Meditation Quote: Knowing Oneself

Headspace

I like this quote, yet I’m having a hard time saying why. There’s something about it that encourages me to rely on myself more; to trust that I know who I am, even if I don’t know myself fully. Is it even possible to know oneself fully?

When I’m uncertain, there may be good cause to look to others for guidance. But there may be equal cause to sit with myself; to try and gain a clearer sense of my own being.

I like to think the quote is reminding me that my sense of self is actually there; that there is a knowing, and I can rely on it.

And to remind me that the opinions of others may, in fact, be clouded by their own not knowing.

Does this quote resonate for you? I’d love to get your take on it.

 

Photo source: Headspace


 

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Not Just a Car Crash. Also a Relationship Lesson.

Pixabay: Pixel-mixer. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Bubba and I were having a tiff. It was a Sunday night around 10 pm. We were in the house, face-to-face, quibbling about something.

Suddenly, from outside, the crunching sound of metal crashing into metal screamed at us.  Whatever Bubba and I were talking about, it stopped. We turned, in unison, and headed down the hall.  As we neared the front door, we heard a second crash.

Our neighborhood is filled with cars parked on the street; mine was one of them.

That doesn’t sound good, one of us said.

And how the ‘eff can there be two crashes?

My 5-year-old Nissan was in front of our house, shoved a couple of feet forward from where I had parked it. Slightly behind was a black sports car, askew and partially jutting out into the road. I walked over to my car. The rear, left corner was smashed, the tire and rim damaged; clearly not drivable.

Bubba walked over to the window of the black car and confirmed the driver was okay; dazed, but okay. License and insurance information was obtained. The driver, distraught over a fight he’d had with his wife, could barely hold back tears.

We asked questions: Had he hit my car twice? Yes. How had he managed that? He’d turned his steering wheel to drive his car around mine. Unbeknownst to him, his steering column had broken with the first crash, so his tires hadn’t turned. When he accelerated, his car ran into mine a second time.

Neighbors who had come outside upon hearing the crash drifted back in. Their cars were fine; it was a hiccup to their normal Sunday nights. I called my insurance company; this was more than a hiccup for me.

I drove a rental car while the insurance process proceeded. Someone advised me my insurance company would stop paying for the rental once my vehicle was either fixed or deemed totaled. The insurance adjuster hinted that totaled was likely; I felt an urgency to decide on a replacement car. Two weeks after my Nissan was totaled, I came home with a Honda CR-V.

I was initially ticked-off that my low-mileage, great condition Nissan was destroyed.  But it turns out I like my replacement car better. Plus, no one was injured, and I’ve since received multiple attorney letters claiming my old Nissan is currently on a lemon list.  Not my problem! I don’t own it anymore!

The best lesson for me was I got to see how quickly Bubba and I switched gears; how we went from being at odds with each other to uniting, joining together to take on whatever was out there. My car may have been totaled, but my relationship with Bubba was strengthened.

 

Photo source: Pixel-mixer on Pixabay


 

Finding—Then Losing—Enlightenment

Pixabay: qimono. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.Sometimes Bubba or I experience a bright ah-ha moment, as if a curtain of confusion is pulled aside and some aspect of life suddenly makes sense. Akin to realizing the snake in the corner we’ve been scared of isn’t a snake at all, but a hose.

We explain our brilliant insight to the other, who nods in enlightened understanding. Yes, yes! That’s my experience too! What an awesome analogy!

We grab pen and paper, write down our insight—as best we can—and sigh with satisfaction.  This, we’re sure, will help us understand life and ourselves better; it will help us navigate the next, similar stress that comes our way. It’s an amazing doorway to self-knowledge.

A few days later we revisit our notes, excited to reignite the spark of awareness we captured; to build on it. We look at what we wrote: Scribble, scribble, “all a giant mustache,” scribble, scribble.

Huh? What the ‘eff does that mean? How is life a “giant mustache?”

Bubba and I look at each other across the table; neither of us has a clue.  It had seemed so clear, so concise, so self-evident at the time. We were sure our shorthand scribble would make sense when we reread it later.

Well, one of us will say, at least we enjoyed our moment of enlightenment while we had it.

Anyone else have cryptic scribbles that leave you puzzled?

 

Photo source: qimono on Pixabay


 

Meditation Quote: Freedom of Mind

Headspace Quote Graphic

I recently wrote a two-part piece about navigating relationship when things aren’t going smoothly.  My kernel of understanding is reflected in this Headspace quote. Being okay with my mind—accepting it, even when it’s anxious—feels kinder than disapproving of it.   There’s freedom in that.

Here are my posts:

 

Photo source: Headspace


 

Part 2: Finding a Different Way

Pixabay: 947051. Free for commercial use; No attribution required

I want to prepare meals with Bubba without getting defensive and having a tiff. But what if defensive is ok?

Bubba and I have relationship patterns that sometimes scuff up against each other. It can result in momentary relationship glitches. Or derail a day.

Some are random and rare; others, predictable and more frequent.

In A Wretched Mess, I wrote about a common kitchen scuffle we experience: Bubba offers to help me cook, and I resist it, experiencing his help not as help, but as a statement I’m doing it wrong.

Bubba wants to enjoy making meals with me. My getting snippy takes away the fun, so he leaves the kitchen, usually with disapproval.  His leaving means we’re not doing it together, plus we’re both upset. It all feels crappy.

Continue reading “Part 2: Finding a Different Way”

Part 1: A Wretched Mess

147_Part1_Wretched Mess

Do you ever respond to something—or someone—in a way you wish you didn’t? Yet you respond that same way repeatedly, butting heads in a familiar dance pattern?

When Bubba and I started living together, one place we ran into relationship speed bumps was the kitchen, usually when I was preparing food. I rarely work off a recipe, so my style is free-form. I don’t actually know if what I’m making will work, but based on having watched mom cook—and enough personal success of my own—I’ve been content with my approach.

Then Bubba moved in. He’s comfortable in the kitchen. Sometimes he cooks; sometimes I do. When I’m cooking, he often offers to help. But instead of welcoming his offers, I’ve often resisted them; gotten defensive.

Continue reading “Part 1: A Wretched Mess”

Why Do I Buy Stuff I Don’t Need?

Pixabay: evita-ochel. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I think I’m in control. Until I come out of a store having bought something that was not remotely on my mind when I went in.

What did I spend $40 on at Marshalls?

I was returning things I’d bought a week earlier and grabbed the receipt.  A $40 item jumped out at me: Gourmet Housewares followed by a string of UPC numbers that provided no further clue as to what it was. What could I have spent $40 on at Marshalls? And, more surprisingly, why couldn’t I remember what it was?

I tried recalling the Gourmet Housewares section I’d shopped in, and what items I’d considered. I did a mental walk-through of my house, trying to envision each room, striving to recall if there was something I’d needed—or wanted—for that room. Blank.

I could identify the other four, modestly-priced items on the receipt; how could I not remember the most expensive thing?

I swiveled in my chair, scanning my office space. Then I saw it.

Continue reading “Why Do I Buy Stuff I Don’t Need?”

Mental Exercises Then, Phone Numbers. Now, Passwords.

Pixabay: AbsolutVision. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.I used to remember phone numbers. Lots and lots of phone numbers.

Now I don’t, except for my dad’s, because he has a land line with the same number that existed before cell phones. The rest of the numbers I call are remembered for me by my phone. It feels weird to realize I couldn’t call Bubba or my daughter without my phone.

Now I remember passwords. Lots and lots of passwords.

Despite all the ways technology is disrupting things, I’m still getting my mental exercise.

 

Photo source: AbsolutVision on Pixabay


 

Rapid Rabbit Reminder!

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I forgot to say Rapid Rabbit on April 1st.  I remembered on May 1st. And I’m reminding myself—and you!—tonight to say it on August 1st.

If you know nothing about Rapid Rabbit or Rabbit Rabbit, read my prior posts.

Or just know this: saying Rabbit Rabbit first thing on the first of the month will, according to lore and legend, bring you luck. It certainly brings me a morning smile.

If you forget, this blogger shares some ways to set things right.

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

How Four Numbers Made Me Feel Welcomed

Pixabay: 526663. Free for commercial use; no attribution required“What’s your phone number?” I ask a friend.

“5226,” they reply.

I’m visiting a different state, and being given only four numbers bewilders me. Then I remember where I am. Everyone in the area has the same area code and prefix, so the first 6-digits are all the same. It’s been that way for a long time.

Even though they have to dial 10-numbers to make any call—yes, even local ones—they give out only the last 4-digits when asked their number. It saves time and locals don’t even think about it. I feel honored I’m still treated as a local, even though I moved away years ago. But I have family here, come back regularly and our family roots go back a few generations, so that counts for something.

It’s one of those things that remind me of small ways I feel connected to a place. If I had no history with the area, the 4-digit response to my phone number question would make no sense at all. It would remind me of my outsider status, like hearing a foreign word and having to ask what it means.

Instead, my moment of confusion is quickly replaced with familiarity. Right, I remember. That’s all they need to tell me. The rest of the numbers are known. With that awareness, I experience a sense of being part of the group. They didn’t have to translate for me. I knew the language. This was still home.

 

Photo source: 526663 on Pixabay


 

Black Dog

Years ago, driving down a dark road with my young daughter, we came upon a black dog in the middle of the road.

An utterance arose from within, without invitation. Sometimes life delivers succinct messages—no needless words—that remain permanently branded in our brains.

Pixabay: Pexels. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Black dog.

In road.

At night.

Not good.

 

I tensed; swerved.

And missed it.

 

Photo source: Pexels on Pixabay


 

This is Not Good

Pixabay: OpenClipart-Vectors. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.My dad told me a story from his youth about hitting a skunk at night while driving his father’s car. When he got home and climbed out of the car, the skunk smell was strong. He smelled of skunk. He knew his mother would ask questions.

This is not good, he thought.

I’ve had that same thought; said the same thing when something went wrong: This is not good.

Like my dad, I don’t say, this is bad.

Why is that?

This is bad is shorter. To the point. Clear. Definitive. The opposite of not good is bad. Right?

But this is bad somehow sounds worse.  There’s good and there’s bad and this is bad is clearly bad.

This is not good subtly leaves open possibilities other than bad. Maybe this thing that is not good is actually…maybe…great? Not good slows down thinking; interrupts a clear and definitive conclusion of bad.

It gives some wiggle room; buys some time with the inner Judge.

Maybe that sounds like fuzzy logic, but it works for rice cookers, so I’ll take it.

And…I never learned how the skunk story ended.

But my dad survived.

 

Photo source: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay


 

The Power of 10 Motivates

Pixabay: Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Free for commercial use; no attribution requiredYou’d think if I said I wanted to do something, I’d do it, right? Eat less? Exercise more? Sounds easy, and yet, when I take it head-on, it often doesn’t work.

Self-control, self-motivation, self-discipline all depend on one thing: the self. Problem is, in my experience of life, I often don’t have a single, dominating self operating. Different selves want different things, and the self that wants to exercise is met with resistance by a self that, well, doesn’t.

The self that doesn’t want to exercise doesn’t want to mind the self that does.

“You’re not going to tell me what to do,” it huffs, even though the you resisting is also the me wanting. It gets confusing.

Because I have multiple experiences in life where my own mind doesn’t agree with itself, I’ve come up with ways to overcome competing internal characters.  My trick-trash for uncluttering is one of them.

The Power of 10 is another one; a mental tool to help me navigate inner conflicts.

The Power of 10 defines success as 10-minutes of something: weeding, walking,  meditating. Whatever I’m resisting doing, I only have to do it for 10-minutes.

As long as I do it for 10-minutes, I feel good, because I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

Funny thing is, a lot of times I do more than 10-minutes. Willingly. Because the hardest part of getting going is, well, getting going; overcoming the inertia that keeps me from starting. Overcoming my own resistance.  Once the engine gets going, keeping it going takes less effort.

But if after 10 minutes I want to stop, I can and will. With a feeling of satisfied accomplishment.

It would be great to be that person who does what they say they want to do, without resistance. But I’m not. I was struggling to get back to blogging. I got this post written by telling myself I only had to write for 10 minutes today.

My fifth 10-minute timer just went off. Time to review, tag, and post.

The Power of 10.

 

Photo source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay


 

Relationship Tip: Don’t Be an Ass

f_ZenCommand-Marriage-edit

The Golden Rule is short and to the point: Treat others as you want them to treat you.  It’s pretty simple, yet we often complicate it.

In his book The Zen Commandments, Dean Sluyter says “our personal relationships can be simpler than we usually make them.” He summarizes the principles he thinks make relationships work.

“Whether in a romance or a marriage or a family, the principles are the same: you take care of one another, you be as kind as you can, you do your share of finding new sources of fun, you quietly pass up opportunities to score points or be a wise guy, you give the benefit of the doubt, and you try to make things less insane rather than more.  If you think the other person is off the program you address the situation gently and with respect. But since the problem is often your own perception, you can save everyone a lot of grief by waiting a little while first to see if your perception changes.”

The Zen Commandments: Ten Suggestions for a Life of Inner Freedom, Dean Sluyter, from Lesson #5: Keep it Simple

Here’s my summary of his Principles

  1. Take care of each other
  2. Be kind
  3. Do your share
  4. Avoid being an ass
  5. Assume the best (not the worst)
  6. Make things better (rather than worse)
  7. Before jumping to a conclusion, wait
  8. If, after waiting, there’s still an issue, address it

Sluyter’s advice resonates for me, both the words and the simplicity of it. If both people in a relationship apply it, a lot of perceived relationship problems disappear.  Did the thing go away or did our thoughts about it change?

I know thoughts in my mind impact my perception of things, and that can affect how I experience stuff. I’ve received new information in situations and been shocked at how quickly my perception has pivoted.

I want to keep #7 in mind. Life promises change; guarantees it. I’ve been amazed at how something that had a hold of me can lose its power simply with the passage of time.

What relationship principles guide you in life?

 

Photo source: RJA1988 on Pixabay


 

Mom in Heels

Dad
Mom circa around 1953

Mom loved wearing heels. I recently wrote about it. I think about mom regularly, but today, on Mother’s Day, I thought about her more. Partially because there were so many societal sign-posts reminding me to think about her. But mostly because it’s my first Mother’s Day without her. I feel a missing about that. And a gratefulness for the many years she had. She nearly made it to 89. That was a dang good run.

Big Mother’s Day wishes to you mommy. I love you.

133_MomInHeels_3-12-19_2.jpeg
A pair of mom’s heels now in my closet.

Photo source: Dad


 

Moving Slowly in a Fast World

Pixabay: nandhukumar. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

The world feels fast: fast food, high-speed trains, supersonic planes. Tech companies move fast and break things. People want things now, resulting in instant Jell-O, instant messaging and Instant Pot.

I’m slow. I read slowly, write slowly, learn slowly. I’m thorough; detail-oriented.

This fault-line between my slow-motion style and the world’s fast-motion expectations sometimes leaves me feeling deficient, concerned I lack a societally-valued trait.

My discomfort intensifies when I try to learn something new. I plod through my learning while images of Neo from The Matrix appear, skills and knowledge insta-loaded into his memory.

I’ve wrestled with this aspect of my personality, being self-critical when I take too long to learn something, aching to speed things up.  Expecting something other than what is.

Continue reading “Moving Slowly in a Fast World”

Prostate Cancer and Gratitude for a Facebook Group

Pixabay: marijana 1 Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Bubba had been monitoring his PSA tests for prostate cancer for a while when things shifted from Active Surveillance (yes, that’s a term) to time-to-act. Bubba is a voracious reader and researcher. He read: books, articles, medical studies. He talked with a friend who’d gone through a prostate cancer diagnosis 10-years earlier. But other than one friend, it was a solitary exploration.

Years ago, I joined a Facebook Group for women going grey. No, it’s nothing like cancer, and yet, it was comforting and helpful to spend time with people going through a shared experience. I appreciated the support and the vulnerability people shared as they dealt with insensitive comments, insecurities, doubts and successes.  I suggested to Bubba there might be a similar group for prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Support Group he joined has over 10,000 people—men and women—from around the world. After joining, reading, asking questions, and commenting, Bubba told me he was glad I’d suggested it; said I might want to join. I’m glad I did.  The group has been a blessing. In appreciation of the group and the people there—all going through an incredibly difficult time—I posted this to the group page.


I’ve told many people how grateful I am for this group. Not for why it exists, but that it does. It helped my partner decide what treatment to select after the doctor told him he could no longer watch and wait. It’s given me a place to gain perspective and wisdom. Not just about prostate cancer, but about life.

The energy here is an energy of “presence” to what’s important. People talk about fears, hopes, sadness and joys with a visceral openness. People share in ways that are raw and funny, sad and heartfelt.  I’m touched by it.

I read posts and know there’s an amazing variety of people here from around the world, people I’d never meet in my day-to-day life. When someone joins this group, no one cares what type of car they drive; what they do for a living; the size of their house.  Members want to know how they can help this new arrival, this person who is trying to navigate a cancer diagnosis that devastates and scares them.

Cancer knows no boundaries.  People with cancer instantly share a connection with every other person with cancer. People of all affiliations and ages and colors and races and income and all other groups are here. Interacting; being kind; compassionate; supportive; loving.

That’s what connects us. That ability to be present to the experience and emotions of others, oblivious to labels.

For all who post and all who simply witness and learn, this group reminds me we’re all connected. For that, I’m immensely grateful. There is hope in that feeling. Thank you.


Bubba chose to have a robotic radical prostatectomy in March. He was pleased with the procedure and is doing well with his recovery. And, it’s cancer. It was surgery. There are side-effects associated with the procedure and further monitoring to be done. He’s in good shape, and he’s still on the recovery path.

And as a Public Service Announcement, don’t tell anyone with prostate cancer they have the easy cancer; per the FB Group, yes, people say that. Some with prostate cancer suffer side-effects that permanently, drastically change their lives and, for others, it’s a death sentence. If you’re a guy or know a guy, tell them to learn about the PSA test (and get theirs tested). There are guys in the FB Group in their 30’s and 40’s with prostate cancer.

 

Photo source: marijana 1 on Pixabay


 

Rapid Rabbit: May Will be Lucky

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I forgot to say it on April 1st. But I successfully remembered to say Rapid Rabbit this morning; along with Rabbit Rabbit. Covered the bases. May will be lucky.

If you forgot this morning, this, it says, will help you set things right. And give you a cute baby bunny video, too.

Happy May Day!!

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

How a Decision I’d Felt Fine About Suddenly Felt Wrong

WaLk the Goats

A lot of my childhood stuff was discarded over the years, but neither I nor mom ever discarded Sad Baby.  Plush in all parts except the face, she had a zippered-pouch in back cradling a music box.  The soft body, with lilting musical tones, was a comforting snuggle.

The plushie eventually made her way from the east coast to California, her cloth frayed and worn, the music box long dead and disposed of. I washed her face, aired her out and alternately displayed her on my bed or stuck her in the garage.

Years passed. Sad Baby had been in the garage a while when a desire to declutter arose. My decluttering urges loop around regularly. Each time, something that survived the last cycle, does not make the current cut.

One de-clutter tip I’d read was to take a picture of an object cared about but no longer wanted. It would keep the memory without having to store the thing.

I looked at Sad Baby. “It’s time,” I thought. “Time to let go of you.” Sad Baby had been mine for 55-years.

I took a picture, tucked her into my trick trash, and she was gone.

Sad Baby comfortably lived in my memory. I didn’t miss her. I was content with my decision.

Until…I wasn’t.

Continue reading “How a Decision I’d Felt Fine About Suddenly Felt Wrong”

Saying No to Re-living Old Pain

Pixabay: Hans. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.I recently wrote about a friend’s suicide, an act that took place 21-years ago.  As I read a poem I’d written after his death, I sensed a character shuffling about the edges of my consciousness.  The character was carrying a cloak; a cloak of sadness, anger, guilt and despair, brought forward from those tumultuous days.

I realized this character wanted me to wear those emotions again.

It was as if this character believed there were proper responses to a suicide—no matter how long ago it had occurred—and knew the cloak carried within it acceptable ones.  Here, wear this, she said. In case of suicide, feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and despair are allowed. I was tempted.

The thing is, I didn’t want to feel those things. I looked outside my window and the sun was shining; flowers were blooming.

Donning the cloak-of-past-emotions would not change the past.

It would, however, overshadow a beautiful present with emotions completely unrelated to the now.

I didn’t want to relive those old emotions.

I had a choice. I said no to the character and her cloak.

 

Photo source: Hans on Pixabay