Eternal Newbies

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there – L.P. Harley

rollerskate toddler

So what? I ask myself, things move on and what’s gone is gone, irrelevant isn’t it?

However it is relevant because we learn from past experiences, hoping that this ‘knowledge‘ will serve us well in the future i.e. the here and now. Our brains get wired in this way. Unfortunately many things we’ve learned in the past just would not apply today. I am not even talking about caveman times. The changes in our own lifetimes are astounding. What worked for us 10 years ago or even last year may not get the same results today. And many careers are having to change because of it. I’ve heard that what Uni students learn in first year computer studies, is probably outdated by the time the course ends. It really helps nowadays to learn fast and think on your feet! Continue reading

Advertisements

A Wordless but Excruciating Battle

 

Marilyn in thought 1960s

Whatever is good to know is difficult to learnGreek Proverb

Thinking deeply about what this quote means to me is actually painful because it brings up memories of some awful times, from my childhood onwards. I don’t think ‘good’ is the right word in this proverb. Maybe it got lost in translation from the Greek. ‘Whatever is essential, life changing, character forming is excruciating to learn.’ Yes that’s better.

The kind of situation I think this most applies to is, for example,  when you have had a hideous argument with someone. You might be fuming, full of adrenalin and thinking things like ‘if only I’d said that’ or ‘and yes I really am right because of this and this’, or ‘they hate me, I am useless, I will always be useless’ or ‘they are awful, I don’t want to ever be friends again, just think of all the rotten things they have done to me in the past’.

All sorts of nasties can creep in whispered by the gremlins, or ‘pain body’ (Eckhart Tolle) or the devil, if you will. As your mind tries to work out the solution to ease the discomfort you are feeling, and find a way to dissipate this anger, you don’t realise that you may be using the wrong tools to solve your dilemma; like using your elbow to clean out your ear.

We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

As a child, you are likely to continue on this path, storing hurts and painful memories. You might avoid the other person until you’ve forgotten what you were arguing about and eventually sweep the hurt under the carpet. Or the fight escalates and others get involved until so much damage is done that you fall out permanently. The worst outcome is that you decide you really must be useless.  You create this opinion about yourself (which you are sure is based in reality), thanks to all the information you have gathered in this terrible hyped up state. You condemn yourself and slowly slip into the habit of depression, imprinting your brain until it’s in your neural pathways and hard to fight off, useful as a reliance mechanism; a mental way out that’s like a stinky but familiar old blanket.

But, with maturity and a lot of difficult soul searching, I learned what was ‘good to know’, namely that it can all change in an instant. The path is not set; it is created by you as you take each step. For it is you and only you treading the path and creating your own consequences. I later learned how to effect that change in myself and learned what needs to happen internally and externally.  These kinds of situations will be offered to you again and again until you learn the lesson, so you might as well learn it sooner rather than later.

Here are some of the ways this situation can be resolved, either by our own hand which has longer lasting effects or by others;

– The other person comes to apologise and all those destructive thoughts you were having evaporate, until perhaps the next time.

– You gather yourself (it comes with practice, but try focusing on your breathing for a start) and look at the situation more objectively until you calm down and start to see the other person’s side also.

– You realise you might actually be wrong if you would only admit it, and that it’s OK to make horrible mistakes.  You will live and survive, head held high. Perfectionism be damned!

– You reach out and say a simple sorry to the other person, whether you feel sorry or not (everyone always thinks they are right, but really there is often no such thing; it’s too subjective).

It’s best if you do feel sorry of course, having recognised the nonsense of the argument, your part in it (why don’t we dare admit to ourselves that we are far from perfect?) and remembering why you have a relationship with that person in the first place.  Even ‘faking it till you make it’, nips the destructive and out of control feelings in the bud.

To me the most important lesson is to not give yourself time to wallow if you are running down this thorn-filled path. Tell yourself you are not listening to this rubbish and won’t make any decisions about anything until you are calmer. Hop off this runaway thought train this instant.

I guess that’s why they say ‘don’t let the sun set on an argument’; so that you don’t have time to create mountains out of mole hills in your head. This can be sturdy advice but here’s another way of looking at it;

My ex (still good friends) and I agreed to never argue at night, when somehow things seemed worse because of being tired or due to the darkness. The sun coming up the next morning makes a huge difference to one’s psyche. It’s just biology. If you are calm and fully able to sleep, knowing the other person is OK too, go for it! You might agree to continue the talk later; at least forging some kind of agreement between you amidst the discord.

If you are centred enough to mend bridges now, do that. But if the person who is battling the strongest emotions needs time to settle down and has the capacity to calm themselves, then distance is good. This process of learning to calm yourself may take years to acquire; or if you are a mature soul, you may be born with it. But it is difficult to learn, it is good to know and so essential to finding happiness. The reward is trust in yourself and your ability to endure and enjoy living as a flawed human being, when life’s inevitable changes are thrown at you or you let yourself down.

And why is it so difficult to learn to change our thoughts instead of be ruled by them, with the accompanying emotions and dramas; to try a completely different path; to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable, especially to ourselves?  Why protect our egos?

I guess it’s difficult because we have to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation where we don’t know the outcomes.  We are afraid of ourselves, not of the other person.  This new thinking will change the dynamic of the relationship with the other person of course, but most importantly with our story about who we think we are.

So we dither. Why we dither and how to get around it is one of those ‘good to know’ things to which this Greek Proverb alludes. It’s probably one of the hardest things in life to learn to know and accept yourself, warts and all and then test it out on other people.

Anyway I digress.  I believe if you practise learning to center yourself, calm down and forgive yourself it becomes easier with time. Say sorry to people. See how they react! Are you nervous of their response, of making them feel uncomfortable or of your being rejected? If so, a hug goes a long way and does just the same as words, without any need for eye contact.

Marilyn Hugging

And if they push you away, you will still feel good for trying. You haven’t pushed you away.  You are now a stronger person. Their response has nothing to do with you. It is their journey; only they can mend their inner world. You can only work on your own inner peace and happiness, but I bet you will have left your mark.

Marilyn and Joan Copeland 1957

Do you mind being called a ‘Control Freak’?

Alone in a boat

A committee of one gets things done – Joe Ryan

I just couldn’t blog on Friday. I had the requisite hour, wasted ages looking at Pinterest, ran out of time and decided that a great photo and one quote would do it – and then the Universe wouldn’t let me upload the photo! That was my sign. No blog. Blogger’s block or something.

So it was time to do something different. I chose this quote at complete random out of a desk calendar and went with it. The point of these is to stretch my mind. Thank goodness I liked it because I wonder how well bloggers go with a subject they don’t like? Do we freeze up? Would I have made myself write if I found the quote boring? 

Anyway I digress. So why would a committee of one get things done? There are many other quotes about teamwork and ‘two heads are better than one’ and ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ etc. But then you get ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and quotes like this.

This boat photograph inspires a good example. I once had the biggest fight with my best friend when we were 14 on a lake in a rowing boat. We soon grasped the whole rowing thing but when we tried to do it together we went round in circles. This added much merriment at first and a lot of embarrassment being at that age (in a public park in Paris I might add) and we eventually managed to progress, but when it came time to get back to the rental by a deadline so that we wouldn’t lose our deposit, it all went horribly wrong. Communication was lacking, co-ordination was lacking (mine) and we shouted, splashed and zig zagged along until we decided that one person alone would be better despite the combined strength of two. A committee of one.

I do like to work alone. I could not possibly blog with someone else. One person decides what to write. There is no room for discussion except with yourself and you just go for it. It would take too long to brainstorm and discuss other ideas each morning. I wouldn’t want to interrupt my ‘flow’ when I have it and I decide what I write, how I edit and when to hit publish. It’s a great feeling of control, this blogging thing isn’t it? Perhaps as writers/artists we are drawn to being in control. Are you a control freak? Do you mind being called that any more, now that it’s so commonplace?

I accept that side of myself now when it appears. And yet the answer to happiness I have decided this week is to be as easy going as possible and not let anything bother me if I can possibly help it. You might think the ultimate easy going people are all ‘peace, love and brown rice’ and live simply and rather poorly, which is too depressing but here’s the thing – they are happy! They have let go of wanting everything. I haven’t. I want all my creature comforts and lifestyle and to still be happy. Are they so hard to combine? Or do I have to be part of the rat race to keep this up and therefore likely be more stressed?

Anyway, I went to see the ‘movie’ Samsara yesterday, which was really thought provoking. It’s basically just footage of short videos from around the world and music to go with it, for 1 ½ hours. I thought it would be like spectacular armchair travelling (and leave me with a sense of wanting to get on a plane immediately) and it started out that way with volcanic eruptions and a monastery perched on a rock; the monks making sand Mandalas. But it progressed to disturbing images among the incredibly beautiful ones. It left me with a feeling of how lucky I am to be here. The rat race is doable for me because it’s what I know. Appliance factories in China and abattoirs and prisons and armies and tribes in Africa are too out of my experience. We all cope with and ultimately accept what we must.  Such is the human spirit.

Boy I am off the subject today! But at least I am flowing again.

Apologies for rambling on, to anyone who gets this far (or who stopped reading immediately). Blogging is for me to explore my beliefs and I’ve enjoyed that today. I rest my case – a committee of one.

 

Where will you be at 103?

dont compare your beginning to someone else's middle

I could have just used the quote ‘Don’t compare’ and stopped there. Using comparison is a natural way of learning so it sticks with us but it can paralyse us also if we feel insecure and therefore feel a yearning to compete. I once read that the Amish people made incredibly beautiful things because they couldn’t see what else there was in the world and be intimidated by it. So they worked on their own styles, developing their beginnings into middles.

When I started blogging I was afraid to read others’ blogs because I knew I would be intimidated. But I had missed the whole point and therein lay my lesson. Not that my outpourings suck and that I am quite immature compared to other bloggers but that it was needless to compare my beginnings to their middles and of course I could learn so much from other bloggers, like having lots of wise aunties and grandparents, or creative and fun young people around to converse with.

How is your middle looking? Are you a newborn, child, teenager, young adult or oldie in this world of blogging? Have you started just the one, focused blog or had ten previous ones which fell by the wayside as you tried to work out who you were or what you really wanted to write about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve posted on your blog or where you are now. And nothing you’ve posted in the past needs editing. If you’re blogging, you’re moving. Moving into yourself, taking detours, learning, growing, surprising yourself and learning more than you ever could about life, than from a book or a lecture or a wise person. Writing your blogs teaches you more than reading them. It teaches me about myself, my insecurities, my strengths, on good days anyway, and what I am capable of bearing in feedback from others. It teaches me to keep going, try things anyway, let go of the external outcomes and focus on the internal ones.

Spending time at the computer may seem like a waste but the world is right there at your fingertips. A world of thoughts, images and ideas, memory joggers and fresh views. And as you seek out like minded people or even completely different people if you want something completely new every day, you are still becoming more you. It’s like a case of ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ because you don’t know what you are looking for but this is a much faster way to see it.

So how are your beginnings looking? I feel like I begin anew every day. I have no clue what I will write about. Sometimes what I find inside makes sense to me and sometimes it seems to make more sense to others. Perhaps I am helping you become more you when something I write reinforces a belief of yours, or jogs your memory, or best of all, makes you curious and question your own beliefs.

So to all you curious bloggers out there, enjoy your beginnings, be proud of your middles and may we all end up together, still blogging until we have to blog in whatever way we can. I will try voice recognition software one day! May I get to blog about incontinence and retirement and dating the only centenarian for miles. Or maybe make up stories and live in a fantasy world completely removed from the trappings of being 90.

That would be an awesome way to spend my ‘old’ age! Surrounded by a world of friends of all types and ages on the internet, I can continue to evolve and become the real me. Might take me till I’m 103…..

Will you still be at it?

Growing slowly 21/9/12

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be only afraid of standing still – Chinese proverb

This proverb talks about fear which is an unusual way to approach something. Current thinking and the law of attraction state that you should be thinking only in positive terms so they would reframe this something like Love growing and learning no matter how slowly as it is better than staying stuck and where you are. Either way, what I understand from this is that we are all in such a hurry these days to get that quick fix and think that if attempt something it is only worth it if we get quick results. I might have believed that if I couldn’t be a successful writer over night and prove how brilliant I was, then I wouldn’t get started today – maybe tomorrow instead. And I would procrastinate and write absolutely nothing. I would then be standing still and my life would continue on the same. In a few years or so I might feel confident again that I could be a writer and have dreams and ambitions but I let fear overtake me again and guess what, nothing gets started and I am still stuck and feeling dissatisfied again somehow. This has indeed happened to me. This does cause me to be afraid. I can see why it is a fearful thing; this being stuck.

SO this proverb offers you a way to grow – slowly, which is so against my nature. When I am motivated, I am a person of action. But there is a way this method can suit me. The saying is basically telling you to Just do it, in the words of Nike. For if you start and are prepared to give it whatever time you have, no matter how little, you will still be growing. So if I give my writing and my myriad of other interests just a little time each day, I will be growing at those pursuits. My piano, juggling, painting, writing will all improve. I may even design that fabric, write that children’s book, submit an article to a magazine, write that hit song one day. For it will never happen if I don’t do anything at all and I am standing still. But it may happen if I do it slowly. So what if I am 80 by the time one of these come to fruition? The journey is more important than the destination. Standing still involves no journey or destination.

This proverb uses contradictory terms. I could be standing still and still growing slowly. The two do not necessarily relate. Maybe something is lost in the translation. But what I understand is that standing still involves no growth at all – either of body, of mind or imagination. Growing slowly means expanding yourself through learning, doing and action. Once we grow we have expanded our world and we may not shrink again. Actually depression causes you to shrink – to collapse your world and activities etc. But I guess if you learn something and achieve something, no one can take those away from you.

If we stand still our lives would repeat year after year or as other things change, which they surely will, we will be left behind – be boring tho those around us as we have nothing new to add.

It is impossible for anything living not to grow in some way, even if it is to grow older. Our cells change by the micro second. But this refers to growing our mind, our activities, our outlook and achieving things.

At my kids’ school one of the first things they tell you about helping them to study is to ‘chunk down’ assignments so that they do not seem overwhelming. This is a common way to get our procrastination, which causes you to stand still. Obviously this way might seem slow and tedious but really the message is the same. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. Same thing, chucking it down and doing things more slowly so that you may get moving and grow. It doesn’t matter if you don’t reach your destination as it’s not the point. The point is to make the most of the minutes along the way and the growing is always enjoyable. It’s not what we have that makes us happy, it’s what we do. And that is ruled by what we BE or are. This proverb is teaching you to be something different – one who grows, no matter how slowly. You would change who you are (your beliefs) in order to change what you do and be a happier person. Really when we hope to win the lottery it is in order to have and do more things. Growing slowly is another way to do this. It’s not fast but it is within your comfort zone like the frog in the hot spa. If a frog jumps into a really hot spa, it feels discomfort and jumps straight out again. However if it jumps into a tepid spa and it is slowly heated up, he does not notice and gets killed eventually by the heat. This proverb is telling you to be brought to life in a similar way to this. Little by little you change yourself and your world and become happier with the goal. Tie your happiness to a goal rather than objects, or better still to realising you have everything you need to be happy.  Growing slowly simply opens your eyes.

Back to the standing still. If a business owner stands still, for example, or a singer, People will soon be bored by the offering and no longer patronise them. The customer will be on to the new thing. They need to grow, to offer more to keep people interested. A shop can’t sell 1950s underwear and a singer can’t sing the same song forever and expect people to buy it.

We all need to grow and if growing slowly is the only way, then at least you are on a journey. Who’s to say if your growing will accelerate to you grow faster if you really want. This proverb is enticing you into action if even a small one. It says it’s OK to be rubbish when you first start learning something. You are growing and you have learned from what you attempted the day before. Even this, my little essay feels disjointed and uninteresting but I have learned that maybe sometimes it’s best to gather my main points before I start. Or that just typing hell for leather free flow like this is a way to make me show up at the computer and do it. I am growing – slowly or otherwise. It’s great. Better than being here in a year talking about writing having not written a word.

Sometimes you see friends take on a new challenge and you may judge them and think they will never be successful at what it is they want to do. Yet you may see them a few months later and they have really improved while you are still at the starting gate with your drams, paralysed by fear. Another year later you may see them making good money at whatever it is and feel resentful, because you have more talent or had that idea yourself years ago. But you stood still while they grew slowly. For all your brilliance you stood still, perfectionist stopping you from starting because you weren’t prepared to be bad and allow yourself to grow slowly. So get moving!!