Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: awareness

Freedom

A friend sent me a book he thought I’d like. That alone makes my heart happy. Since “It” was starting to give me nightmares that I just don’t need right now, I decided to put it aside awhile and read this instead.

This afternoon, I put my work aside and sat down with a cup of coffee to read for an hour. There are so many things I could spend my time on, but I just can’t seem to get my butt in gear, as my Mom used to tell me when I was a kid.

This piece touched my soul. It gets to the bottom of how I feel. I shouldn’t feel this way about my fellow humans, but sometimes I can’t help it.

The difference between her and the rabbits is that she wanted to be free.

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From “In The Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez

And The Stars To Guide Me

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Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

“However much we may admire the orator’s occasional bursts of eloquence, the noblest written words are commonly far behind or above the fleeting spoken language as the firmament with its stars is behind the clouds. There are the stars, and they who can may read them. The astronomers forever comment on and observe them. They are not exhalations like our daily colloquies and vaporous breath. What is called eloquence in the forum is commonly found to be rhetoric in the study. The orator yields to the inspiration of the transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and heart of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him.”
From Walden by Henry David Thoreau

This. Wow. This morning, sitting there with my book, distracted like a squirrel by anything that moves or makes a sound, I read this.

I wasn’t enjoying Walden very much until this chapter, Reading. And then I almost cried. He spoke to my soul with this chapter, from 100 years in the past. And that’s exactly what he was trying to say.

How can we relate old written words to our current tech-filled, fast paced life? Read this book and you’ll know. He writes of the telegraph, the train, newspapers, and city life as we would of social media, world travel, mainstream media news, and city life. Ha! And his point still stands.

Do we really have that much to do? Are we overwhelming ourselves and forgetting what it’s like to be human? Are we so filled with “business” that we lose site of the real point of our lives?

This morning, I got up from my reading to make breakfast as I usually do and thought, I should go back to eating better. I haven’t been feeling as healthy as I should the past few weeks and I know it’s mainly because I’ve been skipping a good breakfast and starting my days with coffee and toast or cereal. I walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and looked at the vegetables, eggs, cheese, that I had bought the day before.

“I don’t have time to cut up veggies and then make eggs.”

I don’t have time? Why? Because I have so many pressing responsibilities? Because I have to be at work? Because I have babies to feed and love? No. I don’t have time because I want to get back to the distraction of scrolling through social media feeds. I’ve lost track of my priorities.

I’m not condemning social media, fun, or friendships. I’m not saying sell all your possessions, quit your job and live off the land. I’m saying make time for what you really want. And to do that we have to start with knowing exactly what it is we want.

For me, that means deliberately setting everything else aside for a while and going back to basics, maybe even spending some serious time in solitude, to reflect and refocus. When I’m quiet and undisturbed from the outside, my mind begins to settle down and the real thinking begins.

I need to go back to my stars and stop looking at the clouds for direction.

“Temporarily Closed for Spiritual Maintenance”

That’s what I shared to my Facebook and Instagram feeds this morning. Is it the July heat and humidity that is making me so edgy and irritable? Is everyone feeling this way? All I know is that the intolerance, disrespect for others, stereotyping, and name calling has reached a maximum level of ridiculous for me lately and I’m starting to react in kind. I need to step away and take breather. I need to find my light so to speak.

There are things I’m doing that are not helping my attitude. The first of which is that I’ve been checking my social media first thing in the morning. I have learned in the past that this is not a healthy practice for me. I used to leave my phone at my desk until I read for an hour and had my first sips of that glorious caffeinated love some call coffee. I need to reestablish that habit! Messages can wait. I’m not an emergency room surgeon.

For a long time, I was only posting and checking my comments once or twice a day, usually over breakfast and lunch. I would put my phone to bed at dinnertime. But lately, I have made some new friends that want to chat over text in the evenings after work, so I have had my phone nearby. That’s fine, but I find myself spending the in between moments scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, shooting off immediate comments, and looking for something entertaining, instead of paying attention to the story we are watching or finishing the socks that I started. That might be fine from time to time, but I feel like the more I do it, the more negativity and ugliness I see and the more that seeps into my day and colors my own posts and comments…which triggers a downward spiral. Also, not healthy for me.

It’s fascinating to me how easily old habits can creep back into my life and take precedence over the newer, healthier habits I’ve worked so hard to establish. If I’m not careful, my whole emotional life can get messy pretty quickly. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve started to feel that pull downward, and only the past couple of days (since the heat hit) that I have felt it begin to accelerate into the nasty urge to lash out and retaliate. I felt it culminate this morning when I read a message and couple comments before I even took my first sip of coffee. That’s when I put it down and thought, “What am I doing?!” Luckily that was before I responded too harshly…I think.

Progress? Maybe. Writing this I realize that I seem to have learned a new trick of awareness. My morning meditation has taught me to notice when I stop focusing on my breath and start thinking. When my mind wanders, I don’t get frustrated, I just become aware of the switch and move back to what I wanted to focus on, my breath. I feel like that’s what I’m doing today. I noticed the change in attitude and I’m moving back to what I want to focus on, my immediate surroundings, my peace of mind, my heart.

What to do? What to do?

The trick is having my phone around for useful things like taking a picture, looking up words, or receiving an important text like my son needs me to pick him up. I don’t NEED it, but I want it. It makes my life easier. I also don’t NEED a social media app on my phone, but I want them so that I can read an article while I wait for something, share an awesome podcast I just heard, or entertain myself for a few moments with my friends’ fun posts. I also enjoy being the online friend that posts fun pictures!

How do I use my new found awareness here?

Just sitting here writing this, I can see my phone sitting on the coffee table. Several times I’ve gotten a bit stuck with what to write next and thought to reach over to it. I didn’t. That’s progress. Right?

How did I get that picture of it? My son walked by and I asked him if could use his phone to take the visual aid and message it to me! He looked at me strangely and acquiesced. When the text came through, I was tempted but I didn’t pick up the phone to see it. I know what it was and how I would use it, but I didn’t need it right at that moment. I knew that if I picked it up, I’d open Facebook just to see if that…person…replied to my comment. Then I’d have to see if there is a cute picture on Instagram and a whole “If you give a mouse a cookie…” scenario would begin! So I left it alone. I’ll add the picture to the post later. Right now, I’m thinking.

I thought of one device that I’m going to start using more deliberately from now on, my FitBit. I have the new one that alerts me to messages. The reason I pick up my phone and check it is because I worry that I might have an actual urgent message to respond to. What if my Mom needs me? What if one of the kids has important news? What if a friend is in trouble? Honestly though, wouldn’t they call? But what if they don’t? So my watch goes off and I can see if it’s just a friend saying hello and remember that I can answer that later. My fingers have no other buttons to push, so I easily switch back to my immediate surroundings, my family, and my peace. It’s a great way to avoid the habit, like not going to bars where one used to drink too much.

It’s now been about twenty-four hours since I posted my closed sign and I’m feeling a bit better. I didn’t stay away the whole day. I shared my blog post and replied to a couple of comments, but I did spend considerably less time scrolling, which is an improvement. This morning I woke up wondering if I should continue my limited involvement. I mean, how “temporary” are we talking here? I’m not making rule about it. I think I’ll just see how it goes. If I have a minute, I’ll check it out. If I feel negative about it, I’ll walk away. I sure wish I didn’t have to use my own willpower though. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app on your phone that asked you some screening questions and then delayed your posts and comments if the answers pointed to a bad attitude? I’ll just put that idea out there. Someone make it! I’ll be your first tester!

Words to Live by: “Take Care of Yourself”

There was the cutest video on Facebook the other day. It was of a little girl, maybe three or four years old, working on her car seat buckle. The dad asked if he could help and she just politely and firmly says “You take care of youself.” And then she goes back to work on it, “Thank you.”

“Worry About Yourself”

I’ve watched it at least three times, showing it to my son once as well. Her little voice is so sweet and confident. I was struck by the profoundness of it as well. In her own little way, she summed up a philosophy we should do well to adopt, “You take care of yourself.”

Most of the time we are all more worried about taking care of others whether they want our help or not. What if we waited until they asked for help? What if we let people alone to struggle, projecting an air of peaceful helpfulness nearby until they reached out? How many more people would learn from their struggles and take care of themselves better and with more confidence?

And what if we did take care of ourselves first? I hear about “self-care” online several times a day, but what does it really mean? We need to know ourselves to do that, don’t we?

It seems to be one of those circular problems, to get one we need to master the other, to get that we need to master something else. As an adult, I think starting with ourselves is logical. To help anyone else, we have to be secure in our own person, have our own shit sorted out.

I’m not sure exactly how anyone does that, but I know that it helped me to start with meditating on awareness every morning. Ick, “awareness,” I know. Cliché lately, yes, but it’s true. I started on being aware of myself, my likes and dislikes, my feelings and triggers. I journaled. I started asking why I did things, why I felt certain ways. That has snowballed into some amazing, life changing ways of doing things. I started to just let a lot of things go, dealing with only the most important things, and then most of the ugliness in my life started to sort itself out. It’s been a good five years or so, and it keeps getting better.

I wrote this on my old blog a few years ago and found it today while I was scrolling through old posts. I thought it was relevant to my current thoughts.

Real, lasting peace begins with your own mind and body, extends to those in your home, neighborhood, and town, and then moves out into the world.

Until everyone finds that peace in their inner sphere of influence, there is no hope of that peace finding its way into the wider world.

Pray and meditate on how you can increase the peace of your own home before you worry about what other people are doing.

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