Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 30--Soul Delight

There is nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by. --George Meredith

     We learn from all our physical experiences here in earthly life. There is good in every circumstance, though sometimes we have to search long and hard to find it.
     I'm in the mood for a goofy story. I am of the age where cataracts are a common issue among my friends and me. I had one removed from my right eye about three years ago. I "suffered" difficult night driving for a few years before I finally had the surgery. There is an eye surgeon in town who is well-known in part because he is extraordinarily good-looking. Those of us who have been to him for procedures refer to him appreciatively as Dr. Eye Candy. Unlike most doctor visits for me, going to see him was no trouble at all--it made my soul quite happy. No actual names will be mentioned here. If you've been to Dr. Eye Candy, you know it.
     This is just a gentle reminder to not take life too seriously.
     Happy soul,

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 29--You Were Born With...

You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You were not meant for crawling, so don't. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.  --Rumi

     Do you believe that? What actions have you taken to prove it to be true about yourself?
     At a baseline, we all passed through the crawling stage and learned to walk. But have you believed in yourself enough to pursue and realize a dream? I have, many times. I've also let dreams fall by the wayside, for assorted reasons.
     For a while now, I've been in a state of "what's next?". I'm not sure what I want to do with my current potential. I'm OK with hanging in this liminal space. I have faith that "what's next" is being revealed to me. I simply keep doing the next thing in front of me.
     Life is good,

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April 28--Appearances

Just a step at a time--meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down. 
--Eleanor Roosevelt

     One can become overwhelmed with how dreadful appearances are right now... folks dying from COVID-19, our corrupt government, the economic downturn, the attack on women's and voting rights, on and on.
     But humans are resilient. We keep on keeping on. I believe that what we are experiencing now is the chaos that precedes all change (see Jan. 23 post). The old white male patriarchal energy is dying hard, kicking and screaming, and it's ugly. It's not pleasant to live through. We do have the strength to stare it down.
     That's a bigger picture. In individual lives, "meeting each thing that comes up" is what we do. Attitude is everything. We can choose to be overwhelmed by a dreadful appearance or reach within for the strength to stare it down. That choice is always available to us. Let's believe in ourselves and each other.

Monday, April 27, 2020

April 27--How Do You Know You Can't?

If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?  --T. S. Eliot

     If you don't ever challenge yourself, how can you know what you are capable of?
     All of earthly life, the mere run-of-the-mill daily practice of it, can be a challenge, no doubt. It is awfully easy to get into a comfy routine and stay there, never venturing outside one's box. Alas, eventually the box gets boring.
     There are lots of things I didn't know I could do until I tried it: golf, yoga, teaching, gardening, solo travel, sewing, painting, crocheting, tax preparation, coaching, and public speaking, to name a few. Certainly I am not spectacular at all those things, but I employ one of my favorite lines: My enthusiasm makes up for my lack of skill. It is fun to learn and to try new things.
     We can keep on learning, or we can wither and die. I'm going with the learning option.
       What's next!?!?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

April 26--Pooh Bear Wisdom

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  --A. A. Milne

     Yes, you are. So am I. And let's not forget it. We've all had to exceed what we thought were the absolute limits of our capacity in courage, strength and smarts. We need look no further than living through the current pandemic to see this. Let's hear it for human creativity!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

April 25--Conscience

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
     --George Washington

     I found this definition of "conscience" in the Cambridge Dictionary: the part of you that judges how moral your own actions are and makes you feel guilty about bad things that you have done or things you feel responsible for. This seems to be what we commonly think of as our conscience. This definition tends to make it a "head" thing.
     "That little spark of celestial fire" is quite a different definition. Use of the location "in your breast" implies that conscience is a "heart" matter rather than a "head" matter. Celestial fire suggests an other-worldly source, to me a spirit-given, born-with implant, if you will, that guides us in the direction of love, always, if we will simply follow it.
     I would say that my greatest teacher relative to conscience has been the 12-step program. Addicts are burdened with a guilty conscience from the get-go, due to inability to control one's substance abuse and all the collateral damage that results from it. The 12 Steps are all about clearing one's conscience, with the ultimate cleansing process being the making of amends. While it is a very worthwhile and necessary process, making amends is not my favorite thing to do. Therefore, I strive to be very aware of "that little spark of celestial fire" and follow it, so that I don't get myself into situations requiring amends. This makes for a peaceful heart and a peaceful head. 
     For your consideration: I periodically ask myself if there is anyone I am in relationship with, should they die today, I would feel guilty about anything "on my side of the street." At this moment of writing, there is no one. That's a lovely clean way to live, and I strive to keep it that way, an ongoing life practice. Maybe you have some tidying to do? 
     Loving life,

Friday, April 24, 2020

April 24--It Takes Courage

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.  --Winston Churchill

     It is said that the Cowardly Lion was the wisest of Dorothy's Wizard of Oz companions because he asked for courage. Wisdom (Scarecrow's "brain") and love (Tin Man's "heart") both are results of courage. Courage to live life fully brings wisdom, and courage to be vulnerable brings love into one's life.
     Where has courage taken me?

  • Through college and graduate school
  • Through grieving the death of both parents
  • Through multiple geographic relocations
  • Into 12-step recovery from addiction
  • Into marriage
  • Into motherhood
  • Into multiple jobs and career changes
  • Into lifelong learning
  • Through yoga teacher training
  • Through zip-lining and jumping from a perfectly good airplane
  • Through glorious world-wide travels
  • Through lifelong self-exploration 

All these things were possible because I said "yes" to the call for courage.
     Where has courage taken you?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

April 23--This is Life Now

Faith can give us the courage to face the uncertainties of the future.  --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

     I certainly 😊 think we are looking at some "uncertainties of the future" these days. What an interesting and unique time to be alive! 

     I've had the sense, both within myself and others, that we tend to see the current situation (briefly, stay-at-home) as a break in the action of life. That is, we were living before all this, this is weird and unusual, and at some point we'll go back to living. That view of things causes us to miss much of great value. This is life! Yes, it's unprecedented, but this is life now. 
     I've found it helpful to ask myself some questions. When I look back at this time, how do I want to see myself as having lived through it? With energy, accomplishment and learning? With extra human contact and kindness? Or with isolation, depression, boredom and frustration? Did I do something to help others? Did I take care of myself like I normally would? (Like the "freshman 15" weight gain, we are working to avoid the Covid 19# weight gain.) Recognizing that my life was damn near perfect before the pandemic, why should that be any different now? Much to contemplate...
     In terms of accomplishment, I completed the Falling Water puzzle (see photo) that I started on April 3. I found assembling it to be a very meditative process. I enjoyed that aspect enough to order another puzzle, a Monet, which I expect will be equally challenging. I have also decided to return to painting... more to come on that.
     I close with a prayer by Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
Everything changes.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.
     Enjoying life now,

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

April 22--Must I?

Nothing but courage can guide life.  --Vauvenargues

     I would say that if we don't have courage, we don't have life. Living in fear is not life. Being too afraid to try is not life. We are alive because somewhere and somehow, we had the courage to choose to come into this magnificent earthly adventure.
     That said, today I'm going to take courage in the specific direction of forgiveness. Just the word "forgive" makes me slump my shoulders and think, "Must I?" Yes. Here's a stunning and powerful quote from Brigham Young:

He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool. 

     Our world today is infinitely full of offenses, no matter what one's beliefs and philosophical leanings may be. We can simply take offense and become disheartened, self-righteously angry or vengeful. That's the easy, albeit unpleasant, path. We don't have to look far to see this behavior, possibly just a glance in a mirror will illuminate it.
     Forgiveness, however, requires courage and consistent practice. Choosing to forgive is empowering. We take charge of how we want our inner world to be, selecting peace over animosity. A beloved spiritual mentor, Edwene Gaines, suggests the practice of a nightly review of anything or anyone from the day requiring one's forgiveness. Releasing those with love and blessing makes for much more restful sleep. 12-step programs also offer a practical means of forgiveness. One prays for the offender for 14 days, praying that he/she has all the blessings one would desire for oneself. It doesn't matter if one does not believe a word of the prayer. Doing this process for 14 days changes the person praying, and that's the whole point. Voila, forgiveness!
     Forgiving can seem like a huge effort these days. But I believe someone really well-known told us to forgive "seventy times seven." Let us have courage, my friends!

P.S. From Mike Dooley: The need to criticize belies a longing for recognition, appreciation, and validation. None of which, however, can be obtained through criticism.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

April 21--Letting Go

Some of us think holding on makes us strong--but sometimes it is letting go. 
--Hermann Hesse

     Thirty-three years ago today, I had the challenge and joy of letting go of our first-born, a son whom we named Derek. Obviously, one has to let go for birth. But raising a child, or two in our case, is a continual process of letting go. From releasing their hands to take the first solo step, to moving them off to college, to freeing them to live and learn as independent adults, every bit has strengthened me.
     For years I held on to an active addiction. It was not until I was willing to let go of my drug of choice that I learned a successful way to live and began to experience the life-power I was born with.
     I was raised by the poster child for control freaks, extreme desire to control, i.e., hold on, being one of the symptoms of addiction. I learned well by example. Fortunately, guided by many a spiritual mentor, I learned to release the desire to control people, places and circumstances. It is certainly an ongoing practice. It is so empowering to be free of the need to bend others to my will.
     I believe our whole lives are one long letting-go process, ending in the ultimate release of death. We can resist, which weakens us, or allow, which strengthens us. The path of peace is one of letting go.

Monday, April 20, 2020

April 20--Courageous Expansion

True courage is not only a balloon for rising but also a parachute for falling. --Karl Ludwig Borne

     You win some (balloon) and you lose some (parachute). We never know when we take those baby steps what the end result will be. It is our divine nature to continue to expand eternally, so we keep on keeping on, i.e., true courage. I like that in us humans.
     We are currently being given an opportunity for vast, profound and unprecedented expansion. Let's use our spirit-given essence of courage, faith and resilience to make it great!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

April 19--The Power of Gentleness

In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.  --Anne Frank

     Well! That right there explains why our current national government is such a disgusting mess--there's no "kind and gentle spirit" anywhere. The weakness of abuse, greed and incompetence is profoundly evident.
     I do see that kind and gentle spirit, however, in the health care workers, first responders, grocery-store workers, delivery personnel--all those people who continue to support us during this pandemic. That spirit is also evident in the millions who are willing to follow the stay-at-home orders.
     My mother-in-law, Shirley, is truly a kind and gentle spirit. She has quite a way with words, however, wherein she can rip you to shreds and leave you begging for more. She would have been a very sharp "weapon" as a negotiator or diplomat. Her children and grandchildren, when applying her talent with words, refer to it as using our "inner Shirley."
     Consider the interactions you've had wherein you did not invoke your kind and gentle spirit, and those in which you did. I would expect that the latter were considerably more successful in accomplishing your mission. A kind and gentle spirit keeps life clean--there's no cause to feel bad or make amends for unpleasantness.
     In the much bigger picture, I believe that humanity is slooooowly waking up to the fact that war is an unacceptable weapon, the alternative being to work together to achieve a win-win situation. Don't we all want to live on a planet where kind and gentle spirits reign?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

April 18--Nothing to Add

We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better.  --J. K. Rowling

I'll just leave it at that.

Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17--A Skydive out of a Perfectly Good Comfort Zone

Freedom lies in being bold.  --Robert Frost

     My husband and I have lived together for 36 years. He is an extraordinary musical talent, an excellent singer who plays multiple string instruments. He's been in the business of performing publicly since high school. He's a pro.
     I was told by my parents many times growing up, "There is no musical talent in the Miller family." The statement was so definite that it could have been the 11th Commandment. The one time I tried out for a singing group, I was most certainly rejected before I warbled my last note. Long story short, I can't ever remember singing in front of my husband until 12 days ago (see April 5 post).
     This pandemic is inspiring. I've done a long-overdue gardening project, I'm working on a puzzle that sat unopened for a couple of years, and I decided it could be fun to sing a duet with my husband during his Thursday evening "cocktail concert" on Facebook from the man cave. Be bold, Leta.
     I printed out the lyrics, he learned the tune on the guitar, and we recorded it on my phone so that I had the tune to practice at my leisure. We practiced together. My husband was 200% encouraging. Over the past couple weeks, I went from a nervous squeaky voice to belting it out confidently, on key or not. I processed the psychological difficulties, going from "I can't sing in public" to "what the hell, this is fun, and there's absolutely nothing truly bad that can come of this."
     I did it! With Dennis performing in the man cave, I waited in the woman cave and practiced my calming breath. (Being a yoga teacher has benefits beyond the classroom.) He introduced me for my "debut," we did the song, and I sang boldly. We had told no one that I was going to do it. There were a lot of surprised folks, including me. We were both happy with how it turned out. I had told myself I was not going to watch the replay, but I couldn't resist. It was way better than I anticipated!
     I'm saying that this was both my debut and finale. I'll leave the musical talent to Dennis. The whole point was getting out of my comfort zone, and I leaped and landed safely. It was a fun trip!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

April 16--Really?!?!

If you make a choice that goes against what everyone else thinks, the world doesn't fall apart.   --Oprah Winfrey

     Really?!?!? We are critically invested in our decisions and take ourselves so seriously. Inside our own heads, everything is quite monumental. But in the grand scheme of things, though others may fuss at our choices, truly, they don't care! Everyone is self-centered; we are wired that way. You may have noticed that whatever choices you've made along the way, no matter whether they prove to be satisfying or not, life goes on. The world doesn't fall apart. I believe we could relieve much of the world's heartbreak and anxiety by staying out of other people's business and tending to our own.
     Loving springtime,

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

April 15--Courage to Be Happy

To live we must conquer incessantly; we must have the courage to be happy.  --Henri-Frederic Amiel

     I might offer "faith" as a substitute for the word "courage" above. A huge part of happiness, for me, includes freedom from worry. When I am applying my faith, I'm not worried.
     When I was a church-goer, I had a wonderful "aha" moment when a beloved pastor said, "There's nothing you can do to make God love you any less, and there's nothing you can do to make God love you any more." I had heard the first part of that many times. The second part, however, was quite a jolt, as I had been raised in a religion wherein, metaphorically, one had to earn enough points to achieve God's favor and thereby get into heaven.
     WOW! I could stop earning points (never enough) and just be me, just be happy, with nothing to prove. How awesome is that?!?! What a relief! Alas, this is not the dominant thinking in our culture or in most modern-day religions. To live a happy-with-myself life does take courage. I must "conquer incessantly" any negative thinking, a life-long practice. One of the most valuable questions I ask myself is "Who am I trying to impress in this situation?" When I'm headed down that path, I know it's time for a U-turn.
     Happy and I know it,

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

April 14--Our Powerful Tool

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. --Malala Yousafzai

     Today's quote is accompanied by a photo of a howling coyote in a snow-covered wilderness. Go there in your imagination and take a moment to appreciate the silence of the scene, and the powerful energy moved by the coyote's howl.
      One voice (one's voice) is a powerful tool. Aside from learning the mechanics of teaching yoga, that was one of the most profound lessons hammered into us by Ana Forrest in teacher training. We moved a lot of personal energy doing "lions"--assuming a strong stance, breathing deeply, and roaring like a lion with all our might. When I use this in my classes, newcomers to the practice are usually a combination of startled by the noise and amused by the seeming silliness of it. However, as was made very clear in yoga training, there are plenty of folks who are not comfortable making any sort of noise. That is, they are not comfortable speaking their own personal truth, expressing feelings, needs, wants, etc. This seems to be disproportionately true for women. I believe it's an ongoing life practice, learning to use one's voice. We deer-in-the-headlights yoga students were quite timid at roaring in the beginning, but imagine 45 fully-empowered yogis crammed into a small room and roaring. We easily made the place shake. You can't lead a yoga class if you are afraid to be heard.
     I offer my classes the option of doing coyote howls instead of lions. Whatever it takes to get them to release some energy. The wonderful thing about strong "lions" and "coyotes" is that each moves a lot of energy, and that energy does not need to be analyzed or named, just moved out of one's body. Roars and howls are an excellent way to release anger, frustration, even great joy.
     Do try this at home, or in your car, or out in the wilderness. You might warn anyone else near you first, just being polite. 👍👍😉😉
     Loving my lungs,

Howlin' Coyote | Skillshare Projects

Monday, April 13, 2020

April 13--Impossible?

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.  --Christopher Reeve

Impossible... jumping out of a perfectly good airplane... done.
Impossible... making it through yoga teacher training... done.
Impossible... surviving the teenage years with our two sons... done.
Impossible... recovering from addiction and living sanely... doing it.
Impossible... staying at home for days on end without going batshit crazy... doing it.
Impossible... completing the puzzle lying in disconnected pieces on my table... we'll see!

Have a joyful day!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

April 12--Happy Anniversary

Face your life, its pain, its pleasure. Leave no path untaken.  --Neil Gaiman

     It is said that we must experience the so-called negative emotions of anger, fear, anxiety, etc. in order to appreciate the so-called positive emotions of love, joy, happiness, etc. I find this to be true. There is significance in the contrast. It all leads to a fuller, richer life experience.
     While I feel like I have done a lot of challenging things in my life, nothing tops the pair of child-rearing and marriage. Both have offered pain and pleasure in spades. Ultimately pleasure certainly wins in my case, but as anyone who has raised kids or been married knows, there are rough spots along the way. I can happily say that we have two wonderful adult sons, and today my husband and I celebrate 34 years of marriage.
     I can easily say that my greatest anger, rage even, has been toward those three males. I can also easily say that there is no one ever that I love more than those three. We have traveled many paths together, and I don't regret a minute of it, pain or pleasure. For this, I am eternally grateful. "Wife" and "mother" have been my two most rewarding roles in this lifetime.
     It is a rather unfortunate trait of human behavior that we rarely make changes when we are experiencing pleasure. It is usually pain, and plenty of it, that causes us to make worthwhile adjustments in our lives. So be it. All paths taken have their rewards, if we are open to seeing them.
     Life goes on, a fact that we celebrate this day, Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

April 11--Me?

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me. 
--Anna Quindlen

     I grew up in an environment where blame was the order of the day. Anything bad that happened was someone else's fault. That sort of mentality then requires someone else to fix the problem, which leads to endless frustration. There's no personal responsibility involved. I was also surrounded by lots of addiction growing up. Addiction and blame are a chicken-egg combo (which came first?) that makes for an extremely unsatisfying way to live.
     Might any of us be tempted to blame the coronavirus for our current stay-at-home, social distancing mode of living? Are we wishing it would stop so that life can change, i.e. get back to "normal"? Alas, how this all plays out is completely up to me--my attitude, my actions, my initiative, my willingness, my surrender. As I move through the stages of grief relative to this pandemic (see April 8), I'm learning that "resist not" is an excellent mantra. Going with the flow, sometimes even in hourly increments, staying present to today, is keeping me out of fear for the future. Yes, I get bored. Yes, I miss my friends and family. No, I don't feel like house-cleaning even though I have time for it. Having fully lived both sides of the blame-responsibility coin, I'll take responsibility every time. That's the position of personal power and successful living.
Where Are All the Strong Women? | Historian's Notebook  

Friday, April 10, 2020

April 10--Fearless

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.  --Rabindranath Tagore

     Being fearless was never as important and challenging as it is now, with a government that thrives on stirring up fear. The practice is self-serving, nauseating, depressing and embarrassing.
     I was successful yesterday in my mission to donate blood. I figured that of all places, the Red Cross should be pretty safe. Right inside the door, a man took my temperature and gave me a face mask to wear. That was my first time wearing one. There was plenty of social distancing, and the whole process was quick and easy. Kindness accomplished.
     I was delighted when the Red Cross worker told me that they are even busier than usual, having lots of first-time donors come in. While I have been donating for decades, and a little needle-stick is no big deal to me, I realize it can be quite a big deal for some folks. I applaud their bravery and kindness in donating.
     Moving on to the second part of the Tagore quote, I'd have to say that for the most part, I'd rather just have the "stilling of my pain." Developing the "heart to conquer it" is a much bigger project. In my own life, decades ago I begged to be relieved of overeating and excess weight. "God, please let me wake up thin and stay that way." Duh. Doesn't work that way. Instead I was led to a 12-step program that has gently led me through the life-long process of developing the heart to conquer the problem. Stilling of the pain is temporary. The heart to conquer it is a life-long blessing. It is the brave and bold heart that enables fearlessness.
     Appreciating the wisdom of the heart,

Thursday, April 9, 2020

April 9--Be Even More Kind

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.  --Kahlil Gibran

     Knowing we are all in this pandemic thing together, I believe that it has made us kinder humans in general. With such limited social interactions, each one becomes an opportunity to truly appreciate the people involved. We note what others bring to us, be it companionship, friendship, family ties, or service. There are so many folks who are working very hard to maintain even a slight bit of "normal" in our lives, and they deserve all the kindness we can offer, and then some.
     You know the phenomenon that around Christmas time, folks tend to be nicer and then after Christmas, we go back to our usual selves. My hope is that this pandemic time permanently embeds kindness in our interactions, even encourages creativity relative to more ways to be kind, so that we don't drift backwards. We can't have too much kindness in the world. May we come through this bizarre time in history as much kinder, and therefore much stronger, humans.
     How can you expand kindness in our world today? My mission is to donate blood.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April 8--Strong Enough to Grieve

Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength.  --Henry Ward Beecher

     I don't believe in coincidence. Therefore, since there have been several times in the past few days that the topic of grief has appeared before me, I feel it's time to address it here. Grieving fully and freely, is, in my opinion, the right use of strength.
     One phrase I remember hearing often from my mother was "it's never so bad that it couldn't be worse." While that's likely true in so many instances, this mentality is used to discount one's feelings of grief, which is not helpful. We must grieve. We must experience the various feelings and release them. Failure to do so encrusts stuck energy in our bodies, and stuck grief tends to hang in the lungs, exactly what we do not need at this time.
     Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. In light of the current pandemic, it is a valuable exercise to look at one's own path, winding though it may be, through these stages. I've hit 'em all. I really played the ostrich role at first, with the admittedly-silly belief that if I don't read the scary news, things won't get that bad. Denial at its finest, broken only by my younger son's extreme alarm. I've had loads of anger and depression, which seem intimately linked within me. Closing of the YMCAs, thus losing my ability to swim, and no March Madness and baseball ripped at my very reason for living. (See previous posts--I truly live for Opening Day of baseball season.) I try to keep my thoughts from going there, but not knowing when I'll get to see my kids again really can rev up the anger and depression. Bargaining happens each time I step out of the house--is this errand worth the risk? On a humorous note, I've decided that picking up my vacuum from the repair shop probably is not worth the risk 😀😀😀. And finally, we land at acceptance. I'm not sure where I'm at on this stage. It feels like there's no choice but to accept the situation. For the most part, I feel like I'm making the best of it on a one-day-at-a-time basis. Acceptance is more likely for me if I don't peer too far off into the what-if future. Also, I remind myself that just because I accept something does not mean I have to like it.
     David Kessler, who worked with Kubler-Ross, added a sixth stage: finding meaning. This generally does not happen when we are in the midst of grieving. While I have faith that meaning will come of all this, I'm not able to articulate that now. And finding blessings in the current situation to stuff down grief is not "finding meaning."
     Our lives will never be the same again. Seeing what I've so far lost has made me realize that my life was damn-near perfect before this pandemic hit. I miss my former life. I grieve for it. We humans are resilient, and I'm holding on to the faith that this crisis will make us even better humans. We will find meaning as time marches on. 
     If you'd like to hear more from Mr. Kessler, Brene Brown does a podcast interviewing him that is well worth the listening time:
     Riding the emotional grief roller-coaster,

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 7--Ready?

Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it.    --Amy Poehler

     Right now we are all great. Think back a few months. As 2020 started, we would have never dreamed that we could do a complete upside-down turn of our lives. We certainly weren't ready for what has transpired, yet here we are, doing what's required to be a global community saving as many lives as possible. We are all great.
     Certainly the hardest thing I've ever done was Forrest Yoga teacher training, a 30-days-straight, 12-hour-days grueling experience, far from home. Fortunately, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I did not know if I could do it, but I took the leap anyway. I was tempted to quit and come home many times, but I comforted myself with the mantra, "One minute closer to home." Completing that training, I felt like a rock star. I was ready to give out autographs. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life.
     Tomorrow's topic will be grief and grieving. Can we do it? We need to, ready or not. Our former lives are no longer...
     Rock on,

Monday, April 6, 2020

April 6--Truth

Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth. --Albert Camus

     I'm not sure I get this quote. Keep pushing, seeking, searching until you find the truth? In any case, I have some thoughts relative to truth.
     A key point I remember from many hours of teaching by Dr. Chris Michaels is that the truth will always come out. It may take some time, it may be an uncomfortable process, but the truth always wins.
     The big thing that bubbles up for me relative to the word "truth" is that many folks live with a very strong conviction that because they believe something, it is the Truth. We all have our beliefs, and let's be honest, they could all be totally off-base relative to the Truth. One example is slavery. There was a time when people believed that such a practice was right and true. Then our human consciousness evolved beyond that "truth." We are (please, dear God) moving past the belief, some would say truth, that LGBTQ folks are inherently "less than" straight folks. Any prejudiced belief can be flung out as "truth," but love will always ultimately win over the falsehood of that belief. We need look no further than myriad modern-day religions, each with its own set of beliefs, claiming "we have the Truth and you don't."
     Switching gears, how is stay-at-home life going? The truth is, quite well. Squirrel! What a common creature, so much so that we rarely pay attention to them. While walking at Sedgwick County Park yesterday morning, my husband, dog and I saw a white squirrel. Not albino, just mostly white. How very interesting nature can be! Later in the day, I got outside and washed my car, a much-needed chore completed on a lovely spring afternoon. I also sewed a face mask for my husband...

He said, "The weirder the better," so there you have it--the Tasmanian Devil, which I jokingly said will probably keep all the other "elderly" folks away from him at the grocery store.
     Let's not take ourselves (and our truth) too seriously.

If our truth does not set us free, it is not truth at all. --Richard Rohr

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!