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.

Advertisements
Enlighten Me, Hard to Label

Post-Thanksgiving Ramblings

There are a few events that have triggered some deep Thanksgiving reflections this year:

  • The 57th birthday party of a sweet woman who suffered a stroke 7 months ago and is now struggling to re-learn to talk, move, walk.
  • The memorial celebration for the 53-year-old music genius who gave in to her cancer on the last full moon.
  • The Parliament of World Religions discussion about the mistreatment of farm animals in the United States forcing me to really, really consider vegetarianism. (But I did eat turkey on Thanksgiving.)
  • A visit to see my Aunt and the uncle whose overachieving bladder cannot stop making tumors.
  • A visit with one of my cousins and her family.
  • 86-year-old Ruth who is an environmental warrior and an independent lady.
  • A text message that my brother-in-law had a massive stroke.

Maybe you’re waiting for me to tell you what they all have in common; what my ramblings and reflections have taught me about life. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I cannot. Not because you as the reader need to make sense of it all for yourself, though that might be true; not because I’m being coy, because I’m not even sure what that means having never been coy in my life!

No, I can’t tell you how they’re related because I don’t know. I have no clue.

That’s probably why I’ve been holding them in my heart. I like things to make sense and so much of life does not. I like organized thoughts and events to follow patterns, but my mind usually jumps from one topic to the next so that I have to make notes to stay on track and the steps I take to finish my to-do list are anything but sequential.

I keep reading and re-reading this list. What do they have in common? What does it mean? What lesson am I to be learning from these several events? I feel like there’s one piece of the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle missing…THE PIECE that makes the picture come together.

I can tell you that I love my family. All of them…I have the best family in the world…from my grandkids to my parents; from my sisters to aunts; from my daughters to nieces and nephews. My cousins are truly, truly special people. I’m just so lucky to have all these great people in my life.

I can tell you that I love my life…except for winters in Ohio.

I can tell you that God is a real person in my life and I don’t talk to her nearly often enough.

I can tell you that I’m so flawed, and in spite of …maybe because of…the flaws, I sincerely like who I am.

I can tell you that the gratitude I talked about on Thanksgiving doesn’t end with that day. I’m grateful every day of my life…for everything I have in my life: health, family, friends, the ability to pay my bills.

And I can tell you that I still don’t know what triggered so much reflection this year. I still don’t know why these events impacted me so profoundly.

I can only tell you that they did.

That they helped me feel vulnerable, powerless, blessed.

That they triggered a loving response, prayer, and prayerful thoughts.

That they illuminated for me the careful layering of our emotions: the bedrock sadness, gratitude that constitutes more layers than any other single emotion, the grief, the too-generous portion of fear, inspiration to do better, motivation to do more, love, more sadness, and even more gratitude.

These are emotional reactions. They don’t give me a neat little quotation that will trigger the same emotional responses for you. Nothing I’ve written or thought of writing has helped me make sense of why my mind is stuck on these events specifically.

They are just a diorama of life, right? Miniature figurines in action before a construction paper background, sun, trees, grass, stick figures playing ball drawn in black crayon.

It’s just life. Nothing to make sense of; nothing to reason out; nothing to acquire.

Life in its complexity, simplicity, irony.

Maybe I don’t need to make sense of it. Maybe feeling this deeply was enough.

Maybe.

Enough.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Free-way in LA???

I was in LA recently visiting my daughter and her husband, two wonderful human beings who make the world a much better place.  They always show my husband and me a good time, taking us all over the city for new restaurants, hiking adventures and California-urban experiences.  I have my favorites.  I love the Grove, 3rd Street Promenade, and the beaches.   I love walking the streets of Brentwood in the morning before my daughter gets up since my body is still responding to Ohio clocks and she has three more hours to sleep.

I love the weather too, but I’ve noticed that if I’m in LA too long, I stop believing in time all together.   It doesn’t matter if it’s November, February or June, the weather is the same, the sky is always blue and the sun is always shining.  It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 50 or 70, you never wrinkle or get a little pot belly.  It doesn’t matter if it’s midnight or noon, the city lights chase away the darkness.  Time stands still in LA.

And in LA the expressways, freeways and highways are all destinations instead of pathways to get someplace else.  I realized this as I listened to my son-in-law give directions…we were taking THE 405, picking up THE 5, and looking for THE 10.  In Ohio where standstills on the expressway also occur but only during the morning or evening rush, we don’t use the definite article before the number.  We get on 270, pick up 71, and look for 70.  The roads are just that…roads to somewhere else.

I don’t know what any of that means.  Maybe Los Angelians know how to appreciate the present better than we do in the midwest.   Appreciating each moment without anticipating where it’s going to get us or wishing it were over so we could get on with the next moment is one of the greatest secrets of enjoying life.

It isn’t really about sunshine, 75 degree weather, oceans right outside your bedroom window.  It’s about appreciating those things every moment—or appreciating the beauty of the snow, the feeling of coming in from the cold to a homemade hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows, the changing colors of the leaves in autumn and the strength of green buds in spring.   I get tired of winter before winter gets tired of Ohio.  I wonder if anyone in LA ever gets tired of watching the waves crash against the Santa Monica Pier?   It doesn’t matter where we live, we can begin to take our lives for granted and I think that’s when we begin losing our passion for life.

I know that most drivers stuck on THE 405 or on 270 don’t think about appreciating the wait, the sitting still for moments when they really have someplace to go, but if you think about the being there as the destination, it shifts the wait doesn’t it?  Doesn’t it make it more about what’s happening at that particular second than what might happen in twenty minutes when you arrive at the restaurant or shopping center?  What’s going on with me right now?  What’s happening in the world around me?  Is that a hawk planted on the guard rail?  Is that a rabbit hopping across a field?   What does God want me to notice right now whether I’m sitting in my car or walking on an LA sidewalk or sitting in a warm den during an Ohio blizzard?

I think I will have really transcended when I can say that I love where I am at that moment even if I’m not in LA.  I’ll have made it when I can truly appreciate every moment, not just those that are comfortable and pleasant.  I’ll be self-actualized when I don’t need a traffic jam on THE 405 to remind me that I’m already here…and it’s a great place to be.

Uncategorized

Snow

This morning, I looked out my bedroom window at snow clinging to the bare tree branches.  There was a light dusting on the top of the wooden fence lining our backyard.  The sun glistened off the whitened surfaces.  As much as I hate being cold, I realized that there is some beauty in it too.   This is a beautiful day because of the snow, because of the sunshine, because it brought the neighbors out to shovel their sidewalks, to visit, to share Christmas plans with each other.  This is a beautiful day because we have our health, our relationship, our home, our kids and grandkids.  I’m not bragging; I’m sharing my gratitude.  I have so much to be grateful for and yet there are times, there are whole days, when I only focus on what bugs me.   When Oprah started her spiritual journey years ago, she had a guest on her program, Sarah Ban Breathnach who wrote Simple Abundance.  That simple book changed my life; it started me on the journey toward enlightenment.  I’m not there yet—-I don’t think I’m even close, but I’m much closer than when I started, because then I thought I was already there.  In Ms. Breathnach’s little book, she focused on simplicity and gratitude.  Being thankful for something every day changes nothing and yet it changes everything.  It’s what transformed Scrooge and the Grinch and me.   The season begins with a little holiday called Thanksgiving.  It starts us off on the right path—gratitude.   As time races toward Christmas, I need to remember to take time to look at lights, play Monopoly for hours with my grandson, laugh with my friends and family.  I’m so grateful that I am able to do all those things.  My gratitude changes nothing, yet it changes everything.  My gratitude is the best gift I can give and the best gift I can receive.  Have a happy holiday.

Writing life

Mad Hatter

So, I attended the Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Conference in Worthington, Ohio today and had an appointment with Stefany Evans, president of FinePrint Literary Agency. Stefany was wonderful. She made me feel so at ease, even though I had been intimidated by her before I ever met her. I had done my research, you see. I knew she was a runner—and I’m definitely not. That meant that she’d be fit and in shape—and I’m not! Even though I’ve been working out with Jillian Michaels for THREE WHOLE DAYS—I’ve not yet shed those 20 pounds that seem to be so attached to me. They’ve become central to my being, if you get my drift. Anyway, Stefany graciously didn’t notice—or didn’t suggest that I get a personal trainer at any rate. What she did suggest was that I add 10,000 words to my manuscript before sending it to her! Are you serious? Yes I am. She is interested in MY manuscript. I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled, excited and bowled over I am by the prospect of working with someone like Stefany. I was so bowled over in fact, that I jumped up from my interview with her, said a quick thank you and ran from the room before my 10 minutes of interview time was even over. Unheard of. Unbelievable for anyone but the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland who, if you remember, rushes in and out of everything as if he’s late for a very important date…his lines, not mine. Was I late for something? No. I was at my very important date. But then, like the Mad Hatter, I was a little excited by life at that moment; energized by the fantastic opportunity that could possibly be coming my way and made crazy by the close proximity of my dreams coming true. Maybe, just maybe. I’m pretty sure she’ll overlook my Mad Hatter dash for the door—and hoping you’ll overlook my Mad Hatter dash to my manuscript.