A Greater Amount of Peace

Colorful_Peace_by_darksideofthebluesGetting to know myself more intimately and growing wiser with years has helped me see the greatest barrier to knowing “peace” has been ‘me’ all along. Being focused on everything and everyone external as the cause for a lack of tranquility hid the real culprit. But no longer. Awareness I am the key to my peacefulness has been mine for several years now. Yet the newness of this knowledge is still striking when I practice patience and understanding and don’t allow someone to disturb my inner harmony.

Modern technology invades every part of most life today with mobile phones being the primary offender. I feel somewhat incomplete without mine on my hip, but I can live without it for an hour or two. Sadly some people cannot. I have been frequently aghast to notice how inconsiderate some are in use of their cell phone.

This past week I went to the movies. During the prelude of coming attractions were several mentions to set phones to silence and not use them for calls or texting while the movie is going on. So the movie begins and in the row in front of me is mom, dad and two middle school aged kids. One of them proceeds to read texts a half-dozen times during the film.

If you’re like those I have verbally told the story to, the first assumption is one of the children was texting. However, you’d be wrong. It was mom! Of course she is teaching her young teenagers that is it okay to disturb others in a theatre this way. So it’s just a matter of time before her lack of consideration spreads through her kids.

Stepping off my soapbox, I want to stop my little gripe session and move to why writing about someone texting in a theatre is appearing in a gratitude blog. It’s plain and simple: I did not let the mother’s actions upset me. In my past it would have. I would have tapped her on the shoulder and told her to quit, saying I’d tell management if she did not stop. But I looked away and ignored her. There is still a limit where I would have spoken up, but am glad she did not text continually and disturb me enough to take me there.

It’s obvious to no one but me the growth I exhibited in the theatre. That does not matter. I know. While I am not always successful at ignoring what others do and say, the majority of the time I am able to. Instead now I feel a little sorry for the person being disruptive or inconsiderate. I am slightly embarrassed for him or her knowing most others see them as I do; selfish and insensitive. Further, I wonder what sort of life they must have or be having that causes the person to be thoughtless. Such thinking helps me to usually remain peacefully centered and compassionate for others.

Today I am proud of myself and how I took things in stride at the theater. I am proud of ‘me’ and grateful for a greater amount of peace in my life than ever before.

Nobody can hurt me
without my permission.
Mahatma Gandhi

Like Quicksand

5633485384_289d9cd89e_zDepression…

removes the color from the colorful…

reduces the difference between day and night…

crowds out self-esteem with self-loathing…

takes away the pleasing taste from everything…

creates a sense of being UN-loveable…

brings all past mistakes to present-moment…

shades life with a shadow without a sun…

invents pain and hides joy…

makes effort seem meaningless…

concocts a need to sleep that never results in rest…

takes away desire to work, create or achieve…

cuts one off from other people…

detaches love and happiness…

amplifies grief and sadness far beyond reality…

scorches the ability to love and feel love…

produces a state of caring about little to nothing…

generates self-told lies that are believed…

shapes a good person into believing they are bad…

and on and on and on and on…

Depression is a liar, a thief, a distorter, a con man, a fake, a fraud, a pretender, a robber, an imposter, a hypocrite, a crook, a phony, a sham, a cheat, a bandit, a charlatan, a deceiver, a trickster, a swindler, a rogue, a double-dealer, a villain and false in every sense, thought and feeling.

These are the sort of truths I remind myself when cycling depression comes to call on me for a few days every month or two (as it has this weekend). With such thoughts at the forefront, I am able to see the big shadow of feeling depressed is being caused by something small; like a mouse casts a giant shadow when light is cast at a particular angle. No longer do I resist depression for it is like quicksand; the more resistance given, the deeper I will sink.

So I will let my depression pass like a strong wind through a tree, knowing it will die out in a few days. Each episode makes me stronger now like a tree’s roots are made stronger by its standing up to storm after storm. I am grateful beyond words for my understanding today of depression that usually makes it little more than emotional indigestion; ’twas not that way for so very long.

One in six people suffer depression
or a chronic anxiety disorder.
These are not the worried well
but those in severe mental pain
with conditions crippling enough
prevent them living normal lives.
Polly Toynbee

Personal Points of Truth

86775f6221c115d4c53ff4f4b2d43034-d306hyf“Soon You Will Understand… The Meaning of Life” is a book by William Blank published about a decade ago that only came into my awareness recently. The author is “a
middle-aged guy who has walked through a big part of the extreme yin and yang of human possibilities”.

The book sets out to give “a brief generic overview of why you are here, what your experience is all about and what it all means”. There are forty-four short sections that shed light on topics from “Work To Survive” to “Be Remembered” to “Have Tasks” included just below. Whether one agrees the with precise concepts, Mr. Blank’s book contains lots of good stuff for spiritual seekers such as me.

You come here to do certain
specific
things.
You may have one task
or many.
Your tasks may be obvious to you.
or you may need time,
effort,
maybe struggle
even to clarify
your tasks.
You may never quite even clarify your task
until the moment
your time in this body
ends.
You may work on your task for years
before you realize,
“This is my task.”
The tasks you came to perform
may take the whole of your life
or be done in an instant.
You may be aware
you are performing your life task
while you do it.
You may perform your task quickly,
hardly noticing
anything special,
unaware
you are doing the task
you came to do
while you do it.
Your task may be so easy,
obvious and
natural,
you never even wonder,
“What is my task?”
Your unique blend
of talents and interests
may lead you
to your task
and you just do it.
Or, your task may be a constant,
unpleasant
struggle
you fight
every step of the way.
Your task may be noble and wonderful
and gain you
recognition,
rewards
and honors.
Or, it may be simple,
totally unnoticeable
by anyone else.

http://www.themeaningoflife.org/0Introduction.htm

At least two or three dozen times within some seven hundred or so entries on this blog, I have said “what I need seems to show up at the time I need it”. Once again that has been proven true by becoming aware of  the book “The Meaning of Life…” by Bill Blank. I am grateful for his insights that are making me think, ponder and arrive at a few new personal points of truth.

Reason does not work instinctively,
but requires trial, practice,
and instruction in order to
gradually progress from
one level of insight to another
Immanuel Kant

Greet Yourself Arriving

see myself arrivingLived in thirteen states and a foreign country.
Two marriages and numerous failed relationships.
Lots of jobs. Work, work, work.
Learned to fly. Bought an airplane.
Became a professional photographer.
Success and money.
Accomplishment created more emptiness
Often learned little from failure.
Going and going not getting anywhere.
Never satisfied. Always wanting more.
… et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

When first looking at that list of ten things it does not seem like such a short inventory should take up as much space as they have during the last thirty years. Of course there was more, but in majority those ten things are where I spent most of my time. Searching and searching but not knowing exactly what I was searching for.. Then a few years ago my focus began to be clearer. Slowly, so painfully slow, a form took shape. I was surprised  when I finally saw what I had been searching for. It was me…. I had been looking outside myself for what was inside all along

“Love After Love”

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott

Uncomplicated and plainly said; today I am grateful for “me”.

Whether I fail or succeed
shall be no man’s doing but my own.
I am the force.
Elaine Maxwell

Peace and Quiet

peace-and-quietFor approximately twenty years when asked what I wanted most my response was “peace”. The long-time hope was the demands of work and responsibility would settle down and emotionally I would find real equilibrium with those I care about. Without knowing it “fake it until you make it” was what I was practicing the first ten years I gave that answer.

Soon I will be taking my life in a different direction and was struck this morning with thoughts about this thing I have referred to as “peace”. I asked myself, “Really, what is it you have been yearning for?”

From on-line definitions I crafted a composite meaning of “peace” that aligns with what I aspire to:
• A state of harmony, tranquility or quiet;
• Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts, and emotions;
• Harmony in personal relations;
• Free from strife;

After I read over that list a few times it hit me. “Peace” is almost entirely an inside job! I knew that, but have never had the clarity to completely accept the responsibility is mine. “Peace” has little to do with the circumstances of my life. Blaming external things for a lack of peacefulness is a distraction at best and a self-told lie at worst.

Accept what is: There is only so much we can affect. What we cannot change, what we cannot influence no matter what, should not be a concern to us. This is what I notice with so many people, in that we focus and linger on things which we have no control over. Why worry about something that all the worrying in the world will not change? Why care about what other people think of us when we’re not even sure what it is they are actually thinking? Once you open the blinds to this fact, and start accepting what is that you cannot change, you automatically relieve yourself of a mountain of stress and anxiety. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Taking this path is following a road towards peace.

Live in the present moment: Most of the time, what we worry about is relating to something either in the past, or something that hasn’t happened. Living in the present moment erases all such thoughts. Why worry about something in the past that we cannot ever change? Why worry about something that we are not even sure will happen or not? This is why in the present moment, you find true inner peace. In the present moment, there are no problems and no concerns. There is only stillness, and it is within that stillness that you can uncover peace. http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/find-inner-peace-in-10-ways/

Without doubt there is more peace in my life now that ever before. While far from a thorough practice, accepting what is and living in the present have had a sizeable positive impact on the quality of my existence. It seems so simple, but that wisdom was obscured from me by my own thoughts for many years. Gratefully I can see that now.

Nothing can bring
you peace but yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be Led By Your Dreams

400_1209788157_wsredsunset1024x768 In my Internet Exploder bookmarks I found a post saved about a year ago titled “12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself” from a blog called “Mark and Angel Hack Life” ago http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/04/26/you-should-be-able-to-say-about-yourself/ (Thanks M&A for the inspiration. I will be a regular visitor to your blog from now on!)

Before I filed the blog away the material got only a tertiary scan, but today’s look included a good read of the twelve things to aspire to. Some I am doing good at; others need work. However, I am especially proud of my current state with number 1 and number 5.

1. I am following my heart and intuition.

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams. Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now. Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fall and try again. Even if you fall a thousand times, at least you won’t have to wonder what could have been. At least you will know in your heart that you gave your dreams your best shot.

Each of us has a fire in our hearts burning for something. It’s our responsibility in life to find it and keep it lit. This is your life, and it’s a short one. Don’t let others extinguish your flame. Try what you want to try. Go where you want to go. Follow your own intuition. Dream with your eyes open until you know exactly what it looks like. Then do at least one thing every day to make it a reality.

And as you strive to achieve your goals, you can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these disappointments as challenges – tests of persistence and courage. At the end of the road, more often than not, we regret what we didn’t do far more than what we did.

5. I am growing in to the best version of me.

Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Live by this statement. There is no such thing as living in someone else’s shoes. The only shoes you can occupy are your own. If you aren’t being yourself, you aren’t truly living – you’re merely existing.

Remember, trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Improve continuously, take care of your body and health, and surround yourself with positivity. Become the best version of you.

In #1 “Be led by your dreams” is especially meaningful to me now. Before my 50’s I mostly put others before me, rightly so in some cases, but misguided in others. Now at times I feel like I just woke up and started living my own life after sleepwalking in a dream (not necessarily always the good kind) for most of my adult life.  I am leaving my profession this year to follow my dream of travel and writing. There will need to be income of some sort down the road, but I am convinced it is waiting for me. I only need to put my feet on the path forward and believe. The rest will come.

“..trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.” After a myriad of failed attempts to be like others, eventually I became too tired to try. Through that exhaustion, as much as anything else, I began to make peace with who I actually am. Frankly, today I just don’t care a whole lot about what others think of me. Of course, I’d prefer it be good, but at a deep level it just does not matter much. Reaching that point is some of the best “growing up” I have done. Yea for me (as I pat myself on the back unabashedly). I am grateful to who I am… no more; no less.

Your perceptions are derived from your feelings
and your ability to be yourself, to own
and trust yourself, and to say what you feel,
even when it may be diametrically opposed
to everyone else’s opinion.
You may be called the Devil Incarnate.
You may feel like cow pies are being thrown at you.
Sometimes that is part of being true to yourself.
Barbara Marciniak

One I Will Not Forget

Native_American Indian_Color_apache-chiefAs I sit and stare into his eyes, and him into mine, it is as if I am looking across time. There is a momentary, but very real connection with this proud Apache Chief. Without knowing how, I am certain he appreciates me “seeing” him and acknowledging he one lived. I am honored to bear just a tiny amount of him within me now. His face will not be forgetten.

Native American Ten Commandments
1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect
2. Remain close to the Great Spirit
3. Show great respect for your fellow beings
4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind
5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed
6. Do what you know to be right
7. Look after the well-being of Mind and Body
8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good
9. Be truthful and honest at all times
10. Take full responsibility for your actions

There is no memory of the last time I slept twelve hours as I did last night, but am grateful for the rest. I need it to fight off yet another cold, my third in as many months. My leave-behind here today is short and humbly offered.

Even in illness, my gratitude is strong. It is not of the fair-weather sort. I will not grumble or grouse because I have another cold, or maybe even the flu. Rather, I will be thankful my sickness will pass and in a few days be a reminder to appreciate all the more being healthy.

This place,
This place with all creatures and their pain,
This place is beautiful all the same.
This place, with it’s ice and heat and rain,
Darkest depths, roughest terrain,
With its disasters, sorrows, shame…
This place is beautiful…
And is yours to better
And not to blame.
Evette Carter

The Gift of Not Getting

tumblr_m1g6z25wl31rp4c9so1_500Trolling through my bookmarks and looking at pages saved as possible inspiration for this blog, I came across one called “List of Life Lessons”. Six hundred and forty individual posts are contained within the list that range from originally insightful to simple restatements of famous quotes. With no particular rhyme or reason, here are nine of them:

5. We regret more about the things we didn’t do than the things we did do. Get out of yourself and just do it. (Will W., 36)

6. Stop trying to impress people by being someone you’re not because in the end, you’ll lose yourself. (Anonymous)

7. We don’t have to do anything – we always have a choice. (Tim W., 38)

8. The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love to do. (Laozhang, 36)

9. No one can make you feel anything you don’t want to. (Jennifer K., 28)

10. The older I get, the less I care about what others think of me. Therefore, the older I get, the more I enjoy life. (Michael M., 57)

11. The word “Family” rarely ends up meaning blood related, and usually ends up becoming who we allow them to be. (Celeste, 29)

12. The purpose of life is simply to live a life of purpose. With no reason to get up in the morning life can start to really get you down. Watch out retirees! Make sure you retire to something instead of from something. (Ricky K., 33)

13. If you have the choice to be right or kind, always pick kind! (Kate, 55)
http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/life-lessons.html

Nothing earth shattering or any prize-winning authorship, yet good advice rarely appears that way. In its best form, wisdom is constructed in simple to read form and in words easily grasped. Being wise is rarely known best by the rich, powerful, highly educated or the well-known. Instead it is the thoughts of common people living average lives where the greatest understanding of life is to be found. When young I yearned to be famous, wealthy and renowned but have come to know what a curse that would have been. I am grateful for the gift of not getting that I once wanted.

It’s not what you look at that matters,
it’s what you see.
Henry David Thoreau

All These Things and More

6009209406_97be00d284_zIf my heart could be seen as living space it would be similar to the room above;

well used, a bit worn and even abused, but more than serviceable.

My heart…

…has become dusty from years of use

but is a safe place to be.

…has seen the ravages of time and grief

but loves better than it was ever able to before.

…has pieces of the past strewn all around

but plenty of safe space for feelings remain.

…has the grime and dirt of time all over it

but a joy for living lies brightly inside still.

…has a foundation of the spirit and soul that is strong

but with humility that has made room for more.

…has a window glazed with time from the inside

but light passes through softer because of it.

…has dark corners that linger and always will hang there

as scars covering pain; the teacher, that taught me well.

…has broken things within that will always remain

but they are no hindrance for love to have residence there.

Beat-up, tired,
broken, weary,
cluttered, soiled,
jaded, dark…
Alive, durable,
wise, strong,
healthy,
resilient,
passionate…

All these things and more describe the condition of my heart. It is capable of deep and more sustainable love of all kinds than ever before. To be grateful for the good that has been and yet will come, I also must have gratitude for the difficult and trying times that also helped grow my heart into the healthy state it is today.

Suffering has been stronger
than all other teaching,
and has taught me to understand
what your heart used to be. I
have been bent and broken,
but – I hope – into a better shape.
From “Great Expectations”
by Charles Dickens