Lil Lemon Drop

Lil Lemon Drop
Happy Clothes for Happy Kids
posts in category joy

Friday, July 17, 2020

5 Things You Should Know About Life by 30







Life is fantastic. It is an emotional roller coaster filled with ups and downs and sometimes it simply feels too hard. I was walking the halls of the building I am working in, and found myself envying the position and opportunities other people have. And that's when I had to take myself in hand and get tough. Envy might be useful for just a brief moment, but Envyland is no place to live.

Fighting Tooth and Nail


There are so many things I wish I had learned early in life. Some people appear to be born with an inner sweetness and fortitude which helps them navigate the wilderness of life and they appear on top early and stay on top. Others of us had a lifetime of the wrong kind of training forming our brain patterns in ways which seemed beneficial at first, but eventually led us deeper into the fog and away from civilized life (meaning acceptable norms and behavior). 

I am from the second camp. I have used tooth and nail to drag myself (along with the quiet helpful hands of those who have guided me tenderly and forgivingly) out of the self-imposed wilderness into, well, maybe the edge of the woods.  Yes, my mistakes have been totally humiliating, but no, they aren't who I am. I am so much more than just the bad. So I wanted to share some of the thoughts on life I have been having. To some of you, they may seem blindingly obvious. To others, the lesson is still buried in your subconscious waiting for the right time to flip the switch on to self-realization. 






5 Things You Should Know About Life by 30 (or earlier)

Note: You'll notice I have 30 instead of the 40 in the infographic. After reflecting on it, I realized I may have learned the lessons late, but learning them early is, naturally, preferable.


1. Forgiveness is key to happiness- This is one  idea that has been brought up time and time again, but being able to forgive people is essential for a happy life. Forgiveness doesn't mean letting someone hurt you over and over again. You need to do what you need to do to set and enforce your own boundaries for safety and peace of mind. But forgiveness means allowing someone to make their own mistakes without letting the choices they made blacken your heart forever. It is hard not to hold a grudge. Sometimes not holding a grudge can feel like weakness. It can feel like you are letting people walk all over you. But holding a grudge is like a cancer, encroaching upon your heart, eating away at the happy possibilities for the future. Bitterness can feel very right, but bitterness is the language of the ego and the ego is a child. The ego doesn't necessarily have your best interest at heart, even though it will present itself as doing so. Like a pleading child, the ego will tug at your emotions, begging to you avenge wrongdoings against you. But as long as you listen to ego, and struggle to hold anger and hate close, you will be hurt. Learn to forgive.


2. You can't always get what you want- I know it is shocking. It is even more so when others seem to have a golden lighted path leading the way into greatness with strong hands lifting them up along the way. Life doesn't seem fair. Meanwhile you find yourself striving and stumbling, and that which you want just seems to be out of reach. Like grudges, this can lead to a deep and dark bitterness. Learning to visualize the bitterness and anger being washed away has been very helpful to me. When I feel the burden building up on my shoulders I like to imagine golden rays of sunshine lighting my head with warmth as turquoise foaming waves crash gently against my shoulders. Lifting my burden, I am left with all that truly matters. These external desires will all dissipate eventually. The world itself will some day disappear. Learning to find peace and joy with what is inside, with what is real, is the key. 

3. You get to determine your worth- Noone else gets to decide your greatness. Not your parents, not your boss, not your lover. If you are happy with who you are and what you have accomplished, you are a success. Maybe your parents dreamed of you walking the halls in a white coat with a stethoscope wrapped around your neck. But your heart lights up at the smiling faces of your preschool students each day. You are a winner! Perhaps your boss doesn't think you are worthy of her inner circle- but your job gives you time to go home and paint spectacular paintings which thrill your soul. Winner. Maybe your lover wants you to earn more money and bring up their lifestyle, but peace is your ultimate goal. You get to make that choice. This doesn't mean you should be a jerk and not listen to input from others or continue to be valuable in the jobs and family roles that you are responsible for. It means not allowing someone outside of you to dictate how you feel about who you are and the value you bring to this world. That's up to you. 

4. Life is incredibly short- It's really a blink of an eye in the eternities of time. Balance wisdom with childlike curiosity. Save for retirement as early as you can. If you are in your 20's, start now! Don't put it off one more year. Take that income tax refund, or next raise and start investing it right away. There are a myriad of books available to help you get started. At the same time, have fun! Take that vacation. If you are like most people you will have to choose between experiences and things. I can't make that choice for you. My husband and I have chosen an older home with a lower price tag so we have more money for traveling and experiencing the world. If your heart lies in aesthetics, you might prefer living in a beautifully decorated home more than taking a vacation. Only you can decide what your values are. Do some soul searching-discover your values-what matters to you-and start making choices which honor those values. Don't wait. You can always start planning for your amazing life today.

5. Make the effort- If you want to connect with someone, make the first move. Send a text, call, stop by and visit. The worst that can happen? Well, I guess they could go on a radio show and share your heartfelt attempts in a mocking manner, but is that likely? And are they worth your time if they mock you? Take a deep breath and reach out. You might be the light of someone's day. Make the effort in all that you do. Relationship, work, play, rest. Don't be afraid of failure, hiding behind mediocrity, excusing your flaws away. Love yourself immensely and enough to keep striving towards the best version of yourself. Remember number 4. When you have decided your values, go full-force into attaining them. If you screw up, remember number 1. Forgive yourself. We are all learning. We are all perfect in our imperfections. Then stand back up and try again. I won't promise you will reach some arbitrary goal, but I will promise if  you don't try for what you want, regret will sink deep into your bones.  

At some point, life is painful for all us. But it can also be very rich, very rewarding, and very, very good.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Joy!

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning ...


Yesterday I was reading people's first and second hand accounts with Covid-19 and worked myself into a state of worry by bedtime. I just kept thinking how I could possibly be down for a week or two or three, lying in bed miserable in pain, and how on earth Karl would keep the kids away. Then I worried about my husband's health, because he is the one still going out to work in an office environment with other people. He is going to pick up germs and spread them all over our house. Then I thought of our boys and I couldn't imagine them in such discomfort over a period of time. 

I think it would be wise not to read accounts of the misery of the illness. Every pain, every bit of pressure has me wondering, is this it? Is this a symptom? Like an 8-month-pregnant woman reading into every twinge as a sign of labor, I wonder if everything is just the beginning of an unpleasant illness.

But then morning comes, and I am such a morning person, and the sunlight is beautiful, and online classes for my students begin today, and joy will not be suppressed.

I hope everyone is well. How are you keeping your thoughts safe and happy! I would love it if you would share.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Small



Image From Wikipedia
This is a time when I feel very small. We read and talk and posture and learn, always working to convince ourselves that we are bigger, we are strong, we are enough. And then something comes along and we realize we are just one wave in an enormous crashing ocean. All the answers , all the power seems to seep away and like a child dependent on an abusive parent, we hold our hand out to powers we don't really trust and drink in their words because what else can we do?

All my spiritual exercises and practices make me feel very silly. I read an article about not giving or taking ibuprofen with this illness and thus HAD TO GO BUY Acetaminophen (Tylenol). I was embarrassed about showing my frailty as a human, my dependence on these bits of information laid bare, but as I walked through the eerie night,  away from the clicking traffic lights (the streets were so quiet) into the drugstore, and back to the pain reliever aisle, I found just one lone bottle of  children's liquid acetaminophen left. I was not the only worried one. And I felt both justified and sheepish at the same time.

I picked up more coffee, because I know what is important, noted the lack of toilet paper and paper towels, and picked up the teensiest little box of Kleenex, because you never know. All the interactions were awkward between everyone, and I stepped back into the quiet night feeling so alone.

And I try to put a spin on it, and it is a little exciting. I know. I know! I am immature. I am not supposed to say that. It is horrible and my mother would berate me so, but if I step back for a minute I think, this is feeling we have been chasing for years. Chasing around with our dystopian novels and movies, wishing we could really touch and understand the depths of life. And here it stands, surreal, and I feel as if I am standing in molasses and my head is filled with thick, numbing syrup. I don't feel fear. Just anxiety. And confusion.

And I think eventually it will all go back to normal, because what else can I think? and I hope the casualties of life aren't so great. I hope unemployment is short and recovery is quick both in human cost and fiscally, because I worry.

And I can close my eyes as I type and pause for a minute, and in the eeriness of this quiet, quiet world, I can feel our pulse, shared and steady, and love how we are all in this together.

Whatever it is.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Negative Thoughts? Take these 3 steps now!

Image result for mountains sunset
I am feeling a bit like a hypocrite this morning. For one, last week was a fairly negative one. I overshared with a couple of people at work on Friday, due to a stressful situation and feel a bit of regret. Especially since a big thing I overshared about seems better. I should feel better that it is better, but instead I feel I was blowing it out of proportion to get attention or sympathy or something. Then I was feeling anxiety about possible future events outside my control and found myself directing that anger in the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, it was almost entirely internal, but a few less than complimentary comments on my part have me stressing. I am better than that. I know better than that. And if I don't handle the internal struggle, eventually it become external and that's destructive.
 A family member has been ill and is struggling with dealing with illness and weakness, and I fear he is making it worse with his worries. He doesn't seem to be getting out or walking or doing any of the things he has always loved and which ironically probably kept him healthy for so long. It is hard to watch someone flounder, especially when you feel if they would just listen to advice, relax, take their meds, and stop the alcohol and nicotine roller coaster, they would probably be just fine.  But he feels he is dying. And maybe he is. He is closing the world off around him and that is not a good way to flourish. He is saying anxious I love you's, and my brain wonders if it is anxiety and depression driving him or intuition. And it worries me.

And the house is a mess.

And I sit here, feeling like a hypocrite, Who am I to give advice on living to another person? Who do I think I am? That's the feeling running through my veins.
But it is just twisted perfectionism hounding me. This idea I harbor telling me perfection is attainable if I just TRY HARDER, and then I will be fit to give advice.

Nonsense! I mean really. A big load of bull. Everyone struggles.

First thing to be done is take a big, deep breath, and then let it out. And  then another. And another. The second thing is to mentally take this pile of worries and push it away. Seriously, I am visualizing a big brown dirty scruffy Charlie Brown pile with a white sign and red letters painted "Worries," and just pushing it all away by hand. I don't have to carry this load.
YOU don't have to carry this load. Push it away! Now it's all there, but it isn't blocking the path. From perfectionism, to desiring control to ensure a perfect outcome, to worrying about things which are in someone else's hands, I acknowledge that I can't fix all this. I can however stop tormenting myself with it all.

Now, I visualize myself walking right past that pile down an open path (sun setting in the distance, of course). And I feel lighter.

One of the hardest things to do, when you are caught in a negative cycle, is realize what it is. It is just you choosing to focus on the wrong thoughts. PUSH THOSE THOUGHTS AWAY. Unless you are actively coming up with a plan to alleviate your concerns, just thinking about them, running circles around your brain, is not going to help. It is going to keep you stuck.

Newsflash! You are going to screw up. You are going to say the wrong thing, leave the wrong impression sometimes, and deal with family illness. It's going to happen. Ruminating will not take the words back, scrub your impression clean, or heal your sick person. It won't. YOU CANNOT OUTTHINK MOST OF YOUR PROBLEMS. I have been trying for years. I am no Einstein, but I know some things (though I have forgotten so much more than I know-which reminds me,  you know when you meet that person who not only can recall a lot, but can quickly use it in arguments and discussions? I envy those people. Meanwhile I am over here, like, Hmm. My gut tells me you are wrong, but I need to go home read some books, search my soul, and figure this out. I will get back to you next week, how's that? I guess that is why I like to write. Meanwhile, the world is following that quick thinker and easy speaker EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG, because that's how the world works. Silliness).

When things are just wrong and you believe you have screwed up one of the best ways to get relief right away is to just stop everything. Stop digging that hole. Stop trying to fix the problem with thoughts and words and just be still a moment. Then walk past the problem. I get it. The problem is still there. I do understand that, but you do NOT have to live a life of misery because you are not perfect,  or because certain things are simply outside your realm of control. You don't.  Just stop, gather your wits, and walk away for a bit. And later, when you are busy in a project, doing a hobby, watching a favorite show (and make sure you really love what you are watching or do something else. Life is too short for mediocre), or just sitting completely in the moment watching the world around you, you will find that the problem might not be so bad.

And what if it is? What if that pile marked "Worries" is persistently following you and there are serious problems stacked up in that pile? I guarantee if you take a break from them, if you write them out and leave them to a higher power, and ask for help in solving them, the help will come. I don't guarantee it will be the answer you want or the way you want it. But if you can pull yourself away from demanding it all go down in a certain way, it will all work out in the end.

So my 3 steps in a nutshell?

1. Stop and breathe. Breathe deeply and exhale through your mouth several times. Feel your shoulder, chest, and upper back relax with those breaths.

2. Visualize that pile of worries and push it away.

3. Walk past that pile into the distance and start doing something else. Something you love, something you have to do, something constructive, or something frivolous. Just get busy, even if that means just watching the birds hop along in your backyard busily searching for their next meal.


You can revisit the worries later. Now is not that time. Now is a gift. Unwrap it with joy.



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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