Friday, September 28, 2012

Halloween Craft Time!

My mood has significantly improved! Looks like all I needed was a day away from the grindstone, a little visit with family, and some Halloween creative time! Check out this nifty little Halloween wreath I constructed this afternoon. Ghoulishly groovy, eh? I think so ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sometimes You Can't Win.

This week has been...challenging. I've done a number of things to try to make it better, to have a more positive outlook, to fight the misfortune with a strong, bright attitude.

Some things I've done include meditation, positive affirmations, listening to binaural beats, focusing on intentions of success, forcing myself not to let things bother me, etc. etc. etc.

And what I have learned is while sometimes those above-mentioned things do work, as many times happiness is a choice...sometimes, however, unhappiness is unavoidable.

I'm beginning to wonder if we are supposed to go through low periods, and maybe even meant to feel depressed. Maybe it's meant for our growth. Maybe it's all part of a cycle, kind of like the water cycle, you know, starting out in a calm mood, like a lake, then evaporating into a cloud of bliss mood, and then raining down in drops of a sorrowful mood. I wonder...

Because I really have fought this low mood for a good couple of weeks, and it just seems like the more I fight it, the more opposition I get from the outside world. And it's not any one thing. It's a whole bunch of completely unrelated things, really. Some of it has to do with the personal relationships in my life, some of which are changing due to an evolution on my part. And then there's the day job, *sigh*, and what seems like a Voodoo curse that's been placed on it, and that brings up anxiety and unresolved issues from past jobs. And then there are setbacks on personal projects not coming along as I'd hoped.

And you know, it's just too much to fight with internal rays of sunshine, so frankly, I'm going to stop battling them and admit defeat for now. I'm going to wave my white flag and be a raincloud. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day...

Monday, September 17, 2012

You know you live in the Metroplex when... takes you an hour to drive to your favorite grocery store in town, buy a few items, and return home.

I debated on whether or not to even leave the house once 3 o'clock hit. Schools were letting out, and the end-of-workday flood gates were soon to be open. But I really, really, really wanted to stock up on coconut water. So off I went.

(Keep in mind, this is all on two roads, in town, not getting on any highways.)

On the road for two minutes...saw about five people in the span of ten seconds change lanes without a signal. Griped at drivers that they could cause a wreck, though they clearly could not hear. Loudly voiced a query to the cops, asking them where they were when you needed them. They also, obviously, could not hear.

Then passed through approximately 800 school zones, all of which had incredibly slow, obese kids walking on the cross-walk, so had to wait even longer. Then the train decided to go through town, right before I hit the tracks. Stopped and waited. Line of cars behind me increased to about 10 million. Then, train gone, more people cutting other people off, not using their signals, and more yelling from inside my Honda.

Got to the grocery store, took a breath of relief, stocked up on coconut water, and left.

Back on the having been out for a good period of time and all the kiddos having gone, I couldn't figure out why we were all stopped at a red light for what seemed like the entirety of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Saw light turn green. Two cars went through. Light turned red again. Had barely moved an inch. More waiting and not understanding. Had to do meditative breaths and sing a happy tune to myself so as not to completely blow my top.

Realized there had been a wreck (probably caused by some dumbass not signaling before changing lanes), and although it was cleared, two police cars and a moon-sized fire truck were blocking all but one lane going through the intersection. Drove like a snail through that.

FINALLY got home, swearing I was not going to get near that friggin' road between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. EVER again.

Putting coconut water in fridge, thought about how nice it is to take a long, scenic drive through the country...where there are no other cars...and no school zones...and no wrecks...just peace, and nowhere to be, and no reason to rush...

I do like part of city life...but there is a peace-seeking country girl me who will always live underneath that teeth-gritting, fingernail-tapping, city woman...


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Two-way Streets

I've come to a realization this year (one of many). I have realized that I am one of those people you could call a "giver." I tend to do most of the giving in my relationships, whether they be family, friends, whatever. I've always been that way. It gives me a sense of purpose and makes me happy to better the lives of other people in any way I can.

But that's not always a good thing...

It is a good thing when the giving is reciprocated and/or appreciated. When it's a two-way street. But if it's not, and your giving is going into a black void, then it becomes a draining, daunting, disappointing situation.

Let's say you have a friend, and you've known her since high school. You two have lots of great memories together, have had tons of laughs, great "girls night outs" and happy times, and any time she's ever needed anything, be it a listening ear or someone to watch her pets while she was out of town or somebody to hang out with when she was lonely, you were always there to happily fit the bill. But over time, you began to notice that whenever you needed that same listening ear, or company when you were down, etc., that friend was very rarely, if ever, there to reciprocate.

It's hard to break that sort of thing because it requires an acknowledgement on your part that the friendship was and is one-sided. It can be painful to admit that if you stopped the giving, your friend would all but disappear. So we tend to hang on. We hold tight to those people because we don't want to know that we were simply serving some use to them. That makes us have to face the fact that the relationship wasn't really a healthy exchange between two whole people; it was one person giving and one person taking.

So we lie to ourselves. We continue to completely drain ourselves in a dark, overwhelming ocean, and then we swim to the surface to take a breath. Then, while we're above the murky waters, we soon sense the absence of the person, and that makes us sad. So we dive back in. We start to give again, if only to make that person happy so she'll return to us.

But it just winds us up in the same, damaged spot, leaving us in a confused lurch whenever we require reciprocation of our time and energy.

I can count on one hand the people I can truly rely on. And you can bet the bank that they can rely on me, too. I wish it were different--I wish I had a dozen people I could really label as "friend." But most of them, even family I grew up with from childhood, are only takers.

When two people can truly be there for one another at all times, not just the bad, not just the good, but through it all, then you have a rare gift. Sometimes it's the people who wouldn't immediately come to mind who are your true "besties." People like my mother come to mind. She is someone who has been there for me since birth, and so often I take her for granted. But I know if she were to leave this world, I would be truly devastated. I would feel a real loss. So I try to make sure I don't take her for granted and that I do all I can to give love back to her.

As I've gotten older, I've also found my new friendships to be quite short-lived because I notice the signs of someone who is a taker very quickly, and I recognize when the flow of energy is off. These people I quickly place on the back burner until they decide to give in return. Most of them stay there indefinitely.

It's not a matter of being selfish. People like me are notorious for feeling guilty about being selfish when we decide to stop giving to takers. But it's not selfish. It's giving to yourself because you recognize yourself as an amazing person who is worthy of receiving just as much energy as you put out. Yes, it's hard. But you've gotta shake off the guilt and start living! And the best way to do that is to make a promise to yourself that you'll give, but you won't give too much or be the only one giving, and you'll nurture those relationships that are truly two-way streets.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Is

How often do we see things as we wish they were? We want to see what appears to be instead of what is. It gets us into a mess, and in the end, we have a whole lot of unhappiness in our laps. But when we allow ourselves to truly see what is, and we accept what is, we can begin to be more at peace and start to grow as a wiser soul.

One of the practices I've studied over the last couple of years is the Buddhist idea of seeing things as the way they are and then reacting not from a place of anger, but a place of loving indifference. We tend to react in anger when we want to change an unwanted situation and can't. But when we realize we cannot change the truth, and we accept what is, we can develop the power to view the same situation with indifference. By practicing Vipassana meditation, where you simply sit and focus on wiping your mind as clear as crystal of anything but what is, it helps you to not only see the truth of a matter, but to be perfectly fine with it.

This morning I found a little more literature on Vipassana meditation, and it provided me with some information that I hadn't yet read. In short, I learned that even if you know how to meditate in this way, you still won't have a tranquil state of mind unless you do the following:

- Avoid killing.
- Avoid stealing.
- Avoid sexual misconduct.
- Avoid lying.
- Avoid intoxicants.

Now, the Buddhists aren't saying you'll go to hell if you don't follow these guidelines. These rules aren't like the 10 Commandments. Instead, what I think Buddhists were trying to convey is something like, "Hey, so we've all lived and learned, and these are a few bad ways of being that we have seen ruin people time and time again. We suggest you avoid them. You can do them, but you probably won't have a very chill state of mind. But, you do whatevs! We're just sayin..."

I've seen a pretty big shift in just my overall health and physical figure by cutting out the intoxicants (as well as a lot of sugar and grease and other bad stuff). I made that decision based on my growing discomfort with my digestive system--I got sick of being sick. And aside from my stomach pain going away, I've noticed my body's slimmed up, and I have a ton more energy. As far as the number of intoxicants I've cut back on, I've gone from downing 2 to 8 drinks a week (and really "needing" those drinks) to maybe consuming a couple in a month. It's helped my body, and it's helped my mind, and it's helped my spirit. At first it was hard. I didn't realize how much I'd been drinking to mask the feeling of uncomfortable tension and worry in my life--but by not allowing myself to run anymore, it helped me to see what is.

I learned that the Buddhists were right. When I started facing what is, by observing truth and accepting it, the rest of the world eventually fell into place. I got answers to questions that had been burning a hole in my state of mind for some time. I relaxed. I let go. And you know what? I found happiness again.