The Longer I Hold It

635891798176670878-1214980745_GlassThis story has made the rounds on the internet for a while now, but it’s meaningful enough to pass along again.

A speaker walked around a room full of people while teaching about stress management.

To begin he grabbed a glass of water and raised it above his head as if he was going to propose a toast, and instantly everyone expected they’d be asked if the glass was half empty or half full as part of the lesson. Instead, with a smile on his face, he asked “How heavy is this glass of water?”

From those attending came answers “6 ounces” and “10 ounces” but he shrugged them off.

He replied, “The actual weight doesn’t matter. What really matters is how long I’ve been holding it. If I hold it for just a minute it feels very light. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a whole day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. Any longer than that and I will be very tempted to give up and drop it. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

Those in the room were all blown away by the simplicity yet truth of this lesson.

However, the speaker continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like this glass of water. Carry them for only a short while and they’re manageable. Worry about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if we think about them all day long, or longer, we can begin to feel paralyzed and hopeless – incapable of concentrating or focusing on anything else.”

The speaker added, “It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses whenever possible. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. This can certainly be easier said than done in some cases, but in many cases it’s actually quite easy if we’re mindful about it”.

If the problem can be solved why worry?
If the problem cannot be solved
worrying will do you no good.

How Amazing


Sometimes you wake up.
Sometimes the fall kills you.
And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.
Neil Gaiman

One never knows where inspiration comes. All true turning points come unexpectedly. It’s uncanny how one can feel life beginning to fill them again when they have been living all along. Sleepwalking through one’s days allows breath, but yet not a truly living human being. I feel a time of flourishing ahead: a time of thriving. I am grateful beyond words for the arrival of a course altering epiphany.

And so, motivation of a sort likely never felt before has come upon me. All it took was for some of the shadow on my heart to be removed. The light that fills the shadow comes from allowing myself to open to love again. How amazing what a gift that possibility alone can give one.

Off to work some more on the romance novel I began about a week ago… Stay tuned.

When we love, we always strive
to become better than we are.
When we strive to become better than we are,
everything around us becomes better too.
Paulo Coelho

Not Everyone is Meant to Stay

Sometimes you have to give up on people.
Everyone that is in your journey is meant to be in your journey,
but not everyone is meant to stay there.

Originally Posted on January 8, 2012

Deep down inside me is a strong wish to have grasped the meaning of that statement long before understanding came.  Previously my long-term theory of living was simply if I love someone, somehow, someway it was going to work out.  Otherwise, why would love have found me if not for an intention of becoming something lasting?

Such a view was one of a child carried into adult hood; a child not loved enough hidden inside an adult who grabbed at any scrap of affection that came his way.  The need to be adored was irresistible.  It did not matter that what I perceived was not genuine or what another expressed to me was feigned, disposable or temporary.  So eager for love, my heart openly accepted what it identified as affection from whatever source it came.  So hungry to be noticed and appreciated, I became involved with almost any woman who showed interest in me.

With time I came to know that frequently people love what is not good for them.  An alcoholic loves a drink.  A drug addict loves a fix.  A gambler loves risking every dime.  An adrenaline junky loves the rush of risking life.  And so on it goes when there is emptiness on the inside that one tries to fill from outside the self.  With women I either loved ones too much who were not good for me or else did not love enough those who were.

In more youthful years I claimed to date ‘crazy bitches’ because they were more fascinating and exciting.  In more mature years now, the realization is clear that ‘like attracts like’.  It was only because I was ‘just as crazy’ that my attraction was so strong to such women.  More thrills and spills than a roller coaster ride , but like any amusement, such extreme relationships eventually got old.  They exhausted me.

There is this notion within those similar to me who have spent much of their lives feeling “less than” that if we can save another person they will in turn save us. Rarely does it work because such a scenario is an attempt to get esteem from outside one’s self instead of nurturing it internally.  A person then becomes a sort of emotional vampire, always on the hurt to ‘feed” on another’s feelings but sated each time only for a while.  One can only save them self from the inside out and no one else can do the work.  No amount of basking in another’s emotions made me better.  No amount of trying to be a ‘savior of women’ actually saved anyone.  In reality the attempts usually caused me (and those I was involved with) to be worse off emotionally than before we knew each other.

Once upon a time nothing pleased me for long.  Whatever I achieved seemed hollow quickly.  Whoever I was involved with in time felt too imperfect.  Never was there contentment for long with what was in front of me.  I always either wanted more or continually asked myself if there was more.  More money, more sleep, more success, more sex, more time, more attention, more love.  Enough was never enough.

My insecurities caused me to attempt to collect love by alway trying to hold on in some way to every woman I was ever involved with.  Whether maintaining some occasional contact, keeping mementos and photos stashed away in a box or keeping thoughts of them alive, I held on.  There was no questioning if this was healthy.  Constantly my ego yelled “you’re not good enough” through a screaming bullhorn in my brain.  The only way to quiet the noise even temporarily was to allow myself to be filled with the thrills of someone new.

To actually see my own life clearly and become grateful for all that led me to this here and now took aligning myself with some measure of peace and truth. To learn to look at my present circumstances through gentle, kind and loving eyes required years to learn.  Even longer was needed to realize I was living a wonderful destiny that was uniquely mine.

Peace is loving what is…what exists now in this moment here.  In her book “Loving What Is” Byron Katie wrote the only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is, is what we want. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” Wanting reality to be different than it is, is hopeless. 

So here I am in late middle age with all my flaws, scars, and blemishes but wiser and happier than I have ever been. Getting here took establishing good boundaries for myself and others.  I had to let go of a lot of things and people:  my Mother, two ex-wives, several friends, a handful of ex-lovers and girlfriends, a comfy long-term job, the big house, over half my savings and more.  Only through the letting go was there space in my life for what I truly needed.  My gratefulness to be in this here and now is beyond my command of written language to express fully.  So I will just say “thank you” with sincere gratefulness.

No one can give you freedom but you.
Byron Katie

Yearning of My Soul

52689136Well….. here it comes! My birthday in a week signals my long-awaited ‘retirement’ at month’s end from a profession of decades. I am doing this not to rest and sit on my butt, but rather to do things a ‘regular’ job prohibits. There are longings that have to be sated; an old me that needs a make-over. My choice to close one door is so the entrance to many other possibilities can open to me.

Master the “art of possibility,” says Sills, author of The Comfort Trap, by projecting a new you on the big screen of your mind’s eye. “There are two poles related to change,” Sills says. “One pole is being unsatisfied and uncomfortable where you are. The other is a compelling vision.” If you’re so miserable you’re crawling out of your skin, you may not need a fantasy to push you out the door. Most of us are in situations that may not be great, but are nevertheless stable—which means we need something to run toward, not just an excuse to run away.

The first step to conjuring this vision, says Sills, is to tune into your discontent rather than numb it: “After two bags of Doritos, some TV shows, and maybe even a scotch, you don’t remember how bad the job is, and soon you’re overweight and you think that’s the source of your unhappiness.”

Once you’ve figured out why you’re unhappy, try to trace any hint of interest or passion that flutters up during the day. Think back: “As a child, how did I envision myself as an adult?” If you can’t pull a dream scenario out of your head, ask, “Which of my friends’ lives would I most like to live?” And “If I had to stay in this job or relationship, what would I want to change about it and what would I want to keep?”

The image may prime you to act, but taking the first steps will still be difficult. It’s easy to tell your mother, “Can you believe he got drunk on my birthday?” But it’s hard to say to him, “We’re done. Don’t ever call me again.” Make it easier by thinking through the small consequences first. For instance, you can rehearse what you’ll say to your friends when you ask them to set you up on dates.

Once you start realizing your fantasy, keep altering it to match reality. Otherwise, the vision could remain dangerously intangible.

Prepare yourself by imagining scenes full of misgivings, too. “In the last two weeks of your job,” says Sills, “all of a sudden you’ll fall in love with all of those coworkers who annoyed you.” Change equals loss, but if you don’t have a series of things you’ve walked away from, adds Lubetkin, you’re probably not leading a rich life. By Carlin Flora

After giving my resignation early in the new year, I felt freed in a way never before felt. With some coaxing I agreed to stay on in a limited part-time capacity for the remainder of the year and for a while regretted it. Now I realize that regrouping over a few months will be better than trying to start a different life all at once.

I am grateful to feel little fear or apprehension about what is to be, although where I’m headed is anything but clear. What I am certain of is ‘retiring’ from one path so that another can begin is absolutely the correct thing. I am pulled, compelled really, into the unknown and find the uncertainty exhilarating. Beyond extended travel, finishing my first book and spending time with people I care about there is no grand design for my future. By following the yearning of my soul I will no longer be an obstacle to my destiny. I am grateful to have the courage and determination to make this leap of faith.

Love what you do and do what you love.
Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it.
You do what you want, what you love.
Imagination should be the center of your life.
Ray Bradbury

Pieces of the Past

how soon our time is gone

For the most part I am a strong man. I can keep going through just about anything, but just because I don’t stop does not mean I am not in pain. Many people mistake that ability to keep moving forward as some sort of gift when it’s only a survival skill I learned long ago.

Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. Dan Millman

About many hurts of the past I am able to let go (mostly anyway) by continuing to move forward and not allowing that pain to drag me down. Then there are those slivers of grief and sadness I don’t let go of. The majority are related to women I have loved and better said, those I have never completely let go of and still carry a flame for. James Frey wrote, “The wounds that never heal can only be mourned alone.” How true!

There are songs that come on the radio that cause me to change station within a few seconds. The words pull me back to another time.

On other occasions it is places that bring up old hurts. A ‘favorite’ restaurant can do it (so I don’t eat there any more).

Driving down a particular road can take me back (so I avoid going that way).

Overhearing a casual conversation of a couple obviously in love can make me start to pine momentarily for what once was or what I hoped would be that never came.

While I know movies are not real life, there are certain ones that come close to my experiences and can wake up my sleeping past. For some reason, I will still watch such a movie to remember (must be a masochist streak in me).

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full” was Marcel Proust’s take on hanging on to the past. Maybe I have not grieved enough over some of the past. However, as I type those words I suddenly realize those little pains are still alive in me because I hang on to them intentionally like a cherished gift. Without a doubt some of my grasp on pieces of the past is because I don’t want to let go. It’s as if ‘what was’ is still alive in some small way as long as I hold on.

Maybe I need to adopt Rachel Naomi Remen’s attitude, “Perhaps wisdom is simply a matter of waiting, and healing a question of time. And anything good you’ve ever been given is yours forever”.  Seems given time there may yet be a way for me to keep a few memories without them hurting me.  I am grateful for all that I have experienced; for each happening that helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Scars are but evidence of life…
Evidence of choices to be learned from…
evidence of wounds…
wounds inflicted of mistakes…
wounds we choose to allow the healing of.
We likewise choose to see them,
that we may not make the same mistakes again.
Marcia Lynn McClure

Chains Of Resentment


My finger was pointed at others for a long time. I was the way I was because of them, or so I thought. Wrongs inflicted by others were my frequent justification for how I behaved. Sometimes what I did was worse than what had been done to me.

Wisdom that I was behaving badly did not suddenly descend on me one day. Instead, a morsel at a time my mind and soul learned better. When I stopped letting my field of view be filled with what others had done, I began to get an honest look at myself. A little at a time the truth became mine that is contained in the saying “hating is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die”.

Hatred is like a long, dark shadow.
Not even the person it falls upon
knows where it comes from, in most cases.
It is like a two-edged sword.
When you cut the other person,
you cut yourself.
The more violently you hack at the other person,
the more violently you hack at yourself.
It can often be fatal.
But it is not easy to dispose of.
Please be careful…
It is very dangerous.
Once it has taken root in your heart,
hatred is the most difficult thing
in the world to shake off.
From “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”
by Haruki Murakami

… forgiveness is NOT a gift you give to another, but rather something you do inside of yourself, for yourself. The other person need never know.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation – nor does it mean you have to allow a behavior that can hurt you to continue to hurt you. Forgiveness is, in essence, the acknowledgment inside of yourself that the person who has wronged you in some way is a fallible human being – and that, like a human being, they made a mistake worthy of your forgiveness. Forgiveness sets you free.

Forgiveness lets you remove the pain you carry inside of you that you feel was done by another’s wrongdoing. The other person need not admit the wrongdoing. The other person need not make amends. The other person need not do anything. Forgiveness is something done inside of yourself, to release you from the pain of the wrongdoing. MD Lynn

Being an imperfect human being, all my animosities toward others have not evaporated. However a considerable amount of such loathing is long gone. For others such feelings are considerably reduced. And, there are still a few old wounds that sting. In earnest I am working on those. I am grateful to be free of the majority of the shackles holding grudges put on me. Even the chains of remaining blame are growing lighter, day by day. Gratefully, the light of forgiveness is doing away with my chains of resentment.

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

Open Arms and a Grateful Soul

meander_way_to_light_by_the_arkzWhere you come from is gone,
where you thought you were going to was never there,
and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.
Where is there a place for you to be? No place…
Nothing outside you can give you any place…
In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.
Flannery O’Connor

Having been a searcher for the majority of my days, I relate strongly to O’Connor’s words. I tried various jobs, living in lots of cities, and changing partners frequently in a quest to find myself. I chased happiness while not knowing what it looked or felt like. Knowing what being happy wasn’t covered the near full extend of my knowledge. Running toward and away simultaneously kept me stuck in the same spot no matter how much who and what was around me got changed.

It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling. Robert M. Pirsig

There were moments when happiness was within me and love was in my arms, but I recognized neither for such things were strangers. It was impossible to embrace what I sought when there was no tangible idea in my head of what I was seeking.

What you’re looking for is already inside you. You’ve heard this before, but the holy thing inside you really is that which causes you to seek it. You can’t buy it, lease it, rent it, date it, or apply for it. The best job in the world can’t give it to you. Neither can success, or fame, or financial security – besides which, there ain’t no such thing. Anne Lamott

Once I was able to find some stillness within to be in one place mentally and physically, my chase of happiness, contentment and love appeared to be the impossible quest it was. Such things can’t be found, located or hunted down. The way to attract them I learned was to focus inward, find peace with who and what I was and come to grips with what I truly needed. Then the good stuff I sought started to arrive.

It’s written, ‘seek and ye shall find’. But first, ‘imagine what you seek’. Otherwise, you will end up searching everything everywhere forever. Toba Beta

An unchaotic mind, body and spirit was all I ever needed to come to know that being happy came through acceptance and allowing myself to be contented with what was. Grasping and grabbing was not the correct path, but open arms and a grateful soul were.

The search for happiness
is one of the chief sources
of unhappiness.
Eric Hoffer

The Truth About Yourself

Psy“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” is the 4th step used in anonymous recovery groups for compulsions that range from alcohol, narcotics and gambling to overeating, workaholic behavior and the recovery group I am active in, Codependence Anonymous.

The first time I encountered the words “searching and fearless moral inventory” they spooked me (more than that… they scared the crap out of me!). The fear was of the unknown for so much of my past behavior was buried so deep within me I was not even sure what all was there. I felt deeply ashamed, but was uncertain exactly why.

The majority of people never get involved in a 12 step recovery group, but EVERYONE could benefit from doing a 4th step (Inventory) and the following 5th step that boils down to Admitted …the exact nature of our wrongs.

Going through the inventory and admission process then beginning to let go of the regret we poison our self with is one of the best self-care efforts that can be made. Yet, most don’t do it for the very reason I didn’t for decades: fear and not wanting to face the truth. My personal experience was I had previously made a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, inventory and admission was difficult for me but far, far easier than I had imagined. The good I got from the process was and continues to be life changing.

Many newcomers to the Steps feel dismayed when they first see this (5th) Step. It’s bad enough, they think, that the 4th Step requires them to beat themselves up for all the bad things they’ve done . . . but now the 5th Step says they must shame themselves before someone else so he can beat them up, too! How can I do that? they ask. What purpose could such torture possibly serve?

Such doubt and dismay are understandable, even reasonable, given such mistaken ideas about the nature of the Steps. It’s important to understand that the 5th Step is not about wallowing in guilt and shame over our past behavior. Instead, it is a practical and effective means of reconciling ourselves with the past and finally putting guilt and shame behind us where it belongs. It’s also a critical step toward restoring our battered sense of honor and self-respect.

We will never really be at peace with ourselves until we are completely, whole-heartedly okay with who we are-and that includes being okay with who we were and what we have done in the past.

Only by revealing who we really are can we become the same person on the outside as we are on the inside.

From my vantage point there are two ways of getting to the process outlined in the 4th and 5th step of recovery: 1) great need and courage or 2) great pain that allows us to do nothing else. Most people, including me, take the plunge for the second reason that is outlined well in the quote “When the pain to stay the same exceeds the pain to change, we change”.

Today I think of each of the 12 steps kind of like having a cavity in a tooth filled. Until I do, what is wrong with me will continue to get worse and worse, hurting more and more as time goes on. While getting a filling is not my idea of fun, it’s not that bad either. Same is true for the steps. Not painless, but far less so than I originally though. Getting to feel better about life and myself makes it worthwhile just like a trip to the dentist is.

My gratitude today is for all the goodness and positive growth that has come my way since getting into Codependence Anonymous ( ) six years ago. Saying it has been “life changing” is vastly inadequate to describe the personal renaissance and growth that has come. To CoDA and my brothers and sisters in recovery I say thank you with a humble mind and grateful heart.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself
you cannot tell it about other people.
Virginia Woolf