I guess when it really comes down to it, Its not about years, or months or even days. Its about moments. I hope right now is good, and that you are happy. I truly do. And if that isn’t the case, hold on, this moment is over in the blink of an eye and maybe, just maybe the next one might be good. If its good, stick it away to pull out to remember when it’s isn’t so good. If its not so good, learn what you can and move on. This is mostly self talk I felt worth sharing. About as close to a resolution I am getting.
Life has reminded me that there is always a need and an opportunity to pause. We live a life of constant contact, constant stimulus, and constant motion. There is always something happening and there is always something to do or attend to.
Too often we find ourselves, not in the pilot seat, by in the passenger seat, merely reacting to our environment. We are so busy in our life reacting to to “to do” list and the schedule, that we don’t take any time for ourselves. Every second of every day is accounted for and belongs to someone or something else.
We must remember to pause, in everything. On the simplest terms, we need to become comfortable with “comfortable silences”. Have you ever met up with a friend and started talking over coffee or something like that, and then you both got quiet. It wasn’t a moment of “oh, I don’t know what to say”, but rather “I am comfortable sitting here, for just a moment, and not talking. I am processing what we have said so far. I am taking in my surrounding. I am observing. That is a comfortable silence, and it is important. A conversational interaction without pause is draining. Focus must be maintained at a high level and you don’t have the time or energy to sit in the moment and appreciate what is happening.
Another important pause is the pause you should take when something is not right in your world and you are not happy. Perhaps someone has said something wrong or something did not turn out as planned. If you do not take pause and step out of that moment for a brief amount of time, you may say something or do something reactionary that is not in your or anyone’s best interest. This is how feeling get hurt. This is how friendships get damaged. This is how relationships end. It is important to step back from the issue so that you can calmly look at it and respond in a way that is productive. This can be incredibly hard to put into practice and is something that I must work on continually.
When there are too many things coming your way, your workload is too heavy, or your attention is being pulled in too many directions, that is a time for another pause. A pause when things are hectic can actually make things more along faster. If you take the time to step back and prioritize what is going on around you, you can manage the situation better. You can chop all of the big things that are flying around you into smaller, manageable blocks and organize the flow of work and or energy.
The last type of pause puts into place a spiritual practice. I firmly believe I am at my best when I take time out of my day to meditate. I am calmer. I am more aware. I am more relax. I am healthier, when I meditate. I try to make this a 30 minute practice at least once per day, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Before you start your day, look out your front window, take in your surroundings, relax your breathing and simply, slowly, count to 20. Then look at what your day holds, and in that same calm frame of mind, put things in order. After you finish your mid-day meal, take 20 or 30 seconds to do it again. Take some calm breaths and count. Do this before and after a meeting or conference. Do this before bed. A 30 minute or longer meditation can be wonderful but sometimes all you have is a minute. Take that minute and recenter yourself.
Our lives are so busy and often Chaotic. Remember to take your pause to keep your day manageable.
We arrived at the church around midday. It is an older church built in the 1880s. It is a Victorian Gothic style building, brick and stained glass. It is like stepping through a time warp.
He had come by in the morning to help me with my tire. After that, we had breakfast and he asked me to come with him to clean up from installing the window last night.
As we walk through the main sanctuary, we are greeted by a minister who is sitting in the front row on pews, talking with someone. It is rather dark in the sanctuary, lit mostly by natural light filtered through more stained glass windows than I thought to count. Wrought iron accents the brick and colored glass. The room we are working in is just off the main sanctuary, even darker than the main room, if that is possible. Dark stained wood and brick.
We make short work of the mess, take some pictures, and head out into the sanctuary again. He wants to show me the windows he has already repaired or replaced, and the ones that are to follow. As we begin our tour of the space, a mid day service begins in the smaller worship space. The tour concludes and we are now in the kitchens. He volunteers here as well, helping to feed the homeless in the area on Saturdays. I look out into the fellowship space, there are two men waiting for lunch, or escaping the cold. One is the gentleman from the sanctuary earlier. Homeless. The two ladies that are preparing the lunch are talking to him. Asking if he needs anything. Like most of us, he is struggling a bit as well.
It isn’t Sunday. Church service for the masses isn’t happening, but this is church. This is a spiritual experience. People are serving and being served. Community is being built and reached. Outreach is happening. This is sacred service.
As we leave, one of the ladies preparing lunch stops him. They talk briefly about a personal problem. It is something he can relate to and he promises to keep in contact to support her journey.
As we drive back to my home, I can’t help but to compare this brief experience to what my experience has been for the last few years. I feel like, from a spiritual community standpoint, I have been living in a vacuum. The movement I have been associating with feels that way sometimes. A community of positive minded people expressing how wonderful everything is, focusing on the positive. That is well and good, nothing wrong with this. Except it can feel sterile, impersonal.
We arrive at home and he leaves to work on his current glass project. I go inside and just sit with this feeling. This wasn’t a “God thing” or a “holy ceremony”, just an afternoon spent picking up scraps from a stained glass installation. It wasn’t about some ethereal deity on high casting out love, or judgment. This was people walking through the muck, helping other people down there with them.
This isn’t going to be about me trying to explain my very abstract view of spirit, just an experience in spirituality, in kindness, compassion, and service.
This felt more real and more in line with the master teachers of old than where I have been sitting for some time. This felt like the first time I had been to church in some time. This mattered.
There are three words that I do my absolute best to keep in the center of my spiritual practice. These words are hope, gratitude, and love. The one that is getting touched on today is hope. When you are on a road or path that includes mental illness, hope can be a fleeting thing. When you are walking deep in the shadows, hope can be replaced by fear, exhaustion, and hopelessness. It can be easy to lose your focus and let the self work and the progress wall from your grasp.
A dictionary definition of hope is: noun
a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
This version of hope is in the search. I have hope that I can overcome the challenges of this day. This definition of hope on the outcome. I am working my program today in the hope that tomorrow will be better. This can be a desperation kind of hope that when you are at the breaking point, hope can rescue you.
The second option for this definition is:
a feeling of trust.
This is the hope that I try to live in on the day to day. I have hope that there will be better days. I have hope that there will be balance and centering. I have hope, in better days.
When people say hope is desperation and faith is what you really need, this is the hope that I am talking about. This hope can be a type of faith. This hope is a knowing. This is a secular faith. I have hope because I know I can work my program, I have the tools, and I have the practice to make better days.
Hope to me is a powerful word because hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. I have hope because I know and trust that I can get through anything. I expect to be better. I desire the outcome. I have the tools and the means to get there. I have hope.
Shadow work, and dealing with the less than positive aspects of what makes you the person that you are means that you can look at a disorder and not see just the pain, suffering and damage that you have been through and that you have caused but that you look at all of the opportunities to set things right, to learn about yourself and to grow.
Hope is the anchor point hat you tie off on when you are in the shadows, knowing that you can come back from this. You are worthy of joy and gratitude, and love. Hope is the beacon that shows you the way.
Today I am grateful for hope.
Spending a good portion of last week dealing with self care issues, a family tragedy, and in support of several friends that needed help, my attention and focus shifted. My attention came to the subject of time. We only get so many trips around the sun. people get sick, accidents happen, people grow old. Eventually we all check out. It’s just a matter of time.
So, here is the question for me. What am I doing with my time? What is it that I am accomplishing, working towards and celebrating? What am I leaving behind when I go? I think of greatness and legacy. I think at some time we all go there. Then I realized that perhaps I am looking at things the wrong way. I don’t have to a gigantic accomplishments to leave something behind. It sometimes takes simple steps.
My wife and I have raised three wonderful children as well as came to the rescue and support of several others. I have been a vital part of many people’s support systems. I have been a guide, a mentor, a teacher, and a minister. I have left a mark. I wasn’t the big fame game impact. It was simple gestures exactly when someone needed them to show up.
The next question is what do I want to do with the time that remains? I want to continue to have that impact on people, but I want that sphere to expand. I am not sure what that looks like at this moment, but I will find out.
We only get so many trips around the sun and today I am grateful for the time I have had, and the time I have remaining.
Today I am grateful for time.
It’s thanksgiving and what better time to write about gratitude, and to write about it in a realistic way. It is easy to move through my day looking at my challenges and obstacles, only to say, see how hard my life is? I have medical and mental illnesses and injuries that can make my world very difficult.
The truth is, I have it very good. I am blessed. I have been gifted a very good life. By way of the random chance of being born in a particular longitude and latitude range, my life is inherently easy. By the nature of gender and skin tone, my world is inherently easy to manage. I do have physical damage that counters some of this and I have mental illness that counters other aspects, but by and large, I have a very good life, simply by showing up.
I am not lacking for necessities. All of my needs are met. I have shelter. I have food. I have clothing. I have clean water. I have access to health care. I have all of the basic needs covered to the point that things that aren’t necessities seem that way and they are covered as well. We have personal transportation. I have disability support. My wife has a quality job and pay. We have access to news and information. We have internet access. We have access to recreation and entertainment. Outside of the medical, I am, we are so blessed.
You can say what you want about this holiday. You can politicize it. You can make it what you will. I simply make it a time when I spend extra time to look at and be thankful for who am and what I have to be thankful for.
Today I am grateful, simple as that
Namaste and Happy Thanksgiving
So, I have been in the habit of taking the weekend off from the blog, mainly because I have been so busy with other things on the weekend. Today my wife has a meeting at church and I have time to reflect on some stuff so I do what I do, and I start writing.
Yesterday was very strange for me. I don’t treat people the way I think they should be treated for any reason other than it simply is the right thing. There is never I hope or thought of any sort of reward or feedback loop. It is just what you are supposed to do. I am not going out of my way to do anything that shouldn’t be done. I just treat people the way I feel they want to be treated. Shouldn’t be a big deal.
I was overwhelmed with the messages I received with my birthday wishes. It is humbling and quite frankly a little overwhelming to think that I mean that much to so many people. I am not doing anything that should be considered extraordinary. I am just being nice. I received so many messaged that lifted my spirits and made me feel so good.
I see myself as a person with so many very obvious open flaws and imperfections. I get stuck in a space of these are the things that are wrong with me. These are the things that I do wrong. Then, one day, I get overloaded with messages of how I have impacted and helped people. It made me think of two things. The first, is what I do that extraordinary? Isn’t this how people are supposed to be treated? And the second is, what kind of self talk do we tell each other every day that tears down our self esteem and self worth?
Self talk, that quiet voice inside our head can be a monster. It is very easy to see our own faults so easily, but it can be so hard to see the good. Our mirror is broken. There is always work to be done and we focus so much on the work and not enough time on the success. Our self talk should include as many good elements about ourselves or our day as it does the negative.
Shadow work is important. Looking at the faults, the cracks and the work is so important to being a whole person, but shadow work is not an endless stream of negative self talk, picking away at every little imperfection. We need to celebrate our higher selves as well.
Should we all be self absorbed narcissists? No, but we should try to show ourselves some love every day. Yes we need to look for ways to improve and grow, but part of growing is loving yourself and knowing the good that you represent as well as your challenges. Sometimes our biggest growth point is the challenge of self love.
Yesterday the teacher was once again taken to school. My friends sent me gentle reminders to love myself and that the kindness I show others is important and should also be shown to myself.
Today I am grateful for gentle lessons