Thursday, October 29, 2009

New word delight

One of my Facebook friends recently posted a word I hadn't ever heard before: apophenia.

I'm an inveterate reader and get excited beyond what might be considered logical when I run across a word I haven't heard before. In fact, I'm so word oriented, that I asked for years for the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as a Christmas gift. You're reading this and saying, "Okay, we all have a dictionary in the house. Nothing special." This version is HUGE. I whipped out my tape measure to give dimensions - it is over 20 inches tall, and close to 8 inches thick. To put that into perspective, it is taller and about as wide as your basic hard drive tower (the older versions). I have it on a library stand in my office and rarely walk past it on any given day without spending some enjoyable minutes paging through and devouring words, meaning, history, etc.

So, apophenia - the Wikipedia explantion of this is as follows:

Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad,[1] who defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness".

Conrad originally described this phenomenon in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis, but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological differences or mental illness.

In the case of autistic spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome and individuals who are autistic savants, individuals may in fact be aware of patterns (such as those present in complex systems, large numbers, music, etc) that are infrequently noticed by neurotypical people. Rather than being aware of patterns that do not exist, autistic individuals may be aware of meaningful patterns within situations that appear meaningless to others. Indeed, in some philosophies (e.g. existentialism), meaning is something subjective, unique to each person, that must be achieved. What, then, is 'abnormal' meaning? [2]

After reading through the full Wiki page on this word, I sat back to ponder. Conrad applied this word to the phenomenon of recognizing patterns and connections. He was studying what are looked at as abnormal behaviors and psychosis. In light of that fact, my own thoughts might seem to be a slight reach, or a monumental one, depending on the interpretation of the reader. I happen to believe, upon reading this interesting information, that we all recognize these patterns and connections - we're just normally distracted by the overwhelming, multiple stressors and obligations of the workday world.

Could this concept marry up with the phenomenon of serendipity? I think it can.

Serendipity is defined as is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.

That sounds quite similar to the concept of apophenia to me, albeit in a non-mental illness application! The Wiki definition does go on to say that subsequent understanding and application of the word apophenia is becoming more mainstream. I would say that that fact all on its own is an astonishing shift in consciousness in the medical and psychiatric communities, to allow that a definition meant for severely mentally challenged individuals can also apply to completely healthy, highly functioning individuals. That type of identification of mental and emotional status rarely crosses boundaries from one world to the other.

Do I have a point? I do, and it is that I learned a new word for what I normally call serendipity, and that gave me a happy moment today. The word apophenia opened up a whole new world of contemplation and study, and that's always exciting for me. The final thought is that this new-to-me word introduced me to a new concept, which, in turn, brought me full circle back to one of my favorite words. That would be, it appears, a stunning example of.....serendipity!

Funny and fascinating how I recognized that pattern. My recognition, was, however, very motivated! I love to discover these so-called random connections...about words, about music, about inspiration, about relationships, about history....about anything, really. It broadens my mind, forces me to observe and contemplate topics and concepts I might not otherwise ever look for intentionally. As a result, I am constantly growing and changing in a very elemental way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shared Moments

"This needs to be shared," said my friend Marty in the midst of a Facebook email conversation.

For those of you who feel that blogs should not include personal anecdotes or discuss mundane issues, this is your head's up to click to another page. I'm going to share a completely silly, irreverant moment with a good friend - it has a purpose, and I'll talk about that too, but just saying...this is a window into a very silly conversation.

It all started with some random email one of us sent, regarding building up of readership/followers of blogs, as well as building up networks of friends in Facebook. I commented on the fact that I don't like the tendency a lot of bloggers have of suggesting, "If you follow me, I'll follow you (on respective blogs)." I find this to be an exercise in emptiness. My goal is definitely to grow my readership, but not to do it in a blind, sweeping manner by following countless blogs that I'm not interested in reading. I want the same to happen with fellow bloggers who choose to follow my own blog - I want people to actually read what I write, you know? So, my comment back to Marty apparently hit him in a similar manner, to the point that he wrote back and put my comment in quotes. The next is a series of replies in our email thread:

Marty: "OK. I like your view of things... I think that 'Gratuitous attention is completely empty and unnecessary.'"

Dawn: "Had to laugh at seeing my own comment on gratuitous attention in quotes. Do you think I'll become a famous author one day that people will quote on the next social media version of Facebook?"

Marty: "And yes, Dawn, you will be the bomb... I will be 85 years old, trying to adapt to the new "Facebook of 2050" and I will be writing on my status.. 'I knew Dawn' and I will automatically get 400 friend requests. :) My blog by then will get close to 20000 views a day, because, 'I knew Dawn.'"

Dawn: "I will, in turn, be up in Heaven on my cloud, the one that's a bit messy, with stray feathers, some interesting scrolls from the library stacked on a poofy section, Dove wrappers tucked discretely beneath my robe for future contemplation and, of course, some nifty device that allows me to access said future computer waves so I can watch over your progress. The other angels will stop by to see 'what that intelligent, funny, witty Marty is doing these days. He's so accomplished, but more importantly, he loves with his whole heart. Smart move on your end, while on Earth, that you became friends.' I will nod, smile and send you love & support from my messy, but comfy and lived in cloud."

Marty: "OMG. I totally can't quit laughing... This needs to be shared... If only I could add Brenda onto this chain... :)"

Dawn: "How do you feel about me using this as the focus of a blog?"

Marty: "I absolutely DO NOT CARE if you use any of this stuff. :) I'm just trying to imagine myself when I'm 85 using the new Facebook. I'll be like coding and manipulating the site in everyway possible, installing widgets, and little virtual Dove chocolates that will plop onto your screen in all their Dark Chocolate goodness and the wrapper will say, 'Sent with Love from Heaven Above by Dawn.'"

I went on to add a whole slew of possibilities for Marty's future, which is too long and involved to add here. I know in my heart that his future is blindingly bright, so my description of possible scenarios went on with quite a bit of detail! This was the last comment Marty emailed and the one that struck me the most and made me smile the most:

Marty: "You could just throw this conversation into a blog. I've never laughed harder. This has been one of my favorite days so far in our friendship, Dawn ."

If you've read this far in this blog, I hope you've laughed at the absurd humor Marty and I were tossing back and forth. Why have I chosen to make this a blog post? Because I think that moments of shared, absurd humor are the stuff of Golden Memories. I will remember that conversation with Marty for the rest of my life. It was silly, yes, but it also was full of an incredible amount of support, encouragement and belief in each other as friends. That was what touched me the most.

Beyond that, I have to give a nod to the Internet and to Facebook for the ability to foster some of the most unlikely friendships. Marty lives in the mid-west. I live in the south. There's an age gap between us, with me being older, that normally would be too large an obstacle for a friendship to be born. Against all odds, though, Marty stumbled across my blog several weeks ago and was the first person to post an encouraging comment, and also one of the first people to follow my blog. I pulled up his blog, liked what I read and began to follow him in return. From there, we've been building a solid friendship that spans a wide range of topics, emotions, learning experiences and, best of all, sheer, lighthearted fun as depicted above. I think that many times, we cheat ourselves out of a wonderful experience by not pursuing those unlikely friendships. This is one time that I embraced the opportunity and my life has been made richer as a result.

Take time to embrace that inner child, my friends. Also, take a chance on an unlikely friendship in the future. Think outside the box with this one! You're presented with those opportunities fairly often, if you just take time to pay attention. If you already have a Marty in your life, be thankful and appreciative!!! The Marty in my life gives me lots of little moments of laughter, as well as all the other important aspects of friendship. The email conversation above reminded me to keep believing in myself, my writing, my dreams, all in the context of absurd humor. Here is to the Marty's in the world - may you all have one of your own!

Friday, October 23, 2009

How do you love?

On the heels of my last post, "Allowing Love" I received some great comments and emails almost immediately that surprised and pleased me. When I sit down to write a blog, I never know if the content of that particular post will strike a sympathetic note with others or not. In fact, that's a lot of the fun of blogging, learning what others think after reading your stuff!

One friend mentioned that I had prompted him to do some thinking, which I loved. My intent with this blog is to do that very thing. So, the question that has been prompted for me now is this: How do you love?

I bet that made you pause for a few moments, hmm? Before you start to sweat and feel pressed to say the right thing, there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to answer that question. It's something that can't be easily answered or defined, as there are such complexities and layers to the emotion of, and the action of, love. We manifest it, feel it and show it differently with each person.

Do you love openly, with verve, splash and laughter? Or are you more quiet in the way you show love, with a thoughtful, more measured approach? Some show love by doing; fixing things for you that are broken, tidying your scattered chaos if you tend to produce clutter. Others are managing with their love, meaning they like to be very competent and efficient in their approach. Still others are true-blue, dyed in the wool romantics, breathing and showering the whole world with effusive, dramatic, evocative displays of their love.

There's passionate love. There's intellectual love. Silly, absurd love has its special place in the world, I honestly believe. Deep, beyond-words-love that pulls every bit of oxygen from the room as you gaze into one another's eyes is another example. We have parental love, sibling love; love for friends, for family members, love for animals, love for hobbies, the list is infinite.

Now, the next question is: How do you receive love?

This is an extension of the last blog that suggested opening up and allowing love to manifest. In order to allow love, you have to be able to receive love. Do you do that joyfully? Or do you do it guardedly? Are you pensive with how you receive love? Are you cold and reserved, or very warm, open and appreciative in your response? These may seem like very similar questions which have little merit, but I would ask you to ponder each question with conscious thought. Take a moment to be brutally honest with yourself as you respond. Now, give equally honest thought to how your responses to those questions makes you feel inside.

Are you happy with the quality of love in your life?

Or could you use a better, or different form of communicating this vital emotion? If you answered "yes" to that second question, perhaps it is time to give this whole concept deeper thought and come to an inner accord that change is necessary and a positive thing to embrace for yourself. It could be that after giving these questions due thought, you're perfectly good and happy with where you are. Again, there are no right or wrong answers here.

Are you happy with how you express and receive love?

This can, and probably does, change on a regular basis, as we are different versions of ourselves minute by minute, day by day. The world certainly keeps us on our toes with endless challenges. As I have mentioned before, the manner in which we respond to any given occurrence is what defines us. It isn't necessary that you express love, or receive love in a way that makes sense to anyone else but yourself and the people with whom you interact on that intimate level. I just thought it was an interesting topic to discuss.

Most days, I'm very happy with the quality of love in my life. Recently, I decided that I wanted to see a manifestation of the way I receive love, the way it is expressed back to me, to change. I put some conscious thought into that and did some admittedly challenging shifting of my own energy, emotions and reactions, and I have benefitted greatly as a result. Giving love, for me, is an easy, effortless, joyful action.

I hope that I inspire others by my example, but if not, that's okay. That's the beauty of life, after all....the infinite diversity, infinite choices, infinite stories and dramas we play out. It all comes back to love at the end of the day, in my opinion, so I felt like discussing that emotion. I hope that, as you finish reading this blog entry, you're smiling and enjoying the thoughts these words have prompted in your heart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Allow love

Does anyone reading this sometimes struggle with being open to being loved? Does that statement sound bizarre, or does it strike a common chord for you? I'm one of the ones that tends to get in my own way with that concept, sometimes rather spectacularly. I'm accustomed to being the one watching out for friends, being protective, nurturing, loving, supportive, etc. Yep, throw out the psycho-babble might be one that applies to that mindset. I won't argue the point. I think we all feel much safer and more in control when we're the ones doling out the care. Flip the tables on us and send someone our way to take care of us, nurture, protect, encourage, support and love and hmm....that feels a bit odd. Perhaps a bit unnerving.

I'm aware of my issues with control, have been for years. I work hard to keep it to a sane level and most days I feel I'm doing pretty well. Recently, I finally sat down and wrote out a list of things I'd like to invite into my life - that good old life mapping process, Law of Attraction at its most basic application. The very first thing I wrote was, "I want to meet new friends, or come back into contact with old friends, who are loving and caring towards friendships in the manner that I am." Basically, I was saying I want to be loved as deeply, openly and outwardly as I love the people in my life. Some might read that statement and think it sounds slightly egocentric, patting yourself on the back for your ability to love. I disagree - if there is one thing I can say about myself, without an egocentric mindset, it is that I know how to love and express it openly. It is one of the things I appreciate the most about myself, and in recognizing this fact, I felt, for the first time in a while, that I deserved just as much care and love as I freely give to others.

Well, let me just say that this small exercise is beginning to bloom extravagantly in my life. New and old friendships are sprouting up all around me. Interesting that I'm using gardening analogies here! I feel that I have always been blessed with people - family and friends - who genuinely love me. What I felt was missing was actually hearing that love expressed, or, in lieu of hearing the words spoken, seeing them written. I bow to the necessity of electronic communication to a certain extent.

Very early this morning, a dear friend sent me a song link on my Facebook page, expressing in music that he believes in me. It was so unexpected, kind and loving that I stared for long moments and thought, "Wow, that's exactly the type of thing that I would do for a friend. So, this is what it feels like to be on the receiving end!" Other friends are making phone calls out of the blue and making comments that heretofore would have been quite uncharacteristic for them. Still others are sending emails that say, with simple, heartfelt words, the things that I asked to hear when I wrote that list. All of this is not to say I feel disenfranchised, unloved or neglected - to the contrary. I am rich with blessings and love. I just needed to hear, see and feel that love become manifested in a different way.

Has it been easy for me to accept? You'd think the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" In fact, it has been a bit of a challenge to open up and allow this love into my heart. That may sound churlish, and that isn't the intent - I do accept the kindness and love and appreciate it all more than I can put into words. It is those quiet moments alone, when I sit and absorb it all that have me a bit off kilter, realizing that allowing love is occasionally a much bigger struggle than giving love. The beautiful part of this whole process is how magically simple it has been. It was completely unnecessary to trot out all my defense mechanisms, shore up my highest, titanium walls and deepen the moat surrounding my personal fortress. I just took a breath and allowed love in. It was and continues to be, wonderful!

The first step - identify what you want. The second step - ask for it. As most of us who study the Law of Attraction concepts, or the Bible or other holy texts know, those first two steps are the easier ones to accomplish. The third step - allow what you asked for to manifest. That one takes some work, I admit it! I've said it countless times, that being loved is such a simple thing, and this is an immutable truth. Recognizing it and being open to it is the challenge. It's like putting on a new pair of shoes - sometimes they feel a bit tight and odd to begin with, but if you're patient, those shoes begin to adapt to your shape and fit like the proverbial glove. The same concept applies to allowing love - it may feel a bit odd and uncomfortable at first. Give it some time, let the love meld with the shape of You. Once it feels like it fits, you're just getting started....the next step is to continue!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heroes among us

I just learned that a man I went to high school with lost his son yesterday, October 19, 2009 as a result of active military duty. I do not have specific details as to where or how. The most simple statement is this - a bright young man gave his life in a far away place to uphold the tenets upon which this country was founded. His family is grieving in a manner those of us who have not lost a family member in this specific way cannot fathom.

I cannot pretend to understand what they are going through, nor am I so presumptuous as to think that a few written words will make a dent in their sadness. All I can say is that for me, the world stopped for a quiet, painful moment when I heard this news. I did not know this young man. I knew his father in high school, so the connection is tenuous at best. That being said, I would find it doubtful that anyone can remain untouched by the news that a young man gave his life in dedicated service to his country. This is not a time to air political opinions, to cast blame or to debate what is right or wrong. It is a time to come together in support of this family.

I ask everyone who reads this blog to take a moment to hold all military men and women, and their families, in your thoughts and prayers. We lose so many bright and wonderful people each and everyday in the active arena.

This young man's name is Jonathon Miller and he hailed from Clinton, Tennessee. In my eyes and, I am positive, the eyes of his family and friends, he is a true Hero. God rest him and those he left behind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Get to know Me again"

The above statement was taken from an email from a friend I'm getting to know all over again. I've commented a couple of times recently about the dynamic that Facebook has for reuniting people. I have only been active with my own Facebook page since the middle of this summer of 2009 and have been astonished at all the reunions that have been occurring in my life. I'm reconnecting with friends from childhood, grade school through high school, and from multiple past companies I've worked for over the years. The process is particularly fascinating when the connections are with childhood friends.

With some of these people, I go as far back as kindgergarten years. That's a long time, my friends! Here's another interesting thing - some of the people from school years I'm reconnecting with via Facebook are people that I wasn't that close to way back then, but now am growing strong new friendships with. Others were good, solid connections that just got cut off when high school years ended and people went their separate ways. Revisiting, re-establishing and re-learning these relationships is a joyful thing for me.

We're all familiar with the fact that high school tends to be fraught with tensions, uncertainties, competition, insecurities and lack of communication. I don't know that we're ever really perceived in what we could consider a true light during those years, as everyone is busy with gossiping, judging and trying to keep their own heads above the social whirlpool that high school creates. Most of us get branded with a specific title, or label, very early in grade school and that, right or wrong, tends to be the perception that sticks throughout the whole school experience.

The friend that made the statement above was someone I knew throughout high school, was friendly with, socialized with, but all on a fairly surface level. Now, over 25 years later, we're talking on an adult level without the distractions of teenage angst. This is allowing us both to get to know the true people we each are and so far, it's been a lot of fun.

This getting to know one another all these years later provides a strong mirror for each person. As adults, we're able to be much stronger in our identities, secure with ourselves and as a result, secure in learning who that other person has become. It is fascinating to reconnect with childhood acquaintances and learn who they have become as adults. The things that you learn about yourself as a result of these reconnections are equally fascinating. Cue the statement above, in its entirety:

"You cheer me up, Dawn, open my eyes and allow me to almost get to know Me again."

First of all, what a lovely compliment to receive. I can't think of a greater gift to give someone than to let them know they're making a difference in someone else's life, and that comment gave me that gift. I've said it countless times before - we rarely realize that we DO make an impact on others, unless they let us know. The second, and most important fact about all of this, is the simple pleasure that these old-yet-new-again friendships give us. Regardless of the depth of interactions that may have occurred during childhood growth years, we have history with those people that forges a very strong bond. If we're very lucky, and we choose to seize opportunity when it is presented to us, we are given the chance to develop that bond into a new friendship.

I'm experiencing this with several people from those childhood years. I'm also experiencing it with several people from those various past work incarnations. They all bring new layers, complexities and color to our lives, conjuring up memories of shared laughter, absurd moments and emotions revisited, while at the same time bringing the newest, current version of ourselves together with these people.

If we're alive, we're growing. That's a basic truth. Life throws endless curves, twists and surprises at us along the road. We reconnect with people at various moments, and as a result, we reconnect with ourselves, remember who we were, recognize who we are now and see the potential and the surprising strengths that we have in the mirror of these other people's eyes. That's a beautiful experience to recognize.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too long shoe laces

Earlier in the week I was walking at a local park. We've had an extended period of rainy, overcast days in East Tennessee and I felt the need to get out and get some fresh air, despite the drizzle. The park I chose has a pretty loop that covers a good amount of acreage and has a soccer and baseball field in the center of the walking track. I will digress for a moment and ask this important question - why did shoestring manufacturers decide that shoestrings for tennis shoes must be long enough to lace all the way up your calf to your knee, gladiator style??? My laces are always dragging the ground when I exercise, even if I double bow and double knot them.

This same thing occurred while I was walking in the park, so I made a pitstop. Rather than stopping in the middle of the track and getting in the way of other walkers, or stepping off the track to deal with the ornery shoe laces in the mud, I went over to the swings and sat down. After attending to the shoe laces, I sat there for a minute and did the inevitable....I gave myself a gentle push. I sat there for a good ten minutes, just slowly swaying on the swing, the only inhabitant of the playground area. I had forgotten the simple peacefulness that can be derived from sitting on a swing and just contemplating the scenery around you. Porch swings can provide a similar simple comfort to the soul, and I already have a porch swing blog in the works. Stay tuned for that installment!

After maybe fifteen minutes of quiet swing contemplation, another walker stopped and smiled at me. "You look like you're enjoying that much more than I'm enjoying walking - care if I join you?" This happy woman stepped over and sat in the swing next to mine and we chatted for a few moments. Then we started to swing in earnest. It was wonderful! I am happy to report that should you find yourself in a gloomy mood that nothing seems to make better, scope out a local playground and hop on a swing. I can promise, if you swing for even five minutes, you're going to feel better. We were both laughing within seconds, swinging higher and higher. The exhilaration of swooping back and forth, seeing your feet touching the sky, laughing breathlessly with a newfound friend...I had honestly forgotten the pure and simple fun of swinging.

Another surprising fact - swinging works your abdominal and lower back muscles! Plus, the motion of swinging and laughing at the same time proved to be a really good cardio workout. In fact, the very next day, I could feel a whole slew of sore muscles....arms, stomach, lower back, quads. No wonder kids are always so skinny. Playing can be hard work! The beauty of this whole experience was that it didn't feel like work, or exercise at all. I think I'm going to become a big proponent of visiting the park to use the swings in addition to walking.

That moment with this new friend had us both musing about other childhood play that can translate to an adult body and we started talking about Hula Hoops. When I got home, I typed in a search for Hula Hoops and sure enough, there are weighted hoops and exercise DVD's out there. Who knew?!? I think that my impromptu visit to the park has helped me stumble upon a great new approach to exercise. I know many people love the process of a hard workout, getting sweaty and feeling exhausted at the end. I'm not in that category. If I'm going to get exercise, I want it to be something I enjoy, rather than endless reps on a machine, or plodding along on a walking track for hours.

It was a happy, joyful interlude on a soft, misty, gray day in Tennessee. We all tend to forget the inner child we carry inside ourselves. Give this a try yourselves - embrace a simple moment of play in the coming days and concentrate on the way it makes you feel. I have too long shoe laces to thank for this rediscovery, and a new friendship to boot!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A moment to reflect

Today has been a challenging one with respect to hanging on to positive thoughts. I seem to have been bombarded by negatives from just about every direction. Friends have been having a rough day as well, it seems. Then I turned on the television and witnessed something so appalling that it is still beyond my ability to fathom. In the state of Florida, five teenage boys were arrested for "allegedly" dousing another boy with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire. According to one of the police department officials who spent time around the five boys arrested, several of them were still laughing about the incident. That was when my brain seemed to seize up in complete horror. Equally horrific, to my way of thinking, is the fact that this story is garnering limited news coverage.

I do not know what to say. Words are difficult in a situation like this. While it is not my place to sit in judgement of anyone else, or decide if their actions were right or wrong, this is a moment that cannot be prettied up, marginalized or made less of a tragedy. I spent quite a bit of time searching for something positive about the whole story, and admit that I'm coming up with zero for the people involved. Multiple lives have been irrevocably changed.

"But for the Grace of God go I," seems to be an appropriate statement, or thought, to make. That, however, seems to be such a vast understatement that I am almost ashamed to even leave it in this paragraph. It is rare that I fail to see some positive in any given situation, no matter how grim, but I admit to still coming up with nothing beyond being made very aware that my own personal struggles pale in comparison to what that child and his family are dealing with. I wasn't having the best day today, I admit that. It was a bit of a challenge to keep a positive outlook while also taking initiative to offer encouragement to friends who were feeling equally gloomy. I am not a young boy sitting in a hospital with burns over 75% of his body, fighting for life. That certainly puts things into perspective for me on a personal level.

I would love to say that I can end this blog with a feeling of being uplifted. All I can manage is a request to anyone reading this post to please keep this child and his family in your prayers. If you have prayer lists, prayer groups or any other type of group that focuses on sending healing energy to people in need, please put this family at the top of your list. It may not seem to be much, but I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. This young man's name is Michael Brewer. He is 15 years old.

There is no way anyone can wake up one morning and be prepared for such a thing to hit their life. Just hearing it from a safe distance through the medium of television and internet, I am still grappling with the ugliness and shock. This is definitely a moment to stop, look around you and be grateful and appreciative for the life we each are given. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, and what we do with each day does matter. Take a moment to reflect and count your blessings, for I am sure they are numerous. Tell those who are dear to your heart that you love them. Take time, as well, to have compassion in your heart for a group of young boys in Florida that you have never met.

There is no understanding what creates such an implosion of negative emotion that results in a physical attack of this magnitude. I cannot focus on the why of the act itself. I can only focus on giving this incident a bit of attention through this blog, in the hopes that anyone reading will send these people positive, loving, healing thoughts and energy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Celebrate failure

While I am completely familiar with the concept that sometimes not getting what you want is a blessing in disguise, I have to admit that some disappointments sting more than others. I recently was involved in an interview process for a job that I wanted badly. It meant a move to Chicago from East Tennessee and changing my whole life, leaving behind immediate family, friends and an area that I deeply love. The flip side of that coin was a job opportunity that, I felt, was written with me, my heart, my skills, my everything, in mind. I made the cut from 120+ candidates down to the top 3 and in the end, the company chose a different person to fill the position.

I won't lie - part of me was relieved. I've done those big, involved moves before, going to larger cities and the whole process is exhausting. At the same time, it is fun and exhilarating to make that extreme change, learn a new area, meet new people and build a whole new life for yourself. Having done it several times before, I knew I could do it again and be quite happy. I felt that being a bit conflicted inside was just a natural reaction to the possibility of that large and dramatic a change being on the horizon once again.

Well, the news that I wasn't the candidate chosen, while in some ways a relief, was also incredibly frustrating. I was disappointed, then I was downright pissed for at least a day. I wrote to a few close friends, with most of them not bothering to even respond to the emails (big lesson learned there, but a topic for a different blog), and one friend in particular making a comment that literally jarred me. In a good way. His response to my news of not getting the job was, "What great news!" I think I sat there and goggled in surprise at that statement for a few minutes, because it wasn't anywhere near the response I was expecting. I went on to read the rest of his response and am printing it word for word here, because this friend has some wonderful wisdom to impart.

"What great news! Why? Well, because something out there has your name on it and it is not the Chicago company. It is something well beyond your ability to even ask or think... so think big and expect it. It will come when you are ready for it and it will perfect your talent, you'll write about it and it will sell you to your awaiting contracts."

By "contracts" my friend Jeff meant the fact that I'm a freelance technical writer, and as such, am always in hot pursuit of that next contract. That aside, his words made me pause and change my whole perspective on the topic of not getting what we want. I really do know that that's not always the worst thing that can happen - and that, as I said above, it can be a blessing in disguise. This particular friend has this wonderful ability to inject so much positive energy, enthusiasm and sincere appreciation into his words that I wanted to share his wisdom with anyone who reads this blog.

The lesson here is to celebrate failure, as it clearly brings you that one more step closer to your heart's desire. If, however, you choose to get mired down in bitterness, disappointment and moping, you're going to block all that wonderful positive energy from manifesting in your life as efficiently as it is meant to. I don't think that honest disappointment is a bad thing, as long as we don't wallow in that emotional state indefinitely. I was fortunate enough that the one friend who did respond to my news about not landing that job had the perfect words to basically kick my butt in the kindest, most loving way possible, and lift me up in the process. The lifting up part was figuratively a boot up the backside to knock some good old mountain wisdom into my head, and the extra benefit was that I lost the grumpy, gloomy outlook and was immediately full of smiles and positive energy. That is a rare gift to be able to impart and I value this person's ability to be that loving.

Yes, I would have loved to have landed that job in Chicago. It sounded fun, interesting, challenging....everything that I look for in a work environment. But, what a wonderful concept to embrace that as wonderful as that job description was, there is something so much MORE wonderful...richer, rewarding, lucrative, enjoyable and abundant heading my way. This is the unexpectedly sweet lesson to be learned from failure, and an imminently logical reason to celebrate that moment of failure for the very clear road sign that it is....that failure isn't a negative.

One of my favorite scientists to quote is Thomas Alva Edison. Here is a quote he made about failure that I find to be very apropo to this blog:

"I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that did not work."

I like Edison's, and Jeff Nix's approach....celebrate failure, my friends. It means you're moving forward in life!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

End of summer dance

I happened upon this photograph of a dandelion and was captivated by the perspective and the geometry that exists. When I was small, I could sit and gaze at a clover flower with much the same fascination, noting how the whole flower was composed of hundreds of smaller blooms clustered together. This particular photograph, depending on how your eye lands on it, looks like endless possibilities beyond the humble dandelion puff. My eye sees fireworks against a black night sky, exploding in lacey, dazzling plumes. Another glance shows me a marine sea creature, with tentacles floating in dark water, illuminated with soft phosphorescence. I also see a whirl of space, a nimbus cloud or galaxy perched quietly in a black void. I blink and now I see images that I created as a child with a Spirograph set that entertained me for countless hours with shapes and colors.

All of the above are evoked by one of nature's most humble flowers. Some might call it a weed, a nuisance in carefully constructed and ruthlessly pruned landscapes. Others might see the dandelion as a nutritious additon to salads and dinners. The most delightful aspect of all of this is that one little humble plant is so many things to so many people, spanning a range of beauty, practicality and annoyance. That is a lot to accomplish for one brief summer lifespan!

The analogy that comes to mind here is that all of us are just a slightly different version of that dandelion puff. We represent so many faces to the world. We are, at various times that brash, bright yellow flower, planting ourselves with pluck and courage in a brand new yard, daring to grow, plant roots and thrive. In that process, we subject ourselves to the possibility of getting ripped from that safe, cozy environment, or perhaps run the risk of getting mowed down on a regular basis, only to rise once again to the rays of the sun with new blossoms and glossy leaves outspread. At times, we become the mature culmination of the flower, turning into a soft, gray cloud with delicate, fragile limbs that are lifted up on the wind to drift away in gentle silence. Rather than a sad moment, this is one to celebrate, as the brief ending of that moment gives birth to a new life, new growth, new roots and flowering elsewhere in a new yard. Life, as we all know, is an endless series of starting over, growing and learning. Nature embraces this concept with quiet, calm and a sure march across the planet that we all share.

When I begin to feel the approach of change, I am often drawn to the dandelion's end of summer dance....fluffy white seeds being coaxed free to waltz and drift on the wind, casting fortune to the vagaries of errant breezes. My goal is to be that willing to go with the flow of a Divine purpose in my life, rather than dig my heels in and attempt to control where my own personal dandelion seed might land. This is an exercise of inner strength for me, as I learned long ago that releasing control is far more empowering. Studying the photograph above brings a sense of stability to the whole process that makes me smile. A simple flower exhibiting beauty and purpose at all stages of life.

Where am I in my own life, with my own putting down of roots, or perhaps ripping them up and moving forward in growth process, or riding the breezes of change? I am contemplating my own end of summer dance with curiosity and excitement to know what new stage is being set, what new flowering will occur. I would like to think that a portrait of my own purpose would invite as many different perspectives as the dandelion puff above, painting a mosaic of stories, images and emotions.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Poetry for the day

When I first started this blog, I wasn't sure about whether I'd post poetry of my own. Poetry by others, more than likely will find its way into posts here and there, as do all those wonderful quotes that I love so much.

I had thought to create a completely separate blog for the specific purpose of posting my poetry, and will probably end up doing that very thing soon. This morning, though, I read a friend's blog and a piece of poetry that made me think perhaps some of my own work along those lines fits the dynamic of this blog. In that thought, below is a piece that I wrote in August of this year. I shared with friends on Facebook and via email, with the response being that the message I intended was clear and appreciated. I hope those that read it here enjoy it as well.

Feather Touch

I saw a feather on the ground today

soft velvety gray in the morning light
as quiet as the new day unfolding

prompting me to pause

flooded with memories of childhood
find a feather, know an angel sent you a message

yet deeper thoughts and emotions assail now
what message is this?

what quiet touch drifting down to greet me

silvery gray touched with the palest creamy brown
stillness in the muted color

reaching out with a hushed blanket of intent

quiet your mind
Hear Me

the message is clear

swift pass the moments of reverie
images painted on the mind’s eye

floating delicately to rest

a brush of promise

Your path is sure…
…doubt not the steps

in a calm quiet breath
the faint thread of a smile

and I continue…


Friday, October 9, 2009

The world is my studio...

The title above is the tagline on a friend's business card. This friend is a very gifted photographer and I was captivated by that tagline. From a business perspective, it is a very savvy marketing statement. From a personal perspective, I just thought, "How beautiful, to have the whole world be your working space."

I ran into this friend at a gathering last night that I haven't had a chance to attend for several months. It was a wonderful evening full of laughter, shared stories, reminiscing, and that inestimable kind of fellowship that occurs from 20+ years of knowing a group of people.

I kept coming back to that tagline, "The world is my studio..." For any creative person, I think it can be a true statement that the whole world provides inspiration. This friend captures images through his camera lense. I capture thoughts on paper, but the sentiment and the inspiration come from similar moments. I can be inspired by the most obscure, overlooked, mundane occurrence and suddenly be assailed by words crowding into my mind with such a demand to be given voice that I have to sit down and write them out. Bob's business card tag line was my inspiration today.

I share his sentiment that the world is an endless bounty of inspiration. Today in East Tennessee is shaping up to be a cool, windy, overcast fall day. Some might grow frustrated at yet another damp day, as we've had quite a lot of them this year. I see endless soft grays, muted colors bleeding together with the lack of direct sunlight beaming down. If I were in the mountains, I am positive that there would be breathtaking stark blacks, whites and grays everywhere.....cloaked here and there in drifting mantles of mist. The mountains are a sight to behold on a soft, gray day.

I am in such harmony with Bob's tagline that I think I am adopting it as one of my daily affirmations. The world is my blank, clean slate to write upon with utter, joyful inspiration.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You let me be Me.

The above statement is one that a friend recently told me in a long, enjoyable phone conversation. I think that it has to be one of the most lovely compliments I have ever received. This particular friendship began early last summer while I was researching whether to go back to school and finish a degree. I was investigating online options for same and was assigned this guy as my advisor. The school option is currently tabled for a variety of reasons, but I suspect the true energy at hand was to connect me with this new person on a friendship level. Serendipity at its finest!

So, over the course of that lengthy phone chat, we were discussing mundane topics as well as deep, personal ones. At some point, my friend said, "You know, one thing I find to be of great value about you is that you let me be Me." I admit to getting a bit choked up as a result, because it was such a beautiful thing to recognize and to comment upon.

I think we have all had people in our lives who choose to not accept us for who we are. It seems to be a curious goal for many to change those in their personal sphere. The why of that escapes me. I don't know that I've ever wanted to change anyone to suit my own personal needs. I admit to choosing to to not spend time around people that rub me the wrong way - that is just a logical step to take. If, however, there is something that I don't love about someone, but I genuinely care about the person, that "don't love" trait doesn't matter all that much. I'm more interested in celebrating the happy coincidences, sharing ideas and growing from the relationships I engage in.

At times, those traits that conflict will provide equal chances for growth, and I make an concerted effort to be open to those moments. You honestly never know when a random connection will grow into a beautiful friendship. Therefore, rather than looking for carbon copies of myself, I find true joy in relationships that push me to look at life from sometimes wildly different perspectives. This particular friend I am referencing returns that same gift to me when we talk, as he is one of those rare birds as well....he lets me be Me. In fact, when I sit quietly and review those around me, I am humbled by the fact that I have quite of few of those rare birds that I claim as true friends. I think that partiuclar flock is growing exponentially of late.

So as to not sound as though I'm blowing my own horn overly much, let me state that I am far from a paragon of virtue. I have grumpy moments fairly often, and there are plenty of times I don't immediately recognize what is directly in front of me. At times, it takes me a while to discover those delightful nuances about a friend. We all hide our true selves to a great degree on a daily basis. Does this mean we don't ever really know the people we spend time with? That is very possibly true. It is also one of the great joys of life, that constant growth and discovery process that it gives to us as individuals. Do I show every person that crosses my path my deepest, hidden thoughts? Of course not. Do I engage deeply with every person I speak with on a daily basis? No, although I strive to make each connection an honest moment, and give it my full focus. In that manner, you could call it a deep connection.

It is logical to utilize those social masks in order to navigate your way through the chaos of any given day. If we all chose to walk around as open, raw wounds, spewing our fears, worries and challenges at every person we see, nothing would get accomplished. So, yes, those social masks serve a purpose to keep things and people on a sort of surface level. Occasionally, you will cross paths with a unique person who, despite that same type of social mask, radiates an energy that just makes you feel good.

I'm sure that upon reading that last sentence, someone pops immediately to mind for you. That person in the grocery store who always seems happy, or regularly offers a comment that just makes you smile. That co-worker who always seems to sparkle and exude a sense of calm even in the most chaotic, jumbled board room meetings. That friend who regularly makes statements that have you pausing and considering life from an angle that might not have occurred to you, and you always find yourself richer for that new perspective. These are people, I feel, who have chosen to approach life with a conscious thought process. They have made a conscious choice to be that best version of themselves possible each day.

Do they have fears, worries and problems at home? Of a certainty - we all do. These people, however, have reached a level of awareness that concentrating on positive thoughts serves them in an equally positive manner. I know, this probably sounds like Mary Poppins 101 to some of you. That was actually one of my nicknames in high school years - I seem to have always been determined to see the good side of life, people and situations. Does this mean I float around in a pink bubble of naive expectations? Not at all. It does mean that I choose to keep a firm grip on my rose colored glasses, that much I'll admit!

I have mused, often over the years, that we are born with those proverbial rose colored glasses and they're tinted a rich, deep hue. As we grow, learn and progress, layers do get peeled off those glasses. Some might suggest that by the time we reach adult status, those glasses are useless and the rose color has been ruthlessly stripped away. I disagree. My own glasses tend to have cycles where the rose color dims a wee bit here and there, but for the most part, they seem to retain a good strong pink tint. I like that about my glasses. I don't feel that this perspective causes me to view the world and people in an unrealistic manner. Quite the opposite, in fact. I feel that those proverbial glasses give me a decided edge. Cue this recent phone conversation with my friend who made that lovely statement, and I found myself gently reminded that with conscious thought and embracing vital differences in the people around us, we can give a gift of priceless value.

How wonderful to know I affected just one person in such a positive way, that he felt absolutely comfortable and at ease with opening up and being completely, authentically his true self when we speak. This offered me a mirror of myself and a nod from that Higher Power that, "Hey, you're doing a good job!" I know that I felt uplifted and happy as a result, which in turn let me know quite clearly that I'm on a straight path. As always, our emotions are that true reflection of how we're doing. I think I'm doing pretty well. I have built relationships that support me and encourage me in positive ways, allowing me to be my most authentic self. I have also remained open to new relationships, and as a result, my personal experiences are so rich and full of growth that I marvel at times.

When I have those days where the dark, brooding thoughts attempt to slide insidiously close, I recall this conversation with my good friend and remember who I am. By embracing others and being open to accepting them on an elemental level, the returning energy and experiences are enormous. The world opens up in a manner that is truly astounding, and you are given the same gift in be your most authentic self. Pretty darned cool lesson to contemplate!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Duplication? Probably.

I do believe that rather than a progressive post, the "What Now?" entry of last night was more along the lines of "more of the same." I felt that way as I was writing it, but wanted to walk away from it for several hours, come back and read it again, before deciding. Now that I've done that, yep, it was more of the same. That wasn't the intention, but it appears to be the outcome! I may end up deleting that last post in a few days, depending upon how it continues to niggle away at my mind. It seems to be one of my writing peeves to say the same thing twice, even if the delivery is slightly different.

My goal with this blog is to write and talk about things that can spark interest and possible growth, change and inspiration in others. Some posts will hit right on that target, others will be near misses or complete failures. I knew that at the very beginning, and that last post appears to be the first example of same. All part of the learning process. There is definitely value in the old adage of "not beating a dead horse," and I'm guilty of that at times.

We shall see what the next topic is that comes along to prompt a new blog. I never know what the next subject will be, and that's half the fun of writing in this format. Occasionally, I will happen upon a subject that resonates with others to a surprising degree. That's fun as well. For now, we have a beautiful day occurring in East Tennessee and I am heading out the door to enjoy it as I take care of a list of errands. Fall is in the air and the beauty surrounding us is breathtaking.

So, after fall cleaning, what now???

This is a follow up to my most recent post about fall cleaning and pruning of relationships that have reached an ending. To be honest, when I sat down to write that blog, I wasn't sure if I would wind up posting it. I wondered if it might be too confrontational and hit too closely on emotionally raw nerves for a lot of people. I walked away from the post a couple of times, but it kept pulling me back in, until finally, I finished writing it and posted it. To my surprise, I have had several responses already, from friends and new acquaintances, thanking me for giving voice to an admittedly difficult topic. Clearly, I did hit on a common nerve there, as this pruning of unproductive ties is fraught with emotions, fears, regrets and self-blame.

So, I sat and thought for a while, about my own experiences with this topic. It has only been perhaps the last 10 years of my life that I have come to a sense of peace about the cycles of friendship. I freely admit that for the first half of my life, I fought letting go of any and every relationship tooth and nail. I cried, I panicked, I overreacted, I wound myself into multiple tangled knots of emotional angst. Did any of this help or bring the relationship back into a current pattern in my life? Of course not. Did all of that wailing and gnashing of teeth serve any purpose at all, other than to make myself miserable? Probably not.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying we should ignore the grieving process that we all are faced with when a friendship comes to an end. This is a process that deserves your time and focus. Grieving is necessary to cleanse our souls, help our hearts heal as much as possible, and to process through myriad emotions. That being said, looking back, I can regard my past reactions with a large dose of amusment. If I could go back in time and speak to myself at those specific moments of experiencing loss, I would say to the person I was then, quite sincerely, that everything would be okay. The pain does come to an end, and as with all endings, eventually a point is achieved where happy memories rise to the surface more readily than the sad moments of loss.

So, how did I reach my current state of awareness with the whole process of accepting endings with much more equanimity and inward peace? It wasn't easy, that would be the first thing to admit. At some point, I ran across a comment that pointed out two choices - one was that I could choose to be resentful, angry, hurt and exist in a constant state of grieving for a relationship lost, i.e., I could, quite literally choose to exist in the past. The other choice was that I could choose to celebrate the time spent enjoying that person and the interaction of the friendship, tuck it away in a corner of my heart, and move forward and live my life. That rang a very loud bell for me, realizing that the choice was completely in my hands, and therefore, the emotional reaction was my responsibility also.

Yes, grief will be there when you end a relationship, as well it should. If you choose to celebrate the time you have with that person, or that job, or that group, and be thankful for the endless ways in which you grew as a result of the contact, it really does make the ending easier to accept. I would go so far as to say that embracing endings in an open, joyful manner can build a future reconnecting moment, when the timing is right for both of you.

Yes, you will wrestle with moments of guilt, you will question your decision - is this the right thing or wrong thing to do - you may even change your mind a couple of times before making permanent changes. All of these choices are completely okay. You are the only person who can know what feels right in any given situation. And believe me, you will recognize immediately when you have made that right choice - you will most likely feel a sense of relief and peacefulness inside as a result. I know that that is usually my reaction, although getting there can admittedly be a challenge at times.

I guess the most important thing to relate is to be kind to yourself. Have you ever given that some dedicated thought? We beat the absolute crud out of ourselves emotionally in ways that would appall us if we saw the same treatment being visited on a loved one. Navigating your way through life is tough. That is a plain and simple truth. Life itself is an endless series of beginnings and endings. Beginnings are usually fairly easy, fun and interesting. Endings, obviously, are a completely different scenario.

Treat yourself and your emotional health with the same amount of respect that you give to strangers, or colleagues. How's that for a concept?? Why not try being that much of a friend to yourself as well? I realize that that sounds so simplistic as to be annoying, but it is equally simple in truth.

If you are allowing yourself to remain in a relationship that has become toxic, that drags you down, that pulls your attention constantly into useless emotional negativity, you owe it to yourself and your own life path to put that relationship to an end. You cannot grow or progress on your own personal journey when you are indulging a relationship that hinders your growth. I would also go so far as to suggest it hinders the other person's growth as well. Another important bit of wisdom that I remember my Grandmother Reagan imparting to me at a very young age was that it isn't so much the situation itself that is so important - that moment is merely a catalyst. It is how you react to a given moment that defines you and your character.

So, long story short, in regard to the "What now?" question, I think the best advice is, quite simply, to live your life. Accept your frailties, your faults and your own part in the culmination of a relationship, congratulate yourself for undertaking one of life's more difficult challenges and seeing it through, and then live your life. Be happy. Celebrate the new beginnings that are approaching, because this much is certain....they are on their way to you daily. Believe in yourself and the choices you make. All will be well as a result.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall cleaning and pruning

The autumn months always seem to be a stronger time of change for me. I'm sure that varies per individual, but for me, fall seems to usher in changes on many levels. Currently, I am in a deeply contemplative space and have been paying close attention to my own thoughts, actions and how they are sending messages to the world and people around me. The realization that follows is that it is time to do some fall cleaning and pruning off of deadwood in my personal sphere. This is never an easy undertaking, as it means putting an end to relationships that are not productive. Emotions rise to the surface on a personal level, as well as the recognition that the deadwood you intend to prune away, i.e, people, perhaps work, old habits will cause ripples of reaction.

We've all reached this point, countless times, regarding old friendships that seem to make us tired rather than inspire and lift us up. Generally, the automatic thought process is to give it a little more time, a little more energy and wait to see if things turn around. This is a valid approach, as all relationships experience ebb and flow, waxing and waning moments. We all have busy lives, families and priorities that eat up our time. It is understandable that there are moments when friendships do get put on the back burner. What I am speaking of, however, is that point that you reach when it is plain that said relationship is no longer positively serving either party involved. This can mean marriage, it can mean work relationships, it can mean the job you're currently working, it can mean girlfriends, guy friends, church name it, and the relationship can reach a zenith.

I believe that we come into one another's lives to teach, to learn and to grow as a result of that interaction. It has been a bit of a struggle for me over the years, learning to let go when I could feel the beginning of the end of a given relationship. Everything inside me would clutch up in a mindless panic, that, oh no....I'm losing that person that I love! I have no magic solutions for how to deal with the inevitably painful process, other than time, age and experience teaching that all things have a season. The more important topic at hand, I think, is to become aware of the patterns surrounding you, and learn to adapt. You have it within your power to create an ideal atmosphere for yourself, with the best situations, best people, best work, best everything surrounding you. In order to do that, you must first identify what it is that is working, and what it is that is not working in your life.

The most efficient way to judge any situation is if it feels good or bad. Your emotions are your most accurate divining rod for literally everything you experience. Is a relationship making you happy? Or is it dragging you down and leaving you feeling depressed when you spend time with a specific person? Do you feel as though you are the one constantly giving more than 50% of the energy into that relationship? I find that to be a good starting point when I make the decision to review my personal sphere of influence. If you are at that point where you do, indeed, feel a decided lack of balance and you also are aware that you have done everything possible to change that dynamic, perhaps it is time to do some fall cleaning of your own. While it may feel just the opposite, this is actually a very healthy thing to do for yourself.

Is there a perfect way to achieve this? No, as each situation is unique, they all require different approaches and methods. I am all for straight talk and being up front with people. In fact, one of my pet peeves is when people refuse to address what is right in front of their noses. For whatever reason, it has become acceptable to sweep important, valid emotions under the proverbial rug, ignore them until they grow into monstrous proportions and then just disappear from a relationship with no explanation. That, without fail, can create more questions, hurt feelings and wounds than having an honest conversation. Questions, hurt feelings and wounds can linger indefinitely, whereas an honest conversation, while potentially painful when the topic is ending a relationship, can be cathartic for all parties. This, I believe, can be a vital part of your individual mental health. Knowing where you stand with any given relationship, knowing that everything is out in the open, can be very empowering and freeing.

You will know best which method to use in your own life and your own situations. You'll also probably make some mistakes along the way, but you'll learn from those experiences. In the end, you will eventually find a process that fits your life and your personality, and will honor the relationships you are involved in. Holding on to connections that no longer serve a purpose can become toxic, can cause unpleasant limbo and can bleed over into other relationships. Many times in the past, I have done that needless holding on, to my own detriment. Through trial and error, and the simple process of growth, I have developed my own way of dealing with the not always enjoyable realization that it is time to do my own fall cleaning and pruning.

Does ending a relationship mean that it is ended permanently? Of course not. In fact, I have very recently reconnected with a girlfriend who was dear to my heart over 12 years ago. Casting my mind back to the time that the friendship began to dwindle, I can remember the timeframe that it began. I recognized inwardly that both of us were heading in different directions, with different dreams and I could actually feel the energy shifting between us. Was there an exact moment I can pinpoint that things ended? There was a timeframe, but not an actual moment that we sat down and discussed the situation. It was more of a gentle drifting apart until we completely lost track of one another.

Jump forward to present day, and the phenomenon of Facebook proved to be the catalyst for reconnecting to occur. We are different women now, 12 years later, but in so many ways, still the same people who clicked so well so many years ago. She is still dear to my heart, regardless of 12 years spent apart and becoming new versions of ourselves. So, the good news is, when the time is right and if you are meant to reconnect in the future, it will happen.

Love never dies, as it is an immutable energy. It can change, certainly, and most times, for the better. Be open to change, my friends; this is the strongest lesson any of us can learn. A scary lesson, to be sure, but one that can create unimaginable joy if we are brave enough to allow it and embrace it. I can say from personal experience with a whole slew of recent reconnections of old friendships, the joy is immense. It is a fascinating process to spend years apart from someone you loved, then come back together and discover all the snazzy nuances they have achieved in the interim.

Another happy instance is this: with endings, as we are all aware, come new beginnings. It may sound trite and overused as an analogy, but there is strong, sure truth in the statement that when one door closes, another one opens. This applies to all relationships - work, friends, family - when there is an ending, God, the Universe, simple serendipity, call it what you will, but a Higher Power will provide a new beginning. Nature abhors a vacuum, and thus, a newly vacant space is soon filled with new energy.

Your job, as a person who is working to honor your own existence, is to remain clear-headed and aware enough to recognize those new beginnings. Sometimes they slip in with the silence of morning, other times they come booming into your life with the energy of a Force Five hurricane. We can get caught up so easily in distractions that we often overlook the obvious, so pay attention! If you're thinking of fall cleaning and pruning, do it bravely and also be prepared for those new beginnings. Life is full of change, and every moment is a perfect one, if you choose to make it so.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Have you talked to yourself today?

Do you check in with yourself?

That question may make you pause in confusion. What does it mean, check in with yourself? The concept here is so simple that it often gets completely ignored, and you end up getting lost in the jumble of daily stress factors. Ask yourself when the last time was that you gave yourself as much undivided attention as you give to all the endless demands on your time. Do you stop, even momentarily, to consciously think about how you’re feeling at points throughout the day?

No day is without frustrations, or stress, but ignoring those reactive emotions can actually cause the whole day to wind into a needlessly tangled ball of yarn. The focus required at the end of the day to then untangle the whole mess becomes too time consuming and gets ignored once again. You know the inevitable outcome – the ball of yarn grows with each new day, getting more tangled, and that ball of yarn represents your emotional and physical health. Your vital reactions and your emotional health, it could be posited, are precursors to your ability to perform at an efficient pace with every demand surrounding you.

If you are not healthy on a personal emotional level and clearly in touch with how YOU feel on a daily basis, how then, are you capable of giving your energy to your job, your family, friends and everything else that demands your attention? So, try it. When you reach the inevitable moments in the day where something gets off balance, take a moment to stop and identify what you are really feeling.

You might be surprised at the answer you get if you’re patient for a few moments. Perhaps the irritation you feel about that stack of folders on your desk is actually rooted in the fact that the jumble itself bothers you, and taking five minutes to neaten your desktop makes a huge difference. That nagging daily headache, if you think for five minutes, might indicate that you’ve been wearing shoes that need to be replaced because the heels are worn down and cause your spine to get out of alignment. Maybe you’re sitting in an office with no windows – a very common thing in the workplace – and you haven’t seen the sun, breathed fresh air or caught a glimpse of anything green and growing.

That five minute personal check-in with yourself can prompt you to make myriad small changes that will dramatically affect your overall sense of well being. This will, in turn, help you to be the best version of yourself possible that day. You have to commit to the process and be a bit of a detective in the beginning. With practice, this can become an intrinsic part of your success at work, home and everywhere else because you are taking time for yourself first, and creating balance. Give it a try...start talking to yourself!

Friendship loud, friendship silent

By now, if you've read even one post in this blog, you will have grasped the fact that I really love quotes! A close girlfriend posted a wonderful one on Facebook that reads:

"Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts. " ~ Margaret Lee Runbeck

I agree wholeheartedly with that comment, while at the same time giving a nod to the loud, passionate exchanges of conversation filled with laughter, intense discussion, moments of absurdity, all interspersed with those little jewels of quiet mentioned above. I spent an evening of the loud, laughter filled, intense discussion, moments of absurdity type tonight with girlfriends that was nurturing to my soul. One of these girls is someone I have recently reconnected with after more than ten years of losing touch, and the other is a very new acquaintance. The company of these two people, who are a curious juxtaposition of personalities, hit just the right note for me on many levels. It also made me remember the beauty of sitting and talking with no television, radio or computer in sight to distract us. Okay, we all had our cell phones turned on and there was covert Twittering occurring, but we still managed to not get too sucked into technology for the whole evening.

We enjoyed what I would call an old fashioned "kitchen conversation," sitting around the kitchen table, eating pizza and just....talking and sharing. About various and sundry topics, with this very new acquaintance delighting me with these very probing, sincere and deeply curious questions she would throw out that would take the current conversation and turn it on its ear. We had more tangents and changes in direction than I could count, but the result was interesting, entertaining and relaxed. It took me back to the days of my childhood when the end of summer days were welcomed in the front yard on lawn chairs gathered into an informal circle and people would really talk. And really listen. And really connect.

Very recently, perhaps in the past eighteen months, I have noticed a pattern occurring of old relationships being renewed, as well as old customs being revived. We seem to be turning slightly away from the typically highspeed, fast-paced, frenetic lifestyle and seeking out things and experiences from our past. Can these old customs fit neatly and comfortably into a new world so consumed with electronic communication? Clearly they can - I experienced it tonight and expect it to continue to occur. It is all a matter of making that conscious choice to interact on a much more personal level with people and relearn, perhaps, the art of that magical connection that allows both the lovely loud friendship moments and the profoundly silent friendship moments to occur. They are equally powerful, and, I believe, necessary to the balance of our souls.