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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poor New Year's Resolution - It Gets Such A Bad Rap

And do you know what a RAP is? It stands for Record of Arrests and Prosecutions so it's already a bad thing to get. So a bad rap could be a good thing - when viewed as a double negative. Or perhaps a bad rap is a false record of arrests and prosecutions and should really be called a bum rap, which is slang from prohibition times - and in gangster movies staring Edward G Robinson.

Sic semper ENFP

I was really prompted to write about resolutions - because the media is chockablock full of chatter about them - why they are bad, why they don't work, how to make ones that do - yada yada yada. Me? I love 'em.

btw - chockablock didn't originally mean full - it just meant things were pulled so tight they couldn't move any more - while full to the brim-edness was expressed by the Middle English chokkefull  which I have always mispronounced as chock-full, as in the coffee Chock full o'Nuts - which I used to swear by but which now doesn't seem to taste the same.

Look! A bird!

LEFT BRAIN:  (snickering) I'm the one messin' with her. Just feelin' silly

RIGHT BRAIN: (whispering) and I'm the one coming up with all the definitions

Is that brain chatter I hear?

LEFT BRAIN:& RIGHT BRAIN: (more giggles)

Okay - sorry - to get back to resolutions. I love resolutions. I loved them the first time I heard about them - somewhere around age 9. My dad told me about them. He said you wrote down a list of things you wanted to do, or do better, in the coming year. You did this on New Year's Day. It was probably the first time it ever occurred to me that I had a say in what things I could do better. That growth and progress and improvement and achievement belonged to ME. Up to that point I just did what I was told because the consequences of not obeying parents was pretty dramatic.  Not only had I personally experienced those consequences, but as a good little Virgo daughter, a second daughter, following in the footsteps of a roaring, fighting, angry lion of a Leo big sister, I had witnessed even more dire consequences, second hand. Being a good girl, following the rules - hey - not just second nature to this September baby but proof that life, at least the life of a child, was all about the obedience.

Suddenly the chief executioner was telling me about personal choice? Man - this was treasure! This was a glimpse into the Aladin's Cave of Adulthood.

"You decide what you want to improve"

I decide? Me? Not parents, teachers, policemen, presidents? ME? How cool is that?

Which just goes to show you that no matter how carefully you try to explain and demonstrate and map things out for your kids, they're always going to pluck from your wisdom, the thing they are looking for. You might get lucky. They might get the gist of your message. But they might not. You'll never know - till they're 40 and are reminiscing over a drink on the back porch. Like when you find out your kid broke his nose when he was 14, jumping off a highway bridge. Ask me about that, sometime.

For that matter - don't we always find the thing we are looking for? The thing that bolsters our beliefs? You know this is true.

Anyway - from that day on I would write down lists of Things That Could Be Better! At the peak of my resolution writing history I probably wrote down 40 New Year's Resolutions a year. Now I tend to just examine parts of my life and see what New Things I'd like to try. What sorts of experiments might be fun.

And therein lies the difference between me and all the authors of WhyYourNewYearsResolutionsFail articles. They have made the mistake of seeing the resolution as a punitive thing intended to eradicate your bad behavior - or at best, as a goal - which always means there is the threat of failure, which, because you're such a looser anyway you'll probably succumb to, so why write a resolution anyway? Besides, statistics show that you won't lose weight. You'll get heavier because hey - you probably live in America and drive past 14 hamburger joints before you get home from werk.

Me? I see the New Years Resolution (s) as all the cool stuff up ahead. All the things I might want to try. Every experiment that might bring about interesting change. Everything that looks like fun.

I love me some resolutions. I feel sorry for people who feel burdened by them. I wish they'd just embrace the Power of Choice and go out and .... have some fun.

LEFT BRAIN:& RIGHT BRAIN:  we think so too!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Makes You Feel Rich?

Of course, it might be nice to actually be rich - but then - maybe not so much. If one is very rich maybe one has go about protection mode - guarding against those who either want to steal those riches or just plain hate the rich. I wonder if the rich always have to be prepared - sort of like if you ever smoked. You had to be prepared. Did you have matches? Did you have cigarettes? Did you have coins for a machine if you were out or bills for store. Were you over 16?  I sometimes think the best thing about quitting smoking was that I could walk out the door with nothing in my hands.

Okay, maybe not the very best thing but ... one of the true positives. And of course, not smoking made me richer than I'd have been if I were still popping what? $5 a pack? $7?

Image result for richie rich Lawsie - how easy it is to stray from the topic. So. To feel rich. What does it take? Very early on (like 8 years old, maybe) I figured out that if I felt rich that would be good enough. I was already one with the Virtual Reality.  The child's cartoon version of rich looked a little creepy to me - if you remember the Richie Rich comics - and Scrooge McDuck. Image result for scrooge McDuck
Of course, they were supposed to be funny. I understood that. Certainly the longing for instant gratification is both ancient and universal. The folklore of every culture has a wish granting genie, fairy, fish, magic ring, or wand out there somewhere just waiting to make your dreams come true and the moral of most of the stories is that money doesn't buy happiness.

Image result for little house in the big woodsAnd isn't happiness what we're all looking for? ... well, okay. Who am I to say what other people are looking for. It's certainly what TheQueen is looking for. My earliest memory of pondering wealth dates to when I first read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. Her tale of Christmas riches was an eye-opener. Child of the 50's as I was, I'd already been exposed to the extravagance of a television advertised, shopping center Christmas.  Yet Laura was as overwhelmed by having a candy cane, some mittens and a doll as I was by all the largess to be provided by a daddy who absolutely loved to go shopping.

Something told me that wealth is relative and the enjoyment of the experience is up to us. This concept was one of the driving forces in my early adult life and I found it was true. I could be as happy in a 1 room house with no plumbing or electricity as I could in a house in the city. Cool.

Still - I like to feel rich. I like to feel the gushing outpouring of possibility. I tremble with the tingling, open, liquid sensation of it when I'm driving away from a family reunion where I just love everybody to pieces. I gasp with the soaring feeling of walking into the middle of a field with a vast sky overhead, bald eagles wheeling above, and knowing that I am safe. I am aware there are people who don't have that kind of safety.  I love to tell my story hour children how rich I feel when I hear the sound of a whole box of 64 crayons spilling onto the table - with only one white one in the pile. It's as if I can color the entire world with that much wealth. I savor the utter luxury of stretching my legs out in bed, knowing I don't have to get up and go to work. I hold close the giggling laughter of an afternoon with a friend, doing nothing, just talking and sipping coffee.

Sigh. I think, if you have possibility, you are rich and if I could give one gift to the world, this Christmas, I'd give it the wealth of possibility.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Now That's Progress

So here I am on the downside of the feast suddenly realizing I hadn't posted a peep since late October. I hate to repeat a refrain like this but .... it's been another hard month. I am getting so tired of hard months, days, weeks, years even! Something is wrong here and I think it isn't "these days" or "the times". I think it's "This Woman". Time to do a little repair work on my happiness generator.

So. According to Miriam-Webster (now a dot com), the go-to font of all definitions in my youth:

Definition of happiness
1 obsolete :  good fortune :  prosperity
2 a :  a state of well-being and contentment :  joy
   b :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience
3:  felicity, aptness

Ahhh - no wonder I didn't feel all that happy in November. First off there was the election, the outcome of which, I dreaded. If my candidate won half the country was going to rise up in protest. If the other candidate won, half the country would rise up in protest. Or else the losing side would hunker down in resentment. Either way, the shriek-fest of American politics had oozed it's dissension and disquiet into almost every cranny of life.  This was no state of well-being.

Then - there was a difficult personal issue I was trapped in - one of those rock-and-a-hard-place things that was going to hurt me because I felt pressed between, well, a rock and a hard place. Okay - nothing I can do about that but wait for time to do it's thing.

Then there was the Next Stage of my final big work project - that had to be done, that I was anxious about, even though I had lots of reasons to think it would turn out well. (It did, btw) Ha! It reminds me of October when, at the end of the month, there was another Big Deal Thing I had to do, feared the outcome of, and found afterwards that I'd foolishly worried about bad stuff that never happened.

Well, that Next Stage culminated in a perfectly wonderful evening last Monday - one that has left me feeling very uplifted. Not that other uplifting good things had failed to sprinkle my days. They had. A visit with a very lovely friend, a baby shower for my beautiful daughter-in-law, a long afternoon spent with a beloved sister. Those things were helpful, but before I could accept the gift that was last Monday, something in me was going to have to shift. Fortunately I had been guided by some guardian angel, or magic sprite, or divine and loving hand, to check out a book on tape by Joyce Meyer about changing the way you think. She has written so many books about changing the way you think I can't remember which title I listened to, and no. The library does not keep a record of what people have been reading, not even the director. If we don't collect that data it can't be subpoenaed. Meyer is a prolific Christian author and of course, this book has an entirely biblical foundation, with which I am somewhat neutral. I have my own spiritual path, that sort of fits in the mainstream Christian frame, but is far more based upon  Giovanni Guareschi's Christ in his Don Camillo stories than on the dogma of more formal religions - even if Don Camillo is a Catholic priest. No. I was looking for my action plan, my next right step, the kick-start to lifting that miasma of dread that seemed to be hanging over me.

Image result for slough of despondThe Black Slough Of Despond (Pilgrim's Progress) is a place that lurks out there on the fringes of my life.  I have been perilously close to it ever since Mama died. It is very easy for me to yield to its stickiness - it almost feels like an indulgence. Once in, it can take a long time to escape and I do a lot of collateral damage while I'm wallowing.

Ms Meyer has no patience with that though. She has a drill sergeant's voice and she is quick to say "stop thinking so wrongly".  And do it by starting every day with 5 good thoughts about yourself and your life and your world - but mostly yourself. And then say thank you for it.

So little. So simple. So powerful. And So.

Related imageI have been doing that now for about 10 days. There were things I dreaded during these 10 days. There were things I actually chose to delay, regardless of consequences. And by the 6th day I was ready to accept the compliment that last Monday was. And by today, as I lay in bed, listing the 5 good thoughts and saying thanks for them,  that load lifted.  I was ready to lighten up on myself and ... what's this? ... treat myself with the same kindness I try to treat others. Oh my. If this keeps up - who knows? I might start sailing under those sunny skies of The Place of Deliverance, if not the Celestial City itself.