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@Lori @galenpearl I don't see it in the moderation or in the spam folder--you've posted comments before, so I don't know what the problem is. Oh dear. If it doesn't work, please email me your comment and I'll post it for you. Thank you, my friend.
1 year, 4 months ago on How Do You Get Into the Christmas Spirit?
@Lori @galenpearl Thank you! See you there.
Lori, Holidays can remind us of those we miss. Your approach is such a loving way to honor Alex's memory. The Christmas spirit opens our hearts to allow generosity and love to pour out.
For me, Christmas has been a time in recent years to draw inward, not in an isolating way, but rather into a time of quiet and stillness in the midst of all the holiday chaos. I have handed over the torch to my kids to celebrate as they see fit. I'm happy to join in their choices rather than to be the center of it.
This Christmas is also a time of letting go for me. I posted my last blog post the day before Thanksgiving. The blog has run its course, at least for now. So this is also a time of goodbyes for me. I'm going to visit all the folks, like you, who have been a wonderful part of my life these last few years. Thanksgiving seemed a perfect time to begin a period of giving thanks as the year comes to an end.
So thank you, my friend, for being a blog friend to me, for sharing your story with courage and delight. I hope you will stop by for a gift of gratitude in my last post. Wishing you all the best, Galen
Since I've gotten to the age where, as my daughter affectionately says, I have the memory of a gnat, I like to save my brain space for stuff that really matters. Because I can still remember my childhood phone number from decades ago but can't remember my daughter's current cell phone number, I have a theory that we have a finite amount of memory space in our brains, just like a computer. But unlike a computer, there is no delete button to make more space and no way to add more memory capability. So when it's full, that's it!
I have no scientific basis for this theory, but it makes me feel better when I forget where I put my keys, but can remember that I'm supposed to pick up my grandson from daycare. And also, I'm glad that apart from the finite memory card, there seems to be no limit to learning and thinking in our brains.
If you can still remember all the phone numbers and passwords in your life, then I want to know what vitamins you are taking!!
1 year, 6 months ago on Is Your Brain on Cruise Control?
Your article reminded me of something I read awhile back that was sort of a defense of Pollyanna. People use her as a way of criticizing someone, as in "Don't be such a Pollyanna." The person writing this defense pointed out that Pollyanna had a way of looking for the good in everyone and everything. I was so intrigued that I actually went back and read the book. Pollyanna was really a very enlightened little girl! So yes, I am all for rose colored glasses, at least figuratively speaking.
1 year, 6 months ago on Are You Looking at Life Through Rose-colored Glasses?
@Lori @galenpearl I can tell you from personal experience that the belief we can control anything outside of our thoughts, words, and actions is indeed a delusion--ha! The effort to change yourself would fall under those things we can control, wouldn't it? Because changing ourselves means changing our thoughts, words, and actions.
You can't make calls not come in, for example, but by focusing on what you could control--unplugging the phone for example--you could change the situation. I recently had to hire a lawyer to stop some unwanted calls! Again, I couldn't control the calls, but I could control my actions, like hiring the lawyer.
I think the issue with regard to our suffering, at least the part that is self imposed, is that we get frustrated when we try to control what we can't control and it doesn't work!
1 year, 6 months ago on How Much Control Do We Have?
I had to laugh when I saw your post title. When I make a presentation about the 10 Steps, we do an exercise for Step 3--Give up the delusion of control. We make two lists--one listing the things we can control, and the other listing the things we can't control. Skipping to the end of the discussion, we end up concluding that we can control what we think or say or do, and we can't control everything else!
You couldn't control other people calling you, but you could control your actions, and you did, by taking steps to prevent the calls from bothering you. Nicely done!
@Lori @galenpearl If you will forgive my inclusion of a blog link, here is the story--
1 year, 6 months ago on Are You in Pain?
My book is dedicated to Todd "who found the part that looked like me." This is a reference to an energy healing session I had with him years ago when I was a real skeptic. He made me a believer!
@Lori @galenpearl I think we would be curious and attentive about what was going on without adding a layer of interpretative assumptions. Assumptions are closely linked to judgment, whether we are evaluating something as good or bad.
I wouldn't say that we wouldn't think about things, but we might think less about them. I believe that our experience of things and our response to things would have less of our ego involved, and we would be more centered in the present moment.
Of course, this is purely academic since I, like most of us, quickly make assumptions, and with your encouragement will now try to be more self aware of the choices I make about them!
1 year, 6 months ago on Are You Making Assumptions?
Great example! You might just have easily assumed that she didn't recognize you because you had aged so much. I'm not saying that would be a reasonable assumption since in your photo, you look barely old enough to have graduated from high school! My point is that, as you say, our assumptions are our choice, and it's just as easy to choose a positive spin as a negative one. What if we tried to drop our assumptions altogether?
@Lori @galenpearl Here the funny part. I live in the inner city in Portland, Oregon! Not small town at all, but small town feel. The gas pump thing is state wide--it's the law here.
1 year, 6 months ago on Is Technology Making Us Antisocial?
I think it does both. I love going in my small bank where someone always greets me by name. Same for the grocery store. Even though they have the automatic check lines, I always wait for a cashier. I like the personal touch, and the technology in those situations does not enhance human connection. Same for automated phone answering (don't even get me started on that one!).
One of the many things I love about Oregon is that we don't have self service gas pumps. Yep, when you stop to get gas, a real human being comes to your window and asks what you want. I love some of the little chats I have with folks while waiting for my car to get filled.
So in many situations, I think that technology is cutting us off from each other. Like your sister-in-law observed, we can go through much of our day without any contact if we choose to, and even sometimes if we would choose otherwise.
On the other hand, because of technology, I am able to stay in touch with people I know all over the world from my years as an expatriate. True, we wrote letters before, but this is so much faster and easier. I'm also connected with people I had lost track of--either they found me or I found them, and we reconnected.
And there are folks like you that I only know online, and yet I feel a connection with. So, as others have said, it's how you use it. I just got back from a few days at my cabin--unplugged! I enjoy my time away from technology, and now I'm happy to be home and seeing what my online buddies are up to.
I like the idea of moving away from the concept of problem. That immediately evokes a negative judgment. Many of the things we label as problems are just life. We get stuck in traffic, the water heater breaks, we are put on hold, we get a cold, whatever. When we set ourselves up to wait for a problem free time in our life so that we can be happy, we are going to wait for a long time.
Having said that, there are certainly times in our lives that are more challenging than others. We might suffer a devastating loss, as you have, or it might be a series of less serious issues that nevertheless take a lot of time and energy. And sometimes it's a project, as you described, that is just getting to be too much.
Then we do want we need to take care of ourselves and give ourselves permission to make adjustments. Sometimes that might even mean quitting something and letting go. Or not.
Maybe the key is to drop the judgment about it.
1 year, 7 months ago on Do You Have Days When You Want to Quit?
@Steve_Rice Oh, I like that too. Sometimes I do a one minute gratitude list--easy to do at a stoplight or waiting in line.
1 year, 7 months ago on How Do You Live In the Moment?
@Steve_Rice Belly breathing is a quick and effective practice. Or having a word or phrase that interrupts the hampster-wheel thinking, like "come" or "be still."
I love the title--having the courage to live a life of joy. I will definitely hop over and check out Steve's blog.
As for living in the moment, I find that the real life benefit is that I spend much less time in "what if" or "if only" world. When I can stay present, my life is richer and definitely filled with more joy and gratitude. I'm also better able to respond rather than react to situations without having all the past baggage or future fear dictating my thoughts and actions.
Lovely post. Now to your blog....
@Lori @galenpearl Yes, I had a wonderful summer. His book The Power of Now is by my bed--next on my list!
1 year, 7 months ago on How to Become Free of the Ego
This is very consistent with other wisdom teachings, like A Course in Miracles, Buddhist writings, the teachings of Jesus, and more. Very enlightening! (Just spent some time catching up with your other recent posts. Glad to be back after my summer break.)
When I look back, I don't think about missing the good old days as much as I think about the bad old days that could have been good old days if I had made some different choices.
Your posts about Alex always touch my heart. What a beautiful family photo on this post.
1 year, 8 months ago on Do You Miss the Good Old Days?
I love johncharlesowens' comment! As I thought about your question, my mind first went to things I've achieved in my life. I don't just mean professional or financial. I include my career in it because it was meaningful to me, not because I was famous or rich. But the more I thought about your question, the more I realized that to me success isn't so much about what I've done as much as it is about who I am. It's true that I have been fortunate to have done most of the things I set out in life to do, but it's more important that I've become the person I want to be.
Having said that, I love your expanded knitting analogy. Confidence and not being afraid to try. I remember being asked at a job interview for my dream job (a long shot for me) whether I had a particular skill that was only tangential to the job. I didn't really have the skill, but I knew I could learn it quickly, so I said yes. You better believe that my first day of work, I was proficient! Go for the gusto!
As you know, I'm taking a break in June, but I'll be back!
1 year, 11 months ago on How Do You Define Success?
I never cared that much about stuff, but I did spend my money on services that would free up my time. I had a housekeeper when the kids were growing up. They were responsible for chores and for keeping their own stuff tidied up, but the housekeeper did the vacuuming and so forth. I also had someone take care of the yard. I still have the yard care, but I do my own housework now. As a single mom in need of a break now and then, I also spent money on good quality sitters so that I could get away for some grown up time every so often.
My most indulgent expenditure was the cabin I bought in the mountains. I've never regretted that at all.
1 year, 11 months ago on How Do You Spend Your Money?
I remember my mom asking me why I couldn't be more like my sister, who, of course, was perfect. I remember not doing things because I couldn't do them perfectly. Also not asking for help because I didn't want anyone to see that I couldn't manage everything.
Fortunately, age takes care of a lot of this, I think. I got to a point where I was too tired to care about being perfect. I let it go and started enjoying my life! Now my life seems perfect to me, whether I am perfect myself or not!
1 year, 11 months ago on Do You Think You Have To Be Perfect?
@Lori @galenpearl Lori, the interview is amazing and very exciting. It reminds me of Louise Hay's work. Different discipline but similar connections being made. And from another perspective, a bit more woowoo, it reminds me a bit of Christian Science and even A Course in Miracles. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the notion that there is a mind/body/emotion connection has been around, and it's so wonderful that science/medicine is moving in this direction. It will improve healthcare so much.
On a separate topic, what kind of name is Abbass? I love to know about names.
1 year, 11 months ago on Do You Believe the Mind, Body and Emotions are Connected?
Oh I absolutely believe this! When I got to the point that my life wasn't working anymore, my body let me know by sending me to the emergency room...twice! I knew that there was nothing physically wrong with me--it was my wake up call to change my habits. The pain was very motivating and I did what I needed to do to transform my life. I'm so grateful for the connection and the collective wisdom of all these parts!
@Lori @galenpearl Exactly!!
1 year, 12 months ago on What Life Rule Would You Make?
I think my "rule" would be "Wake up!" I've always loved the story of Buddha, who was asked by a passerby who noticed that there was something different about him whether he was a God, or a king, or an angel. Buddha answered no to all the questions. Then the man asked, "Well, then, what are you?" And Buddha replied, "I am awake." If we were all awakened to the truth, then all these other rules would be taken care of. At least that's what I think.
I used to tell my students (many of whom came to law school to change the world) that some of them might indeed do something like that, but that most of us will not be famous for making the world better on a massive scale. All of us, though, can make our little corner of the world a better place. Beginning with ourselves. As Ken Kesey replied when we was asked in his later years what he was doing to change the world, "Well, this year I'm growing asparagus." I have adapted his answer for my own life. "Well, this year I'm growing a joyful spirit."
2 years ago on Are You Changing the World?
As the saying goes, the best things in life aren't things. Or at least some of the best things are not things. I love sitting by the creek at my cabin. I like good quality loose leaf tea (and drink several cups every day). I like my birds--finches and a canary--that sing all day long. And I love bacon! I love my grandson's crooked smile, especially if he is smiling at me. I love practicing martial arts. And reading!!
2 years ago on What Are Your Favourite Things?
@Lori I always wondered what her true intentions were--ha!
2 years ago on Do You Believe in Destiny?
My dad was a pilot in the very early days of commercial aviation. My mom was adventurous and wanted to learn to fly. She dragged a friend along with her to the airport and while she was at a counter asking about flying lessons, my dad walked by in his pilot's uniform. He gave mom and her friend a ride home, and....
My mom always winked at the end of telling this story and added, "And I never did learn how to fly."
I understand your feeling. It is online connection at its best, isn't it? It's moments like this when I am truly grateful for the Internet. Blessings to you.
2 years, 1 month ago on Thank You
@Lori Well, as a Southern girl, I would have to say cotton. In fact, I have a beautiful bowl on display in my dining room. The bowl is filled with cotton that I picked myself.
2 years, 1 month ago on Are You a Wimp?
Sometimes the most courageous act is just getting through another day. Pema Chodron wrote that we have no idea what it takes for someone else to open a door. Courage and weakness are sometimes much closer to each other than we think.
Gosh, more examples than I can count. Most recently, events in a family situation worked out in a way I hadn't planned. At first I was impatient and frustrated when things seemed to get off track, but in the end things turned out better because of some "random" events. All of these things had to happen in a certain order and each one was necessary to bring about the miraculously good result. There is no rational explanation for what happened. A miracle of serendipity, definitely.
2 years, 1 month ago on Have You Ever Experienced Serendipity?
We all manage in our own way, even though grief itself is universal. What you are doing seems so gentle and self loving to me. In the past, I handled grief mainly through denial and repression. I can tell you that that was not a very healthy approach, and I don't recommend it. I've now learned what you know already. Doing whatever helps us move with and through the grief is better than fighting it or denying it. I do find solace in spiritual practices of prayer, reading wisdom literature, meditation, being with close friends or being in solitude, being in nature, and being physically active to the extent I feel up to it. You seem to have a deep self awareness and intuitive knowledge about what you need. And hopefully, you feel all the love and caring coming your way in person and online. Blessings.
2 years, 1 month ago on How Do You Manage Grief?
Yes, I have asked for and gotten a sign. Most recently, I experienced nothing short of a miracle and afterwards got a sign to confirm my intuitive understanding of "who" had helped me. Pretty amazing. And YOU are clearly getting a sign that you are loved and supported and encouraged. Blessings to you, my friend.
2 years, 1 month ago on Have You Ever Asked for a Sign?
Like Angela and Elle and others, I don't have an editorial calendar. About twice a week, I sit down to write something and see what happens. I often write down quotes or ideas on sticky notes stuck around my computer, so if I need an idea, I look though these. But often what I think I'm going to write doesn't turn out to be what I actually write. I'm intrigued by all the various approaches people take. Our creative minds work in such diverse and interesting ways!
2 years, 2 months ago on The Empowering Life of a Blogger
@Lori I practiced taekwondo for several years and got my black belt about a year ago. Then last summer I became a beginner again and started practicing kung fu and tai chi. I am so loving the tai chi. I hope you get a chance to take some classes in it.
2 years, 2 months ago on Where is Your Solid Ground?
I understand what you mean about wanting your blog to be a "happy place," and not a place that brings people "down." But the only real joy, I think, is joy that embraces the whole of life, including devastating tragedy. True joy comes only from truth, and the truth is that joy is sometimes flooded with grief or sadness. Chogyam Trungpa taught that the heart of a warrior (a spiritual warrior) is the gentle heart of sadness, with a limitless compassion that holds all the truth of being alive. Joy is born of that gentle heart of sadness.
Your blog is "real," in the way that Dr. Alice Chan describes in the comment below. Your being real, even if that "real" is painful, gives others courage and permission to be real, to lean towards the truth. Joy comes from connection, even connection through sorrow. Anything other than being real blocks connection.
Your truth is that your life changed forever when Alex died. I have no doubt that if you could make your life different in that way, you would in a heartbeat. And all who love you would do that for you if they could. Solid ground will likely come and go, expand and contract. As time goes on, it will come more often and be more vast. But knowing how to find it, for you through writing, will give you some sense of regaining your footing in the world that you live in now.
For me, I find my solid ground in meditation, prayer, and even martial arts. Odd for me to say that since so much of my life is and has been about words. Yet my most solid ground seems to be wordless. Go figure.
Blessings to you this day and every day.
Yes, I have. I got through some periods by going into what I called survival mode, doing only the minimum of what I needed to get through the day. Sometimes that was the best I could do. And I waited until things were better, until I could do something more than just survive. And then waited until I could feel good again. And I did. Looking back, I think I prolonged my most difficult periods by doing whatever I could do to escape or deny what was going on. When that finally didn't work anymore, then the survival started and the road to feeling better.
2 years, 2 months ago on You Will Survive
@PennyK Penny, I just wanted to say that I appreciated your comment. When my dog died last summer, I couldn't believe how wonderful the staff was. The doctor who was there that day didn't even know Sadie, but he sat on the floor with me while I cried and held her and told him all about Sadie until I was finally ready to say goodbye to her. I was never rushed. Afterwards, they let me stay with her as long as I wanted. I will never forget his gentle kindness.
2 years, 3 months ago on What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving?
Lori, bless your heart for sharing some of your thoughts with us. We do so often want to help but don't know how. Years ago, I went through training to be a Stephen Minister, a companion who walks beside someone going through a difficult time. Much of the 60 hours of training was about listening, and patience. Your suggestions in this post will help many people offer meaningful support to those who need it.
I especially appreciated the suggestions that involve naming the person. So often we are afraid to say something that might be upsetting, but I think people appreciate knowing that their loved one was also loved by others and is missed by others. Sharing a memory, saying a prayer, shedding a tear, or a silent touch, can be comforting to both the giver and receiver.
@Lori Indeed. Although I draw wisdom from many sources for my 10 Steps program (which I teach in various settings), I return to the Course over and over. This year I'm leading an online study group on the Course. We are going through the workbook one lesson a day. Interestingly, I'm reading a book about a famous tai chi master right now (in connection to my martial arts practice). Much of what he teaches about tai chi is very consistent with the Course. The Bible, the Tao Te Ching, A Course in Miracles, and so many other teachings all help us move from fear to joy. And really, when you get right down to it, that is the only thing we are ever really teaching and learning in this life.
2 years, 3 months ago on What Gives Your Life Meaning?
That is a powerful book. As for what gives my life meaning, I think teaching does. Have I lost it before? Yes, several times. When I realized I was getting "stale" and coasting on what I already knew, I asked myself what excited me about teaching. Sometimes that meant re-visioning what I was already teaching to come at it in a fresh way. Other times that meant turning to something completely different, like when I retired from teaching law and turned my attention to teaching joy. And still other times, that meant asking what I want to learn. A Course in Miracles says that we all teach what we want to learn. So the teacher/student line is blurred. That is when the best teaching happens.
I use a sensory check sometimes to bring me back to the present. What am I seeing right now, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching? It's a great technique and quick--you can do it at a red light or in the check out line.
Also, when I was studying nunchucks last year, I realized that I could practice better sometimes with my eyes closed. I would then quit trying to see what I was doing, and feel it instead. It made a huge difference. Interesting.
2 years, 3 months ago on How Do Your Five Senses Shape the Life You Lead?
I could barely get past the photo to read the post. All I could think was, is her desk really that neat? I won't show you a photo of mine! But I do have a nice room to write in, complete with my canary named Henry, who is singing to me right now.
If my life is a story, then it seems like a series of almost disconnected stories. I sometimes wonder how I've crammed so many lifetimes into one. People who have met me in my current "lifetime" can hardly believe it when I tell them about my earlier ones. So if I were going to see it as one story, I would want to look for the theme. I will have to contemplate this some more, because at first glance, the theme is not apparent to me.
About the writing, I have always been the professional writer in my family. As a lawyer, much of my career was about writing, and most particularly drafting contracts. Not the same as blogging, and yet, much of what people like about my writing, I can trace back to my legal training and teaching. Go figure.
Great series. I'm going to come back later and read more comments. Always fun to follow the conversation.
2 years, 3 months ago on The Introspective Life of a Blogger
I love this idea. We sometimes think that conditions have to be a certain way or that we need a certain amount of time. We keep putting it off until our conditions are met. Your suggestions make it easy to weave meditation into our everyday lives, no matter how busy. I'm going to close the computer now and follow your advice!
2 years, 3 months ago on Meditate Right Now
@Lori No, that's not insensitive, and you are not the only one who has asked. I've never been without a dog, so these months since Sadie died have been unusual for me. I don't know if I will get another dog. Right now, especially with the recent empty nest transition, I find that I am a bit responsibility averse. That's why, I think, I haven't raced to get another dog. But we'll see. Strategies? No, not really. Trying to feel my way through it, not make big decisions fast, paying attention, giving myself permission to have lots of pajama days, doing a lot of deep cleaning. In fact, I'm going to go clean my kitchen floor right now.
2 years, 3 months ago on What Do You Think About at the End of a Year?
I thought about you as this year ended. I'm grateful that you shared some of your thoughts. For me, 21012 was a year of change and transition. I turned 60, a significant birthday in some cultures. I published my book. My dog Sadie died. And in ended the year with an empty nest, the first time I've had an empty nest since I became a mom almost 26 years ago. So I'm entering the new year with some adjusting to do, learning how to be in the world in a new way.