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

Tag: mental health Page 1 of 2

Self-Help Books: Yea or Nay?

I started to think this post wasn’t going to be about books at all, but it turns out it is. The idea came to me while I was browsing through my bookcase looking for something I read recently. I realized that I have several shelves of what are labeled “self-help” books. These books are my version of therapy, books that have brought me closer to discovering myself and finding what happiness means to me.

Why do I get the feeling that in many circles these kinds of books are looked down on? Why the wise cracks in movies, tv, and radio shows about the people that read them?

What’s so wrong about attempting to help yourself through difficult times? Why do I feel the compulsion to hide and downplay how many of these books I read?

Hold the phone! Aren’t all books “self-help” books?

When I want to learn more about something, I usually go find a book (or five) to read about the subject. History, economics, religion, science, any book opens a whole new way of thinking, or dives deep into a subject I only had an inkling about. I’m helping myself to learning.

If you scroll through my Autobibilography page, you’ll find many titles labeled “self-help” and I am proud that I read them. I put them there so that someone else might find them, explore my thoughts, and decide whether or not that book might help them.

And it’s not just books that lead us to discovery of the world around us, and ourselves. Movies, documentaries, websites, and articles, all help us keep learning and growing, even when they are fiction.

Instagram has been a wealth of self-discovery for me the past few years. I’ve found writers, mental health professionals, quilters, and even comedians that have changed my life for the better. They inspire me with their posts about what they are reading, writing, and learning. They make me laugh with their observations about the world around us. They give me ideas about what I can create right here in my own home.

Three posts I saw this morning sum up what I’m currently working on in my mind.

Balanced between “I’m scared of change.” And “I’m scared of staying the same.”

Who else feels this way? Years ago, my sons pointed out that I am a special kind of crazy because I really don’t like change AND I get bored quickly. I’ve always struggled with that, but then again, doesn’t everyone? I want to stay where I’m comfortable and capable, the tried and true. I want a challenge too, but that’s scary.

And this one: “Self-Care for Highly Sensitive People Means”

Many of these suggestions sound like a nightmare, especially “spend time alone.” Being alone is something I actively avoid, the reason I keep reading, posting, and asking for input. I call people, attempt to set up dates, send texts in the hopes of starting a conversation, all in order to end the “spending time alone” part of self-care.

My fear is that if I get used to that time alone, everyone will be gone, off on their own adventures, when I finally decide that I’ve had enough and want company again.

I think I’ll print this one out and put it out where I can see it. If these things are hard for me to do, maybe that means I need to  practice them. Maybe that’s what will make me feel better.

And then I see this, “What if you told yourself you are worthy just the way you are and you believed it?”

I don’t believe it. Just this morning I found myself journalling negativity to myself. “If you would just…” “If you could only…” “You’re just asking too much.” “Then you’d be happy because you would deserve to be happy.”

Where the hell does THAT come from?

I have one more…a bonus!

A visual representation I would do very well to remember. Somewhere along the line, I’ve learned to believe that self-criticism will make me work harder to be a better person and self-compassion will make me lazy and stuck.

Neither are true.

Every time I’ve practiced self-compassion lately, in the form of some kind words to myself or one of those self-care actions described above, I feel better about myself and I’m happy and content. Happy and content are the better goals in life, the ones you lay on your deathbed smiling and reminiscing about.

When I practice self-criticism, I feel worse and get less done. I’m unhappy and spread that unhappiness to everyone around me. In response, the very people I want so badly to feel connected to begin to pull away from me. The very thing I fear is being caused by the action I have believed would keep it at bay.

See?! Self-help! The critics are right, probably the worst thing in the world for people to do is to attempt to solve their own problems with self-discovery and discussion with others instead of relying on the professionals to coach one on one and charge you obscene amounts of money to do so, making us say things like, “Hey government! I can’t afford what I NEED, so take something from someone else and give it to me so I can!”

But that’s a whole other topic of discussion!

Thanks for reading today. You really helped me out by being here to listen. I hope you found something useful as well. How do you feel about the self-help genre in general? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Live Today as it is Dealt

It’s cliché, I know. Live today as it is dealt. It’s the only day we have. It seems that we keep forgetting.

You might think it’s strange, but the combination of reading Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution and personal events are working on my mind. I knew this would happen. Remember? Wild connections are begin made. The human mind is so good at that.

I went to sleep yesterday with many thoughts running through my mind, mostly centered around a single theme. Want to read about it? It won’t take long.

Do what you believe is best for you, in the moment you believe is right, and leave everyone else to do the same. Live YOUR life right now, not later.

So many times in my life, I’ve wondered…am I doing the right thing? Fear, and the fears of others, stopped me from doing what I had planned. Who can know what I’ve missed? But that’s ok because I am where I am now because of those decisions and this life right here is all we have. We can’t relive and try again. We might as well enjoy it, wherever we are.

Thinking that I really don’t know what the best decision is for myself most times or where it will lead, I wondered why we even try to direct other people’s lives, even the lives of people we love most?

Do we not trust them to know their own situation best? Leave them to their lives. Support them when they ask for help. Be there when they need you. But it’s their life. Don’t let your fears and insecurities alter their trajectory.

live today
These two know how to live!

In the same vein…

Live YOUR life right now. Take that vacation. Finish that project. Read that book. Call that person.

Do it. Right now.

We only have this one life, live it as it as the cards are dealt.

That doesn’t mean run out and spend all your money, throw your relationships out the window, and live dangerously. It means LIVE, right now. That lunch you’re making? Love it. That phone call you need to make or work meeting you need to go to? Be there. That child or parent that needs your attention doing that thing you aren’t that interested in? Give it to them.

There is no tomorrow. You can’t save up time for later.

What does this have to do with the Russian Revolution? Nothing specifically, but as I read, I wonder about all these people. What were they doing on their farm, at their factory, or on the warfront? As always, each person had a life they were living when this took place. Movies help us see this. Doctor Zhivago comes to mind.

There you are, studying at university, getting married, having children, while the world around you goes on. Plagues, revolutions, wars…crazy to think that nothing ever changes.

The only real difference between the past and our current times is the speed of communication. If you turn it off, put down the phone, stop checking the internet, and quit the news feeds, life slows down to a crawl. The world will go on doing what it does, even if you’re not watching, and nothing will be worse off because you weren’t.

That’s all I have for this fine Saturday morning. Yeah, feeling a little reflective today. There’s a lot going on here. Enjoy your weekend, reader. It’s the only one we have.

Lunch Date Leads to Self-Discovery

Let’s see here…what do I want to talk about…everything! Yep, that’s me. I’m a compulsive communicator, and this blog gives my mental health a huge lift. There’s just so much to tell the world. Maybe if I still worked at an amusement park, I’d have plenty of people to harass with my random thoughts every hour, but YOU, my dear reader, will receive the brunt of my self-discovery now (insert evil laugh here).

That fact that I can have to find my laptop, think, type out and then post what I want to communicate is a good thing. It slows me down and makes me think about what I want to say, if only for a few minutes. In person, I tend to talk off the top of my head, say whatever comes to mind. If I weren’t in the awesome circumstances I am in right now (i.e., far fewer people to talk to on a daily basis), my mental health would probably benefit much from working on my mouth filter.

This is one of the reasons I took social media off my phone and leave my laptop off. I found it far too easy to post a thought for the world to see and that led to some awkward situations. Text is far too subjective. If I were standing next to you telling you a joke or laughingly grumping about a situation, you’d be less likely to smack me for my behavior because I’m pretty cute. But in text…well…sarcasm just doesn’t work that well.

self-discovery
What kind of “seasoned” are we talking about? Taco? Italian?

But I digress. Some self-discovery is what I really came to tell you about.

Yesterday, I was not feeling well, mentally well. Lately, I’ve often found myself in a sad funk, like nothing matters, wanting to hide away, disappear. I’m tired of everything. It sucks. It’s not a new feeling. My closest friends and family know my pattern of despair. It passes and nothing is lacking or wrong, not really. Note to family: Do not read my journals. They will terrify you.

And, yes, I’m working on some better choices, eating better, less alcohol (don’t cry, a good tequila is still on the table, just not so many, so often), and getting some exercise. I fell away from a lot of that the past couple of years and it’s starting to show.

Yesterday, I had a lunch date with a dear friend scheduled, but I woke up thinking, “I should not share this shitty feeling with a friend. I am wasting my time and theirs trying to be sociable.” I texted to cancel and then promptly started crying…again. I moved on to my yoga practice but couldn’t focus. She replied, but then I immediately asked if I could change my mind. I needed to get out and do something. I jumped in the shower and headed out the door.

As I drove, I noticed something important. There are two ways my feelings can go when I cancel something I planned on doing: relieved or hurt. When I cancel something and feel relief, set the phone down, move on with my day or evening, that tells me that it was the right thing to do for ME. What I had planned was not something I wanted to do. When I cancel something and feel hurt or sad, set the phone down and cry, that means it was the wrong thing to do. My plans were hard, or I was not in good mood, so I was giving up.

One of the biggest things I get sad about when I attempt to give up is this stupid blog. It means the world to me and I’m not sure exactly why. Every time I get frustrated with technical problems, grow sad about a lack of readers or growth, get angry at myself for my lack of consistency, I start to think about deleting the whole thing and walking away.

You should have heard me this week. “It’s a waste of time,” I told myself. “Just think how much more housework I could get done, yard work, maybe I can get chickens, if I weren’t spending so much time tapping out words on a screen.” Then the sad moved in on me and I felt like I’d lost my best friend.

It was ugly, trust me.

So, I’m afraid the internet is stuck with me.

My VW bus looks like it would
be in one of these Urban Legends!

That being said, that book I started reading yesterday, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand, is so good. It was written in 1981 and it has all those oldies we loved as kids: the hook in the car door of the kids making out, the alligators in the sewer, pop rocks candy exploding in a kid’s stomach and killing them. There are more, and ones I hadn’t heard before, like the cat dies and they package it up to take it somewhere to bury it, but it gets stolen by shoplifters.

It makes me wonder. With the invention of the internet and social media, I’m sure there are new versions of these old tales, wild stories we swear are true because it happened to a friend of a friend, or it was in the paper, so we share them to warn others. Do you know any?

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you the OTHER thing I discovered yesterday! I wasn’t in the mood for podcasts yesterday while I drove, so I turned on the radio and stumbled across a “New Country” music station…and liked it. I know! It’s crazy. I’m a classic country fan: Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Alabama, and others. I grew up in the 80’s so I’m also a fan of Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks. I’d heard some new country years ago and HATED it, but this was different, or I was. I fell in love, wrote down snips of song lyrics so I could look it up later (stupid radio), and added them all to my Spotify playlist when I got home. “You Time” by Scotty McCreery and “Like a Lady” by Lady A are the two that I loved most yesterday.

Housekeeping & Some Final Thoughts on my Latest Read

A little housekeeping this morning: I’ve been having some technical issues with my website lately, so while I take some time considering what to do, (where to host, whether I should keep my domain name, or just use the free wordpress site), I’m going to be posting to both for safety.

For my followers on the Roadrunner Musings, I’m back! I don’t have time to sit and play with it today, but I’ll be back to update the site in a couple days. Stay tuned!

And for those who have found me on michellehuelle.com, you might want to follow at Roadrunner Musings. I may end up keeping only that site in the future.

The sun is starting to show itself. How’s that for a special start to the day?

housekeeping

I have a confession. I’m not feeling it today. Feeling what? “It.” You know…that special pull that makes you want to get out of bed and attack the world with a smile. I’m feeling a little lost these days. But that’s normal for me. I’m typically cycle through great highs and pretty deep lows. The rhythm changes though, or maybe “frequency” is a better word. I’m thinking electronics here.

Remember when I started reading How to Take Smart Notes a few days ago and was considering not bothering to finish it? I finished it yesterday. What can I say? I’m afraid I’ll miss something grand if I quit. It’s probably the same reason I keep on living through the downs. If I quit life now…on purpose…I might miss something. Can’t have that!

It wasn’t a boring book, and it wasn’t super long, so I went ahead and steamed through. And I found something interesting.

“We reinvent and rewrite our memory every time we try to retrieve information. The brain works with rules of thumb and makes things look like they fit, even if they don’t. It remembers events that never happened, connects unrelated episodes to convincing narratives and completes incomplete images. It cannot help but see patterns and meaning everywhere, even in the most random things.”

From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Why are human minds so damn complicated? Sometimes it just seems like overkill. How in the world did we evolve this way? What purpose does it serve to make memory so unreliable?

Maybe it’s the thing that makes us “in the image of god,” this brain that sees patterns and meaning in everything. Is this what separates us from other animals? Is this the thing that gave us the edge and helped us to create our civilization?

All I do know is that my memory is not reliable. And that’s not just a getting older thing. Unless I take pictures or write things down, it will be lost. Even then, I know that much of what I believe I remember is distorted and warped by time. It’s part of why this blog is so important to me. Sometimes I read old posts of mine and have a hard time believing that I wrote them. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across pictures and stories of my past that I have no memory of happening. And don’t get me started on other people’s version of events we both experienced.

It makes me wonder. If we’re all like this, why do we fight over what we believe to be true? Why can’t we be slightly more rational and think, “You know…maybe I’m wrong” and live and let live?

Here’s another little gem I dug up.

“Learning itself requires deliberate practice, and I mean actual learning that helps to increase our understanding of the world, not just the learning that makes us pass a test.”

From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Personal effort. Sigh. Why is everything so hard?

Sorry for the down mood today, my friends. I considered not writing, or at least not posting, today but then I thought, “That’s not very authentic of you, Michelle. You should share the real you.” Back to the electronics analogy, I don’t have a limiter on my signal. You get the intact original signal here.

The good thing is that I know myself pretty well. I’ll be back on the upswing in no time. Nothing gets me down for long.

To end this post on an even better note, I started reading The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand this morning. You’re going to LOVE this one!

No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: New Read

How do I even begin to tell you, to explain what goes on in my head? You’ll think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. It’s true. I have a very hard time remembering things. How does that relate to the book No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners? You’ll see.

no-nonsense buddhism for beginners

I write things down a lot, lists of things I need to do, people I need to talk to. I make lists in retrospect as well, so that tomorrow I can look back and remember that I did that thing. I take screen shots of conversations and save them so that I don’t forget that someone loves me deeply. Playing cards with me is easy. You don’t ever need to worry about me seeing your cards. The moment I can’t see them anymore, I forget. Playing pinochle with my family was always hilarious because I have to put all my focus on remembering how many cards have been played. But that’s not really a big deal, right?

I know I’ve probably brought this up before but, there is a lot that I don’t remember about the books I’ve read shortly after I put them back on the shelf. I know I did read them because I wrote in the book. And there are some books that have stuck with me. I’ve read that I’m not alone there. Most people, when asked if they’ve read a certain book, can tell you yes or no, but then not be able to give the details about it. They just remember that they liked it or not. One of the reasons I write here is to put conscious effort into putting my thoughts in order and then keeping them to look back on. I remember more of what I talk about and/or explain than what I read.

What does that have to do with No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners?

I’ve been listening to Noah Rasheta’s podcast, Secular Buddhism, for several months. I like what he has to say. I feel like he explains the concepts in ways that are useful to me. But, in day-to-day interaction, I forget what I meant to remember. I keep trying to rewire the way I react to the world, remember that everything is connected, to take a breath and respond instead of reacting, to listen and watch the world around me, but I fail more often than not. It’s frustrating.

I bought his book because I thought having a physical book to flip through every day, instead of just listening once a week, would help cement the concepts into my mind so that I can use them. My goal is to read through it all once, and then go back and re-read each piece once a day, like a meditation practice.

Buddhist principles have helped my mental health tremendously this past year. I wish I had found it earlier in my life. It may have saved me a lot of heartache. This line is what keeps me on the path, “To be enlightened is to be liberated from our habitual reactivity, freed from our perceptions and ideas in order to see reality as it is without wanting it to be different.” That’s it! That’s what I want.

I’m a highly habitual person. I build up habits to keep order in my mind and make the world around me safe. Sometimes the habits aren’t helpful. I try to reassess my habits on a regular basis. I sit down with my notebook and write out my day, the things I do, and ask myself, “Is this serving me?” That’s easy to do with things like housework, exercise, and learning. But emotional habits are a whole other ballgame. Those are well engrained, and I’ve had a rough time changing them, no matter how badly I want to.

It’s like learning new eating habits. I start a new diet, get into it, really feel like I’m getting somewhere, and then BAM, a bad day, a party, a holiday, and I’m right back on the track of a poor diet filled with empty calories, loads of carbs, and plenty of alcohol. My body thanks me by feeling terrible, which makes me crave more “comfort” food, and I spiral down into “you suck” mode.

I have some pretty piss-poor relational habits that need to be resolved if I’m going to live well the next forty years. I’m trying so hard to change those habits in positive ways, but I keep forgetting the damn principles. Just like the game, when the cards are hidden from view, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I need reminders.

A few weeks ago, I was getting gas in town and across the island I saw a guy with a Buddhist mala prayer bead bracelet on. A light went on. The prayer beads are a reminder, each bead connects to the other to make a whole, just like we each connect to each other. They can also be a focus, moving along the chain and taking a breath, saying a mantra, or thinking a name, until you come back to the beginning.

Today, I ordered a set of wooden prayer beads. I’m hoping they’ll serve as a physical reminder that I’m changing. When I see them, I’ll remember my meditation, and (hopefully) pause to think a bit.

I’m about halfway through No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners already. I think keeping it close-by and ready for me to meditate on a page or two will help me build up these new habits. I’ll keep the beads with me as well and maybe, over time, my brain will connect the peace of what I read, my mediation, and the beads will serve to bring me back when I start to get lost.

I’ve written about my Buddhism journey many times before. Check out Zen Blogging: Writing to Learn? It’s one of my favorites. It’s also one that I have recently went back to and thought, “Wait…what? I’ve had this thought before?!” …sigh…

Mental Minimalism: Taking a Break

I went into my morning routine with a crummy attitude, set myself up for failure, and the surprisingly…I failed. Took a long shower, ate something tasty, had another cup of coffee, laughed with my husband, read an article. Had a thought…mental minimalism.

My original goal earlier this month was to sit here quietly every day for one hour, uninterrupted by the phone, and write anything that came to mind. If nothing came, I would just sit there with my laptop open to a blank page and stare out the window until the timer was up. Within a couple days though, that simple goal morphed into writing brilliance and posting on my blog every day as well. It didn’t feel good.

This morning, once I was interrupted by my company at the house and a text (because I forgot to turn my phone off), I lost my strong stride and got frustrated. Over the past couple of days, I had already begun to question what I was doing. This morning only confirmed my suspicions. This wasn’t going to be sustainable.

I need to rethink, refocus, and gain some perspective. Meditate on it a while and see if I can get a better picture of what the point of this blog is. What am I trying to do here? What am I offering to you? If I’m only writing for myself, why publish it at all? What if I really don’t have anything significant to add to the conversation in the world?

So many posts each week seem to just clutter up the place. In fact, this blog looks a lot like my mind if you could open it up and see all the rooms inside. My brain is like an open floorplan office space. Everyone loudly working on their own stuff, no boundaries, no privacy, no quiet time. Meetings in the middle, writers on one side, painters over there, and a construction crew adding on a balcony, all while someone else tries to make phone call in a corner. It’s a mess. Nothing gets done.

It’s time to do some decluttering and put what’s left in order, a little mental minimalism.

Today is my last day with a house full of people. I’m going to put away the writing and enjoy that moment. Tomorrow I’ll be driving to LA, then the weekend to rest a bit and think, and then a week with my mom. I won’t be posting here, but I’ll be back, and with some new floor plans for this metal office space.

“Always on the move.”

Self-Inflicted Stress Ramble

Prepare yourself for a self-inflicted stress ramble of a mildly epic proportion. Can you have something be “mildly epic?” Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

Self-Inflicted Stress Visual Representation
A Drawing of My Mind

Stressing out. Too many things to do. Too many plans. Not enough time. Down time needs to be included. I can’t simply keep running from one thing to the next. Books to read, posts to write, housework to do. Grocery store, visit friends, hiking, shopping, hanging out. Cooking, talking, texts, articles to read. Yard work and laundry. TV shows. Sleep.

I have notes from my last three drives that I’d love to talk about. I’m thinking about a shift in my blog subjects. Reading a lot less. That is stress too, but I read to connect and hear other people’s stories when I’m alone. Jake is home. I want to focus there, while the real person is here. I know my time is short.

Mental health. Fun and interesting new discoveries I’ve made through a podcast and some Instagram posts, which I know are not real therapy. I need time to sit and process.

Looking at my week. Is posting daily an impossible task? I’m not sure where I’m going, what I’m going to do next. Do I need a plan? Or should I just go back to more journal like thoughts? SEO has hijacked my thinking and blocking my process.

More books on my TBR shelf. Ones I need to read, ones I think will help.

Phone calls, dishes, repairs to make. Craft projects and room rearranging. Road trips planned. Time away from home.

Time. There isn’t enough.

I’m looking for a meditation workbook/journal, one that will help me focus on self-love, a little help in the self-acceptance, letting go of expectations, and kind of thing to work on as a new piece of my morning routine. Any ideas?

I know it’s self-inflicted stress. I have no external authority or task masters. Something has to give and I have to choose it.

I’ll be back here. I promise. See you Monday.

Join Me in my Adventure to Wallow in Some Self Pity!

I think treating self pity as just another emotion to jump in and swim around in a while is a practice of good self care. Come on! It’ll be fun. Really!

Self pity medicine. Otter Pops for grown ups: Cosmopolitan Vodka Martini
These usually cheer me up on a warm afternoon!

“I had every intention of writing this morning, I swear, but here I am again with nothing to say. That’s a lie. I do have things to say, plenty of them. I’m just not sure how or, more importantly, why I should say them.”

Me this morning

Yeah, I’m pretty far out in the deep end these days. I just can’t seem to get a grip on it. I’m going to stick with the swimming pool analogy for a moment.

Emotions are like swimming pools. I have several and some of them have very deep ends, so deep you can have a good, high diving board. My pools have nice steps to get out at the shallow end, and some have ladders to climb out at the deep end. Some. There’s the trouble.

Some of those deeper pools are hard to get out of. You have to want to and have the strength to get out on your own or have a friend available to lend a hand. At the moment, I have none of those things, so I’ve decided to float a bit instead of struggle to tread water. I’m conserving my energy until I find a solution.

Besides, I kinda like here right now.

Yes, I’m well aware that everyone’s world has changed. I know everyone struggles. I’m not alone in anything here. But this story isn’t about everyone. It’s about this girl, so come swim with me!

Things I’m considering:

  1. Daily routines…boring…what can I do?
  2. Writing. Should I quit? No. Writing things like this helps me think. It’s word therapy.
  3. Blogging. What to do here? Posting every day is a lot. Maybe I should adjust that. Or maybe give up blogging all together?

Something that I’m pondering on:

A friend of mine just told me (this morning, no kidding), “No one is going to come knocking on your door and ask you to be friends.” I told him that I’d rather just stay locked in my house and yard.

That’s me in a nutshell. “Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get in here?!”

I’m just not sure where to go from here, so for now, I float and rest.

Going back to the post Why DO I write here anyway? was a good idea. This feeling of self pity is a recurring cycle of self-doubt. I’ll be back again…and in great numbers!

Knowing You Have Consciousness – What Awareness Really Is

Knowing Consciousness quote with book cover background.
Last post from this glorious little book!

“The Buddha is one awakened to identity not with the body but with the knower of the body, nor with the thought but the knower of the thoughts, that is to say, with consciousness; knowing, furthermore, that his value derives from his power to radiate consciousness – as the value of a lightbulb derives from its power to radiate light.”

Myths to Live By” by Joseph Campbell

You could have seen the “lightbulb” go on over my head when I read that sentence. It hit me that hard.

“Awareness” is quite the buzzword these days, but I don’t think it’s for the right reasons.

It’s more important to people to be “aware” of whatever atrocities they were told by their leaders they were supposed to be outraged by. It’s hip to be “aware” of what we do or do not possess, how we present ourselves, or what image we promote with our online presence, i.e., being sure we have a washable mask on when we take our selfies or putting a temporary frame around our social media profile declaring our political allegiances.

But is that the “awareness” that counts?

Personally, I think it’s far more important to be self-aware, not in a “Do I look fat in this outfit?” or “Does my comment come off as racist?” kind of way, but more like this description of the Buddha. We should become aware of our consciousness, that we are not a body or a thought, but that we have a body and thoughts.

When we achieve this kind of awareness, our demeanor changes. We radiate that consciousness toward the world around us. When we find the inner peace that comes from the awareness of our consciousness, we suddenly increase in value to this world. We are not simply decorating the space with our presence but creating more for the room and those within our reach.

A dead lightbulb, or one supplied with no power, does nothing but take up space. Add power and suddenly it lights up the room, illuminating what’s in and making life easier for everyone that can see it. That could be each and every one of us. When we find the thing that powers us, we add value to the world around us. That is what “awareness” really is, consciousness of who we are.

Want to read this book? You can get it on Amazon HERE.
Read more of my thoughts about quotes from this book:
Are Our Cultural Differences Becoming Less Important?
Women Are Equal in Nature and Need as Men, Not the “Same As”
Using Words: Is the Art of Communication Lost

Mental Health Opportunity?

“A well-managed breakdown can turn out to be a good thing. Try to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow and learn about yourself.”

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Can we use a mental breakdown as an opportunity for growth?

Yeah! That’s the ticket! An opportunity!

I’m imagining Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live. Remember that skit?

Sometimes I swear I’m only lying to myself, trying to put a brave face or a good spin on terrible behavior. A meltdown is a meltdown and, dammit, at my age, shouldn’t I have already learned to keep my mouth shut and walk away?! I know better. I know better even as it’s happening. And yet, here I am again, losing my shit and taking everyone within earshot with me.

It’s just sad.

But…then again…don’t we all learn at our own pace? I am better today than I was in the past. Each time I live through a confrontation, I do learn something, and I respond better the next time. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Win or lose, climb or fall; since the day we were born, each time we interact with the world we learn a little more. Some of us are born farther ahead than others, some move more slowly, some gain ground more quickly, but we are all at least moving.

What happened? What could I have done better if anything? And my favorite, can I just let this setback go this time instead of holding onto it like a heavy anchor?

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