Living through an American Recession

Dealing with never ending life changes. Who says making lemonade is the best thing to do with those lemons life throws at you?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We're WiFi man!

A farmer wakes one morning and prays "Oh lord, please let it rain today. My crops are dry and without rain I won't be able to feed my family"
At the same time another man wakes and prays, "Oh lord, please don't let it rain today. I've got to go to work and finish building the roof or I won't get paid to feed my family."

Which prayer gets answered? One is amazed by the miracle that happened; the other is shamed and believes some external force was against him today. I was listening to a minister on television this morning teaching people to "pray effectively". As he went on and on about protocols, submissiveness and a "if it be thy will" stuff I couldn't help wonder while looking at my dog if he knew how to pray effectively?

As an animal species on earth I wondered why religious people were not all wealthy, healthy and wise, while all non-believers were not all poor, sick and stupid. Prayer seems to know no color, intelligence level, nor belief system. So why do we insist that a miracle happened when Aunt Josey got healed from cancer but Uncle Steve died? If all dogs go to heaven, do they believe?

Statistically, there is no difference between financial wealth, health or longevity in people that believe in a god or not. They have however shown increased intelligence in non-believers.

I do believe in consciousness and energy, however I do not believe someone/thing is listening or watching. Viruses, bacteria, rust, oxygen, lead, chickens, we're all just pieces to the whole; the symbiotic system. Everything on this planet has it's dis-ease that can kill it and plant that can heal it. No animal on this planet believes in gods or prayer except for humans. Not one species is immune to disease, suffering or prosperity.

Perhaps it was the invention of chemotherapy that saved Aunt Josey and the depression that killed Uncle Steve, who knows. I remember sitting in church feeling the energy in the room when people prayed, sang or danced. It's that same energy that exists everywhere. I hear believers say the just "know" god exists because they feel it. Well everyone feels it, it's just what you interpret "it" to be. Today I believe that energy is what we use to heal ourselves, to feel love or anger. What if the universe is just one huge energetic battery that charges us along with everything around us that keeps us going, the ghost in the machine? We're WiFi man! LOL!!!

We feel so amazing when we're "connected" and sad when we're not. People that claim out of body experiences say they never want to return because of the amazing love and light they feel. Believers or not, they all feel and experience the same thing. They just come back either saying it was "heaven or god" or an "afterlife". Depends on how your brain wants to interpret it here. Either way, meditating or praying for positive things fuels positive energy in our bodies. It makes us feel good and hopefully spreads to others around us.

Surviving Loss

Getting past loosing anything is never easy. It really irritates me when people categorize your loss. Who came up with the "Loss rating system" anyhow? The loss of a job may be no big deal to you while devastating someone else. I know they're just trying to sympathize and perhaps don't know how or what to say to you but would you pat a widow on her back during her husbands funeral and say "Hang in there girl, you'll find another one. Just forget him and move on, you're better off without that asshole anyway." Would you send flowers to someone who just got their car stolen?

Our minds and bodies all respond the same way to any stress or trauma whether it's loosing a job, the loss of a loved one, a family pet or even retirement. Stress & trauma is still, stress & trauma! The changes to our daily routines are interrupted which makes it harder to move on. Every time we sit down to eat, they're not there. Every morning we wake up, we realize we have no job to go to. The wound is constantly broken open. It's opened a gap in time we must fill with something else, it's the law of the universe. Something will always fill in an empty space, it's physics.

But how do we move on?

In my own times of loss I remember the feeling of being on your hands and knees, feeling your way around in the dark, scared, alone and feeling like you can't find the door to get out. The mind remembers that there was sunshine somewhere; it's why we want out of suffering. Subconsciously we know love and happiness exist, we just can't find our way back to it. But we can, and do. As I've gotten older and having been through my share of pain and trauma I've realized that life is a repeating pattern just like the seasons, the days and cycles of everything. Happiness and suffering are like the seasons. One may love winter by playing in the snow, another is freezing to death and digging out to stay alive, then the sun comes and saves the dying one but now burns the one that was playing in the snow.

 I've run into people who are still playing the same record over and over again in their minds their entire lives, struggling to sort through the shrapnel of an incident that happened 20 years ago constantly picking at an old wound and refusing to let go of a trauma spending the rest of their lives repeating things like "just my luck" or "Murphy's law". It's as though they've accepted some victim fate of never ending suffering.

 Every body reacts the same way chemically to a traumatic situation, but the difference is how the mind chooses to react to the body's reaction.  

Man is sitting quietly enjoying camp.
Dinosaur invades camp, chases man.
Man reacts either by running or fighting.
Danger is over and dinosaur is gone but camp is destroyed by dinosaur.
Man gets sad at loss of camp.
Man gets angry, then sad, then confused as to why and where the dinosaur came from.
Man gets angry at himself, then others, looking for a "why".
Man gets frustrated and tired of rebuilding camp.
Man rebuilds camp better than before and enforces surroundings.

 OK, so that's a corny analogy of humans, but its life. Loss happens to EVERYONE. No one is immune to loss of some sort, it's part of the function of the entire universe. Every living and non-living thing gains and looses something. Sometimes this analogy passes so quickly we barely notice it and sometimes it drags on for years.

 What is your interpretation of an incident? What is your explanation of why something happened? Does faith have an effect on how we get past things? I don't believe there is a right way or a wrong way to get past anything as long as you come out the other side wiser, not be bitter or angry at others around you and let it go and live, not just exist.

 Some faiths teach us to look inward, find our peace within ourselves. Understand that life just is and we have little control over anything external. A perpetually changing pendulum that never stops. Our blood keeps circulating, our cells keep dying and regenerating themselves, the universe keeps moving, nothing dies, it just changes form. No single creator involved, life creates itself from itself.

 Some faiths teach us to look outward questioning why this happened to us over and over again. The will of an external force, a punishment, bad karma, a curse or a devil chasing us. It's a shame on us for doing bad. Blaming someone or something else for what happens to us while alive or after we're gone. The human brain constantly seeks answers to things, it's natural. Being told to just have faith or convincing us that this external force has it's reasons, is not an answer we like to hear. It's like telling a child "Don't do that" The child is going to always ask "Why not?" and you answer "Because I said so" is hard to swallow if you believe in an external force.

 Either way you look at it, life happens and keeps going. Some things we will never have answers too no matter how hard we keep looking or asking. When it involves people we will never know what went through their minds, why they did what they did. Everyone is on his own path through life, learning his own lessons, dealing with his own issues. We HAVE to move on. You have things to do and work out too.

Filling the time gap:
  • Flip your mattress and move into the center of the bed, the hump will go away quickly.
  • Find something to occupy your mind from obsessing. Reading, painting, running.
  • Learn something new. Focus your mind on new things.
  • Socialize with others. Be mindful not to dump & complain to your friends constantly. They understand your pain but let them keep the conversation on other things. It helps ease stress by changing your focus and move on. Good energy is what you need, avoid others that feed the "misery loves company" mentality. Turn on daytime tv or watch the news if you need a confirmation that you're not the only one who's lost.
  • Remember your faith. Meditate, understand it WILL pass.
  • Journal writing. It helps us focus and slows down a chattering mind.
  • Exercise! Burn up those damaging stress hormones; get rid of anxiety and depression.
  • Get rid of the pain triggers of the loss. I'm gonna get shit for this one but the wound gets reopened every time you are reminded of that loss. Pictures, clothing, smells, dishes, foods, anything that reminds you of the loss. Putting these things in a box gets them out of site so you can heal. You can always give them away later when you are ready to move on, happily. Throwing them away triggers even more loss, it shows the brain the loss is in the garbage. (Unless you want it there)  
Don't do's:
  • Don't get stuck in the time gap. Make a plan to fill the time gap left by the loss, a new schedule. This is why they say "keep busy". By filling that time gap it results in, "keeping busy".
  • Don't cry "you just don't understand". YES, we do. YOU have to get through this in your own heart and mind.
  • Don't get caught in the perpetual "why me" mode. Refocus on anything and stop the thought if you start feeling stressed, address it another day.
  • Don't create negative anniversaries: "16 years ago today....." Celebrate and remember life, not loss. One issue I have with certain holidays and remembrances, they open old wounds reliving loss by reenacting negative situations. Guilt teaches us to not forget. Focus on the positive outcome, not the misery that fueled it. If you focus on the path while on it, then on the destination when you get there, you're always living in the present moment.






Saturday, February 11, 2012

Life is good

A man sat on his porch one day with a smile from ear to ear. He patted his dog on the head and enjoyed a juicy green apple. Everyone that walked by saw this mans happiness. Day after day the passer byres wondered what made this man so seemingly happy.

One afternoon a kid walked past and said, "Look here mister, I've got a dog just like yours".

"That's a mighty fine dog" he said with a big smile.

A day or two later a woman stopped and said "Well I've got a dog and a house like yours."

"That's wonderful missy" he said.

A few months later the woman and the kid stopped and chatted with the man.
"I' don't understand" she said. "I got a house like yours, we got a dog like yours and our apples are just as sweet as yours but we are not happy like you. I don't understand where we went wrong. What is your secret?" She said with confusion.

"Well" The man said as he turned to them and smiled. "I don't rightly know. I'm just sittin' here waiting from the bus on my friends' porch pettin' this here stray dog that comes by everyday enjoying my lunch."

Life is good.

Social Media Sunshine

Lessons I'm learning from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest never seem to escape my wondering of how this affects us as a culture. I find it fascinating those times in history between the spurts of growth and change from one era into another. The 50's expressed conformity with perfectly coiffed hair, clean lined clothing, happy music and finishing schools for girls. But as the 60's rolled in nothing could be farther from that image. I can only imagine what their grandparents thought when they saw girls in pants, natural hair, and not shaving. The butterflies first burst from his cocoon.

As we move into a new millenium I see how we are in the middle of another burst of change. Our social lives now consist of tweeting and vlogging, blogging and posting, texting and pinning. We seem to know what's going on with everyone, even though we've may not even know everyone. At first this annoyed the hell out of me because I come from the generation of "hanging out" with people in parks, coffee shops and malls. But as I got used to reading the posts and blogs I started to connect with people I barely know off line. It’s the same effect as watching a tv show. We connect with the actors, or in all reality we're connecting with the character played by the actor, not the actor him/herself. So in essence these people you've never met before are all actors playing a roll on a screen. We connect with their kids, vacation photos, listen to their music links, watch their video's etc. We are very influenced by their posts.

A girl I met only a few times in real life posted regularly to Facebook, and I mean daily. She actually kind of annoyed me in the beginning because she reminded me of Reese Witherspoons character Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Every post was of her smiling, running a marathon, adorable pictures of her daughter and "Awesome super day!" posts. I noticed one day her posts were gone and that she no longer was on my friend list. Minutes after I inquired with a friend of hers, she immediately sent me a message apologizing for removing me along with a sough of others from her page. She didn't think "anyone would notice". Well hell, I noticed. Behind the smiley faces online was a conflict in real life we didn't know about. I realized that I had gotten used to seeing her daughter enjoy a sandwich in the park, trying on goofy glasses at the mall and most of all her "Awesome" posts. It reminded me that I was not in an "awesome" spirit where I should be and that is why her posts annoyed me.

I told her that I read all her posts and look forward to seeing her "It's a great day" words of encouragement and that we do notice when she is not there. "A little bit of sunshine goes a long way" I said.

This inspired me to share this with you. Our words, even as trivial as they seen on a screen are very powerful. They hold a sense of magic that can stir love, hate, fear and a myriad of emotions in our hearts. People are drawn to the light, the positive, and the happy ones. They inspire us, drive us, and keep us in a state of thought reminding us to keep moving forward.

Be mindful of your words, I'm reminded of this daily. I look at my own wall to see patterns. What am I posting? Are they mostly positive, motivating and encouraging? Are they complaining, criticizing or spreading fear? This is a good indicator of where your heart is. Believe me, people notice. Spread a little word of peace, you never know whose life you will change with a kind word.

Thank you Facebook friend for reminding me to "Have a happy Monday!"

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Making your time energy efficient.

"Some people just have too much time on their hands."

Can I start by saying how much I really dislike the sarcasm I hear in the voices of people who utter this phrase about creative or ingenious people who do amazing and sometimes seemingly silly things? How does one have "Too much time on their hands?" What would you do with more time? Perhaps we are just doing things that demand or are unknowingly sucking our valuable minutes away.

As I analyzed my days I found all kinds of time I was wasting on things that were not important to me like standing in long lines at the grocery store or trying to find parking. A change in the time I do some things made a huge difference. I started logging my minutes in a little flip book just to see where my time was being wasted. We make our homes energy efficient, why not our time?

Here are 10 ways I "found" more time:

Current Activity:                            Changed Activity:    Time gained per day:
1. Hair - 30 of drying & styling.             5 minutes               25 minutes
2. Make-up 12 min.                              3 minutes                9 minutes
3. Closer job - 30 min. commute           7 minutes               23 minutes
4. TV (news) 60 min.                           15 minutes              45 minutes
5. TV (movies) 120 min.                        90 min.                 30 minutes                                       
6. Facebook -9 min.                             6 minutes                3 minutes
7. Email - 15 min.                                  7 minutes               8 minutes
8. Cleaning 13 min.                                8 minutes               5 minutes
9. Dishes - 6 minutes                                 0                         6 minutes
10. Exercise                                                wash for me                     
295 min.=4.91 Hours               141 min.=2.35 Hours   154=2.56 Hours

3 hours a day = 21 hours a week(that's a part time JOB) =  91 days a year that magically appeared to do whatever I want with.  

1. Cutting my hair and just letting it go curly vs. trying to straighten it. This is something I let go of as I got older. Not important anymore.
2. Found my skin looked much younger and healthier when I minimized all the make-up.
3. This is a tough one especially if you can't move closer to your job or find closer employment. The extra gas & maintenance I was spending on commuting didn't make up for the extra wage.
4.  1 entire hour of tv just to get the weather and major news events I was seeking. 50 minutes of that hour wasted on fashion trends, celebrity drama, or the latest way to cook healthy BBQ and commercials. Log on to your favorite sites and read exactly what you're looking for, log off.
5. Some tv shows I just love but hate commercials. Renting movies or watching them on the network site cuts down advertising time.
6. Social networking. Logging on can zap your time if you have numerous accounts to check. Smart phones allow you to add all your accounts with one click you can view Facebook, Twitter and e-mail accounts in minutes vs. signing in and out of each account on-line.
7. Ditto #6
8. Cleaning. This is an interesting one. Staying organized by putting things away after using them, laudry while dinner is cooking, etc. Then come "cleaning day" everybody has one, it's faster to vacuum, mop and wipe things down not having to put everything away and reorganize.
9. I do dishes while I cook so this is not a stand alone task. For me, it takes more time to rinse, run and put away a dishwasher full of dishes. (provided you have a small family)
10. I'm not a gym person. I dislike driving there, waiting for a machine and taking an hour or so to work out, given my living area and traffic. I do sit ups and stretching while I watch tv, squats and leg lifts etc. while cooking. They are finally releasing information that little bits here and there are hugely beneficial, yup, I stay trim doing just that.

Women do seem to have less time per week than men. We spend more time with make-up, hair, wardrobe, shaving, cleaning, organizing, chasing kids, cooking, etc. Not to say some men do these things too. Some times in our lives we find ourselves in situations that just demand all of our time and can't be trimmed down, and that's ok. We get through it and our schedules eventually change, then you can utilize those important minutes.

Now after saving myself almost 3 hours a day just by making those changes, I now have learned to paint and make healthier choices at the grocery store.  I get accused frequently of living under a rock and asked how the hell I know the ingredients of many foods. My health is more important to me than politics, celebrity drama or the weather in Honduras. Not that I don't care. What's important to one may be a waste of time to another.

So if your one of those people who says "Some people just have too much time on their hands", maybe it's time for an efficiency check of your time.  Some of our lifestyles are just habit, ours or someone else's, or maybe we live on someone else's schedule. Little shifts make huge differences in the long run. All we have is time.             

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A missed lesson in Compassion & Patience?

Today as I scrolled my Facebook page I noticed a girl who made the following post:

"Craving ice cream so I went to the grocery store for some.. Only one lane open and I get stuck behind some old lady with a stocked up cart. I go to put my ice cream on the belt and all I see beside my ice cream is her diaper pads...Yup, craving is gone!! Bleck!! I dont wanna get old :(( I put my ice cream back and left.. Thats Gods sign for bc I didnt run today!!" - Anonymous

As I scroll back in the history of my life I see too that once upon a time I thought like that. It's easy to "see" only what we want. Fact is, we're ALL going to get old, end of discussion. I guess my life changing POV came when I worked in assited living with seniors. It was an amazing eye opening experience. My eyes would scan the walls of degrees, old photo's of them that looked like a previous lifetimes and some sad smiles feeling sad they can't scuba dive anymore. Seniors are amazing human beings with stories Hollywood could use to make epic movies from.

Never fight aging, embrace it. Aging is wisdom, fine tuning our thoughts, changing our reactions to life with the ever changing POV. I know someday she will see that and let it go.

As I made my rebuttal to her post: "Perhaps it was compassion & patience that was missed here. Respect should be given to seniors who built this country and gave us opportunites they created."  I figured she would respond with a "screw you" type post but instead I got:

Her: "I know that will be me someday.. That's why I said I don't want to get old... My biggest fear in life..."

Me: "Aging people are wise and happy, old people are angry and withdrawn from life...Be joyfull and keep a sence of humor and you will age into something beautiful beyond your imagination."

Her: " :) "

My lesson here. Be a possitive light to other people. If you are angry and I am happy, it's my duty as a compassionate human to remind you that life is good and all darkness passes. When I am angry, I hope I find other compassionate people to remind me of the same thing. No one is immune to suffering, we all need to help each other even if it's just a kind word to make someone smile just for a minute. Suffering is perpetuated when others turn away from us.

Fighting or Flowing?

After watching this video it immediately hit a note for me. Listening to wealthy people repeat "focus, focus, focus!" and others say "just go with the flow". How do you find the balance between the two? How do you stay focused on a goal but just go with it? I now think that staying focused on what you want should be easy, if difficulties arise then perhaps it's not what you're supposed to be doing. The Taoists and Buddhists say life should be "easy" not difficult. But how much struggle is too much?

I read story after story of people who against all odds do what they set out to do. (We never actually see the whole picture or get the whole story) "Keep their noses to the grindstone", and do it. Is there a formula for all this? A right time, right place situation, devine intervention, greed, or stubborness?
I've made many plans to do things I've wanted to do. Some were so easy it was shocking. Like life just said, "here ya go". Some never made it no matter how hard I tried to followed "Jack's formula for success" to a tee. Some things I worked my fingers to the bloody bone for, just to find out it wasn't really worth all that suffering to get.  I've met people that are so attached to their "path" in life, so focused on a task that other directions life was guiding them got lost in the weeds. If your heart is happy, your soul sings and you feel love, what else is there? Isn't it what we all stive for?
I don't think there is an external formula! It's an internal formula. We can all see when people believe in themselves, they radiate happiness. People are drawn to them like moths to the light. Be a light. We get so attached to the outcome we forget about the journey. The destination is death, everything in between birth and death is the journey.
Always do your personal best with joy and intention. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, do something else. Let go of the need to compete with others.The greatest regret anyone on their death beds say is they wish they had done more things they wanted to do. Better to have tried and never to have tried at all. An "oh well" is better that a "I wonder what would have happened if I had" in my book.