Sunday, April 5, 2020

April 5--I Dare Ya

If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you have gained. --Neil Gaiman

     When was the last time you took a risk? These days, going out to get groceries is taking a risk, with the COVID-19 virus running rampant.
     What I'm actually getting at here, however, is personal risk, the idea of putting one's ego in an uncomfortable position by attempting something new, something that makes the ego go into major discouragement mode... "You can't do that! What are you thinking?" I can think of several examples in my life such as sky-diving, zip-lining and assorted travel adventures.
     My husband is an awesomely talented musician who plays various string instruments and sings very well. My parents declared to me in my childhood, "There's no musical talent in the Miller family!" As a result, I've done a good job of living that belief, and I am completely intimidated musically around my husband, though he is totally encouraging. Yesterday, in a daring moment, I sang in front of him. All the musical bits on Facebook, including his, inspired me to play with a duet song that would be fun for us to do together. This may never go public, but it was a huge "dare" on my part to even attempt to sing in front of him. I can't remember ever doing that. While I still don't feel good about my singing ability, I sure do feel good about being brave enough to try. Honestly there was no potential danger involved other than embarrassment brought on strictly by myself. I went to bed feeling good about taking a huge step outside my comfort zone.
     I think the pandemic is causing a flowering of compassion and "leveling the playing field" wherein we are more encouraging of each other. That's a great environment to be daring.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

April 4--Baby Steps

You can, you should--and if you're brave enough to start, you will. --Stephen King

     Let's just get this out of the way--I don't care for the word "should." So let's agree to just overlook that personal annoyance, should you share it (ha!ha!).
     Because I had visited the place and love it so much, my son gave me a puzzle a couple of years ago of Falling Water, the magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright home in the boondocks of southwestern Pennsylvania. It's a unique two-sided puzzle with a photo of the home on one side and the blueprint of the home on the other. I'm working on the photo side. I'm not really a huge fan of puzzles, but with some extra time on my hands, I figure "why not?" 500 pieces. It's daunting. But I was brave enough to start it last evening, and alas, I know I'm hooked, because I'm a pit-bull about completing things like that. So I will.
     I'm guessing that Mr. King may have been encouraging would-be writers to get going and get that book from the inside to the outside. I've done that twice, and I will say that there is some bravery involved in a) sticking with the process--you have to write consistently if you want to create a book, and b) putting yourself out to the world with your creation. This applies to art, music, crafts, whatever creative medium one chooses.
     I have a dear friend who lived in Chicago and dreamed of living in Bali, a country he had visited several times. I encouraged him to start determining what "baby steps" would get him closer to his goal. He was brave enough to start the process, take those steps, and now he is loving life as a resident of Bali.
     We don't have to be able to see Emerald City to be able to take one step on the Yellow Brick Road. Go for it!
      The Brave Broad,

Friday, April 3, 2020

April 3--Toughen Up

     What does not destroy me makes me stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche

     I'm a person who likes to have something to look forward to, for instance, a trip or special event. I like to travel so much that I usually have at least one big trip on the horizon. This year it's a trip to Spain and Portugal scheduled for September. We shall see if that actually happens.
     I was pondering the stay-at-home gig last evening, and realized that this is a time when it is especially easy to be wishing our lives away. We want to leap into the future where the virus is no longer a threat, and we can go back to in-person fun with family and friends. The kids will be back in school, and things will be back to normal, albeit a new normal.
     There is, however, much to be gained from living fully present through this time. It will not destroy us--humans are nothing if not resilient. Since it will not destroy us, it will make us stronger, if we can stay present within our own lives, getting in touch with the gifts this time on the planet has to offer.
     Those gifts are many:

  • Enforced slow-down: Instead of having every moment planned and filled, we have the opportunity to consider how we choose to use our time.
  • How's it going: It appears to me that folks are contacting family and friends more via social media, phone calls, etc. 
  • Have-to vs. get-to: To-do lists can be more relaxed as we have the time to get stuff done.
  • Big relief: For the introverts among us: we get to stay home guilt-free, yippeeeeeeeeee!
  • Kindness: People are being kinder to each other, appreciating interactions and service more, knowing that we are all in the same boat and we want to stay afloat. 
  • Simple pleasures: I believe we are paying more attention to things like sunshine, rain, birdsong, flowers, the emerald green of new spring grass, and so on.
  • New skills: There is a lot of learning going on, about how to live differently and successfully in this environment. Folks are taking the time to learn a long-desired new skill, aided by the infinite resources available to us online.
  • Pets: I think we are gaining even more appreciation for the loving companionship our dogs, cats, etc. provide us. 
  • Movement: We are finding new ways to keep moving, and recognizing the value of that. 
  • Less is more: We have the opportunity to release unnecessary stuff, and to recognize how little we truly need. 
  • Creativity is blossoming!

Life is good, here and now.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

April 2--Mind Power

     The "Daily Peace" quote of the day is by Marcus Aurelius: "You have power over your mind--not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength."
     Never in our lifetimes have we had so little power over outside events, nor have such a great need to use the power of controlling the mind. A mind out of control dives deep into fear, worry, blame and anxiety.
     When our sons were younger and still living at home, they each had assigned chores, which, of course, they were not fond of completing. I told them repeatedly, "You always have a choice. You must do the task, but you can do it with a good attitude or a bad attitude. That's up to you." It was an early lesson in "power over your mind."
     Likewise, we can go through this current state of affairs with a good attitude or a bad attitude. It's up to us. There's no expectation that each of us is able to maintain a good attitude 100% of the time. Sometimes it's just too much, whatever "it" is. Of all the things that disturb me about the current situation, the worst for me is not knowing when I'll get to visit my Colorado family again. I have to use a lot of power over my mind to keep me from heading into that troublesome space.
     A well-known prayer, with my slight modification, states the above quote beautifully: "God grants me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I like the affirmative version of this prayer, for I know that God/Spirit withholds nothing. The Spirit-given power over our minds truly is our greatest source of strength. Mighty mind is stronger than monkey-mind.
     Life is good!


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 1 and Free!

     I finished, at least for the month of April, my annual tax prep job yesterday, March 31.  March, I'd say, was a very forgettable month. Now it's April, and I've gone overnight from working full-time to staying at home. With loads of time on my hands, I am committing to daily blogs inspired by the "Daily Peace" book. The theme of the month of April is "strength," very appropriate. 

     April 1: Be truthful, gentle, and fearless. --Mahatma Gandhi

     Already this morning, I've felt the need to send a truthful, gentle, and fearless email speaking my mind about a situation that I believe is being handled poorly, even dangerously, in our current environment.
     My husband and I joke about going places... "I'm going into the bedroom now." "I'm heading downstairs for a while." Big adventures! Walking the dog and gardening are the primary outdoors fun for now. There is great gentleness in humor, and in appreciating the simple things in life such as birdsong, sunshine, warm temperatures, and naps. YES! I can return to my favorite daily hobby, napping.
     Somebody really famous said, "Fear not." That's easier said than done, but certainly a worthy effort in this uncertain time. I've purposely kept myself clear of the stock market news, as financial fear is a "rabbit hole" I cannot afford to get near (pun intended) for my sanity.
     Being truthful, I don't know how I'm going to handle this big change from working full-time to staying at home. Sometimes I'll be bored to death. Sometimes I'll be angry. Sometimes I'll be willing to kill for a margarita in a Mexican restaurant, just kidding. I will remember those incredibly valuable words, "this, too, shall pass." There's no "normal" anymore. So truthfully, I'll take it a day at a time, and see how this April of writing and quarantining unfolds.
     Stay strong!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

So Much for March Gladness (see previous post)

     Luckily, early in March, I was able to make a quick three-day trip to Colorado to see my family in Fort Collins. I truly got it in "just under the wire." It was an excellent visit, the weather was lovely, and I enjoyed my all-time favorite thing, playing golf with my sons. I am so glad I went, and as each day passes, I am even more happy that I went.
     In the ensuing time, I have to say that I have been mostly bummed, even depressed. Being one who knows the value of feeling and releasing emotions, I am going to vent them here. I am sad and frustrated because our YMCAs are closed, and I can't swim. That has been a stabilizing discipline that is a huge part of my sense of well-being. Though I am a recovering addict, there's still an insane part of me that wants to eat and/or drink myself into oblivion and wake up when this is over.  Doing tax work has helped by getting me out of the house and making me feel useful, but that is ending due to my boss' decision to not interact with the public for a few weeks. I'm angry that any of this has happened, and that people are dying, and that I am experiencing uncertainty such as I have never known. And things really came crashing down when all sports were cancelled or delayed. My baseball trip to Arizona is a goner for this spring. My MELT and yoga classes ended this past week, and already I am missing my students.
     I know that while we may act tough through all this, each of us has an assortment of feelings, and whatever those may be, it's OK to have them and feel them. I will make it through this, life goes on, and I believe we will be wiser and more engaged and compassionate as a result. Nevertheless, right now, it sucks. Thus, I am thanking the Universe every day that we have our dog, Barney, who is oblivious to world events and simply loving life. The joy and laughter and exercise he inspires is so desperately needed at this "interesting" time.
     One day at a time,

Sunday, March 1, 2020

March Gladness

     It's March, hallelujah!!!! I love the month of March. It benefits greatly from being immediately after February, which is, in my opinion, the longest month of the year. Here in Wichita, we are getting teasers for spring. Today, March 1, for instance, is predicted to be a mostly sunny day with temperatures in the high 60s. That's glorious! I am so ready to see leaves on the trees and green grass.
     In my over-full-time-but-temporary job as a tax preparer, March is a crazy-busy time which tends to fly by quickly. And when March is over, it's only a couple weeks to April 15 which signals the end of the job for another year, and the beginning of nine months of fun with the money I made. March also has become the time I escape the desk for a few days and go to Colorado to see my sons. That trip is already planned for this coming weekend.
     I am a huge sports fan, and I follow college basketball teams in three conferences. The sports month gets going with the conference tournaments, followed by March Madness, my second favorite sporting event of the month.
     OK, I'll admit that Christmas Day is probably my all-time favorite day of the year. Just a nanometer behind that, however, is Opening Day of baseball season. This year that day is March 26. As soon as I know that date, it goes on my calendar. As John Fogerty penned, "We're born again, there's new grass on the field." As I get older, it means more to me each year that I have lived to see another Opening Day. I can continue my quest to see a game in every MLB city. I have seven left, and I will drop that number to six when I see the Cubs play the Diamondbacks in Arizona right after tax season ends.
     My Daily Peace book designates March as the month of "Resilience." And so we march on, with hope springing eternal.
           Go, CUBS!!!!