Solve for X

Sometimes I feel like life is like an algebra problem; you know that both sides of the equation have to be equal, and you have a variety of variables and operations that have to be resolved before you can solve for X.  That the “solving” is what matters…it ought not be so difficult right? Solving for X… I finished the interior Christmas decorating this morning and found myself crocheting baby blankets on the sofa in the early afternoon and turned on the show on Oprah’s network called Super Soul Sunday.  It is an extraordinary show if you are looking for inspiration, or meaning or guidance, or just wish to be uplifted by listening to people talk about what matters to them and why.  It’s a real question in life, to solve for X or Y, isn’t it?

Why things don’t go as we had hoped or planned?  Why our great expectations are dashed by reality?  Why some people come into your life and what on earth is the lesson we’re supposed to be learning?  Why you said what you said or did what you did?  Why it appears on the surface that some people flow so smoothly and why others seem to suffer, constantly and perpetually?  What am I missing?  What is the cosmic clue that I can’t seem to grasp?  Today I watched this channel for a couple of hours while my fingers wrapped around the yarn from my basket and I felt something I can only describe as an alignment.  I felt like I was “supposed” to be hearing these words.  It felt like I think people must feel when they go to church, like they are connected with something that they don’t fully understand, but that fills them up and lifts them up in ways that they can’t quite describe, but they certainly can feel.  I listened to three different authors; Gary Zukav, Sue Monk Kidd, and Zainab Salbi and the funny thing was, at the end of the talks and the interviews, Oprah asks them ‘what they know for sure’…and despite having very different journeys and very different failures & successes, and very different experiences in this journey of life, they all said something about how what they know for sure is that love is what matters.  So I found myself wondering; is love the thing that matters when you already have achieved financial success and security and have no other monetary or emotional or physical worries, so you can say, Love is what matters?  Or, is it true that all the other bullshit of life; the worries over paying the property taxes, and paying the income taxes, and getting out of credit card debt, is meaningless, and that Love is really the only thing that matters?

I feel like people who have no worries about being able to pay their mortgage are the ones who can say, and mean it, love is all that matters.  Those of us who are worried all the time, and anxious about our present and our future and our jobs and our work are the ones to whom love is not all that matters…all that matters is being able to pay the bills month after month as you try to get yourself back on your feet after a problem or a turmoil or a disruption…so it gets me thinking…am I being sucked into this cosmic worry, or is the equation as simple as X or Y = Love?

Is all this external nonsense just external nonsense?  Is it true that nothing else matters?  Is it true that when I am on my last breath on this big blue ball I won’t worry about how full or empty my bank account was but will only worry about did I love well enough?  Was I kind enough to those who mattered to me?  Did I let the music fill my soul?  Did I stop to smell the flowers?  Did I delight in the divine sound of the laughter of children or the chirping of birds?  Is all of this modern world’s ‘worry,’ just fluff?  Just smoke and mirrors?  Should I just let my story unfold, however it is going to unfold?  Am I in fact someday going to find the great and powerful Oz behind the curtain and find out I had the power to just be happy with what is, with both the nonsense and the lovely, all along?

Today’s blog is full of questions and not any answers at all…I don’t want to be so wrapped up in the recognition of what is missing, that I miss what is here all along right in front of me.  I suppose I am comforted in knowing that I am not alone.  Why do we say or do things sometimes that just make somebody else feel bad, only because it makes us feel better?  Why do we let what others do or say sometimes pull us out of our own gloriousness and grace?  Some of you wonder, just like I do, about ALL of it…the big picture, and what are we missing?  Why am I here and for how long?  I for one let myself get sucked into these dismal thoughts about how things did not go as I had planned, but does that mean that all that has happened has no meaning?  It can’t be.  It all has to be part of the equation.  It all has to be part of the lesson…right?  What is happening to each of us has to matter.  It can’t be for nothing, that we are even thinking these thoughts, having these worries and wonderings…I am not religious, in that I practice no faith, no rituals…but I wonder.  I wonder what matters.  I wonder what I can do better.  If it is all just an equation that can be solved, then can’t we just solve it?

 

 

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Two words, 7 letters

It’s not difficult to say “I’m sorry” and mean it.  It is however not always easy to stop doing the things for which you apologize, but, it still seems a worthwhile effort.   I think of myself sometimes as like the verse my Nana used to read to me:  ~There once was a girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.~   I am as guilty as the next person in thinking myself “good,” but being well aware when I am unkind or wrong, or have not done unto others as I would have them do to me, and at those times, not liking myself one bit.  Now, it’s true that some people are rather awful and simply don’t know it.  This blog is not about THOSE people.  It’s about us.  You and Me.  The amiable and the kind, the loving and the generous, who sometimes lose our footing and stumble off the track.  You know the track; the nice straight and strong one, with solid anchor spikes and smooth rails that the goodness train runs on.

When we get derailed, through no fault of our own, or due to our poor engineering or awkward steering, the only way to get back on track is to right ourselves and rewrite our itinerary with a specific destination and route in mind.  You can’t go forward unless you get yourself situated.  You might think that you can move even if you are still off kilter, but you are wrong.  It might sound elementary and silly, but it’s rather a matter of fact that you have to realign and redefine and get-right, before you can go on.  I am very comfortable with accepting my flawed behavior when it flies into my consciousness, and don’t feel at all embarrassed when I say or write or admit with humility, or sometimes with humor, that I’ve screwed up.  I am not fond of mistake making, but am pretty sure that mistakes build character and I generally am fond of the person I’m becoming, flaws and all… I’ve come to realize that people who play like they are perfect and have never made mistakes, and are quick to judge everyone else’s failings, and always jump up with enthusiasm to point them out, are either just hiding behind an image they are trying to protect or, who knows?  maybe they’re aliens and really have achieved perfection, but I don’t think so & that’s not for me to decide and I certainly won’t waste more time pondering it.  I enjoy the company of those who are comfortable with their humanness, the ones who can say, and mean it, ‘I am sorry, please forgive me.’

This week of Thanks and giving I am feeling profoundly grateful for so much.  I also am feeling like it’s the right time for any of us to say ‘I’m sorry’ to anyone, and for anything, that we’ve done that was less than kind, or thoughtless, or well, you know, any of those things for which a reasonable person would think an apology is warranted.  I have learned that a ‘mea culpa’ does wonders for your soul.  Lots of people use a new year to start fresh, but for me, Thanksgiving is really the “right” time to get right.  My Dad is one of my favorite humans and his favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, so it seems sensible to me that this week is my week to realign.  I have apologized to everyone I have ever been involved with or related to, when I have done wrong.  Truth be told, some cases of apology have been forced out of me, when I really didn’t think anything was wrong with my actions or choices, but then came to believe otherwise upon prodding and discussion. I think the holiday is filled with stress and tension for some families because of this very issue…deep feelings of anger or regret or long ago wrongs and if at the table somebody just could gather the strength to say, “I’m sorry for ____” it would probably do the person to whom the apology is extended, a world of good.  Sometimes digesting the truth is much harder on our bodies than an enormous plate of deliciousness.

My apologies in this life have been heartfelt and honest because I ultimately knew I had done or said something for which I was truly sorry.  I have said “I’m sorry” and meant it, to my parents, my sister, my daughter, my grandchildren, my aunt, a boss, a friend, a boyfriend, a neighbor…I have many times in my life done things, or uttered things that I immediately wished I hadn’t, or even much later in time, upon deep reflection, truly wanted to take back & re-do, so in those circumstances I am genuinely sorry and then, here’s the best part, you just go on.  I have learned that a humble and honest apology is all you need to move on.  No need to dwell and contemplate and over think and over analyze, just go on.  In this week of giving thanks don’t hesitate to give an apology if you think one is needed, it’s a pretty great way to move forward and it’s just two words.  Think of it as a second helping of dessert to your soul.  Gobble gobble!

there goes the neighborhood…

If you believe that human life starts the moment of conception, I don’t think you would want to ever have an abortion.  If you are very religious as well, I am pretty sure that even if you got pregnant by accident, you would never have one.  If however like me, you believe that life starts only at the moment you decide that you want this cluster of cells to keep growing, and eventually leave your body as a fully formed human baby, which you want to care for and raise to adulthood, or perhaps put up for adoption to a loving person who can’t have children, then I think if you find yourself pregnant and don’t want to be, you would be consoled to know that there is a safe, clean, comforting, and legal way for you to get un-pregnant.

I am not interested in a debate.  Not at all.  It is pointless for both of us, because I believe what I believe and you believe what you believe.  If you don’t think it’s right to abort a fetus then don’t do it.  EVER.  NEVER WOULD YOU EVER, so just don’t even consider it for a fleeting moment, it is not an option for you.  If you feel so strongly that abortion is bad, wrong, immoral, sinful, ( you could insert any word here that you like: vile, wrong, wicked, unholy, believe me, the thesaurus has TONS of synonyms, )  it’s likely that you have been diligent with your birth control methods and make certain you never have an “accident,” and if you got pregnant, because of your beliefs, you’ve accepted the obligations, responsibilities, and financial strains and burdens of having a child, and I imagine you are most pleased with your decision, for all the reasons that deeply and profoundly matter to you.

Much like it troubles me enormously to see a beautiful clear-red-cedar shake house re-covered in vinyl siding, like, I think sadly to myself, “how on earth could they do that?!”  You see, vinyl siding goes against my sense of aesthetics, it goes against almost everything that I find beautiful or pleasing in an exterior of a home.  I choose to live in a house with wood siding and would never EVER build or buy a house with vinyl siding.  I HATE it,  I hate it very much, and because it so violently troubles and offends me, and my belief of what a house should be, I won’t ever consider owning a house with vinyl siding.  I would not however go to Universal Supply and march in front of that big warehouse where they keep all this offensive vinyl siding and try to keep other people from buying the vinyl siding.  I feel strongly that if you are building a house you should want to side it with wood, but since it is YOUR house and not MY house, and it’s your own money, and you want to have vinyl instead of wood, you should be able to side your house with whatever material appeals to you, despite the fact that I personally hate it. I don’t think it’s right, or reasonable, that I should  have a “say,” or that I would want to have a say in the way you choose to side your house.  I do what I want with my house, and you should be able to do what you want with your house.

My next door neighbor, who I like, A LOT, has vinyl siding on her house.  She loves it.  I don’t mind that she has it on her house even though I look at her house every single day.  It’s HER house.  She chooses what she wants HER house to be.  Do you see where I am going with this?

I don’t understand how, on the news this morning, there was discussion about, yet another Fox News republican debate tonight, and that THIS issue, the issue of CHOOSING WHAT TO DO WITH THE SIDING ON YOUR OWN HOUSE, THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR AND PAY TAXES ON AND TAKE CARE OF UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO SELL IT, is still an issue that people feel the need to discuss and debate over and over, year after year.

What I choose to side my own house with is my choice, and what you choose to side your own house with is yours.  If you don’t like wood siding, by all means, buy a vinyl house, but please don’t think that everybody should have to like vinyl siding, or want vinyl siding, or be against cedar in all circumstances.  Please don’t think it should be the law, that all new construction has to be covered in vinyl siding and that cedar siding should no longer be available.  If you like vinyl, have it, but please please please, don’t force others to share your views, beliefs, or opinions.  I respect your choice to not have a cedar house. My choice to have wood siding is yours to respect as well.  It’s not one-way, it’s balanced in fairness…what you think is important is no more valid than what I think is important.  Your beliefs that vinyl is better, only means that you would WANT vinyl.  My belief that vinyl is ugly and offends my senses and love of houses, only means that I want wood.  I know it troubles so many of you, that I don’t like vinyl siding, but there are so many more important things in this world that should matter than whether or not your neighbor prefers wood to vinyl…Don’t you see, the neighborhood is so much lovelier when we get to choose…

ReBirth Day

“Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures.  You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.”   This line is one that I thought best for today, for my “re-birth day,” and is a gift from the author Elizabeth Gilbert.   She goes on to tell me, well, she’ll tell all of us if we want to pay attention, to “own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on.”   Can there be any better way than this to reflect on the year behind that is over, and simply go? Go on.  Go ahead.  Move forward.  Step off.

You really do get to be ‘born again’ every year if you want to.  All your birthday is is a recognition of the day you were born, it’s up to you, and totally up to you, once you are all ‘grown up,’ what you want it to mean.  I feel like I’m at an age where I find it useful to deeply ponder over my last year, and think about what I want to change or modify, and take note of any and all things  that made me mildly distressed, or wildly angry, the year before, and let my rebirth address these things…to resolve the unresolved, to tend the tattered, to amend the awry…it seems like a perfect thing to do on your birthday, and today is my birthday so this is what I will do.

For me my birthday involves a little bit of guilt; I nearly could have killed my poor mother on my birth-day.  Just to be clear, my mother didn’t  instill this guilt, it’s mine alone from knowing the story about the day I was born.  I was in the frank breech position, which if you don’t know, means your head is lying on your knees and you enter the world bottom first…In this modern world, doctors don’t even let a woman consider a natural birth like this, they just prep the momma for a c-section, but in the 1960’s when you were young and had no insurance they just stuck a needle in your spine and let mother nature nearly kill you…but then you have your lovely baby…so I  feel some guilt every year on my birthday, but because I have tried to be a good daughter and a good person, I like to believe that I made that brutal delivery ‘worth it’ to my mom.

When we are infants and toddlers and preschoolers and children and adolescents and teenagers, each year is more or less thought about in milestones, what did we make happen?  …first steps, first songs, first play date, first award, first kiss, first car…what you achieved, what you can now do that you could not do before, actual growth and newness is celebrated each year we have a birthday while we are young, but we then reach adulthood…well then what?  Not much changes when we are adults.  A wrinkle on my forehead that was not there the last time I looked, gray hairs that were not on my scalp last week, a creak in my knee when going down the stairs that I did not notice last time I went down the stairs, the inability to sleep soundly through the night…other than these sorts of things, things stay remarkably the same…same vehicle, same job, same address, same lawyer, same Visa card…and the sameness of year after year becomes less than celebratory.

We can continue to evolve and continue to try to be better, year after year, than we were the year before, or we can just be.  Dwell in what is, dwell in what was, just float, rather than swim.  By the way, I can’t. Swim.  I could swim well enough that I am pretty sure I won’t ever drown, but I have no skills to really propel myself forward.  I do however have a fondness for metaphor of growth and change.

I’ve made many questionable choices over the years.  I’ve given myself many moments of reflection that involve head shaking and dismal thoughts with frowning.  You know what all of those moments give me?  Nothing.  Well, they give me wrinkles and gray hairs and a perpetually upset stomach and anxiety filled sleeplessness.  I think I’ll pass.  None of those things feel good.  None of those feelings are like a gift I can give myself.

A gift that costs nothing is reflecting on what IS good, what HAS worked out well…the little bits, or big bits if you’re lucky, of perfection that you savored over the year, and the joys that gave you a memory to treasure.  Do a check on where you went wrong, and determine what you want to go right, and be finished with it…There is absolutely nothing that can be changed about what is already done.  ALL WE CAN DO IS MOVE ON AND KEEP GOING.  THAT my friends is the gift we can give ourselves on our rebirth day.  I read years ago in a Mark Manson blog that the most common cause of upset and anxiety is constant anger over unresolved conflicts…seems to me that a birthday ought to be the perfect day to fix it, whatever it is, and fix it good.

Wake up and let the past be behind us and know that if we have a goal, we must act upon that goal with every decision.  If we have a plan we must act upon that plan with every choice.  If we have a mission we must act upon that mission with every action.  Otherwise it’s all just smoke and mirrors, nothing real or substantial about change or birthday wishes. I’ve read a quote that asks something like, are the choices you are making today getting you any closer to where you want to be tomorrow?  I think that is the best kind of wish we can make when we blow out our candles…a wish to make finding the best choice the easiest choice, the most obvious one, that we act smartly and effectively towards fulfilling said wish…a wish to stick with the vision we’ve got of the BIG Picture, and get there, however quickly or slowly our decisions & actions  can take us there…

I am not sure yet this morning what I am doing today.  I have not yet decided if I will go to work.  I am uncertain if I will stick close to home or go off on an adventure.  I am unclear about much of what I will do on this rebirth day, but one thing I am sure of; I will think about this next year in front of me and what to do better…Did you know you are writing your story of your very own life?  It is ours to rip up and start over, or just erase a few sentences, or jump ahead to move on to another chapter…but the big climactic joy of things coming together for the heroine, and the blissfully happy ending, are ours to pen.

OWN your story pic