Friday, March 6, 2015

3/6/15—Seeing What's Right In Front Of You

I was about to climb the stairs to bed the other night, when something stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the lighting...the way the light reflected warmly off my orange walls. But my eyes were transfixed by the sight of my dogs.

Each was curled up in their special spot. Two would join me momentarily, but they weren't quite ready to give up their comfy spots downstairs in favor of new comfy spots upstairs. Kizzie, on the other hand, couldn't wait for everyone to be gone so he could sanction the sofa and pass out, undisturbed, for the night.

I stood there at the bottom of the stairs for a couple minutes as I took the sight of them in...the most precious parts of my life. And I realized that this was the life I dreamed of living. 

I am living my dreams!

I mean, sure. In my actual dream life I was probably healthier, thinner, richer and a better housekeeper. But in that moment I was deeply fulfilled with the outcome thus far. Whatever parts of the dream I'm missing in my life, I know I have the capacity to get them if I pursue them. Those are just choices. But all the hard work to get to this moment is done. 

There was something else about that moment at the bottom of the stairs, thought. In that moment I realized I had always lived the life I dreamed. I've always been single. I've had this home and dogs for 15 years. I've always had friends and hobbies. For the most part, my business has always been good. I'm alive and kicking. I have the money I need to make do. I have things I believe in and passions I pursue. I make good choices, for the most part. I'm a positive influence. And I think I'm kinda cool. :D I've been that way all along. I just wasn't taking the time out to enjoy view it from the bottom of the stairs in warmly lit light. 

So the past few days I've been noticing all the ways I put off my truly appreciative headspace in favor of pretty much everything from work to worrying. This isn't the first time it has occurred to me. We work our jobs, then come home and cook and take care of the family and go to bed and get up and do it again. And we forget to mull over the question, "what are we doing all this for?" If we don't have moments...hours...even days of living in the wonderful moment of "this is what I've always wanted and it's beautiful", then what is the prize in the bottom of our Cracker Jacks?

Why do we put that sheer enjoyment of life as a last priority? And I'm not talking about going out with your friends and laughing your ass off. That's part of it, sure. But I'm talking about walking in the blessed realization that you have what you always wanted and anything you don't have, you can make happen. Not everyone has that luxury in this world, but I'll bet most of you do...if you get out of that worrying-striving-planning-reflecting-doing-rushing-regretting-fixing-caring-for-and-trying-harder-to-be-something-else-occupied mind of yours. 

It's not just about gratitude. It's about putting some of that other energy toward simply loving the life you already have...sitting right in the moment and in the midst of your beautiful life. You can still think about the life you want to have and the things you need to change, because that's how dreams are achieved. But, really, when did you ever devote as much time to consciously loving and appreciating what you have—without countering that thought with all the things that are missing from it that would make it that much more perfect? I'm guessing it's the rare person who spends more time in "look at the wonderful life I've created" than they do even in "what color sweater shall I put on today?" It's sad, but we all get caught up in life's noise. 

In a few days, I'll turn 52. The last year or two of my life have felt challenging at times, but now I can see why I've struggled on so many levels—the benefits that have come. As we get older, the mind starts clearing out a little and it's easier to recapture some of your mindshare for appreciating your life. Of course, you can do that at any age, but I'm finding that letting go of counter-productive thoughts is easier now.

As you age, you also get more and more glimpses of your mortality. And so I've been thinking a lot about "what is all this for?" And the answer I got was "for you to realize how precious the life you have right now worthy it is of your efforts." There's something in our human nature that has us always looking toward the horizon. But one of the best benefits of age and experience, I think, is to learn how to finally see the beauty of what's right in front of you. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3/2/15—Saying The Magic Word

I plum ran out of time tonight, so here's a classic post. Hopefully I'll finish the fresh one I was working on for tonight later in the week and you'll get a bonus post. :)

I stopped by my local grocery store the other day and heard the employees whispering about something. Apparently "he" was back and wasn't listening to what they said. Again. When I got to the checkout, I saw who they were talking about. A man was there asking for a receipt so he could return some things. He wasn't raising his voice or anything, but he was persistent. 

My checker told me he comes all the time and asks for a receipt so he can return things. But he doesn't have anything to return. And he didn't buy anything. She said when he doesn't find someone to talk to, he stands by the customer service counter and talks to himself. 

You could see it was really stressful for all the people who worked there and were being checked out. The man wouldn't let up. And he frequently changed languages when he was talking, so it was hard to understand him. They were being a lot more patient with him than I would have been. In fact, I found myself being less than compassionate because he was trying to take advantage of the store, and in a way that was making things difficult for everyone concerned. 

There are a lot of ways to get what you need. You can do it with honey. Or you can wear people down like water on rock. This man chose the latter and he wasn't starving, so clearly it worked for him. But it was hard work on his part, imo. In fact, I think even when done with honey, begging and being homeless is hard work. It might not be physically or intellectually demanding (though I suppose it could be) but the toll it takes on a person's emotions and spirit is a bigger price than I'd be willing to pay. 

I used to tutor recovering drug addicts (who lived homeless most of the time) in literacy and for their GED, so I have a little insight into how soul sucking that existence can be. When they were born they didn't say "I want to be a homeless crack addict when I grow up." It's a cumulative thing that happens as you make bad choices and then face worse and worse options in your life because of it. They're not proud of what it does to their families and what they've done to themselves. Most of them are so far gone they can't see a way out. These ladies I tutored were grateful for being legally compelled to get themselves clean. And even with that, at least one of them went back to the life. 

As a result, I find myself reaching inside my purse and helping random homeless people out from time to time. The way I see it, I'm tithing to the universe. "Tithing to the universe" is a practice I use to keep the flow of money going between me and the universe and also to help my karma. I give freely, without worry or judgment of what it's going to be used for. If I have money to give, I feel rich. If I can be generous, I feel even richer. And the richer I feel, the richer I am, because our thoughts create our reality. I don't always give to people in need, either. Sometimes I like to pay for the order behind me in the drive-thru or whatever. 

Anyway, I digress. Because even though that man was quite annoying to the people who work at the grocery store and even though he probably made a lot of customers uncomfortable, he gave me a gift—the gift of reminding me how grateful I am to be who I am, where I am today. I'm not mentally ill (at least not in a debilitating way...haha). I have a home and can afford heat. Everything is fully functional. I'm not hurting for anything. 

There are people out there with challenges we don't even understand. Something as simple as being sane and employed is a huge thing to give gratitude for. And there are such basic things to be grateful for. When was the last time you consciously gave gratitude for a functional body, as achy as it might be? For a functional mind, as forgetful as it may be becoming? A warm home, though it might need a coat of paint? Or for your work, as crappy as it may sometimes be?

There's a term called "first-world problems" that refers to all the crap people of privilege complain about. Somewhere right in your neighborhood there's someone who would love to have your problems. Maybe their house is being foreclosed upon and their future is in question. Maybe someone inside is nursing a loved one as they lay dying. We often take for granted all the privileges we have, even when they're as basic as "breathing without help". 

Part of tithing to the universe or paying it forward or whatever you want to call the practice is giving gratitude for even the most basic of graces. Paying gratitude in advance is an even more powerful way of calling the universe to your side. I'll bet you could probably write 100 things you're grateful for in less than an hour. That right there is something to be grateful for! If you want to see your life magically brighten and bloom, just say the magic word more often—thanks.