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

Tag: lifestyle

New Read: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness book cover on a desert background.

If there’s a “Art of Happiness,”
I want to practice it!

While culling through the pile of books a friend’s sudden move out of the state left me with, “The Art of Happiness” was one of the first books I picked up. Buddhism has come up in my studies this year quite often, so I’m leaning more into it. This book is not about Buddhism exactly, more about what a trained psychologist got out of meeting and talking with the Dalai Lama, but it should be interesting.

Personally, I’m less interested in the spiritual aspects of Buddhism than the cultural and personal peace aspects, but can you separate them? Christians say you can’t live a life of Christian peace without fully understanding and accepting Jesus as your personal savior, but I’ve found that you can learn a lot about human nature and how to live a good life by deep reading and study of the Bible. I’m sure one could say the same about any religion.

I’m curious to know more about the teachings of Buddhism. The blurb on the back of the book is right, they look so peaceful and happy. I want to know how they got there.


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

You’ll find posts about my thoughts that were spurred by the reading of this book on the following pages.
Finding Balance in the Study of Eastern and Western Philosophy
Is the Purpose of Life the Pursuit of Happiness?
Assuming Positive Intent is the Start to More Compassion
Healthy Habits Create Strong Roots that Lead to Happiness

“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!

Relativity – The Speed of Time

“Time went by so fast these days. There was some sort of malfunction going on with how fast the earth was spinning. Decades went by as quick as years once did.”

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I loved this book. Seriously. It was beautiful. And, strangely, it came up from another reader in my Instagram feed just a few days ago. She hated it! I always find it fascinating that people have such completely different views about a book. It’s encouraging to a writer. Stories are subjective. It’s not that my story sucks rocks…it just hasn’t found its reader yet, the people that it speaks to best.

This quote. You’ve felt it, haven’t you?

Time is relative.

Time seems to speed by sometimes. Maybe it’s because you’re so busy with life that you lose track. Some months feel like they are creeping by but then when I look back…holy Toledo…it’s almost Christmas again. Honestly, summer does that to me every year. Maybe because I hate the heat so much. I’m trapped indoors and feel like it will never end and then BAM! Fall is over.

How do you slow time?

They say time speeds up as we get older. Maybe we realize our mortality and, in our rush to accomplish more before our time runs out, we miss the calendar changes. Would slowing down and savoring each day help? Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

If I slow down and do less each day, will I accomplish more? Probably not. I will actually be doing less with my time, but I might enjoy what I’m doing more. If I savor that dinner with my husband, enjoy the books I’m reading as if I have all the time in the universe to finish them, really be with the sewing, yard, or house project I’m working on, maybe I’ll experience more of them and stretch out time, metaphorically anyway.

That song by They Might Be Giants runs through my head constantly these days.

“You’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older, now you’re even older, and now you’re even older. TIME is marching on.”

Like a fine meal, expertly prepared, we can’t save it for later, but we can savor each bite and share it with the people around us.

Why Do I Get Up In The Morning? – Episode Eight

There are days when I wish I had more friends to invite to a party. Wouldn’t it be nice, I think to myself as I sip a glass of whiskey, if this porch and house were filled with people? Maybe.

Then I look around me. There aren’t many of us here every week, but the feelings fill the room. A couple of us are here every weekend, some come occasionally, some stay for an hour, and some stay well into the night.

We are fortunate to live in a place where an “outdoor livingroom” can be a thing, and we’ve used it to our advantage. Just about every week we cook, we drink, laugh, and talk out there. We share stories, listen to music, shoot pool and keep a tally of winners and losers. “You marked that one down, right?!” is often heard yelled across the patio as the winner goes to pull another home brew from the keg and the loser reaches for the rack to set up the next game.

There is only one rule on Friday nights, “No bullshit.” This is the place we leave the outside world’s shit behind. We may talk politics, but we do not fight about it. You may bring your kids, but we don’t share opinions about parenting choices…unless we are asked for them. Fighting with your spouse or girlfriend? Leave it outside. There have been a few flare-ups. Even good friends disagree, but it passes quickly because we are all the type that forgive and forget offenses.

This is the time and place to celebrate simply being alive. Come if you want, or don’t. Bring a friend, or not. Bring food, or not. We’re all here to relax and enjoy each other’s company for a few hours.

The night starts with food, proceeds through games and beer, and then people start trickling out the door. It usually ends with the last of us laying on the couch snoring. It’s a wild bunch.

Would it be more fun to have a larger group of people? Possibly, for a time. But this small group of neighbors is irreplaceable. I can’t imagine the week without them.

Full Plate

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Carissa Gan

Oh, how I love metaphors! Have you ever talked with someone that told you their “plate was full” and they couldn’t possibly take on another project? I’m sure you have. I’ve said it myself. Have you ever looked at a person that said that and thought, “Not as full as mine, and I seem to find time to help.” It seems we don’t all have the same size plate, the same appetite, or the same strength to carry it with.

From the outside, my life looks simple and full of time to take on new projects. But to me, my plate is balanced perfectly and I work hard to keep it that way. I don’t have too much to do because I’ve made the choice not to, and when I make other choices, like adding to my plate things I think other people would like me to do, I’ve learned by experience that it never ends well.

Here’s a question for you. What if we’re not born with an empty plate at all? What if we have one, we know it because we can feel it in our hands, but the goal of living is to figure out how big the plate is, what’s already on that plate, and how to balance it so it’s easy to carry? When we take more onto our plate before we’ve figured out how to balance what we already have, or even know what we have for that matter, we cause ourselves stress.

Why would people around us give us more to put on our plate? Because they haven’t learned what’s on their plate and how to balance it, so they’re passing it to you. “It’s too much for me!” they say, and they pass it to you instead of letting it fall to the floor.

Many days, I know what’s on my plate and I can balance it easily. When someone offers more, I politely decline. “No, thank you. I have enough.” Some days I see friends and family with their plates so piled high, I feel bad and wonder, “Well, maybe I can take some of that off their plate and help.” When I do, I quickly become overwhelmed and drop it all. It’s not a good feeling.

Some days, overwhelmed friends with plates piled high, see my relatively empty plate and think, “She has barely anything and I have so much! Take some of mine, you have to help me.” I feel guilty and try to help, take too much on and ultimately fail us both.

What if instead of passing items off our full plate to someone else, we just dropped those items away and let them go? What if we did less? What if we produced less? All of us? What if we just did without those things instead of insisting that they exist and that someone pick up the ball?

What if we prioritized mastering the art of doing what we need to do for ourselves first? And then started adding more of what we want until we are at a place of balance for us alone? And allow others to learn and do the same at their own pace, with their own plates? It seems like we would all get more done and feel better about our lives at the same time.

And then there are more questions. Do we think the plate is empty when we first realize we have a life to live? We think we must start fill it with things to feel productive. What if we spent our childhood just learning the size and weight of our plate and how to balance it with the essentials we are born to do on it? What if we are overloading our children with responsibilities, more for their plate, before they’ve mastered what they already have? Could that be the real curse of losing a free and peaceful childhood? Could that be why depression and anxiety are on the rise?

 

It’s Friday, My Friends! Episode #8

So…what to rant about today…it’s Friday! The Friday post is here!

It’s been a nice week. The rain went away, so that made summer a bit more bearable…a small bit. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world that hates summer, but I find joyful little things throughout the season anyway, like the fact that we are 1/3 through it and that yesterday it wasn’t cloudy in the basin, but a damp wind was blowing from the south in the morning and it was sweet, like a giant swamp cooler. It smelled nice and kept the morning cooler longer. I finally broke down and turned on the air conditioner after 1pm, when it was 88 degrees in the house. Does that mean I’m getting used to the desert? Am I becoming one of them? One of those freaks that says, “Hey! It’s only supposed be 90 today…let’s go for a walk!”

Thing I learned: #newskill I learned how to use Instagram to promote my blog. And I’ve gained a few followers there this week. Hopefully that might turn into a few readers as well!

Thing I’m reading: “The Last Days of the Late Great State of California” by Curt Gentry, given to me by a friend who loved it when he was in high school. It’s historical fiction, in a sense. The BIG ONE hit and California actually was knocked into the sea and lost forever (that’s the fiction part). The book chronicles what was going on in the state up until the earthquake (that’s the history part). It was written in 1968, so it focuses on the 20’s through the early 60’s and it’s just fascinating to read, mostly because it shows how similar and how different politics and society was back then. Downside? I’ve added several books to my reading list because of it. One about Berkeley and the protest. The other about the LA riots.

Thing I heard: Silence. I’m trying to spend a little more time in silence lately. I need less input for a bit, as you probably have noticed in my last few blog posts. I have started small with not playing the radio in the truck when I’m driving into town. It’s ten minutes of quiet time to think, a bit of meditation on the way to the grocery store. It’s helping a lot.

Thing I want to do: Spend a weekend alone with my sweet husband. I like that guy!

Picture of the week:

This kid gets us to notice things. The sunset was nice so he went outside and sat on the tailgate to watch. I followed. Then Dad. Then his brother and his girlfriend. We sat out there laughing for half an hour. We texted the neighbor and harassed him since we could see him out on his driveway. Hilarity ensued. It was nice way to end the day.

Have a beautiful August weekend everyone!

It’s Friday! Oh…wait…

And…it’s Saturday morning that I’m finally making myself take a moment to sit down and at least do my Friday post. I’ve been feeling a bit like a teenager, hormonally pulled and exhaustedly lazy at the same time. I think I’m ready for a vacation. Luckily for me, that is exactly what’s coming up for us!

So, let’s get to this!

Thing I learned: I thought that I was over being affected by other people’s opinions of me, but then found myself trying to behave in ways someone else believed is the best way to behave instead of being myself and accepting that some people will not like it and those people are just not my people. Wow. That’s a damn long sentence! Self, you are you, and you need to be ok with the fact that you are not everyone’s cup of tea! That doesn’t mean they are bad people, just not YOUR people. Keep being you in all your crazy, talkative, open and honest ways, and the people that like that will be attracted to your orbit. It’s going to take time. Some of those bodies are way out in the galaxy!

Thing I’m reading: This is dumb but I’m kind of a book snob. I tend to reject books that everyone else is reading just because everyone else is reading them. Not cool, I know. What does it take to get me to read a popular book? A cute boy told me to. That’s what I was talking about earlier, teenage behavior. I’m about three hours into the first Game of Thrones book and I’m really liking it. It’s enjoyable, easy to read, so it goes fast, and it has a lot of feeling. I have hopes that it will prove a bit of depth as I read it, but it’s ok if it doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with an exciting adventure that you don’t necessarily want to experience again!

Thing I heard: My oldest son came home from his vacation in Germany this week and we’ve been catching up. We spend a lot of time talking, that boy and I. He’s very intelligent and I love his take on the world around him. We homeschooled and we live rurally. We’ve been home-centered, I’d say. This past year, since just before his seventeenth birthday, he has been out in the world gathering experiences on his own in big ways. Funny thing; he’s always been one to jump into things with both feet. He goes from knowing nothing of it to moving comfortably in it, no matter what he tries. It’s been the same for him leaving the nest. It’s like talking to a worldly man, a young, optimistic, and proud man.

As we sat at the table, sharing a cup of coffee and a bit of toast and cheese (Euro Breakfast), he told me something profound. “Mom,” he says, “someone told me a few years ago that if I had gone to school, I probably would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s of some kind. I did not agree at all, but the more I talk to people and work with people, I’m starting to see that I really do think differently. It isn’t that other people are dumb or that they don’t know how to do things the ‘right way’, it’s that I just see things in a different way. And that’s ok. They do it their way. I do it mine. We can help each other.” I’m paraphrasing here, of course. It was a long conversation. All our conversations are long. We love to philosophize over breakfast. I just about cried. This was exactly why we wanted to homeschool the way we did. I wanted my kids to grow up naturally. I wanted them to grow up secure in who they were as individuals, doing things the way they felt was best for them specifically, within a family that loves them. The theory works. He is not sheltered and afraid of the world. He does not hide away. He does not go with the crowd unless he wants to. He’s a wonderful young man and ready to take on the world.

Thing I want to do: Do less. I need to take some time to make a list of essentials. We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money.” Here’s the thing. We can waste money if we like because we can make more, but we can’t make more time. I only have so much time in each day. I cannot waste it on unessential things. We cannot do everything. We cannot be everything. It’s time to take stock again and pare down. This time it might be painful. I’ve done it before and thought I had it down to the bare minimum, but I don’t. Since we’re going on vacation, just the two of us, my husband and I, in a couple weeks, I think I’ll use some of that time on the road to do that work. Without the regular distractions, I can focus on what I want to accomplish. I’ll treat it as if we’re going on one of those fancy retreats! We’ll “go dark”! Yes!

And the photo of the week is…

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A baby bird! We saved him! My husband saw him flopping on the porch so I picked him up. He couldn’t even stand in my hand, so tired. He sat in my hand for a minute, I put some water in my hand to see if he’d drink it, he closed his eyes a bit, and suddenly looked more alert. He flapped and flew up to a creosote branch. I looked him up on the internet and found he was a Bushtit and most likely a fledgling from nearby with his mom waiting to feed him.

Have a good week everyone! Don’t worry! I’ll get this writer’s life more under control pretty soon!

A Spiritual Awakening May Make You Feel a Tad Crazy

It’s 10:15AM now. Here I am dutifully writing my morning piece, wondering what in the world I can write about that has any meaning at all. I think I need another cup of coffee and my notes. BRB.

Spiritual Awakening Meme from Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/SassyMantras/

I’m back and THIS is what I want to write about today! Funny side note, the “Alt Text” on this photo was “person holding a sign.” How funny is that?

I saw this in my Facebook feed this morning and thought, “Oh shit! Yes! That’s it exactly!”

What would you define as a “spiritual awakening”?

I liked the first meaning that came up when I googled it. “An Awakening is when the confused and frightened self transcends to a higher consciousness, an awareness full of love and peace.” Hmm…maybe years after the awakening has happened and I’ve recovered from its effects!

Here’s a great article on Spiritual Awakening by LonerWolf!

Every time I’ve felt led to a change in my lifestyle, I’m always hit by a wave of fear and stress. It’s like my current practice is a physical part of my body and must be forcibly torn loose before I can adopt a new, possibly better practice. No matter if it’s a spiritual, emotional, physical, or cultural awareness change, from my experience, it is going to cause some stress fractures somewhere, but it will heal stronger than it was once it’s over. That’s what I keep reminding myself.

Initially though, as the awareness of a change in thinking comes to me, I am laying there in the fetal position wondering if I have actually lost my mind. Passions. Career. Marriage. Children. Parenting. Education. Religion. Politics. Relationship. These are only a few of the choices we make every day of our lives. And each choice we make changes the trajectory of our lives. The best part is that we aren’t an unguided projectile.

When you throw a rock from a catapult, you have to decide where you want it to go and carefully calculate its trajectory. Once it leaves the bucket there is little that will change where that rock land. Its fate is sealed.

Human lives are more like a highly advanced space craft. We can leave the ground with one idea in mind, change course mid-flight, and end up where no one has gone before. But we do have to make the decision to change course. That’s where we start to question our sanity.

We can see the place we first decided to go. Others have been there before us. It’s settled and has a pre-determined place to land. Mid-flight we see something in the distance, beyond that original destination, and wonder what’s out there. We feel compelled to follow our desires and find out what that glimmer out there is. There are so many unknowns. We may not ever get there. And, even if we did, there’s no guarantee we’d want to be there or want to stay. “This is insanity!”, the safety-oriented part of you says.

You have the choice though. Go the way everyone else is and see if you can make it work for you. There’s no shame in that. There is a reason that traditional route is there. It’s safe. Most people are happy on it. You can also travel down the road less followed and find joy there. Or you can be the trailblazer that creates a new way.

Everyone has their place in this world. Find yours, even if you feel you may be a little crazy to start the journey. “All the best people are.” says Cheshire Cat.

My post, “Share the Love,” was another piece of my spiritual awakening journey. It was a moment that I realized my part in the social media chain of negativity and started trying to break it.

Assumptions

Your first mistake was assuming that I want more than I already have.

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