posts in category happiness

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Metamorphosis

 


All throughout our lives we are changing. At first the changes are blatantly physical, but as the physical changes slow down and eventually start to pull inward, rather than blossoming outward, the internal changes have the capacity to increase.

Internal changes are more subtle. They can be self-driven or occur due to circumstances. I have always found life is a circle with rhythmic patterns emerging and rising and slowly dipping below to surface to allow others areas to surface for a while. While I am always spiritual, my dependence upon organized religion tends to wax and wane over time. At times, I desperately long to be  part of  some religous organization, and at other times, I am happy with the hodgepodge of beliefs I have put together alone.

On my own, this is fine. I can allow the inner tide to ebb and flow and grow and retract as my soul needs. I think sometimes it confuses my husband. I can't count the number of times he has said, "I thought you liked...." or "but in the past you wanted....."   And all I can do is look at him exasperated, "But that was in the past! This is now. Now is different."

Then I think perhaps I am just trapped in perpetual adolescence with my identity wavering depending on my moon (I meant to write mood, but moon came out through my fingers, and isn't that a prettier thought).  But...I don't think that is it. I think the core of who I am is always present. I am just trying on different dresses to see how each on fits. To really taste what is like to walk a bit in that particular dress. It's just an experience to think about. 

I went to an activity recently which had me viewing other people in a different way. For this activity, I was hugely thankful for outgoing, go-getters and appreciated the role they can fill in getting certain activities done. The more reticent and shy are not as well suited for this activity.  in this activity. It made me think of all the times I technically "showed up," but wasn't particularly useful in that activity. But there are other gifts besides the gifts of recruitment. Some people need more time to feel secure before they open up. Others would prefer to have to have a task and work diligently on that task. I am sort of like that. It isn't who I want to be. I want to be at the forefront and influential and noticed, but...I think my walls are just too high. But I can work behind those walls. I remember in Astronomy club in college. We were doing a public showing at the observatory. I was actually a fairly new physics student (yes, I know. Nothing in me says difficult, abstract, creative math problem solving...but I had to try it out-to taste it, and the Universe is dazzingly romantic). Anyway, it was one of the years when Mars was a little closer to the Earth and relatively bright and prominent.  There were lines of people for hours. I was given an 8 inch telescope, already set up and was to allow people to look through it. I did this. But I didn't KNOW anything. I was just sweetly smiling and shaking my head and explaining I was new. But then one of the professors came over, looked through the telescope, then gave me information about the particular globular cluster the scope was focused on. And suddenly, I had a job. With some general information, I could get excited and share some facts that people could visualize and understand. I didn't have to rely on making awkward small talk. I had a purpose. What is my point? My point is, we can all play some sort of a role, you just have to find that role. 

So Metamorphosis. I don't think I am actively in the midst of a shift right now. I have learned a lot of the past several months, though. I don't have the patience for young children I used to have. Part of it may be, I don't have the large expanses of time I used to have. I always have work to do online, so time shaping my children is taking me away from time developing my plans or doing tasks which need attention. If I didn't have to work perhaps I will feel differently. If all I had to do was get through the day, maybe I could slow down and just focus on developing and enjoying my children. But that is not an option for me. For so many years, I wavered on the edge-desiring to be home and homeschool (not with that online stuff-but my own real, self-designed work for my kids). But now, I realize, I will NEVER get the sense of security I need by staying home. I cannot handle being financially dependent on someone else with the life experiences I have had. It sort of sucks. All I ever craved was a quiet domestic life, with some creative time for writing (I mean who doesn't want to be famous for their hobbies, right?), but that dream cannot be balanced with all the other factors. And it sort of makes me feel weak. Part of me is like, "No! you have to stand up, throw it all away, and go live a simpler life. You have to prove to yourself you can handle whatever comes. You have to do this hard thing because it is the only thing that will make you feel alive! Break out of  the middle class comfort zone, with its insurance and retirement plan and semi-security. Go be real and live where you can feel it." 

But it isn't good for kids to be poor. I feel too much anxiety to rely on the possibility of needing the social nets if  things go wrong. I don't trust they would be there.

Plus I cannot stand the idea of not having enough money to get the heck out of Missouri on a regular basis. Why wasn't I born somewhere romantic like Scotland or Ireland? 

I feel like I am still asleep. I guess what I am searching for is that next change. That next shift that gets me excited and feeling alive. I want more and I am ready for a change and something new to think about. 

And I await the Universe for God's perfect timing. 





Friday, July 10, 2020

When Breath Becomes Air Book Review

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash


Biography and Autobiography is not a genre which I find attractive typically. When I picked up the book When Breath Becomes Air,  by Paul Kalanithi, after it was recommended in a Facebook book group, I found myself initially disappointed to see that it was an autobiographical book. However, it was fairly short, and I decided to give it a try. Within a few pages, I was hooked. The writing was interesting and the tone was one of a calm friend, explaining his world to me. I wanted to know this person.
 
This is an affiliate link. 

What interested me first was his casual dedication to excellence. The importance of a top-notch ivy league education to his family and the lengths his mother went to in order to ensure he was properly educated to be a competitive applicant to the top schools was fascinating. Honestly, it was a whole new mindset for me. All my life has been focused on reminding myself it was not a race-life was about experiences-prestige doesn't equal meaning. Suddenly, this person is earnestly talking about the importance of striving, and it was just--fascinating. My working class worldview couldn't help but be shook up a little. I found myself wondering how the mindset of his family and his friends was so different from mine. Are they just naturally more intelligent and thus striving towards excellence in their field is the only way of life they can fathom? Is it snobbery and keeping up with the Joneses-a life filled with achievements for bragging rights? Is it to build up a strong financial future so they can spend more time later working on wants rather than needs. I don't know. I was completely intrigued. My whole life was built around consoling myself that it is okay not to get what I desire because that isn't where meaning was to found anyway. To have someone so easily speak of achieving major accomplishments as if they were base expectations for life was just incredible.

The book itself is a heartbreaker. You will feel the wide open expanse of time as Paul briefly describes his childhood and feel the time cave in as he discusses his struggle with lung cancer. Paul struggled towards finding meaning and throughout the book, I found myself slightly unsatisfied. I kept waiting for that aha moment of illumination, when understanding of the purpose of life would shine on me, but it never came. His discussion of his childhood religion, and his belief that mercy trumps justice, left me feeling a bit in the dark. Of course, mercy trumps justice. Isn't that Jesus' point? Mercy and grace-giving people more than they deserve- are hopes we all cling to desperately as we feel life slipping away. But...why? Am I a sociopath in that I don't feel tremendously guilty about things? I feel bad when I hurt someone's feelings, particularly if it was intentional, but I don't writhe in my bed at night worrying about coming hell fires or even karmic vengeance. We are all just babies learning. My mother converted to Catholicism the year before she died. I struggle to understand this conversion. What had she done that was so bad she felt the need for someone to tell her God's grace was waiting. God's grace is all around us. God's grace is within us. We don't need Father Joe to tell us this-but maybe some do. Maybe some need that external validation that God loves them and will be merciful in light of their failings. It's a mindset I just don't struggle with. I've spent my share-precious few- less than two hands-of nights on the floor wrestling with the darkness and God's seeming absence. I've known what it is like not to feel another human's tender touch (besides my kids) for years, and finally broke down, staring at the carpet fibers as waves of darkness crashed over me. I've cried out in silent tears to God about the loneliness and despair of a world in which I just couldn't see or feel God's presence at all. But then, the loving arms of sleep would pull me in,  and in the morning I would rise once more.

But perhaps I am lucky. Perhaps my brain chemistry is just so that optimism is bound to peek around the corner even in the midst of the darkest thoughts.

And I started to feel that dark futility after I finished the book. For a brief moment, no matter how interesting and entertaining the book was, I wondered where Paul was. I wondered where the people I have lost are now. Are they there? Do they exist? My mom is deep within my cells-I am made of her. But Caleb? I can't feel him in my cells. I can't feel him around me. Is it because he takes me and goes out somewhere else? Does he feel me within him? If anyone has disappeared and ceased, it is him. And the darkness of death fell over me for just a moment or two. What happens when we die? Not the stories of old books, not the desires our heads have created, but what really, really happens? Is there this whole other existence, elsewhere? Is that the fairy tale we have created to make the days happier? Does the truth even matter? And then I pulled the sunshine out again. I will choose that which makes my soul sing. 

And the book was good.




Saturday, June 13, 2020

"Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One"-Reading now



Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash






This is an affiliate post.

My most serious book this month (meaning I am going through it carefully, rather than skimming through for nuggets of help), is the book: You Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, written by Raphaelle Giordano. I am listening to it on Audible, which means it is taking me awhile to get through it because I tend to forget about my audiobooks.

It is a self-help book, written in fictionalized form. Sort of a like a Sophie's World in self-help.


This is an affiliate link.

Another book it reminds of is ... I can't remember. Basically it was a fictionalized book with a simple romance built in and a genie who told the woman how to lose weight in small steps.

In no way are you going to be fooled into thinking this book isn't what it is, a thinly disguised advice book. The character is a little too perfect-good career, 10 pounds overweight (clearly European because 10 pounds is just a barbecue away here, make it 30 pounds and I will believe). She only has one child, which makes her a little hard to relate to for me. I mean how can you complain about raising kids when you only have one?  Anyway, she meets this man who agrees to take her on as a client and give her advice to help her change her life. 

The book does what it is supposed to: helps you imagine the steps to making changes in your life. First you have to decide what you want to change, then you have to start taking baby steps towards those changes. I found myself initially disappointed, because the book came highly recommended from my online book group people, and it is pretty basic. However, I can recognize the genius in writing this way because it does help the lessons to stick a lot better than a dry step-by-step advice book. Fictionalizing it makes it memorable. 

And finally, I haven't finished the book yet. Maybe I am totally wrong, and there is a plot twist making it a true work of literature. But I doubt it.

Camille is sort of the Bella of the self-help world. She is basic and her feelings are pretty stereotypical meaning most women are going to be able to relate to her. We all have fights with our spouse and feel like everything falls on us. We all would rather have a snack and glass of wine than go for a walk in the evening. We all get bored with our kids and feel the pressure of getting stuff done rather than bonding with loved ones.

If I sound negative, it is only in my disappointment in thinking the book was something else. It is definitely useful in accomplishing its purpose: to teach people how to change their lives in a simple step-by-step way. I do recommend it if you are trying to shake up a dull existence and reach for something a little more. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Book Review ~ Bliss Happens

Photo by Francisco Delgado on Unsplash




This blog contains affiliate links for the kindle version of the book in review. I use the kindle app on my phone and love it!

I was perusing the library for some, "Oh my goodness, they are about to shut down the town" reading books last month, when I came across the book Bliss Happens by Kym Douglas. The subtitle was "the six-week plan to a happier, prettier, thinner, and richer life!"

Now I love a serious book, but I am in no way opposed to fun and light reading, especially when it promises so much! When I finally dug into it. I was hooked. I quickly read through the book in one day.

Kym's writing style is so girl-next-door friendly you will find yourself loving her in spite of any jealous, catty tendencies you  might have simmering under the surface. She may have been kissed by the good luck star (is that a thing?), but if her real-life persona is anything like her book personality, she probably earned it. She is just so fun! 

The book starts out with  a quiz to determine how blissful you are, then breaks off into other parts which include: Beauty Bliss, Living Bliss, and the 30-Day Bliss plan. I quickly tried out some of the beauty ideas which included brushing my teeth with strawberries and smearing lemon slices along my arms to lighten the  age spots, um freckles. Now I can't remember if I read that in the book or if I was just finishing my morning hot water with lemon and found myself overcome with inspiration on natural treatments, but it was fun. It gave my arms a taut feeling for several hours, which I enjoyed, and I tasted sweet and sour, too!

Her life and momming advice was sensible. The food plan sounded delicous and if I stuck to it, I am sure the pounds would melt away. I didn't go through the day-by-day plan yet, but it seems reasonable, and honestly, I adored the alternative exercise ideas such as walking the dog, giving your parner a massage, and having a living room dance party. Really, if you can't follow this exercise plan, you probably aren't even trying.

The only caveat I found was her suggested at ditching coffee for her minty lime drink in the morning. I am just not there yet. I am not sure I ever want to be there, but the drink itself sounds like a treat!

If you are sitting around with only the grocery store pickup as occasional comfort I suggest following the affiliate link above, snatching the book to read on a free Kindle app, and planning out some homemade beauty bliss!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Responsibility

Image result for sunset photos


It has been a long and beautiful weekend. The days crawled by as the children played with neighbors in 60 degree weather. I did next to nothing. Oh, I did some maintenance housework, my husband and I rearranged the bedroom, (managing to avoid the Coffin position for the bed, for those who read my personal blog), and the house received a good airing. I did some things for my online shop, but really, it has been a lazy weekend.

I paid off my library fine for the coffee damaged books, and have more on reserve. I have been listening to books on Audible, but this will not be about them.

I found a short little article which so succinctly summed up my feelings on healing and responsibility, by Brianna Wiest,
Trauma is not Your Fault, but Healing is Your Responsibility.

This article has been timely for me because I find myself being reminded of snippets of unpleasant memories. Not the memories of  my many, humiliating mistakes, but memories of moments outside of my control. Many of these occured as child, a few as an adult. And sometimes it is helpful to be reminded of the pain and trauma of the past for various reasons. For one, a depth of feeling brings a sense of painful angst which drives me to write, drives me to create. Also, little Jill just sometimes wants remind the world, she is still here, and the scars still mark her skin.

But, the thing is, noone can fix the pain, but me. It doesn't need erased. It needs acknowledgement. But acknowledging it and dwelling in it are different. We all have our scars. In some way, we have all been hurt. Some have faced more trauma than others. I am luckier than so, so many who walk the earth. If I don't choose to learn and grow and takes steps to make different choices, my life can never accomplish what I was intended to accomplish. So while at times I choose to snuggle up with the inner child and hold her, I don't choose to live in that place.

I believe in a higher power who listens to me and helps me. If I ask for strength, or guidance, or wisdom, or even for unspecified help, I believe I will receive it. We are our own superman. We are the ones who intervene for our more fragile selves and take the leap of faith and ask for help. We are so strong and so powerful when we learn who and how to ask.

If you are like me, a part of you is dismayed with this focus on self. Perhaps you, too, feel your focus should be on helping others. But my dear, you can't save anyone until you have learned to save yourself (or to ask God for the help you need). You can't hold your child aloft in the crashing sea  if you don't put your life preserver on, too. There are so many things I wish I understood decades ago. But with faith I walk forth, and the blame game stops, and the healing begins.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Inner Critic

Image result for shame




"Imagine having a friend who always made you feel bad about yourself because every time they came over they told you what was wrong with you." That loosely quoted quote came from my morning motivational series on discouragement.

I have been discouraged! Anxious. Stressed.

I realize a great deal of this comes from my own perfectionistic tendencies. I apply these to myself as well as others. I think part of me sometimes feels there is a positive proactivism in being perfectionistic and that in harshly holding myself in line, I will become the better person I want to be.

As we know, though, the inner critic, often backfires when it is too harsh, too unaccepting. Wisdom tells us we will let ourselves down. I will make a snarky comment without forethought, or a customer will be disappointed because they didn't read all the available information. My natural tendency is to jump harshly on myself. Rude comment? Welp. That's it. Noone will ever like me. Angry customer? Welp. I suck. Why on Earth would I think I could run a business? And I feel this shame over myself.

But Gosh darn! Enough already. The anxiety riding in my belly this week, requiring me to rely on Benadryl to relax into sleep and to wake up in a slight fog is just so absurd.

I made a snarky comment. Most people will know that snarky comment is a reflection on me and my insecurities. Other people make snarky comments all the time. That doesn't mean I should just not care what I say. But rather, the moment has passed, and I need to let it dissipate, and move on.

My unhappy customers? Well, on the one hand, it was spelled out clearly on the item page when shipment would come. Shipment has been slightly delayed due to issues with the supplier and a health scare, but not significantly so. However, as the seller, I have to realize people probably don't take the time to read all the information carefully. I have to either not presell, or make it very clear along with a follow-up email offering a timeline and a way out.
I have to LEARN from this, not throw in the towel in shame and discouragement.

I believe in the inner critic. I believe in holding ourselves accountable and pushing ourselves onto higher moral and professional grounds. However, the inner critic has to also be loving. The inner critic has to offer proactive help, not helpless disappointment. Working towards kinder thoughts and words is always a good thing, but allowing myself understanding and the ability to occasionally screw up is required. I don't know anything about running a business. I have so many things to be proud of including the signs showing that I am on the verge of beginning to figure how to make it profitable. That's a huge leap since we really started up last July. I am becoming more knowledgable and competent all the time.

I need to recognize and realize those accomplishments. I need to continue to work towards giving myself grace and mercy. I don't HAVE to punish myself, just as I don't have to punish others when they let me down (or make the occasional snarky comment-although, I wonder, if my quest to become the loving and sweet Melanie Wilkes, if I will make myself into the most boring person on the planet. Time will tell, I guess). I think that is the balance I struggle with. I spent years self-repressing and hiding because I didn't trust myself, and as I have struggled to break free from those self-imposed prisons, I tend to sway when I make mistakes and upset others. It's a process I suppose.

On a side note, we talked briefly of out-of-body experiences and life after death in the office yesterday, and I was so happy. I think of these things all the time, and it is so fun when other people join in!



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