Monthly Archives: November 2014

Elusive Search For Love

Elusive Search For Love“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

How true it is that young or old, the search for love consumes us. I think that is what brings on frustration, disappointment, anger, bereavement, loss and fear. The need for love is stronger than any other need. I remember during a psychology course many years ago, there was an experiment about how animals search and need love. They used monkeys, and I don’t recall the details, but I remember they were comparing the monkey’s requirement for love versus their need for food. They wanted to prove which was the more powerful need. The surprising findings, even to the scientists performing the study, was that monkeys chose love over food.

I never gave it much thought at the time, but recently I contemplated this finding, and how important a parallel could be made to humans. At any given age we desire to be loved. At times if this requires changing our beliefs, attitudes and mindsets, most of us are willing to do that. Humans have a vital need to feel love. Nothing is more powerful a desire. As much as we search for it, we discover it is so elusive, and in the end most people settle. By settling I don’t believe it makes light of the love, but only proves the need is more important than the kind of love received.

When a child lives  with criticism and pain, they accept this if it is the only connection they have to also receiving some love intertwined. Perhaps that is why they accept so much pain, and hurt, without complaining. They profess to love the most unworthy abusive  parents, because they don’t want to jeopardize the love they do have. They in essence fear losing what little  they receive. Kids are insecure and lack any confidence. Without parental approval and love, kids are crushed and defeated.

The same is true with abusive marriages. The abused person fears losing love, doubts they can ever gain it again, thus stays within a difficult situation. They choose to maintain the small gestures  of love, they do receive. How sad for an adult to be insecure, regarding their ability to be loved and valued by others, or at least one other. Has society failed us in the most fundamental way?

We all search for friendships. We fear getting involved with new friends, due to our lack  of faith in their sincerity. Our anxiety over losing what we already have in an old friendship, outweighs our entering a new connection. New friends find it difficult to break through the barriers we build, due to our own distrust. How similar we are to the children. Workplaces always find the “old” group excluding the newer members.  In time probably a new member is accepted, but they find how precarious their position actually is, when the friendship is tested, and old friends stick together, regardless of who is right or wrong.

Families are likely the epitome of fear and anxiety. Somehow we believe we can’t accept new members to our group, because we have history with the older members. This past, forms an allegiance and unbroken trust. I am not saying any of this is right or wrong. I do believe we are all kidding ourselves. We find we are let down, or disappointed, by just about every person we come to trust. Of course we don’t consider the multiple times we offend others.

What we don’t take into consideration, is the fact that we are human, and have various moods on any given day. Our inner sense regarding  one area of our life, may filter throughout other areas of our lives. We also must add the burdens and stresses of any given day. No wonder we don’t maintain an even keel, when sailing through our daily lives. Of course this uneasiness reflects in the way we treat others, whom we love or dislike.

The history we share with some people, promotes a more trusting attitude of acceptance. We cling to those relationships first, hoping to keep that love intact no matter how difficult we become, or others become. There is an understanding to this method, but also a lack of our ability to accept changes. Our fear and distrust keeps love at bay. We can’t afford to lose the love we know we have, so we refuse anything else that might be available to us. We sense it may threaten an already existing happy relationship.

I am also a follower of this concept so I am not criticizing this, but I am challenging myself to see beyond my preconceived notions of love. I think it can be found in many places but we don’t want to ruin existing love. I am not suggesting  husbands and wives find new loves because that is not the kind of love I am talking about. I am referring to the sincere love we have for others, or others have for us, in its purest form. Marriages might also experience this kind of love.

What is built up for many years, is hard to lose. When it happens due to misunderstandings, death or break-ups of friendships, or  marriages, it can feel devastating. Let’s face it, we can’t replace moms, dads, siblings or close friendships, spanning many years. I most definitely understand that. I guess I just want to let go of the fear of loving new people, and caring for these new people in my life. I want to add to my love circle rather than shut it down.

I know there are times when people we love fail us, but then again when I am so caught up in my own issues, I fail those I love. I don’t  mean to do that, and I am always grateful when they forgive, and hopefully forget. I must remember to return the favor when necessary. It occurs to me that love is not blind, without pain, without fear and without anxiety. Love demands seeing others at their core, and appreciating the goodness that we see. Perhaps there are times we observe what we don’t like, but when observing beyond the obvious, we also look at the goodness that we love about them. That is what binds us, and keeps us stable. Love also demands that we forgive. That is the hardest of all things to do. It is easy to love everyone, until they disappoint us, or hurt us. Then it is virtuous to forgive, and godly to forget.

Most likely that is why we shy away from taking on more people to love. I see it this way. Yes it is without question, more painful, but it is worth it because of the tremendous amount of love bestowed on us. Taking the chance or leap of faith required of us, is worth the love returned to us. I don’t want to close my heart, due to painful situations. I don’t want to make rules and regulations, for people to follow in order to gain my love. I want to love freely, and sincerely, and have faith it will be returned. There will be no exact measurement of the give and take, but there will be love and happiness. I won’t compare, only enjoy what is presented to me. I can’t and won’t enclose any of the people I love, which basically keeps them from loving others. I will simply enjoy whatever love comes back at me.

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” Meryl Streep

“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.” Parker J. Palmer

“It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.” Desmond Tutu

Holiday Thoughts

Holiday Thoughts“I don’t need a holiday or a feast to feel grateful for my children, the sun, the moon, the roof over my head, music, and laughter, but I like to take this time to take the path of thanks less traveled.”    Anonymous

“The Holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings, and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.”    Terri Marshal

The holidays are coming and you can already feel the anxiety. We all have it yet think we are the only ones sensing the stress. Some of us hide our fear better than others but without a doubt none of us like being criticized or gossipped about  when the occassion is over. In truth our reality differs from what another experiences. None of us comprehend the  total meaning  behind words actions or gifts  and we fret about our own situation unaware of the bombs we drop on others.

Attempt to experience a good time without negative thinking before it begins. Don’t poison your holiday with negative expectations. Setting yourself up for a  lousy time will already define your experience. Remember that as much as you want a good time so does the rest of the family. Hurting your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law creates a disastrous happening for the son or husband. It takes only one person to make or break the happiness. It is your choice so choose wisely. It reflects on all of us. Every Holiday is different and can’t really be repeated. Love can always be present and repeated time and again. Following are a few hints derived from  my books and my  thoughts on the subject and others feelings about it.

AFTER THE DIVORCE, DON’T THROW THE FAMILY OUT WITH THE EX-HUSBAND
1. Take control of the situation at the beginning. Trashing your MIL in front of the kids will fuel distrust in your kids. If you stopped loving dad and grandma you just might stop loving them one day.
2. When your marriage has ended, the kids are dislodged and dealing with many changes. The grandparent relationship becomes more significant to them, offering some stability.
3. Put aside fear, doubts, anger and especially revenge. It only leads to dumping more hurt upon yourself and your kids.
4. Talk to your MIL and explain to her how much your kids value her. Allow her to continue her relationship with them. In this way you avoid revenge which is a contagious disease that infects everyone
5. Your child’s happiness is more important than convincing your MIL she is wrong. There are no winners or losers in any confrontation. Kids suffer defeat every time a family member is absent from their lives.
6. Generating bonds of respect with your MIL will keep your ex-husband more involved with the kids. Bonds of love are always more difficult to break.
7. Your MIL loves her grandchildren and she will treat you with respect if it means her connection to her grandchildren will continue.
8. Be patient and give your MIL time to heal. Being non-judgmental allows you to heal and have some support from your MIL. The MIL, DIL relationship is like any other. It requires time and effort.
9. With tolerance and acceptance, the barriers both women have constructed will break down. We can’t fight with someone who is just not taking the bait and fighting back.
10. In the end it is wise to remember you, your ex-husband, MIL, and children are part of a large quilt which includes all of you. Your kids have roots that are tangled with each family member. Damaging any parts of their roots destroys pieces of their foundation. Keep kids healthy and strong in mind and body. Do what it takes and strive for peace.

Kids can be jealous of step kids and especially half siblings. Kids resent step parents disciplining them and one must question fairness when their own kids are involved. Kids exhibit more anger due to numerous stresses of mixed homes, many parents and disciplinarians and more kids to compete with. Be consistent, don’t compare, attempt to be on the same page, and always give respect time and love. Don’t fight in front of kids and never talk about the other parent or allow the step parent to do this as it will only hurt the child. Instill rules with meaningful consequences and provide choices. Willingly accept support from extended family members; You don’t want to cut your kids roots and thus destroy the plant. Kids are sensing a loss of family otherwise.

Reflections for Mothers-in-Law
Remember your daughter-in-law has a family, too. She cherishes spending time with them holiday central, and be thankful to share it with people you love.

Your daughter-in-law may anticipate visiting her family on the holidays. She might be more anxious to see them if they live at a distance. Try to give of yourself. When all is said and done, we remember who did what for us quicker than who gave what to us. It is fun to visit with someone throughout the year. The holidays are only a short period of time. It is the people who make the holiday special.You cannot compete with your daughter-in-law‟s mother. You can become a significant ally to your daughter-in-law. Promote your own relationship of family love with her.

Each holiday is unique in itself. It is not possible or necessary to repeat a holiday experience. Embrace each holiday. They have their own distinct moments. Give unconditionally, and you will not be disappointed. Equating the gifts from your daughter-in-law or mother-in-law to the value she places on your worth is a mistake. Most of us choose a gift we would prefer for ourselves and one we can afford. Holiday traditions change, and are a part of life. When a child starts school it is change and when a child marries it is  change. Bear with each other regarding the changes. Join in the festivities.

Reflections for Daughters-in-Law
Lend a helping hand when possible, and remember to value the person who donates his or her time and effort for you. Make an effort to visit with your mother-in-law at other times during the year. This is especially important if you do not get to spend the holi-days with her.

Remember to cherish your mother-in-law‟s traditions. They were developed over numerous years and possess profuse memories. Be fair in dividing your time and your husband‟s with your respective families. Your mother-in-law deserves equal attention. Invite your mother-in-law for a holiday as you would your own mother. She is your husband‟s mother.

Do not equate your mother-in-law‟s or daughter-in-law’s gifts to how she cherishes you.
Do not anticipate quantity from your holidays or from your gifts. Search for quality.
Accept your mother-in-law‟s invitations to holiday meals whenever you are able.
Your family‟s traditions and your husband‟s family traditions will differ. Accept and enjoy these differences. Have faith that love is shared and celebrated every day, not just on a holiday.

“Having somewhere to go is HOPE, Having someone to love is FAMILY, having both is a BLESSING.”    Anonymous

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” Bob Hope

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it”s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

“Don’t spoil Christmas Day by anticipating how it will be. Let is unfold as it does, and be grateful for whatever comes.”     Toni Sorenson

“The spirit of Christmas is found when we lift the load of others.”     Toni Sorenson

Chained

Chained“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”    Dalai Lama

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”    Dalai Lama

“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.”    Dalai Lama

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”    Dalai Lama

We are so controlled by our thoughts that they might as well  be chains. I am inclined to believe that our bad habits are due to our inability to stop, alter or even think about them. We can’t stop or won’t because as long as we keep our summary of what is within our ability to change, it allows us to keep repeating and doing whatever is a bad habit or action becasue it isn’t in our power to stop it. It gives us the green light to do as we want because we can’t help it so  we profess.  Somehow it requires some special force to alter situations.

In a way we are chained by these reasonings because we make no attempt to switch things up. I look at it as an unending get our of jail free card like we play in the game monopoly. No responsibility is needed and no reflection of what we say or do is attempted and no guilt is dispersed. It definitely makes life easier but then again I am not sure about that.

If we remain convinced we are powerless to replace anything then no attempt to modify things will ever be made. So why do we convince ourselves we can’t transform thought. I would guess  perhaps it has to do with our secret desire to keep things the way they are. We don’t have to expend any effort nor thinking on the subject. We are also exempt from blame and continue down the same path performing or judging in the same manner. Technically we are not disturbed nor troubled about any wrongs that are occurring.

I remember in a college study there was an experiment on accountability and the distance a person will go to, as long as they believe they are not going to be blamed. People in the study were to press a button and render a shock to a person in another room upon the request of the one in charge. The one pressing the button could hear the  scream of the individual receiving the shock. Their were over one hundred people tested yet only two stopped pressing the button on their own. The rest kept giving the shocks as directed knowing that each time the shcok was a bit stronger and at one point considered lethal. In their minds they were absolved from any guilt  because someone else told them to do it.

We are kidding ourselves  because we can all think and reflect on what it is we are doing. We should be thinking about what we are doing before we do it. Maybe we are absolving ourselves so much that we have given ourselves a blank check to say and do as we please. Life becomes simple without accountability. In the process we become chained to our  fears, wants, desires, thoughts and habits. If we believe they can’t be helped then we continue onward making no attempt at a transformation.

I see this as locking ourselves in with the key in our pocket, but as long as we don’t make the attempt to unlock the door we will stay contained. If a person enjoys eating, smoking, drugs, shopping, socializing or anything else that is carried to excess,  it can be hard to change especially when it is comforting to do. We perhaps trick ourselves into believing it is not in our power to modify the situation. Only by shifting our thinking can we vary the results. Making the attempt is vital otherwise we remain chained as we  coast through our lives. That is not living.

When we feel trapped in a marriage, habit or any other situation it weighs on our minds to the point of running  away or deviating from the path. Probably we aren’t even aware of our honest feelings but we might try to become drawn to things that are a worthier choice. The grass is guaranteed not to be greener. As tremendously knowledgeable as our minds are we trick them into believing we couldn’t help ourselves. Guilt is washed away blame is absent but problems and hurt bubble up to the surface of our lives. As much as we attempt to  defend our situations we succumb to the truth in the end because the truth sets us free from the chains.

We are never as stuck as we think, nor are we as innocent as we profess. I do think we are unsure of ourselves and life throws in many monkey wrenches. I guess we have to stop trusting in ‘they say’ and start hearing our conscience. Once we do that we begin taking account of our choices. It is like waking up to the knowledge that we are living our own lives. We shouldn’t  dream, pretend or lie to ourselves and others. It is at that point we unlock those chains keeping us bound.

I am aware that profound understanding does not happen overnight but taking the first step to enlightenment is like opening the book of that knowledge. It is the grown up stage of development when you can’t blame other people  for your mistakes. Maybe we are in an arrested development when we choose to believe we are unable to alter bad habits thoughts actions or situations and when we place the fault on others.

The fact that we are taking responsibility for what we do and say fosters spiritual maturity. By ignoring veracity we never own up to our mistakes. Although admitting our faults may be difficult and painful, I think it makes us whole instead of a shadowy figure. We become tangible and pliable and capable of understanding and learning. We actually see the entire forest and we lose the tunnel vision. I believe we become part of the whole and observe the connection we have.

You can look at every situation as if it were one that keeps you chained or one that requires your effort to overcome. See it in the light rather than in the darkness. Don’t think about the nighttime, rejoice in your daytime in all areas of your life. Babies and or marriage are work but the comfort and love received can’t be matched. Choose the way you want to perceive this. Recall that you always have freedom and a huge amount of worth. There is no competition except what we foster in our own minds. There is no race for the finish line. There is only a learning process that allows us to become whole. We know we are making progress when we become more serene within our own lives.

By supporting others along the way we actually promote our own soul growth. As with baking, all of the ingredients are important and not one is more so than another. To prove this all we need to do is leave one small ingredient out and the result is terrible. All of us are necessary to the making of the whole, while one loss results in casting a shadow over us all. Unlock your chains and strive to make the necessary changes in your life. Together we produce everlasting light .

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
Atisha

Correct thought: avoiding covetousness, the wish to harm others and wrong views (like thinking: actions have no consequences, I never have any problems, there are no ways to end suffering etc.)

Correct speech: avoid lying, divisive and harsh speech and idle gossip.

Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct

Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions.

Correct understanding: developing genuine wisdom.
(The last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation)

Correct effort: after the first real step we need joyful perseverance to continue.

Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the “here and now”, instead of dreaming in the “there and then”.

Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind.    Buddha

Reviving Passion

 

Reviving“There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.” Michel de Montaigne

I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich. ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford,

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” Anonymous

“If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.” Diane Loomans

Having a passion for anything leads one into territory untraveled. We are all aware that for the most part we are conformists. Nobody likes to be shunned or insulted so we either fly below the radar or we are careful  to state truth in ways that are palatable for others. Even with friends we aren’t completely open about every subject.  Perhaps it is also partially due to the fact that we don’t always agree and we don’t want to argue with friends.

My only problem with it is we are not ever what we appear to be and if we are we appear to be a super hero at times and an evil person at other times. I suppose that even far back in history people were cautious about stating feelings or giving advice. The women from Salem that were burnt as witches were likely intuitive and knowledgeable about herbs and other forms of cures. Likely  they cured someone who had no hope and suspicion ensued.

We seem to fear the unknown and see it as a threat. That keeps us all in line. After all things are okay for the moment so let’s keep it that way. In the process we are less of ourselves. We spend more time being what others want and expect of us. Professionals are never suppose to do any wrong. They probably do but it is behind the closed door and kept from the public. No  wonder we have so many anxieties. We are attempting to promote the correct image for a variety of different people. I sometimes don’t know who I am when that happens. Am I the nurturing teacher or impatient parent? Am I the outspoken strong individual or the fearful person in the corner? Am I competitive  on the ball field yet gentle with the kids? We all  have so many disguises and answers for these questions.

We constantly portray a variety of masks. At times we give the wrong impression of our real identity. The doubt about who we really are, is always in question. I understand that we do actually act in a variety of ways given the different circumstances we’re in but the general core of who we are is never completely grasped. I am not sure if this is the way we like it so that nobody can assess us completely. If we keep them guessing they accept us and leave us alone.

It is just so hard to throw out the truth as we see it. Maybe that is a problem. If I see things differently then I don’t want your truth anymore than you want mine. But reasonably if you have done research for your beliefs then I should respect that, by not be afraid to confront what you have experienced. We say  we are free but there are numerous times when I observe others who remain quiet regarding statements they know to be false. Being accepted and part of the crowd is more important to them.

The more respect we have, the less likely we want to make any waves. This goes for friendships as well as any other area of life. I think that has something to do with our conformity. The majority believes something is right so rather than fight a tremendous group we smooth over our thoughts and assimilate them with the majorities ideas. Sometimes we shave off too much of what we know to be the truth. Somehow I know that at this point I am not recognizing me anymore.

By rejecting my fear, I can state an opposing view and not worry if it is well received. That is not how life works. I might be ostracized for what I say and do and lose my esteem from others. I question waging that battle. Maybe we should consider these as possible reasons for the strange mixed up behavior of others. In our minds we are weighing what we can say without losing honor, when it is not what people  want to hear.

We are always liked and well received when we make people feel good. We are not so honored when we say stuff that triggers reflection and needs to be spoken. I can’t tell you how many times I have put my foot in my mouth and regretted it later. It wasn’t that I stated anything dishonest. I just spoke about critical but difficult issues to face.

Deep thinking is scary as it awakens senses in the mind, forcing us to accommodate it with our already held beliefs. I know it is smoother sailing overlooking some things for the sake of peace. I guess I am questioning how much we overlook and how far do we take it. Teaching for many years helped me understand some truths from many years of experience. I wrote about what I lived through. The book I wrote was based on my experiences.

It was written with so much passion that it resonates within our consciences. It isn’t popular because it makes one think. It isn’t politically correct but it is the bare truth. Nobody likes that. It was never  meant to be an insult but only a support to aid in knowledge and awareness of what is happening under our noses yet concealed. I am not interested in degrees of right or wrong, only in the betterment of children’s lives.

I prefer to state what is there and leave it up to the consciousness of all of us to attempt to fix and or do better. It is paramount that we give more time and love to our kids. It is far more important than toys and gadgets that keep them engaged and away from annoying us. Kids must be brought back to the front of our lives rather than living in the background shadows. Dare to read the book if you have the courage. Remember I was hurting when I wrote it. Parenting is the most important job, anyone can do. Having a loving safe and nurturing environment is essential. Divorce hurts kids but even  if you are already divorced, the book discusses issues you likely have never even thought about.

My 3rd book called TUMBLEWEED KIDS, approaches subjects ignored or hidden for the most part. Discipline, academics, bullying, abuse, emotional stress and nurturing are a few of the subjects covered. Divorce enhances the dilemma in every area of the children’s lives.
TUMBLEWEED KIDS is not a feel good book but offers many suggestions.
TUMBLEWEED KIDS was written in anger and passion but profound love for kids and parents.
TUMBLEWEED KIDS will break your heart first and then revive your conscience with hope and strength.                                                                                                                                      TUMBLEWEED KIDS promotes the importance of keeping parents, grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins a part of kids lives.                                                                                           TUMBLEWEED KIDS states more than anything else, the crucial importance of mother and father to children.

“Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”    Anonymous

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around — and why his parents will always wave back.”    William D. Tammeus

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”    Elizabeth Stone

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”    Saint Thomas Aquinas

“The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people — no mere father and mother — as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born.”    Pearl S. Buck

FINDING TRUTH

What We Do Know“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” ~Erma Bombeck

“Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded.”    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”    Albert Schweitzer

I’m sure we have all heard the phrase, ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you.’ Of course there are many ways to look at that. If we don’t know we are ill then it might hurt us. We could debate this for hours, but I believe that what we haven’t stopped to consider, will affect us in profound ways.

We are not far removed from the squirrels, birds  and other animals we study as they search for  food, mates, homes and security. I laugh at  the birds visiting my feeder, as they fight to gain access to the food. One morning I remember saying out loud, “There is enough food why are they fighting instead of waiting?” Of course at that moment, I realized they were behaving  just the same as people.

From the time we are born, our parents strive to get us into the best schools they can afford. The search begins to enhance our chances, and our lives. We don’t question what does enhancement mean. We are told the  bigger house, fancier car and multiple material  gains are equivalent to success. Not having any other options or opinions available, we carry the myth forward, and work hard to gain more of everything. Few  of us stop  to consider why. Perhaps the questioning might lead us to question, what we don’t know and are not told.

When I was first married, I had the tiniest place, but I was thrilled with it and with my life. I planted about two flowers, in the smallest area anyone  could own. The place was rented, but the simple gadgets we bought, were our own. It was home. As the years passed, we needed more room for the expanding family. We searched for a new place to live. That is when reality set in. It became paramount, according to the rules of society, to buy in the best town we could afford. Upon seeing the houses, it was clear that the more we were able to spend,  the greater the quality of the house, and the more features it had. This seems like a simple economic lesson, yet to me, it felt like I was joining the human race and I mean race.

We bought  a  home, still live in it and happily raised our kids. I can recall numerous people bemoaning their stepping stone homes. Their dissatisfaction  with their current place was obvious. It appeared so sad to me. How did they get up in the  morning with a smile of contentment. Of course they didn’t. They were living in a fictional future world. They wanted certain items that they didn’t yet have and their whole energy was focused on the acquisition of such items. They were unhappy people. The end to the story is the marriage ended in a divorce, before the future house was bought.

I began to understand the race, when my child did not get accepted in the preschool of choice. I apparently did not apply soon enough. The place I sent him to was wonderful and I was blessed that  he went to it. The struggles of maintaining the correct teachers, and staying abreast to make sure my kids were not overlooked, took a toll. People infringed on others sons and daughters. At long last I gave  up the control, and went with the flow. I decided that everything was in God’s  hands, and whatever happened was for the best. That was a liberating day. I continued to monitor my kids, and their work, but left the micromanagement to others.

I was not accepted into the  top social circles in my area. I didn’t care, because with four kids I was too busy to care. I had to make an extra effort to find things out on my own, but somehow it always was okay. One of the teachers, considered to be horrible, unbeknownst to me, became one of my  son’s best teachers. He still remembers her name.

Perhaps what I  didn’t know hurt me, in the area of associating with people, who were considered the ruling group in town. My kids were also, not on the guest lists of the favored ruling school group. That is a truth, and people don’t like to hear it, but there has always been a division of players. We all know it, and know our place. Nobody tells you, it just happens.

My life raising kids was awesome. I spent time with my kids, and enjoyed being with them. I didn’t need others to confirm, what I thought was right or wrong. It was a long road, but I eventually trusted myself. We  instilled virtues and values uncommonly mentioned. Taking myself out of the race, meant a certain amount of exclusion and missed celebrations. It also meant no pressure to be and act in ways I didn’t want.

If we had never seen another way of living, or viewed the  material gains of others, we might never have even thought of their existence. When we are all bombarded with so many things we might purchase, it can leave us envious of others and without contentment. If we are constantly looking for more, to satisfy  some uncontrolled desire, then we never notice what is in front of us, that is very cherished. In that case what we do know  hurts us. We tend to be influenced by others. This leads us into devaluing, what we have within reach.

Some of us get caught up in the tidal wave of living unconsciously. Others encourage us,  prod us, or flaunt in front of us. The resistance is hard. It requires some soul searching, to discover what is real, about us and our lives. When we cut the puppet strings from our lives, we learn to treasure the intangible possessions, that we cherish the most. Living is not aimlessly receiving more and more. Living is nurturing, loving, caring, respecting, displaying kindness, virtue, morality and spiritual  growth. We have the choice to get off of the wheel, or keep running towards what we don’t know, that will hurt us in the end.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”    Albert Schweitzer

“The highest proof of the spirit is love. Love the eternal thing which can already on earth possess as it really is.”    Albert Schweitzer

“Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.” Albert Schweitzer

“Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.”    Anonymous

“Don’t  ask if you are happy, ask yourself if your life has meaning.”    Anonymous

Gossiping

Gossipping“It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenseless one. Only the ignorant and narrow-minded gossip, for they speak of persons instead of things.”   Lawrence G. Lovasik

“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.”    Frank A. Clark

“Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back. They’re behind you for a reason.”  Unknown

“The girls who gossip to you, most likely also gossip about you.”    Unknown

“Strong people don’t put others down. They lift them up.”    Michael P. Watson

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”  Socrates

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”     Steve Maraboli

“Gossip is spread by wicked people. They stir up trouble and break up friendships.”    Proverbs

The word gossip brings cringes to most people. None of us like to be accused  of gossiping. It is the most common form of recreation, that we all indulge in, no mater how old we are. Questioning our reasons for participating in it, is very important. Many times we lose sight of the damage that it causes. It appears to be harmless, so we rarely stop. Perhaps we should question why we feel the need to trash others. Again the use of the word trash makes us uncomfortable.

Most of us would exclaim that we are simply speaking the truth as we know it, and sharing that truth with another. Whenever someone has harmed us, or performed in a manner we disliked, we desire to either retaliate, or share the incident with others. It is compelling to share, because we somehow assume, we alleviate the pain. I for one do not reduce my hurt. I end up feeling drained, and begin over thinking the incident, that  was the cause of the gossip. Now it seems even bigger than I thought in the first place. At times I even proceed to add in a few previous incidences. Now I am really fired up and shed my story  many times.

When I feel relieved, or have another incident worth discussing, I put the first one to rest. The problem is, I always experience a keyed up feeling. It is anything but relaxing, and my mind becomes a swirl of energy, focused  on everything irritating. Needless to say, I have become tired of the scenario, and have begun changing my attitudes. I already feel better with clearer thinking. My brain is not spinning with useless stories. I also sense a release of unnecessary judgements, about worthless information.

Analyzing the gossip of others, starts to become meaningless. Truthfully it is a waste of time. It isn’t like I received any relief from my stress, I just defused and shared problems with others, whom I most likely bored. Many friends agree with us out of courtesy, friendship or comraderie. Their opinion on the gossip, perhaps carries little faith in reality.

I attribute most foul moods, to bad days, and not bad people. In our defense we might say, When I spoke about my friend,  I didn’t mean she was bad, controlling, interfering, nasty, mean, judgmental, angry or negative. Whatever the adjectives, the idea is we have assessed them, and we don’t like what we see. Maybe we recognize  ourselves in them. Probably we can attribute the bad day, to our own distressful mood. None of us make time, to check out how we are doing. Beliefs, attitudes and stresses of the day will perhaps put us under duress. It is up to us to squelch unhealthy habits.

We may be stressed out with our jobs and obligations. It gets to be overwhelming, and we can’t find a way out. The need to release anger is  strong. This leads us to those people we find irritating, perhaps even on a  good day. Whatever the reasons are, that cause us to focus on them, our fault-finding becomes the fuel that lights our fire. We are so charged up, that we begin dispersing  words and actions on them, that were never really a part of the original hassle. Our minds trick us into believing there are certain meanings present in our exchanges. In actuality,  perhaps there was never a disparaging connotation meant. It might just be the way we interpreted their remarks, or actions. This obviously leads us down a seriously dangerous path. It is the dreamed up  route of possibilities.

Truthfully, we never know the genuine meaning, behind a person’s  words or actions. That leaves it up to us to figure it out. On a bad day, we choose to be angry,  build up the intensity of the words and actions, and then play them out to others. On a good day, we might  just ignore the words or actions, and chuck it up to  their bad day. Perhaps we look for the negative meaning ourselves, rather than the positive gesture. I have concluded that many people may be innocent of our accusations, but they can’t defend themselves when they are not present during our gossiping moments.

We have all given up so many of our choices. We go along with the gossipers so as to keep  their friendship and peace. We and others, twist many happenings into something evil, when it was likely never intended. In the end we become enraged, and we spend wasteful time and energy dealing with incidences that may have been accidental, or misinterpretations. Of course the stressful part of it is huge. We are agitated, angry, and full of anxiety. Whenever a friend adds fuel to our fire with total agreement, it ends up engulfing us with rage.

Probably the kindest  thing a friend could do for us is listen and attempt to allay our fears, about the situation. Keeping it all in perspective, and staying on neutral ground, may defuse our fire, rather than sparking it into a blaze. Gossip is perhaps the worst on us. By recalling a time you were angry with another person, you might remember the tightness of the muscles, the fire in your cheeks and the angry thoughts in your mind. It certainly wasn’t a good feeling.

The end result is defamation of one’s name and character. We can’t take the words back, and replay our part in the damage we cause. On a clear thinking day, we must understand that the talking hurts a real person. We may end up having to eat our own words, suffer the consequences, or be filled with regret, from the nagging of our conscience. Knocking a person down doesn’t ever raise someone up. We actually are pulling them down on top of us.

I remember a person whose Idea of a compliment, was to praise someone, and then refer to another person who didn’t meet that mark. I always wanted to mention, there wasn’t a need to criticize another person, while offering a kind compliment to someone  else. Somehow she believed she had to repress another, in order to raise the receiver of the compliment’s ego.

Suffice to say I have been attempting to  avoid difficult, angry and negative people. I don’t want to catch their attitudes. It has lightened my mood, and made me happier. It allows me to gain the quick access, while keeping me away from the bad mood. I am not as stressed, and I find my conversations are more enlightening. I can reflect on what was said, rather than drag myself down in the mud, over gossip. We can all steer clear of gossip and find relief. Spread kindness in its’ place.

 “These are the few ways we can practice humility: To speak as little as possible of one’s self. To mind one’s own business. Not to want to manage other people’s affairs. To avoid curiosity. To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully. To pass over the mistakes of others. To accept insults and injuries. To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked. To be kind and gentle even under provocation. Never to stand on one’s dignity. To choose always the hardest.” Mother Teresa

Coping

Coping“I can’t stop the waves but I can learn to surf.” Unknown

“When life’s problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself fortunate.” Unknown

“Is there a difference between happiness and inner peace? Yes. Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.”     Eckhart Tolle

How pompous it is to assume we know what another is feeling or dealing with in their lives. I for one have done that  so many times that I am drowning in my thoughts of regret. I never said anything hurtful to the people who were suffering with situations but I never totally understood the depth of their problems. Suffice it to say that I now realize there are perhaps many issues others must face that are much more difficult than they appear on the surface.

Maybe it has to do with competition. We have faith that we love the most, work the hardest and suffer the worst. The truth is there are many paths of suffering we endure. It is paramount that we don’t attempt to underestimate another burden sorrow or worry. We can be so off the mark yet assuming we are on target and know exactly what is going on. Nothing could be further from the truth. I suppose  that is why there are support groups for a variety  of problems. Who else would understand what one is going through except those who have walked the road.

How many times one hears someone without kids mention that mom and dad must be so tired from coping with the baby or children. As much as they mean well, they can’t grasp the all consuming job parenting is. They will only comprehend it when they become parents. Of course the perks of the peanut butter kisses and muddy hugs far outweigh the burdens of parenting. Parents of teens likely will confess that their lives with kids are even more difficult than the constant wake up calls at night from babies and toddlers. Parents of babies and toddlers might disagree but time will prove the answer.

Dealing with empty nest  syndrome is a profound enlightenment. Parents  are more aware of their own mortality and are forced to confront tremendous transformations in their lives. The further away their kids move, the harder the emotional distancing becomes. Many of us try to comfort friends and some acquaintances with our casual remarks about the changes. Unless one has been through it personally in one way or another, it can’t be explained. It is like being tremendously happy yet profoundly devastated. We are glad our kids have wings but we miss them.

Those who deal with sick or injured children are in a class by themselves, Their burden is so powerful, they can only cope with divine intervention. Most people offer their sympathy and shy away from any kind of advice. Divorce and death of spouses’ brings a total transformation. Most of us refrain from giving comfort to the divorced because we believe it is a mutual dissolution which it might not be. Their loss can be as close to a death as one gets without the actual experience. Even if it was desired, one is still experiencing a transition and many alterations.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are the secret problems we talk about in whispers. So many are affected that  we choose to pretend it suddenly just happened, this unusual circumstance, yet is is very prevalent especially due to the longevity of peoples’ lives. Many people don’t like to hear it and would rather deny it because it may bring their own fear out in the open. What we do fear we isolate ourselves from it and express our sorrow to others without really comprehending what another is facing.  I can’t say it is anyone’s fault. I do think that when we don’t understand an issue we should at the least refrain from the judgements of those  caregivers who are dealing with it.

Those who don’t have kids shouldn’t pretend they know how to raise them or assume they could do a better job. Kids are different and require a variety of parental attitudes for nurturing them. I remember a good friend who admitted how critical she was of other peoples’ kids. Her daughter was quiet and easy to handle. Then her son was born and she said one day, “If I hadn’t had him I would never have known how hard it was to raise a child. I assumed all those people with unruly kids just didn’t know how to manage them correctly.  Now I know kids are not the same and it isn’t easy.” I admired her truthfulness along with her awareness.

Parents love unconditionally.  That means they accept the tantrums and heartaches kids dump on them. I see parents as taking the place of God  on earth. They must suffer without retaliation at times. They suffer the pains of their kids even more than their kids are hurting. They feel what their kids feel. Nobody can explain that kind of love to another person.

Loss of a spouse brings about changes in our lives. Nothing is the same and new habits must be formed. Nobody can discuss the simple small things that are now missing. One perhaps misses the rolled up towel on the floor or the dirty socks by the bedside. They miss the smell of the Saturday morning coffee. The list is endless. Dementia can be similar because the things someone used to do they can’t do anymore. They are really not the same person and that can’t be explained in fifteen or twenty minutes on a phone call. The closer one is to the truth, the quicker the recognition, and the feeling of loss.

Sickness forces the healthy to take on more responsibility with new jobs added to the overburdened. I now understand how a simple, ‘you must be so tired.’ is so off the mark. I would now venture to say “I can’t really understand or appreciate what you are experiencing but I am sorry for your difficulties and admire your strength.”

The last thing I would want to do now is judge or gossip. If I am not walking in your shoes how can I state what I would or wouldn’t do. I can accept you,  wish you comfort and support in any possible way you deem appropriate. How prideful we are when we assume we can handle a situation so much better than the person attempting to do it. Instead I would be thankful I am not tested in that manner.

We all face our problems. Isn’t it time we simply smiled and in that smile admitted our limited knowledge about the situation. Probably understanding that the person is coping the best they can is all we must acknowledge in order to provide peace and serenity for that person. Many times in our lives we can appear strong and capable. Many other times we might feel desperate, vulnerable and helpless in a given situation. A kind hand, smile or gesture of goodwill will do more service than all the criticism of the proper handling of a dilemma. As they say, people won’t remember what you did but they will remember how you made them feel.

Perhaps the most damaging thing we can do is underestimate another person’s burdens. What we perceive as simple may  be far more hurtful and damaging to them than we will ever know. We all live in our own prisons. What we endure cannot be measured or quantified. We should be thankful we are not experiencing  what we see another suffer.  Offering our empathy, and giving our support diminishes pain.  We don’t want to inflict more sorrow with nasty gossip. Lighten someone’s load today and perhaps tomorrow they will be there  for you.

“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” Unknown

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” George Muellar

“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”     Eckhart Tolle