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

Tag: self-help Page 1 of 5

Calming the Surface: Meditation Practice

I write a lot about my meditation practice, and I probably talk a lot about it too, but I’m learning so much. I can’t help but share.

meditation practice

My beef with meditation in the past was I felt it wasn’t working. I’d sit and focus on my breath for ten minutes every morning. So what? I’m calm for those ten minutes, and then go into the rest of my day only to lose that calm almost immediately.

Ten minutes of exercise, while a good start and better than nothing, isn’t going to make anyone strong.

I increased my time to twenty minutes, made a point of doing it daily without exception, and made some progress. My mornings started with more calm, but by the afternoon…ugg…

I started an afternoon practice. Thirty minutes before my husband stops working, I sit in meditation and then journal. It helped smooth my evenings.

But what the heck? The only way to remain calm is to be in retreat from the world and spend more and more time in silent meditation? That doesn’t seem like living. I can’t wall myself off from the world.

I kept meditating and reading, studying, trying to learn more. There has to be more. And then I find this:

“…there are two streams of meditation practice within Buddhism. Their Sanskrit names are shamatha and vipashyana. Shamatha means “to calm the mind” whereas vipashyana means “to look into the mind.” Shamatha is usually translated into English as “calm abiding” and vipashyana as “insight.” It means seeing clearly.

There is a traditional example used to illustrate the differences between these two approaches to meditation. Imagine a lake surrounded by hills and snow-capped mountains. It is a clear mountain lake which reflects the surrounding mountains so accurately that it can be difficult to tell which image is the mountains and which just the reflection of the mountains on the lake’s surface. But when this lake becomes agitated by the elements, various things happen.

First of all, the surface of the lake breaks up so that it no longer reflects the mountains accurately. The image is still there, but it is distorted. In addition, because there are many waves and the surface is choppy, it is difficult for us to see into the lake to any depth. Not only is the surface of the water choppy, but the mud at the bottom of the lake is also stirred up. This pollutes the water, making it muddy and opaque.

This state is very much like our ordinary everyday mind, which is continually being agitated by the winds of the six senses.”

Ani Tenzin Palmo – Reflections on a Mountain Lake

The point of meditation is to calm the surface of the lake so that we can reflect the world with fewer distortions and see beneath more clearly to reach beneath and examine what we find.

This past six months, since I have increased my meditation time and made a concerted effort to keep up the practice daily, has changed things. My husband has commented on it, and so has my son. I don’t seem to react as quickly, I’m more reflective and less agitated by the little things.

I’ve found myself stopping to think when I feel something, sorting it out before I respond. I get less angry. I’m less depressed. I love myself more and I can easily extend that love to others, even those that seem to be determined to drive me crazy.

Don’t get me wrong. People still irk me with their behavior and choices, but I’m more likely to see them as beings in need of love and patience instead of enemies. Maybe not instantly, but in a reasonable amount of time before I react to them and make everything worse. This is part of the practice.

I’ve struggled with anger, depression, and stress my whole life. I’ve sought help from doctors that directed me to drugs, and therapists that seemed only to make the situation worse. I’ve lost money, time, and done damage to my body. And nothing has helped like one hour a day in mediation, reading, and journaling.

Resolving Conflict is Complicated

Resolving conflict is on my mind today. Actually, it’s been on my mind a long time. I’ve never been very good at resolving conflict in a rational, non-harming, way. My “go to” as a child was to cry and throw myself on the floor, in the hopes of instilling guilt on those around me until they decided to do what was right, a.k.a. what I wanted. As an adult, the silent treatment worked well for a time, until I would explode with anger and unleash hell upon those around me.

If you are one that has not experienced this with me, count yourself lucky. I’m not exaggerating.

As a wife and then a parent, you’d think I would have grown up a bit, but not really. One thing I’ve learned is that we all fall short of perfection, every single one of us. Our only hope is that we keep learning, and possibly surround ourselves with people that can forgive, love, and give us space to grow.

This morning, I read this in my study of Reflections on a Mountain Lake by Ani Tenzin Palmo:

It struck me that if we act out of the root of anger, we will only experience more anger in return. The Buddha himself said, “Hatred doesn’t cease by hatred. Hatred can only cease by love or by non-hatred.” This is because if you keep putting out anger, no matter how justified the cause, you will stir up the huge reservoir of anger in your antagonist, whoever it may be. So however justified it may seem at the time, all you’ll get in return is more opposition.

It’s obvious. All anger, no matter how justified, how righteous, how holy it is, comes from the same source, which is antipathy, aversion, or hatred. Whether it expresses itself in violence or nonviolence, it’s still anger, and so however “justified,” it will never bring about circumstances leading to peace, love, and reconciliation. How can it!

Anger…you know what Yoda says… When I’m feeling angry, I know to take a step back, give myself some space, and think, “What is it that I’m not liking exactly?” And then I think about the person or situation I’m angry with, “How can I gain understanding and reconnect?” My goal is to live in peace.

It’s not easy. I am not good at it. I’m still learning. Daily meditation in the form of two twenty-minute sessions has helped me slow down and become more aware of my feelings and the thoughts that follow them.

Also, this morning, I read from Elizabeth Anderson:

We each have moral authority with respect to one another. This authority is, of course, not absolute. No one has the authority to order anyone else to blind obedience. Rather, each of us has the authority to make claims on others, to call upon people to heed our interests and concerns.

Whenever we lodge a complaint, or otherwise lay a claim on others attention and conduct, we presuppose our own authority to give others reasons for action that are not dependent on appealing to the desires and preferences they already have.

But whatever grounds we have for assuming our own authority to make claims is equally well possessed by anyone who we expect to heed our own claims.

Resolving conflict involves two people or parties respecting the rights of the others. If we cannot come to some understanding, we need to separate and live apart from each other. Where my right to be me ends, is where your right to be you starts. We can’t step on each other. Why can’t that be easy?

resolving conflict

I posted this meme to my Facebook page this morning, not realizing that it was related until after I had let it sit there an hour.

I’m not a believer in astrology, but I often identify with Sagittarius memes. This one was especially funny to me. It’s why I have such a conflict with Facebook.

There you all are, living your (to me) bullshit, and I so want to call you on it. (Sidenote: We are ALL living bullshit that others think is simply nuts.)

What stops me?

If I’m honest with myself I can say that I don’t because I know if I call yours out, you’ll call mine out, and I really don’t like that. I should be able to take it, right? It’s a good way to learn, putting forth your ideas, being questioned, and then rethinking them. In person, I’m getting much better at that, but online… yeah, you know things are different, so I take a step back and stay quiet.

That’s how this works. You’ve angered me. I think on it, take some time to put things into perspective, so that I’m respecting your person and position, because I want a relationship with you. We work together to resolve our differences and live in peace, somehow, because we are all sentient beings with the authority to run our own lives.

Now…if I can only remember that when the feelings strike. Back to meditation practice!

Surrender to the Present: Yielding

Yielding, a little known trick to driving that is more than just being polite. I came across the perfect analogy for “surrender to the present.” Stay with me a moment.

Have any of you experienced merging onto the freeway lately? I have, quite a bit, and I’ve been rather vocal about my frustration with other drivers. Do we all need a refresher course on how this is supposed to be done? Or do we know and not care; we are the center of the universe and those trucks be damned!

surrender to the present

Let me ‘splain.

I’m on my way into the big (to me) city and I need to get on the freeway. I see the on ramp and take it. Ever notice how long and smoothly curved an on-ramp is? That’s so that I can take a good look at the traffic pattern and match my speed to the cars and trucks already travelling there. My job is to speed up or slow down to get in front of or behind existing vehicles, and then think about what to do next.

It’s the safest and most efficient way to do it. If I don’t, if I insist that I am the most important player here and force trucks to move over, or slam on their brakes to accommodate my present trajectory, I wreak havoc. The rest of the freeway has to adjust itself to the lane and speed changes. This is how more accidents and traffic jams occur.

This morning while I was reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, this is visual that came to me when I read, “Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”

Surrender to what is currently happening around you isn’t giving up and accepting the crap you see. It’s being in the moment, creating less friction, and being able to see more clearly and make better decisions.

It’s matching the speed of the cars on already on the freeway, then taking a look around and making your next move. It’s smart and it respects the other drivers.

I knew I had used that photo before and when I searched for it, I smiled. My new Drive Time Mantra came up! I could write a book on the similarities between driving and life in general.

Bringing the Mental Noise Level Down

This is going to sound strange because I have been posting more the past few weeks, trying to rebuild my habit of a daily post, but I just can’t seem to write anything…good lately. Not “good” as in something everyone wants to read or changes the world, but “good” as in significant to me. There have been a few fits and starts, but I feel distracted and a little bit lost and I’m starting to think part of my problem is “noise.”

If you saw how I live, you’d instantly raise your hand and ask, “What noise are you talking about, woman? The wind? An occasional truck? A loud scrub jay?”

No, not that kind of noise. The mental noise level. Thoughts and distractions. This might sound nuts, completely out of character, but I instantly bought a book called “Chatter – The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It” by Ethan Kross. That podcast interview I heard with the author last week, I couldn’t help but yell to the car, “THAT’S IT!” Charlie Brown style. It’s sitting here on my TBR shelf, on top, next up, right after I finish Joseph Conrad.

The other distraction is my phone. It sits next to me while I drink my coffee and read in the morning. I’ll admit that I have a phone problem. It’s always in my hand. Always. I don’t have social media on my phone, and I get no notifications other than direct texts. What if one of the kids needs me? What if my mom calls? What if ANYONE texts me? All great, right? But…it’s distracting at the worst moments, like right in the stream of consciousness moment. No bueno. I turn off the ringer, but then I find myself glancing over to see if the light is flashing.

Why is it that I am so hyper-focused on not missing a message? I can’t imagine a text that couldn’t wait an hour or so. If it were truly and emergency, they would call. Right?

Something similar happens when I have my laptop out to write. The blank page stares waiting for me, but it’s just too easy to open up Facebook, or check my email, or even open up WordPress and read another blog. And then my own thoughts are gone, buried way back in my mind at the very least.

This morning I wrote the first draft of this in my journal thinking this way I would have no way of being distracted. If the words slowed down, all I would be able to do is stare at the wall or out the window for a moment. It worked nicely, until my phone beeped a message to me.

I know! It’s crazy! Right?

After breakfast, I opened up Instagram for a look around and found this post from @cbmeditates and it started the wheels turning.

mental noise level
“3 things to focus on in August?” @cbmeditates

I sat with my journal a bit longer, thinking about what three things I could focus on this month that might lower my mental noise level. Here’s what I came up with.

Focus #1 – Uninterrupted Morning Hours

From now on, I keep my phone on my desk back in my office until 9am. I’ll go get it to use my yoga app and then put it right back afterwards. Out of sight, out of mind. There’s nothing going on in the world that can’t wait an hour or two.

Focus #2 – Write by Hand

My morning writing time can be done by hand in my journal. That way there are no distractions. No, “I’ll just get that link.” Or “What was that quote exactly?” When that happens, I chase rabbit-holes and end up being bombarded with other people’s thinking. An hour of sitting with a pen and a journal will help me get my own thoughts on paper first. Then later I’ll transcribe what I wrote into my laptop, adding in details and links, and looking up references as I go.

Focus #3 – Less Daily Sugar

This one isn’t a writing focus. I need less sugar in my daily diet, and that includes alcohol. I’m not a heavy drinker and I’m not a dessert fiend, but throughout the day I feel like I’m always grabbing a piece of chocolate, a coke, or a handful of something sweet. I’ve done well this week, so I want to keep going. It makes my joints less achy, and I sleep better if I stay on the low sugar side of life. I’m sweet enough, right? And I don’t need alcohol to lower my inhibitions. I do that just fine right here on paper.

Keeping my mornings low tech and free from message interruptions is going to be the hard part. There’s something weird going on there. I get the feeling I’m letting everyone down if I don’t answer my text messages almost immediately, but you know, no one else I know does that. The best my circle can do is within the hour, and that’s great. I swear it’s like a security blanket for me, but it’s not helping me right now, so it’s time to change!

I’ve put my focus goals on my calendar and at the end of the month, I’ll check in and see if I’ve had any success lowering my mental noise level.

The Game of Life: New Read

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that I’m a little disappointed with The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn. “A little” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings, and of course I’m here to tell you why. I’ll start with the basics, how we got here and what I was thinking going into this book.

the game of life

This book was this month’s read for one of those book clubs I told you I joined recently, and I was excited to read it because I am a big fan of self-help books. Unpopular, I know. We’re all supposed to poo-poo them, but I love them, and I will not hide it. I especially love older ones, the tried and true that are still in print years later. They give me perspective, so many ideas and thoughts about how one can make their own lives a little better. What’s not to love?

When I saw the title, I thought it would be a fun read. I like the idea of looking at life as a game to play. My personal philosophy is similar, and I celebrate my birthday every year as a “level up” day, taking stock of the special skills I have accumulated and the companions I’ve chosen to help me along the way.

When I looked the book up online, I found that it was first published nearly 100 years ago and by a woman. That was intriguing. I wondered how her life must have been so different from mine and what kind of ideas she would have about the game.

The description had me excited to read as well. “First published in 1925, this book has inspired thousands of people around the world to find a sense of purpose and belonging. It asserts that life is not a battle but a game of giving and receiving, and that whatever we send out into the world will eventually be returned to us. This little book will help you discover how your mind and its imaging faculties play leading roles in the game of life.”

Yes, please!

But then I started to read it.

I did assume that the book would have a Christian point of view because of when and where it was written, but I didn’t realize that the whole basis of the book is to use Jesus as a magic wish machine. All you must do is think what you want, speak it to Jesus, and you will have it.

What?

I’m not going to unpack each chapter, but I will say that for me, this idea never really held water, even when I was feeling deeply religious. I’ve read the bible several times through, done many bible studies, and I never found the idea that God grants wishes. The best we could ever do was to pray to be aligned and accepting of God’s path for you. Peace comes from letting go of desires, accepting what is, much like the Buddha’s path of non-resistance.

After the first chapter, I felt like putting the book down and walking away, but then where would I be. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, clearly, and neither can you judge it by the first chapter. It’s only 111 pages long, so it’s not wasting too much time. Besides, I may find pieces that fit into my life, change my thinking, or at least come to understand someone else’s point of view.

So, like Adler said to do in How to Read a Book, I kept reading to understand.

I did find a few gems to hold on to. Things like, “Man has an ever a silent listener at his side – the subconscious mind.”

That’s very true. And how we speak to ourselves in our minds is how we perceive the world around us. Better to keep up the positive talk instead of shooting ourselves down before we even get started. Like reading this book, I can’t sit here grumbling. I have to take deep breath and listen to learn.

“You can control any situation if you first control yourself.”

I’ve found this not to be very helpful. I can’t control any situation, but I can control how I react to it and that makes all the difference.

I learned that the word “acme” means perfection. Acme is always the company the coyote gets his tools and contraptions from to catch the roadrunner. Funny.

“Life is a mirror, and we find only ourselves reflected in our associates.”

This…yes. All my life I’ve been so irritated with the people around me. That driver, that food service person, the post office guy…what the hell, people? But these days I find myself thinking, “Well, maybe there’s something wrong.” “I could have made that same mistake.” And “Everyone has bad days.”

What’s different is how I’ve been learning to treat myself. I’ve been talking to myself in new ways, learning to forgive mistakes and not have to be perfect, to allow myself to feel loved just the way I am. It’s made all the difference.

And then there was, “The robbers of time are the past and the future.”

Oh, wow. We know that! Right? Sitting here lamenting our past mistakes. Nothing we can really do now but move forward and do better. And spending all night worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Wastes the time we could be getting a good night’s rest so that we’re at our best no matter what happens.

See? I did find some little tidbits even though I felt repulsed at first. That’s what happens when you listen to people you don’t agree with, even fundamentally. We find common ground and move forward on it instead of staying at a stand-still.

No, I don’t believe that Jesus will put money in your bank account if you believe hard enough. But we can relax and know that things generally do work out eventually. Less attachment to outcomes, more acceptance of what is, does make life nicer.

No, mothers can’t attract illness to their children with worry. But mothers can make themselves sick with worry and cause their children to be nervous and timid because their protector seems so helpless.

There were more crazy things, like “death can be overcome by stamping the unconscious mind with the conviction of eternal youth and eternal life.”

And more great ideas, like “Real love is selfless and free from fear. It pours itself out upon the object of its affection, without demanding any return.”

Now my question is, what will the book club think about this book? Will they be in love with it? Are they going to be a group full of that kind of Christian? That’s me, worrying about the future, wasting time. Does it matter? Nope. I’ll go and enjoy whatever experience is presented to me because that’s what the game of life is all about.

Slightly Painful Reminders: Re-Post

Sunday means Re-Post Day and this one…well…it was a little painful for me to re-read, but I’m posting it anyway. Painful memory? No, it’s just a few painful reminders that progress can be slow and that I have so much farther to go.

Opening my old blog on Sunday morning is a lot like sticking my hand in the lottery jar and seeing what numbers I pull. I’m not sure what I’ll find, and to be completely honest, sometimes I throw the number back in and choose another.

There has been progress on the self-confidence track and I’m proud of that. I’ve learned a lot and I’m happy with where I am and where I’m headed. You can teach an old dog new tricks!


What Are You Trying to Tell Me?
July 2019

I recently woke up from a dream that was so different, so excitingly new that instead of sighing peacefully and going back to sleep hoping I’d remember it in the morning, I jumped out of bed to jot down my impressions to insure its survival.

My journal was on my desk, not beside my bed, so I slipped out of bed and quietly padded to my office. I flipped on the light and sat down at my desk to write. As I opened my book and picked up my pen my phone dinged. A message at this hour? Everyone knows I’m sound asleep and I haven’t touched anything to alert the all-seeing social media of my activity.

“Are you sleeping?”

A message from an online friend.

“No! I just woke up from an amazing dream and came to write it down. And here you are!”

“About what?”

The conversation went on for half an hour. I dreamed that I was talking with an old comedienne that looked a lot like my Grandma Shirley. She told me that I was funny, hilarious in fact, and that I should try stand-up comedy, try acting. I told her I had acted in the past but was never very good at it. She begged to differ and told me she knew talent when she saw it. She took me to a party with her and there were other famous people there, actors, directors, and such. She introduced me and they all confirmed that I had something. And then I woke up. I wasn’t startled awake, I was laying there content. I felt accepted, proud, self-confident. I wanted to remember that feeling. That’s why I got up to write it down.

Telling my friend about it, he suggested that I do what my dream suggested. I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it before. When I was teenager, I took plenty of acting classes and was in several high school shows, but I was too self-conscious to do it well. Acting takes complete self-abandonment; going up there as if you are the center of the universe, with no thought to whether or not anyone will like it. Talent or not, you can’t see it unless you throw the robes off and stand there naked before the whole audience. I could not do it. I hid myself.

These days I wonder, would I be able to do it now? Am I self-confident enough to let go? There is a small community theater here. I could go down and audition. I went back to bed with these thoughts on my mind.

When I woke up in the morning, I was still thinking about it. I’d slept soundly knowing the dream was safe in my journal and the idea tucked away in my messages. I started my morning routine thinking I’d go back in a few hours and rethink it all. Nestled down in my spot on the couch, book in hand, I relaxed into my morning.

After a bit, I mentioned the dream to my husband who listened attentively, but as I told it something started to swirl around in my head. This dream wasn’t about acting. It’s about self-confidence. I got another cup of coffee and picked up my journal.

As the morning progressed, more ideas started to fall into place. I accosted my teenage sons as they stumbled sleepily into the livingroom. I had to talk more of this idea out and they just happened across my path as it was coming together. I don’t know what I’ll do when they move out and I lose my captive audience. Pity my poor husband!

I’ve always been a dreamer, not the pie in the sky, big ideas kind of dreamer, but I almost always dream when I sleep. I dream vivid and realistic dreams generally every night, especially when my anxiety is high. While most of the time my dreams are varied and colorful, there are a few that are recurring. They revolve around being left behind, trying to be understood, or being without help in a crisis. This dream was different and that’s what got me so excited.

This dream was encouraging and left me feeling supported and loved, pushed from beyond. And it wasn’t about acting at all. It only took that form because that was my experience. Like I told my sons, I know not everyone believes in spiritual dream stuff and, to be honest, I don’t either, but I do believe in subconscious work. I’ve been working on some big things the past couple of years. For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck and unsure how or if to proceed. This dream shook something loose in me.

A side note, but related, I haven’t thought much about my Aunt or Grandmother since they passed away years ago, but over the last couple of weeks they have come up several times. I reconnected with my uncle and cousin, I randomly met someone he knows, my cousin posted about his mother, and then this dream with the face of my Grandma. Those two women were a big part of my life growing up, but I lost them in my early thirties. I hadn’t thought I had lost much until now. What could they teach me now about being in my forties? Those were strong, bold beautiful women. I’m feeling a need for their confidence and support. This dream is a piece of that.

What in the world am I talking about? I’ve been rambling on for pages! Writing! I can’t say I’ve always wanted to write or that I’ve been writing since I could read. I can’t say that I have several stories, books, or poems stored up just waiting for the right publisher to come along. I can say that I have always had something to say.

I feel like I’ve had something hidden away from me for years. Like those stories you hear about a princess raised by farmers and finds out who she really is. I’ve never felt like I fit in with the women in my mother’s family and when the women in my father’s family were alive, I was too afraid of them to really embrace them. I feel like a combination of both, not quite as crazy and wild (the slightly self-destructive that I thought they were) and not as timid and reserved as my mother’s family. I need to tap into the “training” of my mother and her mom; the quiet, calm, and respectable side; AND the wild, free-ranging, self-assuredness of my dad’s sister and mother.

I wrote these words a couple of days ago and closed my notebook thinking it all seemed like it was an idea going nowhere, just like the thousand other times I’ve felt like I had something solid in my hands but when I looked directly at it, it turned to air.

Today, I’m in a RV park in Montpelier, Idaho, reading it over again and seeing something else. That’s a realization in and of itself. I’m reminded of a story somewhere when someone is blindfolded and writes in a trance, then goes back to read what is on the page and finds someone else’s words. It does make sense. There is a message there. And if the message is there for me, the odds are that someone else might need to hear it as well, so I keep writing.

Where am I going? That’s probably what you’re asking, and exactly what I’m asking myself. I think the point my subconscious is trying to make is that “fortune favors the bold.” I’ve never been one to self-promote. “I’m shy.” I tell people, but not in an introverted way. I’m not happier when I’m alone. While I do enjoy the pleasure of my own company, while I do love making time to sit quietly alone with my thoughts so better to write them down, I am not fueled by that. I crave regular interaction with people, as if fueled by the energy of our connections. But I am so self-conscious, worried about doing the wrong thing, offending someone with my words, not fitting in with others, that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to do. That’s something I am working to change, and my next step is this blog.

I’ve been plagued with a few thoughts since I finished the big project of writing my first story. The first of which is, now that the story is down on paper, what should I do next? It’s memoir and very personal to me. I’m terrified of promoting it and then having to defend it. As I’m writing these words something just dawned on me. Maybe that story shouldn’t be the first thing I promote. I have so much more I could be writing and promoting.

I recently came across a Tim Hawkins sticker that struck me as perfect for what I really want to do here (on this blog).

“Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.”

He was talking about comedy, but I think it’s so much bigger. Maybe comedy isn’t just an entertainment, maybe it’s philosophy for the lighthearted. Which connects me to my dream again. I’ve always been someone who notices things. It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always carried so much anxiety. I love to read. I love to watch, to experience. I love being among people, maybe not in front of, or leading, but quietly among them, soaking up their energy.

Throughout my life I’ve taken notes; journals and notebooks full of my thoughts and ideas, questions, and observances. When I write I rarely know where it will go, what will be the outcome of my tapping at the screen. The connections come to me while I write the same way they come to me during a conversation, spontaneously and not always fully formed. The more I write, the more I think, the more the idea takes a stronger form.

In the past, my blog posts are written on the spot. I have an idea, or want to review a book I just read, so I sit down and tap out the first words that come to mind. I immediately look back through it and post it that same hour. I’d like to change that.

As I spend my first two-week vacation alone with my husband since we had kids, I’m spending a lot of time walking, driving, thinking, and talking. With no kids to care for, and an introverted husband that thoroughly enjoys his quiet time, I have had plenty of time to think, write, and rewrite. I have been using this time as a writing retreat and my intention is to build up a few articles, like this one and others, so that I can begin posting something more complete several days a week while I work on new observations to post later.

I’ve had a terrible time putting that into coherent words!

What will I write? Observations. I’ve struggled with that for a long time and with Tim Hawkin’s bumper sticker, it finally dawned on me. It’s perfectly acceptable to live life, take notes, and tell strangers. It is simple philosophy and something I enjoy and feel confident doing. Hopefully, someone out there will find my observations interesting or helpful!


I wrote this post in July of 2019. Here we are nearly three years later, and I’d forgotten all about it. Painful reminders can be so frustrating; to have such a vivid vision and then let if fade. But it’s not completed faded, the bones are there, the direction on the map still laid out. I’ve just gotten a little stuck at some road-side attractions.

I’m printing this one out, highlighting it, and making a better plan that includes reminders! One thing I do know better than I did then is that I am where I need to be. I’ll get there when I’m supposed to get there.

Want to read last weeks walk into the past? Check out Relaxing and Philosophy: Sunday Repost

Human Behavior, War, and More: Podcast Roundup

It’s been awhile since I did a Podcast Roundup so let’s dive in. It’s Friday so I’ll make life easy for both us with one-line (maybe two if need be) takeaways from each episode.

Practicing Human – No Wrong Emotions

Making space and being honest and accepting of my own feelings doesn’t mean I need to express them or make other accept them.

Secular Buddhism – When Things Fall Apart

The dishes always going to get dirty, then you wash them, put them away, and use them again. It’s the cycle of life to fall apart and come back together again.

EconTalk – Luca Dellanna on Compulsion, Self-deception, and the Brain

Your mind is an has emotional driver and your navigator (logic) makes up reasons for those emotions.

              Book: The Control Heuristic: The Nature of Human Behavior by Luca Dellana

Practicing Human – You’re Responsible for Your Happiness

Self-work is for everyone around you. It helps you slip into the water without making a huge mess of everything.

Cato Daily Podcast – Deregulate Low-Income Entrepreneurs to Address American Poverty

I took no notes on this one and I don’t remember any of it. I think I was in my head.

People I (Mostly) Admire – Does Death Have to be a Death Sentence?

When we turn our attention to the hard things in life, you’ll find a lot of beauty.

Book: A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death by BJ Miller, MD and Shoshana Berger

Quillette Podcast – Shmuel Bar on the War in Ukraine, and the Failure of Western Deterrence

When we look at other world leaders and their actions and think “That’s crazy!” or “That’s evil!” we’re not seeing their decisions and actions from their point of view, from the culture, background, and store of information.

Practicing Human – Self-Sabotage

If you think you know what you want but when you move toward it something always gets in the way, there may be something you aren’t willing or able to feel/experience yet.


human behavior

How’s that for a round-up?! I’m off to get this place ready for our Friday Night Happy Hour. I’ll be playing some mean pool and maybe…with a little luck…I’ll win a game, maybe even two.

PS I really need to learn to take a day off after a run into the city. I have so much going on in my head that I would love to quietly process. I took notes, and have stored the ideas away for later. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take the day to stare out the window and reflect.

Anxious Attachment and Self-Love

I finished reading (but am in no way DONE with) The Anxious Hearts Guide by Rikki Cloos and I’m assigning it to my “Required Reading for Everyone” list. If you are alive today, you need to read this book. It’s life changing. You may not be an anxious attachment style person, but you may know and love one, and this book will help you both relate better!

anxious attachment

Can we talk about Kindle books for a moment first? I am NOT a fan. Why? I don’t know.

Everyone I know loves them and they have so many great qualities: portable library, instant books, searchable. The list goes on and on, but I still don’t like them. There are a couple of reasons and the first is that I like to physically flip through pages. It comforts me. Then there is the smell of a book, and the look of it on my shelf like an award. And I love to write in my books, and I love to write on paper. I can’t be alone here. Right? I mean, I have a paper calendar, journals, shopping lists. I love to write with a pen or a pencil. It’s the physical-ness of it. So awesome. Yes, I’m aware that I’m a tad strange.

Speaking of writing things down, I made pages and pages of journal entries about this book. I actually got a comment about it, like, “What the heck are you scribbling? Are you angry?” I don’t always do this. Typically, I make notes in the margins and maybe write a few blog posts about things that I’m learning or what’s coming up while I read and then leave it there. But this book was different. It demanded more attention and action.

I have had a hard time relating to people since high school, and it’s only been getting steadily worse lately. And the crazy part is that if you asked anyone that knows me, ex-coworkers, family, friends from community things, they’d all say I’m outgoing and friendly. Everyone loves me! Except those few miserable people. They hate everything.

But I feel like I just can’t figure people out. I make friends, get close, and then run away. They frustrate me and I throw my hands up and decide maybe I’m just an introverted person that should keep to myself.

I’m not. When I’m alone too much I go crazy. And by “alone too much” I mean alone for more than a day at a time, and by “alone” I mean here at home with my husband while he works. I need the people! But they bug me to the point of tears!

And then, by some crazy coincidence, call it the magic of the universe, I started seeing posts on Instagram about adult attachment theory. Holy…this sounds just like me! Seeing Rikki Cloos’ posts struck a chord and I had to know more…so I bought her book! Of course, I did! I’m a book lover! But I wanted it NOW, so I got the Kindle version.

You know…if you get the Kindle version of a book, you should be able to get a print version for a few bucks more. I think it’s messed up that I have to buy it all over again, but I will, because I love her!

I took it slow through this book, writing in my journal all the things I wanted to remember, adding a few books to my TBR list. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Neff and Germer is what I’m working on next, because while I was reading, I realized how badly I treat myself. It’s sad. If I heard someone talk to someone else the way I talk to myself…I’d punch them in the nose. No bueno, man!

What will you find in this book? You’ll find out what anxious attachment is and how to take steps to get closer to a secure attachment style, which means you’ll have closer and more satisfying relationships with other humans. And here’s the crazier part: You won’t feel bad about yourself while you read this. You’ll feel seen and heard and think, “Hey! Yeah! I am a pretty cool person. My needs and wants are valid. I’m just trying get them fulfilled in some unhealthy ways.”

There is so much self-work going on over here lately and it feels so good.

One more thing before I go: “self-help” books. Love them or hate them? I hear so many people (or rather see posts or read about) bashing self-help. What’s so terrible about trying to solve your own problems? And why would I not share every bit of help I find in the hopes that maybe one other person out there might find peace as well? I don’t get the criticism. Let’s talk about that in the comments, huh?

Relaxing And Philosophy: Sunday Repost

Sundays are for relaxing and philosophy, right? I’m not sure why but I’ve never been very good at relaxing, especially alone. I get nervous and talk to myself, and then we get into arguments. It’s usually a stalemate so I go looking for someone to tell myself that I’m wrong. It can get ugly.

Today I decided to use the whole day as if I were at a silent meditation retreat. My husband is busy in the garage working on a workbench for his brewhouse. He’s one of those “focused in the moment” guys. Once he’s onto something, he loves spending his whole being there, uninterrupted. What could be worse than worrying that your poor wife is alone in the house going crazy? Probably your poor wife going out there and insisting you come in and entertain her this instant! I don’t do that, not much anyway.

My gift to him and myself is to learn to be ok with being quiet and alone. It’s good for me. I am still loved and appreciated, even when everyone I love is busy doing something they love (that’s my new self-talk).

I’ve read, worked in the yard, started some laundry, and ate some lunch. And now here I am sharing an old post from October 2018. Hope you like it. It’s subject near and dear to my heart!

Those Stinkin’ Philosophers!

Philosophers have been generally despised throughout history. We don’t like those people that come in with their wild ideas, making us think about what we are doing and the reasons behind it. Just because one of those thinkers comes up with an interesting idea, doesn’t mean we have to adopt it, so why do we get so upset?

I think it just pisses us off to have to think about things that deeply. Think of it this way. You’re humming along, taking your kids to school, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail. Sometimes you may feel a little frustrated or disappointed with how things are going, but that’s just life, you think. If you just tweaked something a bit, if your kids would just straighten up and behave, if your spouse was a little more helpful, everything would run more smoothly, and you’d all be happy.

Along comes this philosopher guy and he questions what you are doing. She says, “Hey! What if you didn’t need to send your kids to school?” Another writes a post that asks you to reconsider getting married in the first place if all you are thinking is that you’ll have a controllable permanent partner if you do. And then there’s another that pipes up with, “Maybe we don’t have to pair off and only have sex with one person for the rest of our lives.”

Suddenly, you’re thinking about your life. You’re thinking that maybe there is something to what he’s saying, maybe you should reconsider how you do things…but that’s so freaking hard! So you tell him to jump off a cliff and continue on your way.

If you’re a thinking person at all (which most people are), you now have some little inkling of another way of life tickling the back of your brain and it bugs you. It sets the balance off on your day, like an unbalanced set of tires on your car. It bugs you and now you have to give it some of your precious time. I mean, really, we are all limited on time and energy. Why can’t things just run along smoothly?

That’s why most people don’t like philosophers. If you are saying anything important, life changing, or meaningful at all, it’s going to make most people irritable. That’s the nature of it.

For those who believe they are in control of things, it’s even more difficult to take into account what a philosopher might be saying. If what the philosopher says is true, or even if it isn’t, the person in control may be losing that control. That is really irksome to us. Think about it. There you are with all your ducks in a row, marching off to wherever ducks are supposed to go (regardless of how the ducks feel about it), and along comes some guy that scatters them. Now you’ve got tons more work to do and nothing is running smoothly like it should. Someone should stop that guy!

It’s not just the philosopher’s that get hated either. It’s those that consider their ideas and try to expound on them. Those that take new thinking and run with it, try to change their own lives to see if it works or maybe improve the lives of others. Those people…what a pain. There they are, living in ways you choose not to, being happy in their own way, making you think that maybe what you are doing may or may not be the best for you. Oh…the thinking, the consideration, the debate…it’s unbearable!


I loved stumbling upon this one this morning. It made me laugh and wonder what was bugging me that day. I bet you can guess. I think I had run into more than one someone that had opinions about how I live my life, so I decided to be snarky long form on my blog instead of telling where to get off.

I’m off to have another blessed cup of coffee and read more of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Oh wait! My copy of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Neff and Germer came in the mail yesterday, so I’ll be spending time in that as well. The work continues.

Hopefully they will let me back into my spot!

I hope you’re having a beautiful Sunday wherever you are!

The Anxious Hearts Guide: New Read

It’s a 2-for-1 special today! I’m starting two books at the same time!

The first is a non-fiction self-help book that I couldn’t wait to start reading but didn’t want to dive into first thing in the morning. I’m saving that one to read a little at a time over my afternoon coffee. I decided to start a second book to wake up with, a sci-fi one that I picked up at the bookstore the day before.

I apologize, but there won’t be a wrap up post about The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner because it simply did not grab my attention. Not my cup of tea, I suppose. Maybe I’m meant for something stronger than tea?

I did finish reading the book. It was a mystery of sorts, and I wanted to see what the twist was, but I was put off by the “men are bad/women are good” dichotomy. I didn’t connect with any of the characters or the situation. It wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.

What’s next? Where should I start? Let’s start with the “self-help” one!

the anxious hearts guide

I found The Anxious Hearts Guide: Rising Above Anxious Attachment by Rikki Cloos on Instagram. I follow the author’s page and find such great advice about maintaining relationships, that I felt like I wanted, no, NEEDED to hear more of her words. I downloaded it to my Kindle and immediately started reading.

Click over and read some of her posts, you will not regret it! Don’t have Instagram? Here’s her site. She has some very helpful advice for those of us who have been labeled as “needy” and “clingy,” the ones that keep wondering where all the close connections went, and why everyone keeps looking at us like we’re crazy.

I’m a few pages into the Kindle version of the book right now. THIS is going to be life changing.

The other book I started today was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick. I’ve been hearing about this sci-fi classic for years and since I lost all control and bought it on my bookstore adventure, I figured it should be the first thing I read from that haul.

Side note: I didn’t see the face in the cover of the book until I took a picture of it, and it scared me. Seriously. It’s starting to rain, so I didn’t want to take the book outside to show you, so I put it on the top of the pile of books on my desk and snapped a picture. The preview in the bottom left corner of my phone screen showed a shadowy face and I about jumped out of my skin. Now I can’t stop seeing it and it’s creepy.

It was written in 1968 and is the book the Blade Runner movies were based on. I know I loved those movies. When the new one came out, we were sure to go back and watch the original before we saw the new one. They were both awesome…and that’s all I remember. I just watched the trailers to refresh my memory, and they are only vaguely familiar, the old one more than the new one.

My memory. Man, it’s so frustrating. But now that I think about it, I tend to knit while I watch tv. Some things I’m just not that interested in, but my husband wants to watch, so I knit. And lately, I can’t seem to sit still and focus on a tv show or movie, so I knit. Maybe that’s not a good idea? I’m not really watching and comprehending what’s happening. I’m losing the story but gaining socks. It’s a tradeoff.

I’ve been watching episodes of Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime, also based on Philip K. Dick’s stories, and loving them, so I’m excited to spend some time in this book!

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