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

Tag: book quote

The Perfect Plan for Your Life: An Exercise in Futility

The perfect plan for your life is no hard and fast plan at all. Vonnegut is right here…

Plan for your life quote from the book on a graveyard background.

“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.”

A Man without a country by kurt vonnegut

Time travel and multiple dimensions, is a common discussion around here. It always has been. There have been heated debates that usually end with one person throwing up their hands and walking away. There was one just yesterday!

It’s never a matter of who’s thinking is right or whether or not you will disappear if you go back in time and accidently kill your grandparent that gets us riled up. Those debates are common. It’s more of a fundamental thing.

Are there, or are there not, multiple dimensions? And if there are, how can there physically be more than one of the same person? Where are these places? Are they places at all, these alternate timelines? Which leads me to think that if there are multiple dimensions, doesn’t that mean there is no physical reality? Is the whole universe just in our collective imagination?

And therein lies the rub: Is there actually no physical reality in the way we think there is? Maybe death is simply the passing between one reality and the next. Why lament its coming? Why be so selfish in struggling to keep the ones you love from experiencing their next reality? Let go.

Vonnegut is right here. We know so little. How can we possibly know that the death of that person is good news or bad news in our future or theirs?

And the same holds true for any moment of change in our lives. If we had chosen X instead of Y, would our lives have been different? Yes. Better? We can’t know. Best to live in the reality we are experiencing whether it is physical or not.

We can’t stand in the now forever. It’s like standing still in a river and thinking you’ve stopped it from flowing.

With each moment there are choices to make that will have an effect on the world around us. And we can’t really know the outcome of any of those choices before we make them. We just make our best guess and go with it.

No regrets. No looking back. No, “What if I had chosen…?” because we can’t know. Even if we could jump into another timeline and see, I assume we’d still have to come back to the one we are from. Otherwise, wouldn’t we just be pushing that consciousness out of its reality? That doesn’t seem nice.

I don’t know, but it’s fun to think about, at least to me it is.

Roll the dice. See what happens. And adjust your thinking. The less we insist on a specific outcome, the better and easier our lives will be.

Sounds defeatist. Just take your lumps. You can’t affect outcomes. That’s not what I mean at all. I mean, make an educated choice, do your best, and enjoy what you get from that. You just don’t know what the future holds.

Cliché. I know. But these things seem to hold true most times. That’s why they are cliché. That bad outcome could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Or you’ll just die and move on to the next reality, or nothingness. Nothing to get all worked up over.

I posted about Kurt Vonnegut’s book A Man Without A Country back in February. Go back and take a look.

Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you haven’t. Leave me a comment what you think about time travel OR the book!

Relationship Problems: You Need the Right Tools to Repair Them

Do you solve your relationship problems with the wrong tools? I frequently do. It’s reactionary. I sense an issue and immediately reach toward the nearest tool. What can I do instead? Wait. Listen. And communicate. Sometimes things just need time.

Relationship problems quote on a desert background.

“The trouble that broke up the Gordon Winships seemed to me, at first, as minor a problem as frost on a window-pane. Another day, a touch of sun, and it would be gone.

The Breaking up of the Winships by James Thurber

Imagine getting up one cold and wet winter workday morning. You come downstairs into the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee first thing. Thank god for coffee pots with timers! Make some toast, drink your coffee, while you stare out the window. Man, it looks cold out there. You glance at the clock, ugg…I better get moving.

Showered, shaved, and “dressed for success,” you grab your car keys as you open the front door and take that first step into the frosty air, only to find the car windshield covered in a heavy frost.

“I can’t drive it like this! What can I do?!”

You grab a hammer from the side of the yard where you were working on the fence over the weekend, walk back to the car and smash the windshield in, gummy tempered glass shards cascade down inside the car, covering the dashboard and seats with a glittery mess. You wipe it off with a mittened hand, letting loose a satisfied sigh.

“That’s better. I can see through it now.”

Only you can’t. There’s a reason that cars have windshields. By the time you get to work, you’re windblown and covered in dirt and ice.

No one in their right mind would do that. We all know that we’d wait for the sun to warm it if we had time, use the windshield wipers to clear it away, or get out the ice scraper in those colder climates where I still can’t believe people actually live. There is a myriad of logical ways to clear the frost and still have the comfortable use of your vehicle.

And yet that’s how we try to solve our relationship problems every day.

An old co-worker that used to like and comment on all your social media posts. A friend that used to call you every week for coffee. A lover that always brought a gift when he came to visit. Your partner seems to not be as excited to see you when you come to bed. Instead of having the patience to wait for a mood or situation to pass, instead of looking into the why and solving the mystery, we break the windshield and attempt to keep driving.

Communication is what’s missing from our relationships.

We all feel and react as if we are operating completely alone in this world. Each of us walking around in our own bubble of reality, believing that the beings that move in and out of our lives are simple non-playing characters in our game. What if we didn’t?

What if, instead, we began to take a breath and wait at first? We could observe, journal our thoughts for a bit. Maybe we’d find it was us that had brought on the frost. Our bad mood or busy schedule has made it difficult for our relationship to go as it had in the past. That can change. Maybe the other person is going through something. We could ask, take the initiative to spend some quality time finding what’s going on.

“I’ve noticed,” you say. “Is there something wrong? Is there something I could do?” And then you listen and respond.

We need our windshields intact to use our vehicles well, to get where we are going. We need our relationships the same way. Sure, we can survive without them, but it’s much more comfortable and safer if we have those people in our lives. Let’s learn to communicate instead of just breaking the windshield.

This book was filled was some wonderful short stories and memoir pieces that sparked my creativity and inspired my thinking. Want to read more? Go back to my first post about it, “The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber.

If you want to read more about him and his work, check out his website James Thurber.org.

Making Space for Ourselves to Better Control Our Emotions

Identifying what we’re feeling is the first step to taking better control of our emotions. If we know what we’re dealing with, it’s easier to find a solution. But what do we do when there are loved ones around us that want to help?

Book quote on desert rocks background.

“There is no worse experience than to have someone shout at you to look out for something you don’t see.”

The Admiral on the Wheel by James Thurber

I’m standing on the stage, coiling cable, minding my own business, when I hear a shout from behind me. “Look out!” I jump up and look around to find what it is I’m supposed to look out for.

I’m walking a hiking trail in the mountains, watching birds, thinking the deeper thoughts that the quiet walk allows to the surface when I hear from behind me, “Look out!” For what? I turn to look and am confronted with a mountain biker.

It happens everywhere, every day. You’re warned by another human to “look out” for something you don’t see. It’s not helpful. All it does is startle you into a “fight or flight” mode, at which point you must quickly look around you to assess the threat, and then decide an action. It takes too long. By the time you’ve turned around to see, the threat is on you and you have no time to react well.

What’s a better thing to shout in an emergency when you need someone to quickly act? A precise direction. “Duck!” “I’m on your left!” Or “Don’t move!” That requires the person giving the warning to be aware of the need and communicative enough to express it quickly and well.

The same principle works well when you are trying to better control your emotions.

When you are angry, jealous, or tired, it is better a better thing for the humans around you to hear what you need them to do, instead of “Look out!”

And that requires that you know what you want or need and be willing to speak it and the work through it. That’s rarely the case for me when I’m having those feelings. It’s something I’m working on, something I get frustrated about too. I’m 48 years old and only just starting to get a handle on dealing with my feelings in a more positive way. Why is that? Why am I so slow? Everyone moves at their own pace, I suppose.

But I have discovered a new trick lately, a way to let those in my inner circle know that I’m dealing with something I’m not sure how to explain and that I don’t yet know what I need them to do to help. I say, “I’m trying to remember that there is no spoon.”

Remember “The Matrix”? There’s a scene with the little boy bending spoons. He says the trick is to remember there is no spoon and then you can do whatever you want with it. In the movie, the reality they are experiencing is only in their heads. They are all in a simulation and the physical world isn’t what they are experiencing in their minds. What they see is just computer code fed to their minds. Once you can understand that you can change the code as you wish. It’s not easy, and few can do it well.

I’m not certain our physical reality is a simulation. I know there is talk of that on the interwebs, but that’s not what I came here to sing about. I’m here to talk about the draft.

No, sorry, an Arlo Guthrie song got into my head there.

I’m a firm believer in the human ability to use their minds in amazing ways. Like being in the matrix and manipulating the code, it isn’t easy. Emotional states are reactions to the code your mind has built through experience, culture, and the world around us.

They are real, yes. I am disappointed that I didn’t get to do the thing. I’m jealous of the attention you are giving someone else. I’m worried that this might happen. But because we created them, we can change them. We can think, “There is no spoon.” And reimagine.

When I tell people, “I’m trying to remember there is no spoon,” I’m saying that I’m feeling something I’m not sure is healthy or useful and I’m attempting to reassess. I’m in need of patience while I try to make adjustments to my thinking. Is this feeling useful to me? Does it get me where I want to go? Can I change how I look at things and adjust? How can those that love me help me get where I want to go, emotionally?

They give me a little extra love, a pet (because my most prominent love-language is touch) and let me figure it out. Then we go for a walk and talk it out. It’s working so far. Mostly. It is still a new skill and I know it will take time to master. I’ve made little reminders to help me not yell, “Look out!”

There will be many days in the future when I will think to myself, “But I like the spoon. It’s so much easier just to accept what I see and not attempt to change the code underneath.” But then I remember those emotions don’t get me where I want to be, and I put my shoulder to the harder work again. This time though, I have the support of those that love me because I’m able to warn them in useful ways that I’m doing the work.

This book was filled was some wonderful short stories and memoir pieces that sparked my creativity and inspired my thinking. Want to read more? Go back to my first post about it, “The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber.

If you want to read more about him and his work, check out his website James Thurber.org.

Negativity Bias can be a Positive Force

An example of negativity bias from the book on a desert background.

The old negativity bias is a strong instinct.

“Just like in life, where beautiful moments vanish in a second, and things that ache feel like they stay with us a whole lifetime.”

The 28 Mansions of the Moon by Motaz H Matar

I’m not a romantic, so the first thing I think when I read something like this it, “Of course they do! The things that ache remind us not to do that again!”

Humans are geared, like any animal, to watch for danger signs.

I’m trying to remember who said it, but I remember hearing on a podcast that the good things can happen over and over again. That which will kill you only needs to happen once, so we have an eye for those things. We should anyway. That’s what has kept us alive.

The beautiful moments; the attentive partner, the hot coffee with the perfect amount of Irish whiskey, a taco expertly crafted (that’s meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and then siracha ketchup, for those that are unaware), we can experience them time and time again and get joy from them each time. We don’t need to remember forever the feeling of looking out over Main Street at Disneyland and seeing the castle. We can go see it again! And better yet, forget it and go experience something else, like a perfect score at a trap shoot or bowling game with friends and beer!

The things that ache though, that’s what we need to remember. The grocery store that always has the bad meat that you can’t eat the next day. That freeway that is always packed with cars? Better to remember that and find a new route. That romantic partner that gave you signs he would turn out to be a complete asshole? Yeah…things you should remember and avoid in the future.

If we’re wired this way naturally, if we all keep having the same response to the same phenomena, shouldn’t we consider why? Instead of thinking, “Wow. Humans have some serious flaws,” maybe we could consider how the response may have served us in the past and how we can use it today.

What Is The Negativity Bias and How Can it be Overcome?

Knowing that we are hardwired to pay closer attention to and hold on to the negative aspects of life can help us sort through and make sense of our feelings. Instead of romanticizing them and crying over it, maybe we can think logically and use this instinct to our advantage.

You can find this book and others at Motaz H Matar’s website. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it at the beginning of January, “The 28 Mansions of the Moon.”


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
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What does it mean to be human? Contradictions!

Being human means contradictions quote from the book on a desert background.

“…you are yourself a realm of contradictions and miracles. Inside you is love and hatred, beauty and vile, fear and courage, betrayal and faithfulness. You are a mirror for the universe with all contrasts and wonders, with its colors and manifestations.”

The 28 Mansions of the Moon by Motaz H Matar

Want to hear something strange? When I read this I thought of Michael Jackson in that song “The Girl Is Mine”

Song lyrics from The Girl Is Mine
https://genius.com/Michael-jackson-the-girl-is-mine-lyrics

We’re all lovers and fighters, aren’t we? Depends on the circumstances. We’re beautiful when we are loved and turn vile against those that hate us. We full of fear when confronted with the horrors we see in the world but filled with courage when protecting those we love.

We’re a big bag of crazy contradictions,
every single one of us.

Is that what the universe is? A contrast of black and white and all the manifestations between, the infinite grays? The mountain top gives you a beautiful view of the valley below but makes you a target for lighting. The valleys are fertile for growing, but flood often. Animals are beautiful and dangerous. Some fruit is sweet and poisonous.

And love? We know what we’re in for. The best love comes through full disclosure and acceptance. What makes you the most vulnerable, what sets us up for the destruction of our hearts, also brings us closer to others and can build relationship that lasts a lifetime.

And what about sex? That glorious act of passion and pleasure?

Danger Will Robinson

The very idea of being naked and alone with another human, diseases, and pregnancy…the ultimate vulnerability. Is it worth it? Obviously, YES!

To be human means to live in constant contradiction, just like the rest of the universe.

I love the image this quote makes for me. We are simply a mirror of the complicated, contradictory mess around us that we call the universe. We all of it right here inside our hearts and minds.

Maybe our ultimate goal in this world should be to use that miracle of a brain to comprehend the wild world around us, to make sense of what we see and feel, maybe even make it just a little bit easier for the people around us to thrive, you know, those ones aren’t so “with it” as we are.

You can find this book and others at Motaz H Matar’s website. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it at the beginning of January, “The 28 Mansions of the Moon.”


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Is the Purpose of Life the Pursuit of Happiness?

Pursuit of happiness quote from the book on a desert background.

“The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Ahh…the old “pursuit of happiness” thing!

One thing I noticed here and in other works is that they never say that the purpose is to BE happy but to SEEK happiness. If I’m unhappy that doesn’t mean I’ve failed to fulfill my purpose in life, it merely means I need to keep working.

Where words came from is fascinating to me, so the first thing I did was look up the word “happy.” Word Origin of Happy says the word happy originally meant “lucky” or “wise.” How clever is that? What if I spent my life looking for luck and wisdom? Seems like a good use of time, a decent existence, doesn’t it?

I think that’s exactly what I do, and why I’m a generally happy person. Some may disagree with that statement. They may say, “Michelle, you complain a lot and you tend to throw temper tantrums and get unreasonably angry about silly things. You’re not happy.” But I beg to differ. Ask those that live with me or are around me often. I’ll admit that I am an emotional creature. I wear my heart out on my sleeve and tend to get it bruised up, but I also tend to forgive and forget…mostly.

Happiness has eluded me in the past, and recently it’s felt like an annoying little butterfly just out of my reach. I stalk it in the shadows, pounce down on it, pull my hands up thinking I’ve caught it, only to find…nothing. But I keep looking. I open another book, find another friend, or start another conversation. I’m never disappointed for long. I thank my squirrel brain for that.

What kind of a person is it nicer to be around? What kind of a person is more likely to do something nice for others, work hard at something, and share with the world around them? A happy person or an unhappy person?

I think it’s the happy person, the lucky and wise person. That’s why it makes sense to me to make the pursuit of happiness my life’s goal. So far, I feel like I’m doing nice job of it.

It may look like I have the world from your perspective, but I don’t have everything I want. No one does. Things have not always gone the way I wanted them to. I’ve been sorely disappointed and let down. I’ve made terrible mistakes that have cost me some relationships as well as money and some freedom. The pursuit of happiness, the seeking of that which may make you happy, isn’t about getting what you want, or what you think you want, but accepting what is.

And happiness doesn’t always mean pleasure seeking. Things that are pleasurable don’t always lead to happiness. Wisdom is learning to navigate through those traps. It may bring me great pleasure to spend all my money on books, but I’ll be unhappy when my husband can’t pay the mortgage. It may bring me great pleasure to punch that guy right in the nose, but I’ll be unhappy when I’m in jail for assault.

No, BEING happy isn’t the goal. It can’t be. But SEEKING happiness? That’s attainable!


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Watch Your Words

He yells at the pencil, curses it with a stream of outrage. He glares at it with actual hate.

He sits tensely on the chair, his eyes wide, his lips trembling. He shakes with frenzied wrath; it sprays his insides with acid.

He quivers as he yells. And he wonders, deep in the self-isolated recesses of his mind whether he is killing himself with anger, whether he is destroying his system with fury.

The man is mollified. The systematic juices leave off bubbling, the fires sink, the coals are scattered.

But the anger is still there, apart. Energy is never lost; a primal law.

From “Mad House” A short story by Richard Matheson

If you had walked in while I was reading the last few pages of this short story, you’d have seen me holding the book away from my face and wincing as if I didn’t want to look directly at it. I knew what was going to happen from the outset. I’d seen a similar story on The Twilight Zone. “Why don’t you get out of here, Finchley!” And yet, my skin crawled and my heart raced as I finished it. I sighed a deep breath of relief as I put the bookmark back and closed the book.

I could see myself as this character. And I could see the author himself, using the frustration of writing combined with a quick temper to create a horror story, a “what if” kind of thing.

Lately, I’ve read a lot about watching my words, especially words I use to myself. Our thoughts create words that create our feelings. I’ve been learning new ways to help myself out of depression episodes and create more happiness and contentment in my life. And then this story comes up. I swear the universe does it on purpose to mess with my head.

When I grumble and complain, even to myself, my heart matches my feelings to my thinking, and I create a feedback loop of negativity for myself. What if those thoughts put power into inanimate objects and they fought back? Scared the crap out of me so much, I found myself being a little nicer to my stupid Chromebook when it started acting up again!

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