Future’s So Bright…

A time of personal evolution began for me fourteen years ago and the catalyst was a promotion/job transfer.  Left behind was a comfortable position of eleven years and a city known well after eighteen years of living there.  Familiar surroundings and old-friends quickly became something a thousand miles away from where I relocated.  While a son finished out a school year that just began, I lived by myself for eight months in the new city with visits back to my family around every 4 weeks.  Here began real awareness that something was definitely wrong in my life; with me.

The first reaction was to point attention to my childhood, other people and circumstances to explain some of my behavior.  “It was their fault!”  Then came separation, divorce, my son 750 miles away, a new relationship, therapy, a hiatus from affairs, a 2nd marriage, an affair that ended that marriage, five weeks in treatment for depression and compulsions, more therapy, four years spent avoiding love relationships and finally becoming accustomed to being by myself.  A good bit of the cure was overcoming loneliness and learning to be comfortable in my own company, a process that I thought at times was going to kill me.

Frequently I am asked what the “secret” was that allowed me to evolve, grow and change to be the person I am today.  My response is “there’s no secret”.  Trust me, I wish there was a shortcut because I would have taken it long ago.  Getting from there to here focused primarily on four things:

1) Motivation, 2) Doing the work, 3) Support from others 4) Stop worrying about the future.

Motivation:  For a day, week or even a full month here and there I thought was stimulated enough to make changes in my life and behavior.  Given time old habits came back.  Only when EVERY DAY I felt change HAD to happen did my behavior evolve positively in lasting ways.

Do the Work:  Thinking about living life differently is not enough.  Growth takes hard and consistent work; lots of it!  It took reading (tons) about what ailed me to gain understanding.  I had to go to therapy and realize I got as much out of it as I put in. Working a twelve program was very hard, but yielded lasting results.  I had to make amends with those I had wronged, most of all myself.   had to bust my butt and even today that is the recipe for continuing to move forward.

Support of others:  There is no way I could have accomplished my personal growth and recovery without the help of others.  My therapist was a huge help.  The support of a handful of close friends even when they did not understand made a big difference. The support of peers during rehab helped a lot as did assistance an ex-wife gave me then.  Attending help-group meetings at least once a week has been an important part of my work to grow.  Without the support of others, I would not have made it.

Stop worrying about the future: It was necessary to stop being concerned about the future and instead just take life one day at a time.  The attitude I had to adopt was to just get through the present day.  Sometimes I could stay focused only on the current hour or even the present minute. My behavior always happened in the “now” and could only be addressed in the “now”.

I had to learn how to feel happiness and allow myself to know joy.  A good explanation comes From a book I read titled “Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow: 12 Simple Principles” by Karen Casey:  Joy is always available to us, moment by moment. But we must keep our minds open and pay attention. A closed mind or a mind filled with fear or judgment will never know joy.  More here: http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/000/000000583.html

Learning the power of my thinking and coming to know my thoughts intimately, even the bad ones, was another key to getting better.  I could not truly embrace the good if I did not know those thoughts well.  Nor could the “stinking thinking” be changed unless I knew that thinking well.  From the Wisdom of the Mystic Masters by Joseph J. Weed comes:  Each thought at its inception produces an effect.  There is a vibratory wave, a radiation from the center, not unlike the radiation of a radio wave from a broadcasting tower.  The wave moves outward equally in all directions with gradually diminishing intensity, which varies with distance.  It continues to emanate from the mind of the thinker as long as the thought is held but it ceases instantly the thinking changes or stops.

Sitting here finishing this blog today, I am so happy to be where my efforts have taken me.  Getting here has been damn difficult, but worth every discomfort.  I am grateful to my Higher Power, all those who aided my journey to now and those who will help me stay on my path in the future.

The Future’s So Bright,
I Gotta Wear Shades”
Lyric from a Timbuk3 song

Originally Posted on December 29, 2011

Another Heart Whispers Back

Woman whispering in man's ear

At a time in history when we are communicating more rapidly than ever – via texts, tweets and email volleys, one after the next – it seems there is hardly anyone among us who couldn’t use some tips to facilitate more heartfelt communication for our in-person interactions with the people we care about most.

1. Tell them how important they are, often. Here’s a wake-up call for you: No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it. Loving someone and having them love you back is the most precious phenomenon in the world, and it should be expressed as such. Be straightforward. If you adore someone today, show them. Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.

2. Communicate your feelings openly. Express how you truly feel. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Give the important people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Express your fears, tears, doubts and insecurities – let your loved ones experience YOU. Have the courage to be yourself in front of them. To be fully seen by someone, in raw form, and be adored anyhow, is what love is.

3. Speak the truth. As a wise man once said, “I tell the truth because it’s the easiest thing to remember.” Living through a facade puts an incredible burden on your emotional well-being. Speaking the truth, even and most often when it hurts, frees mental space and increases your ability to connect with the people you care about.

4. Ask thoughtful questions and listen intently. Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused. Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring – one which has the potential to turn a life around. Listening is a sincere attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another that both attracts and heals, perhaps without ever saying a word.

5. Let your actions speak for themselves. Actions often speak much louder than words. When you love someone you have to act accordingly. They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term. You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t.

6. Touch has a lasting memory. Sometimes reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a beautiful journey. Sometimes a long hug speaks louder than all the words in the world. And sometimes, quite frankly, a moment of touching is the difference between hopeless despair and the ability to carry on. Physical touch can make or break a relationship and can communicate respect or ridicule.

What’s here was taken from an article at a website called “Marc and Angel Hack Life”. It’s filled with good advice for living, loving and flourishing. I am grateful to have found it and recommend it highly. http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/04/23/6-ways-to-speak-well-to-your-loved-ones/

Every heart sings a song, incomplete,
until another heart whispers back.

Two Years Today

country sunrise copyThank-You-Card GMG EDIT

True happiness is to enjoy the present,
without anxious dependence upon the future,
not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears
but to rest satisfied with what we have,
which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.
The greatest blessings of mankind
are within us and within our reach.
A wise man is content with his lot,
whatever it may be,without wishing for what he has not.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I would be grateful if you’d forward an installment of G.M.G.
you find meaningful
to a few friends and help set a record
for readership for GoodMorningGratitude.com’s second anniversary
TODAY, April 25, 2013.

Thank you.

A Gratitude List

I would be grateful if you’d forward to a few friends
an installment of G.M.G. you find meaningful and help set a record
for readership for GoodMorningGratitude.com’s second birthday on April 25, 2013.
Thank you.

6349891801_055b29fb06_bA list of what quickly comes to mind that I am grateful for this morning:

A body that works well in spite of accumulated aches and pains; A home I love living in surrounded by a wealth of possessions; A few close friends I love dearly and who love me; An inquiring mind that wants to learn and know; A more than ample supply of food; A large library of music and something to listen to it on…

Two older cars that run well and are paid for; Being modestly financially secure; Good health that makes everything else more enjoyable; The hard times and heart aches that taught me so well; A working computer and internet access; My library of books large enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life…

A son I am proud of and am glad to have a close relationship with; Love given to me even when I did not always value it as I should have at the time; My professional success and those I worked with who made it possible; My kind heart, gentle ways and caring soul; Intelligence to look deeper, to seek, to ask questions…

The natural powers beyond me that make my world what it is; Spiritual belief that enhances everything; People I loved and lost, but still carry love for in my heart; The inspiration caused me to write this blog and continue it; The knowing the best of my life is still is in front of me; The works of nature all around that still astound me…

I dare you to jot down a gratitude list right now. There is absolutely NOTHING like making one to awaken a deeper level of happiness and contentment. For all on the list I could think of on the fly and the thousands of blessings that did not swiftly come to mind, I am thankful. The joy in my soul, the happiness in my heart, the mental contentment and every ounce of love and caring I have ever received are gifts sometimes I don’t feel fully deserving of, but embrace with gratefulness that overflows.

The very quality of your life,
whether you love it or hate it,
is based upon how thankful you are…
It is one’s attitude that determines
whether life unfolds into a place
of blessedness or wretchedness.
Francis Frangipane

Just the Way I Am

free-beautiful-landscape-desktop-wallpaper-06-2010_2560x1600_81790I am been an emotional and sensitive person going back to as long as I can remember. Over time feedback from others (grown ups mostly when I was a kid) taught me to hold in my emotions. At times I felt as if I was going to combust with the feelings I held back.

Learning to deal properly anger came with learning that anger is fear turned inside out. Once I accepted and began to practice that wisdom expressing being angry in a healthy way followed.

Hiding happiness was not an issue for a long time simply because I rarely ever felt truly happy. Feeling like something was wrong with me (which it was) I faked happiness and got damn good at it. In the last decade getting to the roots of what was amiss inside me changed all that. Peace is within me about the happenings of my childhood. YEA!!!

In “finding myself” that was inside me all along, a full spectrum of emotions was freed to show themselves in healthy ways. One of the more important is no longer am I ashamed to cry. Of course, grief and sadness can bring tears, but happiness is just as likely. Being touched by something truly beautiful makes my eyes mist up. Movies bring tears frequently, but passages in books can do it just as easily. A hug from someone I care about  touches me frequently to watery eyes as can a thoughtful card or an email. I am blessed to be as I am.

It is a grave injustice to a child or adult to insist that they stop crying. One can comfort a person who is crying which enables him to relax and makes further crying unnecessary; but to humiliate a crying child is to increase his pain, and augment his rigidity. We stop other people from crying because we cannot stand the sounds and movements of their bodies. It threatens our own rigidity. It induces similar feelings in ourselves which we dare not express and it evokes a resonance in our own bodies which we resist.

As adults, we have many inhibitions against crying. We feel it is an expression of weakness, or femininity or of childishness. The person who is afraid to cry is afraid of pleasure. This is because the person who is afraid to cry holds himself together rigidly so that he won’t cry; that is, the rigid person is as afraid of pleasure as he is afraid to cry. In a situation of pleasure he will become anxious. As his tensions relax he will begin to tremble and shake, and he will attempt to control this trembling so as not to break down in tears. His anxiety is nothing more than the conflict between his desire to let go and his fear of letting go. This conflict will arise whenever the pleasure is strong enough to threaten his rigidity.

Since rigidity develops as a means to block out painful sensations, the release of rigidity or the restoration of the natural motility of the body will bring these painful sensations to the fore. Somewhere in his unconscious the neurotic individual is aware that pleasure can evoke the repressed ghosts of the past. It could be that such a situation is responsible for the adage “No pleasure without pain.” From “The Voice of the Body” by Alexander Lowen

It’s a great gift to feel as deeply and profoundly as I do. Today, tears are to me like rain is to trees: water to grow on. Ever noticed how happy trees look after a good rain? I am affected the same way and grateful now for what I once hated about myself. And with that another two points goes up on the side of being happy with my self just the way I am.

But smiles and tears are so alike with me,
they are neither of them confined
to any particular feelings:
I often cry when I am happy,
and smile when I am sad.
From “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Brontë

Joy Is Your Sorrow Unmasked

couple-dance-dancing-in the rain-136255

Be brave enough to be happy” read a stranger’s post on Pinterest. The quote plays perfectly in tune with my thoughts this morning.

Years ago skiing in Vail, I saw a sweatshirt inscribed with “No guts, no glory. No pain, no gain.” For the longest I kept those words mentally filed only under physical ability and achievement.

Time has tempered my thinking to know that courage and an openness to endure discomfort is most important with my feelings. The majority of my emotional weakness of old times is gone. Hurt goes no less deep when it comes, but I fully realize now that a willingness to openly accept the painful is what allows the full range of its mirror reflection, joy.

In the “Prophet” Kahlil Gibran wrote:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup
that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart
and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,”
and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits,
alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales
between your sorrow and your joy.

Occasions arise when I am overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of my feelings. What a gift to be that passionately alive! Emotions long-buried awakened bring great pain paid back with interest, but also a full magnitude of joy that rides by its side.

I used to be so afraid,
Sometimes crippled;
Worry and anxiety held me back.
The fear remains, but
My courage is strong.
Good or bad,
joy or pain,
With open arms
I embrace the fullness of it all,
The best life ever lived,
Was filled with great happiness
And lots of heartache and grief;
No life has ever been better.
To know the full joy
I openly accept pain that comes.
Whatever arrives in my path,
I welcome
With gratitude and anticipation.

There is enormous benefit to being well along into middle age before emotionally getting it together and finding balance. Feeling this much, this deeply can break some people, but it can also enliven a person’s being beyond what one might dare to imagine. There is a concentration of emotion within me focused like light through a magnifying glass that allows me to gratefully know the richness from side to side and top to bottom. With sadness on one mountain and joy on the other I live in the valley of hopes and dreams between.

What would you like to do?
From the 1987 movie “Made In Heaven”

Love Letter to a Book

EBBWhen first coming into view, I knew I had to have you. You were taller than most and your slim profile caused you to stand out. Even on the surface you appeared to be different from the others. Your delicate manner only made me desire you all the more. Visible gold initials identifying you gave me a hint of what you might be about. My initial impression was rewarded. You were be far beyond my first thoughts. I could not resist taking take you home with me.

Had I not titled this piece as being about a book it would be easy to surmise I had been recently smitten by a chance meeting of a lovely woman. The “lady” I met is the most beautiful copy of “Sonnets to the Portuguese” I have ever seen found yesterday at my favorite used book store. The photo above is an engraving from the book.

The “Sonnets…” were love poems written by Elizabeth Barrett in 1845-1846 for Robert Browning while they were carrying on their mostly secret courtship. Initially she was hesitant to publish the poems, feeling that they were too personal. However, once married her husband insisted that they were the best sequence of English-language sonnets since Shakespeare’s time and urged her to publish them. To offer the couple some privacy, she decided that she would publish them as supposed translations of foreign sonnets eventually settling on “Portuguese” (after Robert’s nickname for Elizabeth of “my little Portuguese”).

The forty-third “Sonnet to the Portuguese” begins “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” and is one of the most famous poems in the world and has been very popular since first published in 1850. Last night looking through the book I was struck by a previously over looked “Sonnet” that has been added to my personal favorites; Number 20.

Beloved, my Beloved, when I think
That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sate alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
No moment at thy voice … but, link by link,
Went counting all my chains, as if that so
They never could fall off at any blow
Struck by thy possible hand … why, thus I drink
Of life’s great cup of wonder! Wonderful,
Never to feel thee thrill the day or night
With personal act or speech,—nor ever cull
Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Thou sawest growing! Atheists are as dull,
Who cannot guess God’s presence out of sight.

 OR A modernized version interpretation

My darling, my love, when I think
That you were in the world a year ago,
While I sat by myself, out here in the cold,
Seeing no sign of you, just silence;
I never heard your voice. I just went over all my reasons
For being always sad, cementing them
Till it seemed they could never lift, no matter
What you tried…But then I tasted joy,
All the joy that life could give!
I couldn’t see then, that I would ever experience
Thrills like this, brought on by you–your words,
Some sense of you I never saw before now!
I must be as dull as an unbeliever,
Who can’t feel that God is here, though He is out of sight.

I have a Nook, thanks to my son and love it. When I travel the little marvel saves me from having to carry the weight of books. However, there is nothing like the look, smell, texture and quality of a real book. I fear in time reading from a book will mostly be forgotten, but I hope there will be a few diehards who relish the full experience of a book as I do. I am grateful for the joy reading has always brought me and for my love of books, most especially, the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning that moves me down to the core of my being.

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings,
and making music with them.
   Dennis Gabor

Not Just For Now, But For Always

somewhere-in-time montage“The man of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here? Forgive me. I have never known this feeling. I have lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder, then, I failed to recognize you? You, who brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you”. Such would I say to him if he were really here.”

Those words are spoken by Jane Seymour in her character Elise McKenna in a movie that’s now thirty-two years old. As I typed those words my mind screamed, “It can’t have been that long. It just can’t be. Thirty years?!” Logic responds and ways “yes, time has flown by”.

Although not included in Richard Matheson’s book, Elise’s words in the “Somewhere In Time” movie are spoken as a famous actress on stage in 1912 to “the one” she has just fallen in love with (Richard Collier played by Christopher Reeve). Few more beautiful words to express love have ever been written.

“Somewhere In Time” has been described as overly sentimental by those who do not have the well-developed romantic nerve that runs through every fiber of my being. Many of my favorite movies are love stories which have received the same criticism. I simply don’t care and feel sorry for those who can’t know the same deep feelings. It’s a terrible loss they will never be aware of.

The 1980 movie has a deep and special meaning to me that connects me to someone I loved long ago. Clear in my memory is holding hands watching it with tears appearing for both of us more than once as we watched. The shared emotion brought us closer. It’s only a memory, but a dear one I cherish. Feeling so does not mean I wish to go back there and instead speaks of my reverence for time “she and I” shared long ago.

It is sad to me that many people have old, dear memories they hide away and never share. The politics of many relationships make talking about someone from the past difficult and inadvisable. Such behavior is why many people live together for years, yet don’t know know each other. Ego and insecurity are great curses on romance.

Until my memories were awakened I did not become aware that the fictional “anniversary” for the characters in “Somewhere in Time” was this past summer. In the story the special day Elise and Richard share was June 12, 1912. This past June marked one hundred years from that date.

In reading about the movie I was thrilled to learn it is being turned into a musical with a world premier on May 31, 2013 for a five-week run at Portland Center Stage, Portland, OR. My hope is it succeeds and goes national so I get to see it. http://portlandstagereviews.com/2012/10/23/preview-portland-center-stage-presents-the-world-premier-of-a-new-musical-somewhere-in-time/

How grateful I am for that old movie and the past romance it brings back into fully dimensioned memory. Such feelings and words melt my heart: “There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you.” WOW!

They wouldn’t understand,
and I don’t feel the need to explain,
simply because I know in my heart how real it was.
When I think of you, I can’t help smiling,
knowing that you’ve completed me somehow.
I love you, not just for now,
but for always, and I dream of the day
that you’ll take me in your arms again.
From “Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks

Living Messages

Having never done a word count on any blog I placed here, it surprised me to find the count is as high as it is. The low side is six hundred and high range is approaching eight hundred words for an average of roughly 700 words. It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Using that premise each blog is worth around two-thirds to three-quarters of a picture. That does not fit what I am aiming for, so for today I have placed the equivalent of seven thousand words here!

It’s amazing the joy I feel now there was not apparent a half hour ago before I looked through images of happy children to pick ones to put here. I am grateful for the tenderly positive effect this little experience had on me.

Children are the living messages
we send to a time we will not see.
Neil Postman