Connecting the dots

In the past year I have learned so much – about writing, blogging, social media, about people and about myself. And it couldn’t have been learned in a week, even if I read and wrote 24 hours a day, clocking up the same amount of hours as over the past year. It doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes you need to see a snapshot over time and I feel I am now beginning to connect the dots. What I have learned is that I am not alone in my ups and downs. I experience great highs and lows and unless the entire blogging world of writers are all bipolar, then nor am I! (Actually, don’t answer that). I read and get to experience wonderful highs in others’ posts, words of joy, wisdom, encouragement, faith and now I look on them not with skepticism, knowing that it will crash back at some point, but with love and connection. I read about people’s lows also, interpreting what’s between the lines and only guessing at the depth of pain contained therein.

But my aha moment today is seeing the ebb and flow of it all. Our inner worlds simply can’t remain the same; it’s not possible. I want to get out there and hug every blogger, whether they are at their peak or wondering how they let the joy slip away without noticing and wondering what on earth to write about if they felt their blog should be all joy and roses.

Here is my hug people, whether the sun is shining, your world is simple and the decks are cleared, ready for the fun times ahead to be enjoyed or whether you are wondering why you are bogged down and nothing seems to interest you these days. I truly believe we are ultimately all the same and there is nothing wrong with that. Remember to connect your own dots and see the picture you are creating.

need a hug

need a hug

 

 

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The Quandary and the Shoe

quandary

Don’t type

Bad things happen to good people all the time, right? There is no rhyme nor reason and the best thing the ‘good’ person can do is not react, not take it on board with self blame and with any luck learn to let it go and become stronger in the process. Bad things don’t happen to you all the time, and the person doing the bad thing has to live with those kinds of outcomes day after day until they stop doing it and the lesson is learned. Karma.

However this ignores one tiny problem. Continue reading

How to attract the creative

It is better by far to speak with a person than to a person – J.D. Boatwood

Speak with you darling

Ouch! I am guilty of this one. Sometimes I go into warp speed, all excited about my latest subject and off I go, like a cork out of post Grand Prix champagne. There is no ‘with’ about it. The unwitting listener goes through Continue reading

Waves

Waves

Where did everybody go? Where did I go? There seems to be a huge lull in the number of blog posts from my favourite bloggers which I receive and read these days. Instead my incoming emails are outnumbered by special offers for teeth whitening and holidays, meals and gadgets. Of course I long since stopped receiving ‘letters’ from friends by email, probably because I don’t write any either.

Anyway I digress. I do know where I am though. I am on a wave. I am always on a wave. My current wave has me doing useful jobs around the house, accomplishing and achieving. Very satisfying. My last wave had me writing blogs almost every day and thinking more deeply. Very satisfying. My current wave has me buying myself treats like cappuccino ice-cream, Chai Latte and chocolate; perhaps feeding up as the cold weather sets in, here in Sydney. Very satisfying. My last wave had me ‘Blogging Myself Thin’ until I lost the 7 Kg of excess weight, gained from the last wave of little treats. Very satisfying. Anyway you get the picture. Life can be immensely satisfying in the little day to day stuff as long as you forget the mirror image – for example I could describe these lovely waves quite differently. I could say I have ‘writers’ block’, I am putting on weight, I am not socialising enough. Pah!! That is not how I see it. I hurry past such thoughts if they drift in.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy people! The wave is bigger than you, lifting you up and sweeping you along, always keeping your head above the water and moving forward. When it reaches shore and lets you go, you will be drawn back and lifted onto another wave. That’s just how it works.  The turmoil and froth at the end which caused you to exit this wave is just a necessary part of starting over, waking you up, ready to ride the next wave. I look forward to your return to blogging, should you find yourself ready again and am happy for you that your current wave is so enjoyable that you don’t feel the need to share, or pour out your soul, but just to live life. I will be waiting….

Learn to surf

Yin and Yang


Power tools

I haven’t blogged for a while as my energy seems to have gone into doing up my home. I have heard of the concept of masculine and feminine energy and I wonder which is the more masculine – writing blogs or using power tools! I tend to reject the outside world, including my boyfriend, when I have this huge energy for getting things done so my renovating is a masculine pursuit for me. But what is writing? If feminine energy is being sensual, loving, yearning and preparing for someone else then I would assume that writing is a masculine pursuit.

What constitutes feminine energy? Some people are quiet and softly spoken, good listeners, gentle souls. That’s easy to spot. I look the part, wearing mostly dresses, my long carefully curled hair, make up and love of pink and anything girly but I have a lot of energy (and calloused hands) which surprises people. Sometimes I just want to get things done, so everyone else can bugger off and did I mention that I swear (a lot on a bad day)? I get impatient with pfaffing around, wonder why people don’t just get on with things sometimes and probably come across as aggressive at times.

I actually had a quote about gluttony to write about today but I am so off track I give up on that one for now 🙂 The ultimate digress!

Anyway back to today’s digress. My probably very sexist comments here are just ramblings – exploring out loud, which is why I took to blogging in the first place – a journey not to teach but to discover.

And of what use is today’s outburst to you, the reader if you have gotten this far? I think this has been a reminder to me to become more balanced. I must remember to use all sides of my persona and not head down a masculine path like a woman possessed. Living alone with my kids and not seeing my partner very often (he is another independent creative) has allowed me to indulge my selfish side, which often involves getting things done. But once I am on this ‘kick’ I find it hard to stop. It was Mother’s Day yesterday and I spent the whole day physically working on the home and garden. But I had the best day! And what does it take to commute this energy back to blogging? I committed to myself to at least try today and it’s been hard. This post has been rewritten so many times. I am all over the shop. No beginning, middle or end; no satisfactory conclusion (yet?)

OK here’s the moral of my story. May you remember today to stop and become aware of where you are at – achieving at the expense of human relations, or indulging in love and friendship while the things you should be doing remain neglected and are slowly building up into crisis mode. May your energies be balanced and harmony be restored.

Playful

 

I Had It All Backwards (as usual)

The finger

Just when you think you are on your way, you are almost smug, you think you have a handle on this thing called life and wayward emotions, something happens, the penny drops and you realise you are barely there after all.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
-William Shakespeare

I go for a run each morning and the first 800 metres is along a narrow street where you basically have to park to let another car through. It means I have to park myself and break my ‘stride’ in order to let each car pass. I have this silly thing where I watch intently to see if they will thank me for anticipating their passing, and taking myself off the road (there are no footpaths as it’s on a steep hill). Anything would do, a wave, a nod, a smile. Just any recognition that I had given them a little gift and not made them slow down on their way to work.

When I would detect no trace, I would walk back onto the road and give them the finger behind my back at waist level. Hah! That showed them!! As if they would even see it in such an odd place or know what it was!

Then I realised I had it all backwards, yet again. My joy is in doing a good deed, even if no one notices; in my own opinion of myself. And their joy would be in thanking me, if they did so. The ones that don’t acknowledge it are either in their own little world, perhaps late for work (more reason to get off the road), don’t realise that I got out of their way on purpose or are just not appreciative people. So their little joy is lost to them.

Now I can look into the faces of those in the cars I have stopped for and give them the warmest smiles, come what may. My run just got easier!

 

Just get wet

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet – Roger Miller

What will you be immersed in today?

Will it be sunshine and light that you can really see and appreciate particularly well if it comes down like this?

Stream of light

Or will it be rain and water, that you can either hate as it makes your hair frizzy and your make up smudge or love because it gives you life?

Water

Look how both people are holding out their hands to accept what’s given!

I have nothing to give today except these lovely images. I hope they bring appreciation and a little inspiration for the great things we get for free. Funny how a little focus (streams of light and water), rather than the big picture (sunshine and rain) can remind you of the value of what we take for granted sometimes.

Don’t interrupt me, I’m on a roll!

Headphones

It’s pretty hard to be efficient without being obnoxious – KIN HUBBARD

Obnoxious. Even the word sounds obnoxious, like onomatopoeia or something. This is so true isn’t it?

At the moment I’m efficient. I have almost reached my diet goal, my house is looking less cluttered and fresh, my ironing is up to date. Yada, yada, yada. I start my day with a run and I am even today blogging before work again (yay) now that the clocks have changed and it’s lighter in the morning, my favourite time.

So why am I obnoxious? I called my sister in London and cut the call short (45 minutes, in my defence) to get my morning started. I should mention though that she has just completed ‘the works’ in terms of breast cancer treatment over the last few months 😦 and we don’t speak often enough.

At work I guess this quote pans out also. As a customer service consultant I start every call with ‘how are you going?’ and my callers also ask me how I am too most of the time. This is hardly efficient and I used not to do it but I realise it’s a good way to build rapport, just by showing that you are spending those extra few seconds exchanging pleasantries and I like to vary my response when they ask me from ‘Great!’ to ‘Excellent!’. I even tell the full truth sometimes! My colleague usually says ‘I’m so well, it’s scary’ which always raises a laugh with the rest of us. There is always a way to inject your personality. Have you ever said ‘Fine thanks’ when they didn’t even ask you, or worse, had them do that to you, so you feel you should make them feel less stupid? We have so many laughs at work on the phone! I do love my job.

Anyway I digress. At work, the less ‘popular’ people are the more efficient ones it seems. They don’t always reply to your emails or your calls, or make conversation at the coffee machine. Basically they don’t take time to connect, which is what life is all about to me. 

How else can we be obnoxious? Cut in front of someone else’s car while driving, not give way when someone has clearly been waiting a long time, steal someone’s parking spot, why don’t you? Leave the toilet (or anywhere used by others) in a mess. Tell your kids not to even talk to you while you are blogging?  (oops!) All my examples seem to involve time and being efficient which proves this quote.

So are you going to be efficient or obnoxious today? Will you take an extra few seconds of your day to ‘give’ to someone else? Will you be a little more considerate on the roads, or take the extra time to clean up after yourself?  Will you dress or behave in an inoffensive way, thinking of the good of all or will you be on your own little mission?

Better still, will you realise that most people aren’t actually obnoxious, they are just caught up in their heads, thinking that they have to be perfect, do everything to the absolute best of their ability and that the race to the end is what counts? A kind word to someone so ‘efficient’ may make a big difference and release them perhaps.

time to do it right

And because I’d rather end with a picture, how could you ever look obnoxious doing this?

smell the roses

Minute to Minute, Lock it in!

Up and Down

What a day-to-day affair life is – Jules Laforgue

I like this quote but I would like to change it to ‘what a minute to minute affair life is’. I’ve heard that each day is like a mini lifetime, between waking up and going to sleep. I’ve appreciated and pondered on that too. However, recently I’ve been getting caught up in my own head again, trying to attain goals and reach destinations instead of appreciating the day to day or the minute to minute or even second to second. The first step to ‘recovery’ is awareness so I’m going OK.

Over Easter and the last week while housebound with my daughter who has just had a tonsillectomy I got this idea to have a huge purge of my belongings so that if I ever rented out my house as a holiday home, I could hide or remove what’s left of my stuff in an instant at short notice.

It makes you take stock of where you are at in this minute – surrounded by old projects, unworn ‘fat/thin’ clothes, sentimental keepsakes, inherited items, things which might just be worth something if only you knew who to ask, old tapes and DVDs of home videos etc . The list goes on. I once read a fascinating article on why we keep stuff that isn’t ‘beautiful or useful’ and it made so much sense. I have plenty in each category.

So I did well. A lot went to the tip and a similar amount went to the local Op Shop, Salvation Army. I was as ruthless as I could be given my thrifty nature, huge imagination for what something could be used for and a history of having lived in 6 countries, each with their own collectibles and memories.

Where the quote comes in is that I had to keep remembering that short of getting a skip and having someone else just come take it all away, I would never reach my destination as such. The best I could come up with was blocking off a larger bedroom and creating a store room out of it, which I think is the way to go.

I have moved house enough times to know that what looks like a few books on a shelf translates to loads of very heavy, large boxes. I just had this story playing in my head that I would be able to purge it all, live out of a suitcase, take off and travel the world again. I don’t need anything! But then I would pick up one item at a time and find reasons to keep it. I am still going and learning now to enjoy each minute, each item discarded. Joy is now after all 🙂 Each item I discard only makes a fraction of a difference with all that I have accumulated but it’s a little win each time; a little victory to let it go.

This translates to ways of thinking also. We have accumulated our stories, beliefs, ways of looking at things and things which stress us, and our lives will never be ‘problem free’. Silly things pop into my head when I first wake up. So I can only let each little stressor go. My daughter will eventually want to get a job in her spare time around her studies when she has something she really wants to save for. My son will stop playing computer games and join the world when the course of nature demands he become interested in getting to know the (opposite) sex. And these stressors will be replaced by other ones I’m told. My elderly friend John, with his age 50 and 60 something kids said the kids’ problems just get bigger as they get older. They could marry someone who treats them badly, go broke, get divorced etc etc.

Thus I will never arrive. My house will never be completely fixed (think leaky taps, rotting wood and every noxious weed present in my garden). My kids will never live life the way I do. My finances will never be such that I spend with abandon and without guilt. I happen to have just whipped my body into shape, thanks to my other blog but that can change in an instant 🙂

So Jules, if life is a day to day or minute to minute affair, in this minute I am proud of myself for letting small things go. I am proud of not letting the messy rooms stress me, or the holes in my sofa covers, or curtain linings. I am enjoying purging one item at a time, getting organised and decluttering. As long as I have the energy and will to even do this, life is great! That’s what happy is to me; being engaged.

This day’s affair then is to be filled with as much laughter as possible, as much letting go as I can manage and as much simplicity and peace as I can create.

do more

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