is really a phenomenon.] This notebook is helping me make some transitioning towards cultivating a lifestyle with less paper clutter, which was my son’s intention.
The much more difficult piece of reducing clutter, however, is actually physically giving things up. I get invested emotionally and hate the money waste, too. However, my son is doing a daily sacrifice to forgo the deluge of delightful (fattening) food opportunities where he works and take multiple salads instead – to satisfy my concern for his health – as an encouragement and pressure for me to create a daily habit of giving up at least one (net) item from my home. In spite of how difficult I find giving things up, he is essentially making it impossible for me not to comply with his wish for me out of respect to his active sacrifice on my behalf. Doggone it! Ok, old blueprint, calm yourself. One step at a time is effortless…
I keep telling myself that every freezing morning I need to get up out of a cozy warm bed and get ready for work or start some seemingly monumentally difficult task. It really does seem to be working to lessen my resistance.
As to MKE tasks, I am behind, but OK with it. I am doing what I can. Even dropping with exhaustion due to lots of work overtime currently, I am still fitting some, even if not all, tasks.
I was able to procure one of the movies on the holiday week’s list and watched “Mully” one night this week. His life story was quite amazing and a true example of a hero’s journey. While the story of his personal struggles and rise to riches was inspirational in and of itself, the best and most moving part of the story was when he dedicated himself to taking in street children and creating a haven for them. The before and after pictures of the area he developed for his street children was absolutely incredible. It was a stunning example of creating something out of nothing, or more accurately, taking a seed of a mere thought and taking persistent actions on the basis of those ambitions thoughts to manifest something magnificent against all odds that would seem unimaginable and impossible to achieve. One of the most interesting and striking things for me was his thought to build a bridge over water that didn’t exist and later his dream to dig for water deep into dry dirt and eventually rock that miraculously sprang up into a geyser of water. He created an oasis in a desert. He really did create miracles.
If he was able to do such an awe-inspiring feat, it is proof and a high bar against which we can measure our own actions. Why do we stop ourselves when we are capable of so much more? No more. It’s time to imagine our higher purposes in life and start investing our dreams with energy and action.