Enlighten Me

Reflections on Reflecting

Everyone’s reflecting right now. I attended my husband’s church with him this morning and heard several people reflect on 2018…what went right; what went wrong and how it played into their purpose, their dharma.

President Obama posted a list of things that had impacted him in 2018 on his Facebook account. You should check it out…it’s basically a list of nonfiction books that he read…movies he saw…songs he loved…which filled me with awe and wonder! How can the guy read that much and still have time to see movies and listen to music? If I had done all that reading, I’d never have had the time to play Words with Friends, Destination Solitaire and Fishdom!

As it is, I barely squeezed in my favorite podcasts, and forget about exercise…I abandoned walking 5 miles a day somewhere in muggy-forest of August.

Tomorrow night, I’ll attend a Burning Bowl ceremony at the Centers for Spiritual Living. It’ll be a ritual of reflection, letting go, ushering in. I like rituals like this one…it allows me to contemplate the insights gained over the last twelve months and the obstacles that need dismantled.

So, what are my BHI from 2018? (BTW, BHI stands for Big Hairy Insights…oh, and BTW stands for By The Way, as if you didn’t already know that one.)

BHI #1:

Miracles happen every day. REAL miracles. And they happen to REAL people like you, like me, like my husband. They happen because there’s a force bigger than us who listens when we pray on a thought. Ok…I call this force God, but that’s a trigger word for a lot of people. A lot of people believe in a creative being who set everything in motion but they don’t believe in a bearded, angry spirit who lives in the sky.

I don’t care what you call Her. I call Her God and She came through for my family BIG-TIME this year, in a number of REAL MIRACLES.

We have a GOD-team behind us who won’t leave us stranded on third base. 

BHI #2:

Love isn’t always kisses, heart-filled cards, red roses, and blindness. My biggest irritant in life is the guy who’s been by my side for 42 years. This year I realized when I almost lost him to a subdural hematoma that he really is the love of my life…even though, like I said earlier, he also keeps me in a state of constant irritation.

Love is the commitment we honor with another person through thick and thin, even when it isn’t pretty. 

BHI #3:

Manifesting Miracles doesn’t mean that The Sun or Creative NonFiction editors are going to contact ME and ask what inspirational essays I have stored on my computer. IF I want to get published again, I need to SUBMIT!

We are active participants in manifesting MIRACLES!  

BHI #4:

Honoring my boundaries means that I don’t say yes to something out of obligation, guilt, fear. If my heart isn’t filled with love, it isn’t the right thing for me to do.

Honoring my boundaries keeps me sane, kind, balanced, at peace. That means that I take all that good energy into the next thing I do with you…for you…because of you. And isn’t that better than sending more regret, resentment, bitterness out into the atmosphere?

Boundaries are wonderful things!

BHI #5:

There’s 3 Kinds of Business: Your Business, God’s Business, My Business. And if I’m in yours or God’s business, there’s nobody home to mind my own business. That’s lonely…and a little crazy because I can’t control you anyway, so minding your business is like running on a treadmill…it wears me out but gets me nowhere. ANd minding God’s business just fills me with anger and hopelessness because Her issues are way above my pay grade!

Minding my own business is my new mantra! 

BHI #6:

Traveling continues to teach me that my priorities can become really mixed up very quickly. In other countries, people are satisfied and HAPPY with so much less stuff than we think is absolutely necessary in this country. I come home from traveling and empty one more excess from my life. It’s cleansing, refreshing, exhilarating. The idea of keeping things I haven’t used for a decade because I might need it someday, is a little wacky. The thought that the brand of our cars, the size of our homes, the label on our shoes means anything is lunacy.

I HAVE enough. I AM enough. I DO enough. 

BHI #7:

Who do you remember from your life?

I bet you answered that with people from 2 categories: people who made you feel special and loved, and people who made you feel stupid and inadequate.

When there is fondness as the thought of a specific person crosses my mind, I know that that person is from category # 1…they add love to my life and therefore to the world. That’s the category I want to be in too.

There is nothing more important in life than how we treat other people. 

BHI #8: 

I love this quote from Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s been my favorite ‘insight’ for years!

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

BHI #9:

Plastic is everywhere…some of it is good and some of it isn’t. Single-use plastic isn’t…plastic in our cosmetic isn’t… plastic in our food isn’t…plastic in our oceans isn’t. A good life isn’t just about morals and legalities. It’s also about ethics. It’s been tough to refuse straws in restaurants when I love straws; to remember my reusable tote bags every time I walk into a store; to pay more (a lot more) for disposable utensils made of bamboo instead of plastic. But it’s the right thing to do for our future.

Being ethical isn’t always easy, but it’s always right. 

BHI #10:

I always want to be right. Always. I know it’s an ego thing and I should be over that by now, but I’m not. I admit that I have ego issues…I want to be right. And I don’t just want to know that I’m right; I want you to know it too. I know that everyone has this need to be right…we’re all part-ego, so it makes sense. But this year that realization hit me in the gut. I mean, I finally get it… my need to be right conflicts with your need to be right when we’re on different sides of an issue. Last evening I had dinner with a dear friend and learned that we disagree on a very prickly issue. I couldn’t believe it, actually. I felt myself digging in and then all of a sudden there was a flash of awareness…EGO! I love this friend, so do I dig in or let go? I let go…as soon as I did…she did also. We had a good discussion about the issue and it turns out…we’re both right to some degree. And to that degree that we’re both right, there’s a small pinpoint of resolution…I mean actual resolution to the decades-old argument. We stopped debating and began creating and it was an amazing feeling…energizing, inspiring.

EGO has created a rift in this country politically. We cling to our party-identity instead of prioritizing our relationships, our country, our fellow citizens and friends. THat’s ego. And the fact is…it’s stopping us from solving so much. Wayne Dyer said that EGO stands for Edging God Out. If you don’t like the ‘God’ thing, replace it with ‘GOOD’.

A world that works for everyone is a better goal than always being right. 

 

Those are my Big Hairy Insights from 2018. I want to hear yours. In sharing your thoughts, you are expanding your influence and helping us all build a better world…one that works for all of us.

Let us hear from you.

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Costa Rica

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Monteverde Cloud Forest.

We just returned to the midwest…(read CHILLY!) from warm, wonderful, tropical Costa Rica. We were in Guanacaste, which is a province on the Pacific side of the small country where it is the rainy season and I didn’t mind that! In fact, I loved it. Rain in Costa Rica is different than rain in Ohio…its refreshing, with bigger drops of water somehow, and it’s temporary.

Vacation in a country like Costa Rica doesn’t give anyone a true picture of what life is like there on a daily basis, but some of the drivers will help you with that! Mariano drove us from our hotel to Tamarindo, an authentic Costa Rican tourist village. He was happy to point out differences along the way. Allow me to share:

  1. Americans all have huge mansions. Costa Ricans live in houses that are approximately 23′ x 25′.
  2. Americans must have at least two bathrooms. Costa Ricans are happy with one…for five or six people.
  3. Americans want to have big families. More than two children is just plain CRAZY.
  4. Americans are all millionaires…at least the ones who make over $100,000/year. If he had $100,000 he’d retire!
  5. Americans all have big trucks that use massive amounts of gasoline and ruin the environment. (He sort of had a point there.)
  6. Americans all have more than one car. Costa Ricans have only one if they’re lucky.
  7. Americans go on vacations many times a year. Costa Ricans (at least this Costa Rican) only go on two vacations their entire lives.
  8. Americans make too much money. Costa Ricans make $2.00/hour on average.
  9. Americans go out to lunch every day. Costa Ricans brown bag it.
  10. American women shop and their husbands pay.

What I learned is that we all have stereotypes, prejudices, assumptions that are based on urban legends or a few individuals. It’s the same way we stereotype ALL young black men as angry, violent and rude because of that one young black man who flipped you off, rolled down his window and screamed at you at a red light and you aren’t even sure what you did!

It’s the same way we stereotype Mexicans because of that one who kidnapped and raped a young college student, even though he grew up in the United States.

It’s the same way we stereotype all rich people as uncaring, out of touch with reality narcissists because of that one who was elected to a fairly high office. (Thank God for Bill Gates or I’d really, really be struggling with this one.)

It’s the same way we stereotype all homeless people as lazy because of that one guy at the corner who has nothing whatsoever wrong with him except he’s an alcoholic and doesn’t want to work.

It’s the same way we stereotype all black women as pushy, bossy and backbiting because we saw Omarosa on the Apprentice back in the day before the country went crazy.

Okay…let’s go there…it’s the same way we stereotype all Trump supporters as deplorable because of the disgustingly bigoted guy CNN interviewed on TV…and then the bigoted woman, and the other guy, and Steve Bannon…and Steve Miller and Trump’s tweets…and okay, so this is one I struggle with.

It’s the same way we stereotype all of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose as baby-killers because that’s what some right-wing radio announcer called them one time.

It’s the same way we stereotype all Right-to-Lifers as hopeless fundamentalists who bomb Planned Parenthood clinics because we saw a lot of Planned Parenthood clinics being blown up by Right-to-Lifers on the news and when interviewed the bombers would say things like they were glad the doctors and nurses died because they were doing Satan’s work and deserved to die.  (Okay…another one I’m struggling with)

It’s the same way we stereotype all Jewish people as greedy and money-grubbing because that’s how Hitler characterized them when he was rationalizing the Holocaust and even those people who realize the extent of his mental illness, still hang onto that little nugget of poop.

It’s the same way we stereotype all West Virginians as hillbillies because of the Clampetts; all southern women as manipulative passive-aggressive narcissists because of Scarlet O’Hara; all New Yorkers as rude because they don’t want to talk to strangers on the subway which is what you’d teach YOUR children; and the same way we stereotype all overweight people as gluttons who sit around A LOT.

I don’t like being stereotyped. It’s too confining…no matter who I truly am, you see me through the stereotyped lense…like an untreated astigmatism. You see the ghost of who you think I am…you don’t see ME.

And I don’t see whoever I’m stereotyping and unfortunately, I subscribe to a few on this list. So, let me clarify for you…I’m a woman with a few years under a belt I no longer wear because …belts have become uncomfortable.

I never had a piece of steak until I was 14; thought warmed kidney beans over white bread was a gourmet meal; believed that vacation meant visiting relatives in another state.

I love dogs, especially Golden Retrievers but I own a German Shepherd, dark chocolate and laughing with friends.

I drive a hybrid and covet a Tesla but I can’t afford it because I actually don’t make $100,000/year.

I think Barack Obama was the best president we ever had…not because he accomplished so much, but because he showed the dignity, intelligence, compassion and morality that I would like to believe exemplifies MOST Americans. He was our best face forward…

I voted for Bill Clinton twice…and was sickened by how he disgraced himself and our country so when I rant about the misogyny in the White House, don’t tell me that I defended Bill for the same things. I DID NOT.

I admire Rachel Maddow but just can’t stand to watch her anymore.

I think Anderson Cooper is hot and Wolf Blitzer is NOT.

Matt Lauer and Morgan Freeman broke my heart. Garrison Keillor is innocent!

Financial gain should not be the benchmark for how we live…kindness and respect for life should be. BUT financial responsibility should always be followed.

The Brett Kavanaugh hearing depressed me in so many ways…mostly because we’re still victim-blaming, ignoring women’s stories and putting justices on a Supreme Court because of corrupted power in D.C.

I’m complicated and complicate my life in many ways. I like having a purpose but sometimes am not sure what it is.

I believe in God and still don’t pray every day. How crazy is that?

I love my husband, but am not always kind to him….

I’m that…and the opposite of all that…and the reverse of that. Because, guess what? I’m human and I defy stereotypes, labels and shrink-wrapped cliches about who I am.

And guess what? So do you!  Tell me who you are…especially if you fit in one of the categories with which I struggle. I want to hear you, see you for who you truly are, understand you.

And if you liked this post…please share it with someone else who also might enjoy it.

 

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