Category Archives: choice

13 Months: Through The Looking Glass (Reflections on entering the 2nd year.)

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The 21st is a hard date to face each month. A month ago I was standing on the other side, the Looking Glass in front of me, looking over my shoulder at the first year, my past, hesitating to step through to my future, but really, what choice did I have? I can’t live in the past, with regrets, and wishes don’t make the future a reality. So, I stepped through and I find myself here, on the other side, insecure in my uncharted territory with a million decisions to make and myself the ultimate consultant.

I am fine most of the time, well maybe ¾ of the time, as long as I stick to my routine. The decisions are hard, the weekends can be hard but I’ve gotten used to the nights. I’m fine and some of the time I even enjoy the time alone, to think, to write, answering to only myself. I have a home that stays clean, food that I like to eat in my refrigerator and half as much laundry to do each week. I’ve almost stopped waiting for someone to come home.

It is different here, on the other side of the Looking Glass. The world looks different and feels more uncertain, but I am trying to create a landing pad, a place to feel at home and friends to share some good times with. I am making different memories while struggling to keep the old memories alive, the good ones, the laughter, and the adventures shared. This side of the Glass has a long road stretching out ahead and I am traveling light, taking only what holds memories, is beautiful or needed, letting go of so much. Not just hopes and dreams, but also the weight of all that is carried through a lifetime.

A Looking Glass is for looking through, but once I’m through it, I can look forward and while I can’t see too far down the path, I can see a day at a time. I can plan a day at a time. I can live a day at a time, with gratitude that I have these days and that I have this path to walk on. I am fine, most of the time, but having the support of my family and friends is the buoy keeping me afloat. You’re asking, me answering, I’m fine most of the time. Thanks for asking.

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Filed under change, choice, death, grief, hurdles, Life thoughts

Independence

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It’s Independence Day and I am practicing. I started the day with family in my nest and as they flew off in different directions, I found myself sitting alone in the moment. The day loomed before me, hours of nothing and my mind filled with lists of things to get done. The tasks are really mine alone and though I can ask for opinions and assistance I am draining my resources.

Today’s theme reminds me to try to think of things I can do by myself so I start with laundry, my old standby. I tidy up from a weekend of the hustle and bustle of busy family to the sound of the old Kit Cat Clock, getting everything restored to its original status. Beds made, bathrooms restocked with fresh towels, leftovers disposed of and those hours are still there.

I decide to take care of business so I log on and file a luckily purchased insurance claim to get a refund for the tickets to a concert hopefully purchased back in March. The claim requires documentation to support the needed refund so I attach the death certificate. That should suffice and I am notified by email that I should hear something within 10 days.

I’ve been Independent for a couple of hours when I hear the familiar ring tone of my sister calling. She provides a much-needed pep talk filled with good suggestions and experienced advice, the kind sisters know how to dose out, with measured understanding and sympathy. There is no time limit and I relax into the comfort of our conversation, the kind you can have with someone you’ve known for almost your entire life and have shared parents, childhood bedrooms and the majority of the firsts in your life with.

I hang up and feel better, ready to step into Independence again and take a hard look at the living room bookcase. I am kind, but ruthless to the departing companions. They have been read, pages turned and information absorbed. It’s time for them to be shared and knowing they will have a new life allows me to feel less sad filling the bag, as long as I repeat that over and over in my head. New life, new life, new life…

It occurs to me that is what I wish for myself as I practice my Independence, a new life, a chance to feel some peace and some calm without waiting for shoes to drop. A life with some hopefulness, healthy habits, creative hobbies, a family circle with a different configuration but love as strong as always and friendships old and new.

With planes flying love overhead and the promise of fireworks approaching, the sky seems filled with celebration, recognition of hard-fought freedoms. I look up at the pink tinged turquoise sky (my mom used to call it sky-blue-pink) and look for a sign of Gary; birds resting on the wires, hawks circling, bats coming out to feast, the first stars twinkling but like the new moon, almost invisible, he hides somewhere, making my Independence the only thing to hold on to tonight.

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Filed under choice, Family, Focus, Independence, Life thoughts

Fires in the Winter

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I wrote my Small Stone meditative writing piece after driving through the Canyon at dusk feeling the early end of sunlight, shortening my beloved Saturday, drawing a line cutting my “to do” list in half.  I woke up with list items floating around in my head and finding the balance between to do’s and want to’s a challenge. 
 
The secret I realized is that a visualization is only as powerful as the clarity of your visualization.  I have fragments of dreams for my future bumping around in my mind.  I began reading The Secrets of Six-Figure Women and realized that while I possess some of the necessary ingredients for the future of my dreams, I lack others.  I want to create a map and put into practice the same skills I teach to the students I help:  using backward planning as a tool for getting where I want to go, creating strong visualizations of future goals but also breaking down the steps into manageable pieces that can realistically happen.  I am starting with my passion, my desire to help parents and children find balance, but what is the best way to take that passion and harness it? Not to contain it, but to use it to form the stepping-stones on my path.
 
Creating a destiny can be a full-time job, but I don’t want to think of it as a full-time job, I want to believe that my destiny exists already because I’ve created it so well in my mind, through my own thoughts, that it is bound to happen. 
 
For so many years I have been learning, growing, reading, and absorbing the teaching of those who really know how to trust.  Trust, the foundation of a future determined by my thoughts, my aspirations and my visions for my future.  Leaving it up to chance is no longer an option.
 
winding-path
 

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Filed under change, choice, creative writing, Life thoughts

Why I Am a Work in Progress

Aristotle

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Aristotle
 
After hearing this quote at Brené Brown’s book talk the other evening in Santa Monica, I reflected on my ability to attract criticism.  I actually began to think of ways I could avoid future criticism and started planning a simple, uneventful life of mundane days blending into months and years of ordinary sameness.  It would be less stressful, less complicated and allow more time for chilling on the couch watching TV or working out at the gym, if I just stopped trying to create, trying to learn and the biggest one of all, stopped looking in and participating in the endless analysis of myself (thanks mom,  for that habit). 
 

Ommm

I also started pondering the possibility sitting silently during group gatherings and meetings in order to blend in and strive towards invisibility.  That, after all, would certainly allow me to get in the “Zen state” and greatly reduce stress.  I try to imagine living a simple life.  A life where I just go to a job, come home leaving work behind, sit around in the evening, maybe taking an after dinner walk with the dog and then settling in for a great evening of television followed by drifting off to sleep on the couch. 
 

An evening of relaxation.

In this way, I can surely avoid criticism, unless I am criticized for watching too much TV or for my sudden lack of opinion on anything. 
 

Remember this?

I remember my mother, getting riled up over school drama between the teachers and the District, the Vietnam war, women’s rights, civil rights and other social injustices.  I overheard her heated conversations on the phone to friends in the evenings, around our kitchen table over cups of coffee, in the living room watching Walter Cronkite, or 60 Minutes.  I grew up in a liberal, vocal, caring home.  I come from a culture of people who ask “why?”  It is in my DNA.  So, what good can come of this?  Do my questions cause others to wonder?  Do my actions help anyone? 
 

The pain of criticism.

I wonder if looking in, trying to grow, improve and learn, really services a purpose or just serves to frustrate.  Criticism is not fun to receive because it comes with that little jab of pain, like an inoculation.  It hurts with the initial puncture, and that little throbbing lump under the skin hangs around for a while to keep the memory alive.  However, like a vaccine, criticism helps build tolerance.  Tolerance to the opinions of others and protection from blending into anonymity.
 

Looking within.

Critics are everywhere and pop out at unsuspected times. They lie in wait for an opportunity to say, “I told you so” or “Who do you think you are?” or worse, the silent grimace of knowing disdain.   Critics nowadays have open forums to express opinions through social media but they can’t compete with my biggest critic.  The little critic that lives in my head.  She’s the one I need to talk to, to explain the truth.
 
My truth is that creating is as necessary to me as breathing, learning is engrained into my genetic code and looking at myself with acceptance and vulnerability is a goal I am happy to set.
 

1000 chances to make mistakes, to learn, to grow.

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Filed under choice, Life thoughts, Mom

Taking My Time

I am taking my time.  This is something new for me because I operate at high-speed, my Type A personality functioning best with lists, schedules, and immediacy.  I return emails promptly, phone calls a.s.a.p. and strive to fix all problems with ingenious solutions.  Breathing deeply is a struggle for me and sitting to relax usually results in immediate sleep because when my motor slows down, it just stops. 

Recently however, I have come to a realization.  Most situations are not emergencies.  Most questions do not require immediate answers and most importantly, time is precious.  So, I am taking my time.  I am training myself to breathe first, listen more carefully and ponder more often.  I have not come to this conclusion alone.  I have had many mentors along the way both virtual and those in my real life.  The books I read keep me focused on the importance of taking each moment as a special gift.

So if I take a little long to make a decision, to respond to an email, to text back and answer or to return a phone call, you now know why.  I am taking my time.

It is amazing what a little breath can do to quite a heartbeat, improve vision, sharpen hearing and to enhance perspective.

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Filed under change, choice, Life thoughts, Relax

Happiness

I went to the Topanga Film Festival this morning to see the documentary Happy and I started thinking about happiness, the concept, the reality and the possibilities. I have been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for about a year now and enjoy the daily quotes and reflections, but I wondered,  how can I spread happiness, encourage happiness and find areas in my life to insert happiness? 

Encouraging signs are popping up everywhere, for example, my husband was given the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert awhile ago and it was mentioned in the movie today,  and this quote that showed up today on Facebook from Weight Watchers:

                                “Life has no remote. You have to get up and change it yourself!”

So I know what I can do to make myself happy: 

incorporate a healthy lifestyle into my daily life,


                                                

read,

allow creativity to be a priority

spend time with my family

connect with my close friends

practice kindness and tolerance

Now I want to expand by giving more happiness:

sharing what I have to give

helping worthy causes

creating more happiness in my home

creating more happiness in my classroom

It is a commitment, but also a choice, to surround oneself with happiness.  It is a road I am choosing to walk.

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Filed under choice, Family, Focus, Life thoughts

Taking The Multi Out of Tasking

 

I guess I just can't do it all.

 

It has occurred to me lately that my life is a little like my Firefox browser which currently has nine tabs open across the top.  I am suffering from multi-task syndrome which is similar to attention deficit disorder except I am not just looking around when I am supposed to be concentrating on a task; I actually start doing new tasks before completing my original task.  I notice this especially when I begin to write and an idea pops into my head that sparks my curiosity compelling me to investigate the new idea, which inevitably leads to another idea, etc.  I am left feeling unfulfilled and uncompleted.

I am regressing back to my days of Baba Ram Dass and Be Here Now, when we were encouraged to be “in the moment,” to calmly experience where we were.  Focusing on breathing is a good start because it slows the body and allows the mind to focus on one thing-breathe in, breathe out, my mantra for slowing down.  This is just the beginning though, because I really find it challenging to just sit still and breathe for longer than fifteen minutes and I also really do have things to accomplish, which involves physically moving.  The next step is to stop the multi part of tasking, stop reading e-mail, stop checking Facebook, stop thinking of more things to add to my already too long list of things to do, stop starting new loads of laundry, stop snacking and stop veering off on Internet searches…at least while I am writing.  I am trying to learn to focus on one thing at a time and this is not easy for a “Type A” teacher, but I love a challenge.

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Filed under change, choice, Life thoughts, writing