Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Importance of Visualization

Today I was reminded of the importance of visualization. I’ve meditated for years and I practice living whole-heartedly, but I struggle with visualization. I realize I, once again, have to change how I think about a subject.

Visualization isn’t daydreaming. Daydreaming is letting the mind ramble and that could go to bad thoughts as well as good. Visualization takes more effort because I have the power to control what I’m thinking about, and how I think about it! I have to take that power and use it to good. That means ceasing any negative thoughts the minute they creep in and redirecting them to how I want to be and live. And making myself FEEL I’ve already achieved my goals. 

It sounds simple, and in way it is, but it’s also work. It takes practice. It’s work to stand up to the negativity that swirls around. It’s work to stay positive when life throws obstacles in my path. It’s too easy to get caught up in negativity and give in to it. (And yes, there are days when I just mentally spiral downward.) Which is why, as much as I can, I avoid the news and media hypes. I try to avoid negative, woe-is-me, woe-is-the-world people, politics, and commericialism/advertising. But when I take my power and stand tall, oh, what a difference in how I feel!

Visualization is taking time each day to visualize how I want my life. It’s making myself feel I’m already there. (Yes, positive repetition to keep reminding myself of the good I want to achieve.) That doesn’t mean perfection, because there’s no such thing. That doesn’t mean I’m a Pollyanna. There are, and will be, days that are not so good. But I have the power within myself to bounce back up and be the me I want to be.

It is being the best I can be; respecting myself and others. It’s looking for the beauty around me and creating beauty (which I try to do through my writing, painting, photography, and gardening). It’s giving a kind word, positive feedback, and support when I can. It’s being as courteous as I can be, and when my tolerance level drops, it’s time to turn and walk away.

Visualization is one aspect of living whole-heartedly. Visualization helps me stay on my path. Visualization helps me stand strong.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dressing for Respect

Today I want to cover a topic that has been on my mind for a while. I’ve noticed how people dress often plays a part in how they act. Friends and I have been discussing this lately. We lament about today’s styles and wonder how attire reflects on respect towards self and others. Does the lack of “respectable” style have something to do with how people behave nowadays?

Pele always dresses in style 
We talked about the different fashions we grew up with and how they changed. Some of us remember a time when girls couldn’t wear long pants to school; dresses only. I remember hating being forced to go outside for recess in the winter because my legs would be so cold. Then when mini-skirts became popular, teachers would make us kneel on the floor and they’d measure to the edge of our hems. If your hemline was more than 2 inches from the floor, they’d make you go home to change.

Those were also times when employees of businesses (they weren’t called “associates” back then) dressed nicely. Boys/men wore suits or, at least, nice sweaters and ties. Girls and women wore dresses that weren’t too revealing. Hair styles had to be professional. People were courteous and were taught to be helpful to customers. The customer was priority. And yes, certain jobs require particular attire. But there was a general feeling that there was more caring between people.

Times changed. People changed and insisted on a more casual dress code. They wanted to dress for themselves and show their personal style. Employers started to ease up. Many still have some kind of a dress code in that their employees wear company T-shirts. But have the times gone from one extreme to the other?

Looking nice doesn’t necessarily mean dressing fancy or owning expensive clothes. (Here’s where I’m probably really going to show my age.) To me, there has always been something appealing about well-dressed people. (Remember ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man?”) That doesn’t mean I think people should always wear shirts and ties. There is something sexy about a guy in well-fitting jeans and a nice T-shirt or even a flannel shirt. And a little dirt doesn’t hurt if he’s a hard-worker. A woman in a dress or pants and shirt that is flattering to her body-type is also beautiful. (And that doesn’t mean shockingly skin tight showing every bulge and blemish or having half her body hang out!) 

Then there’s attitude. People nicely dressed carry themselves in a more self-assured, strong but gentler, manner. (That’s self-assured, not cocky.) They often act with a panache that is comforting. The attire reflects respect of self and respect of others. When you feel good about how you are dressed, you’re more apt to be nicer to others. You can wear comfortable clothing, be stylish, and look and feel good.

When and what made the change? Is it only to appease the young? Is it the continual rebellion of the young to make their statement to the world? Is it the big business marketers feeding the rebellious frenzy of the young? (Big business who makes billions off consumers!)

I try hard to respect others’ choices. I try hard to allow people their individual styles, but it seems that wearing ripped and/or dirty-looking clothing brings about an almost demeaning sense of attitude ... of self and to those they encounter. It’s sending a message that they don’t care what they look like – and their attitude reflects that because they always act on the defensive. They develop an angry, negative demeanor in aura and stance. And how can you say baggy pants with the crotch between the knees is sexy and appealing? 

The hate and anger in the country scares me. The lack of respect for one another saddens me. I wonder, if people dressed like they cared about themselves, others, and life, would that change? If schools helped teach respect and self-esteem, instead of having to focus on national scores and political correctness, if our kids would grow up feeling more self-assured within themselves. If kids were taught how to dress for their body-types, and how to accept the many types of body-types (instead of feeling they all have to have the model-type anorexically-thin bodies), would they grow up with better self-esteem?

As I ponder all this, I wonder where this comes into my goal of living whole-heartedly. How does living whole-heartedly fit in with how one dresses? 

Perhaps it’s just about my goals for myself; being true to myself. I’m not a martyr. I’m not physically pretty. Fancy dressing doesn’t work on my body type. I don’t go anywhere where I need to “dress-up.” 

Being true to myself means accepting who I am and finding clothes that look OK for my body-type/size. It means not forcing myself into clothes that are uncomfortable, so I can be “in-fashion.” I can work, move around, dance, paint, whatever, and my clothes work with me. 

Living whole-heartedly means wearing clothes that reflect a self-assurance and comfortableness for who I am. I don’t have to put on “airs” or pretend I’m somebody I’m not. I am comfortable within myself, and others are comfortable around me. 

Life is good when I’m living whole-heartedly!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Writing on an emotional level

“Emotions drive my writing. If I don’t feel it, I can’t write it.” --SW

This past week I returned to writing the book I’d put aside last winter. Emotions drive my writing. If I can’t feel it, I can’t write it. This puts my writing style a little outside the box for conventional publishers. I feel my way through the writing, and I write in first person. 

I have a couple of theories of why I’m compelled to write this way. 
  1. 1. My goal is to be honest in my writing. I don’t want to hide or sugar coat. I want to tell it like it is, like it happened from my point of view. 
  2. 2. These are my stories, my feelings in the moment, yet I also believe many people have similar emotions. Perhaps, in my daring greatly to be vulnerable, I can say what others may not be able to express.
  3. 3. This emotional honestly is a release. By my telling my truth, I am not letting issues stew inside.
  4. 4. I feel better when I’m able to express my truth.
  5. 5. The writing, and seeing the written word of my feelings, helps me better understand myself and the human condition. It helps me figure things out … or just tell my story.
  6. 6. A final belief/hope is that whatever lessons I learn from life might be passed to others or at least help others find a key to their own answers.
It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. This doesn’t solve problems, but in my quest to live life whole-heartedly, it’s one more aspect in standing up for who I am, for daring greatly to speak my truth, and further work towards being a better person.

As for my book? I continue to struggle to figure out how to present my vision. Every time I think I have it figured out, and I’m writing the book I want to write, self-doubt sets in. The over thinking confuses me and my brain spirals around. 

The hardest part is not having an advisor/mentor because there’s no one I know doing it like I do. I rely on prayer and meditation and hope when I get those flashes of inspiration, I can get it written down before it bursts into a cloud of smoke and disappears.

I believe. I’ll get it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Learning to be Happy and Living Whole-Heartedly

I’ve had a number of conversations lately about being happy, finding happiness, choosing happiness. Some people seem to be born happy and are able to carry that throughout life. Others are born under a cloud, or their early experiences cause them to bury their emotions, and they learn to act as they believe others want them to. And it doesn’t matter where they came from. Those who come from wealthy families can have just as many issues as those who are poor. 

This isn’t about blame. It’s not finding fault with our upbringing. It’s not about hiding or brushing off our true feelings. I don’t know if all babies are born happy. (I kind of think not, but as I have no memory of birth, I don’t know for sure.) For most, happiness is learned. It’s how each of us encompasses what we are taught into our own selves. True self happiness becomes mixed with what others expect of us: parents, family, teachers, friends and peers. There are rules and ethics and morals, right and wrong. Do this, don’t do that. Money is often a big issue.

Then there is the media telling us what we need to make us happy. Oh, those Sears Christmas catalogs when we were kids! The commercials on TV pounding into us all the time how we need this or that. So-and-so getting some fabulous toy or snowmobile or iPhone, and we want one, too. Even with how we look is questioned and commented on, and we’re always made to feel less than. When does it stop?

It stops with individual choice. It stops when we make the decision to not have what everyone else has. It stops when we realize stuff only makes us feel happy for a few moments. It stops when we stop listening to commercials. It stops when we stop going out of our way to please others to the extent of our own wellbeing and happiness.

It comes down to deciding for ourselves what makes us happy. We have to find that piece deep inside us that feels true joy and satisfaction. Deep inside is the key. Yes, we love our families and they make us happy – because it’s love and that’s good. But happiness goes beyond family and friends. Happiness goes beyond having what you want. Happiness has an inner glow, a vibrance. It’s a passion for what’s good and beautiful.

Happiness sometimes comes at a high price. Maybe a lot of it comes with wisdom, when we are older. Maybe it’s when we realize that a lot of what we used to believe isn’t so true anymore. Perhaps it comes after we have known heartache and loss; when happiness becomes a part of our being, not just a surface emotion. It’s riding the wave of joy and despair and coming out in balance. It’s discovering simple joys in nature or finding a creative outlet that makes your soul sing.

Don’t let others dictate your happiness, and you don’t have to be a martyr. Choose to be happy! And realize it doesn’t mean every day because life gets in the way sometimes. Choosing to be happy is doing the best you can. It’s a treasure hunt to find the little joys and that means being open to the possibility of finding happiness. Take the time to acknowledge the things that make you happy; those things deep inside that feel good and exciting and true to yourself. Taking care of yourself and your feelings will allow you to be more open to love and care for others. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Another View on Giving Thanks in Living Whole-Heartedly

I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving week. Where does the time go? I know, this is said often. I’ve mentioned before that I do gratitude prayers every day, so how do I take giving thanks to another level? 

Sometimes it’s more than what’s the normal, just like-everyone-else, what-you’re-supposed-to-say level; those same old, same olds repeated all the time. Yes, I am thankful for those: family, my Pele kitty, my home, good friends, neighbors and good health, etc. But sometimes it’s more than this. Sometimes it’s about self-realizations.

Perhaps it’s my getting older. Maybe it’s over thinking. In spite of that, there are times I am thankful for the way I think. Yes, I have issues and strong opinions -- like many. Yes, I can go off on a rant when a topic sets me off. Yes, I get emotional, break down and cry … a lot.

But it’s not about finding someone or something to blame in those moments. It is all about me (a term a dear friend of mine uses a lot). And if I’m honest, it really is all about me. (As your issues are about you It’s how I react to everything around me. It’s knowing that I can choose to be happy, sad or angry, and knowing that choice puts the ownership of my emotions on me. I can’t blame anyone else, and it’s not about blaming me, either, because it’s not about blame at all. It’s about life and dealing with situations.

I am thankful that I can control my emotions … or if not in the exact moment, the instant I can think clearly. It’s about taking my experiences to live a better, whole-hearted life. It’s being OK that I can fall into the hole of despair and frustration because I know I will crawl back out into the light. It’s remembering to walk in sunshine. (I was reminded last week of the old Katrina and the Waves song, “I’m walkin’ on sunshine, wooo hooo, and don’t it feel good!” It has a happy, makes-you-wanna-dance beat.) 

The bottom line is through all this, I learn something about myself. I figure something out. It’s not perfect. It might not stop me from reacting the next time. But what it does, is it helps me understand the human condition better. It helps me understand me, and accept myself in the moment. When I can understand and accept me and my emotions, I can better accept and understand others. 

Yes, I am thankful for this knowledge – or at my age can I call it wisdom? 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Think About It -- Living Whole-Heartedly

Thursday was a slump day. I started off with good intentions to get a lot of work done, but I took time after eating to play Spider Solitaire (SS). That’s my break time; my time when I don’t have to be thinking about all the things I should be doing. I don’t want to be “working” all the time and “thinking” is working. I tend to think way too much!

Unfortunately, SS doesn’t occupy my mind enough to stop mind chatter. My brain still multitasks. I can have more than one scenario or conversation going on in my head at the same time, and when I slip into daydreaming, it’s often dreaming of things going wrong.

I tell myself to stop, but it’s like watching a movie. I want to see the end … until I force myself to stop. I try to think of something else; that turns towards disaster, too. Even thinking of the mini-vacation next week evolved into things going wrong like accidents, attacks, and issues with hotels or people. I try to envision work around the house or art work, but again, that’s about work and the daydreaming brings to mind everything that has not worked out right. 

Stop! Stop those downward thought patterns!

Yesterday I was determined not to fall into that funk again and get back to living a whole-hearted life.

The most important thing to do is not listen to or read the news. It’s hard to get away from it. There are headlines on Facebook, people are always going on about some issue or other and blowing everything all out of proportion or not having all the facts, the TV or radio are talking constantly about every bad thing that has happened. Then there’s all the commercials yelling about their products. 

I get a kick out of the radio station that comes on as my alarm clock in the morning. The news always starts with “Here’s what you need to know today…” and it’s always about someone getting killed, some disaster, or some political controversy. Do I really need to know that? No. I don’t think there has ever been anything I’ve needed to know.

Think about it. We are constantly bombarded with negativity, most of which we can’t do anything about. Commercials are constantly pounding us. The constant repetition of the terrors in the country and world, everything bad and horrible, all the grief and anger affects everyone. Is this what you want to surround yourself with? Is this what you want for your family and kids?

The more negativity pounded into us, the more negativity and horror there will be. It’s like mob mentality. People get caught up in it. They can’t help it. It’s psychological. The pumped-up attitudes, the adrenaline rushes, the need to strike out – it’s catchy. People’s emotions run rampantly out of control.

Think about it. Think about how easy it is to get caught up in others’ emotions. When they are angry, you get angry. When they are pumped-up and rallying against one thing or another, you get pumped-up, too. People stop thinking for themselves when caught up in all the emotion. And it doesn’t matter where you are -- even concerts, pep rallies, sports games, protests -- people get caught up in all that emotion and may end up acting in a way they never would. Think about it – is this the type of person you want to be?

Not me! I’m pulling back, refusing to get into it. Yes, I’m repeating what I’ve said before. Repetition is how we learn and my goal is to repeat things to myself that are important to me, that will bring me joy and mental well-being. (Not the repetition of commercials and negativity.)

Think about it – what do you want to have repeated to you? Think about the commercials, TV programs, newspaper stories, and such. Is this the type of stuff you want running your life? Think about it – anger begets more anger, negativity begets more negativity, terrorism creates more terrorism, violence promotes more violence … Think about it.

Think about it. What do you want to promote for your community, state, country, world? And what happens when so much effort and thought is being concentrated somewhere else and we are not taking care of our own communities? 

So, how can I live whole-heartedly? Whenever I think that, it brings me back to myself. It helps me rein in my brain when my thoughts are scrambling and feeling overwhelmed. Asking how I can live whole-heartedly focuses my thoughts in the here and now. Taking care of now will also build for tomorrow. 

And living whole-heartedly means caring for others. It’s helping when I can and where I can. It’s knowing what fights to fight and when to walk away. It’s taking care not to jump on the latest bandwagon because that’s what everyone else is doing. It’s taking the time to look at a situation instead of being caught up in the hoop-la. It’s choosing what types of repetitions will be beneficial to whole-hearted living because creating good for me will help create good in those I meet. 

Think about it. What kind of life do you want? I am choosing to live a whole-hearted life. I’m not perfect, but I am being the best I can be.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reminding Myself to Live Whole-heartedly

I forgot. I got caught up in the media bombardment of all the devastation in the country, phone call scams, and the lack of good customer service from businesses that I was being torn away from myself. I feel crushed under the weight of media negativity. The constant pounding of all the horrors, drug problems, and things gone wrong in the world. It’s hard to get away from it. And they can’t just talk about it a couple of times. It’s over and over and over until your entire being is saturated with it all.

It’s the repetition. Repetition sticks. It’s how we learn: Alphabet, math, spelling, etc. But lately the repetition is of the negative kind. I call, “Stop!” This is not the kind of repetitive reinforcement that helps. Negativity breeds negativity and the media loves keeping everyone riled up because that’s what sells stories. People get caught in the “mob mentality” without truly understanding the situation. 

Think about it. People are addicted to negativity. They can’t get away from it. The more horrible, the more they want to hear about it, read about it, and see it. We’re constantly bombarded with it all and eventually we crack. It’s almost like they want a reason to be angry and cause a scene and the media keeps stirring the pot.

Yes, it’s good to know what’s going on in the state, country, and world, but it isn’t all bad – and it doesn’t have to be. We can choose what we want to hear, read, and see … and how much of it. Plus, I don’t want to be manipulated by the media. I don’t want commercials pounding products at me all day long. Isn’t it funny that we have such a huge drug problem and what are most commercials nowadays? Drugs! “Got these symptoms? Ask your doctor about …” So here, on one hand they’re saying how bad some drugs are and then they’re shoving other drugs down your throat. Again, think about it. What do you want in your life? And think about what kids are listening to and having beat into their minds. Is this what you want for your kids?

I think, too, we get so worked up by what’s going on out there, that we are not taking care of what’s here. We’re so busy looking at the bigger picture, we’re not working on making our lives better or helping our immediate family or community. (I’m not saying we shouldn’t be helping people recover from the hurricanes and such because we should.) But again, think about it. Where is your energy going? 

And, I have to stop talking and thinking about it, too! Too often, lately, I’ll go on a rant about these subjects and find myself getting worked up. I have to stop for my own well-being or I’ll slide into the well of miserable, hating people. So here again, I say, “I refuse!” I am pulling back. I am determined to live whole-heartedly. 

I’ll try even harder to not hear news, not see a headline. I won’t read the “Trending” news on Facebook and anyone who starts in on politics or other negativity, I’ll quickly pass by or “hide.” 

When I say “negativity,” I’m not talking about people having a hard time and needing a pep talk or advice. I don’t mean that people shouldn’t talk about issues. Talking is helpful. Just knowing that someone hears us and understands helps gives us the strength to go on. We all need support from time to time and sharing our personal stories can help one another. We experience life and we can’t hide from it. Something I go through may help you with something you’re struggling with and vice versa.

This is part of living whole-heartedly. I have to recognize what I need in order to be healthy in heart, body, and mind. That means taking care of me. Taking care of me, which includes my mental well-being, will allow me to have compassion for others. Taking care of me replenishes my energies and soul so that I have the strength and wisdom to offer others. 

I also recognize my strengths and weaknesses. This helps me know when, where, and how I can help others when it is needed. I look at how I can help family, friends, neighbors, and the community. I am not the out-going person who can jump on bandwagons and lead campaigns. I sit quietly in the background waiting for the right moment for which I am suited. I write stories, give words of encouragement, provide ideas.

Living whole-heartedly means avoiding the negativity we’re bombarded with from the media. It means knowing what I can do, what I’m willing to do, what I’m not willing to do, and having the courage to know when to say no. It’s knowing that I care about others. It’s knowing I will have pitfalls and knowing I will get back up. It’s knowing that every day I am doing the best I can and that I’ve done enough and I am enough.