Friday, April 30, 2021

April 30--Living Forwards

It is quite true what philosophy says: that life must be understood backwards. But then one forgets the other principle: that it must be lived forwards. 
--Soren Kierkegaard

    Ideally, we learn from the past, then let it go. Understanding where we have been, what we have experienced, and how all that affects us is quite enlightening. For me, it has given me an appreciation of myself and my ability to grow and change. That's "living forward"--using what we have come to understand about ourselves to imagine new ways of being. 
    I believe the best attitude for understanding one's life backwards is forgiveness. The sooner and more fully we can let go of wrongs committed by ourselves and others, the sooner we can adventure into a forward-moving life, free of the baggage of the past. I remind myself often that every single one of us is doing the best he/she can in the moment, whether or not it appears to be so from an outsider's perspective. This is an attitude of gentleness that eases my spirit.
    This, the final day of April, ends the month-long theme of growth. May Day begins an exploration of courage. 
    Bravely forging ahead,

Thursday, April 29, 2021

April 29--All Alone

The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.  --Albert Camus

    I grew up with extraordinary and consistent examples of blaming. Every trouble of my mother and my brother was someone else's fault, alas, often my dad, and then eventually, me, once I became conscious of being the target. Taking responsibility, being "wrong all alone," was not in their skill sets, and miles away from their comfort zones. I'm sad to say both my mother and brother went to their graves with little real progress in this area, at least that I could discern. 
    It takes a strong constitution, when all alone, to admit that "the buck stops here," and I screwed up, and I need to fix it as best I can. Blaming is easy. Accepting responsibility and making amends are hard. The key is that blaming puts one in a powerless position--if the circumstance is someone else's fault, one has no control and becomes a victim. Taking responsibility means holding the power to set things right. It also means being comfortable enough with oneself to admit to being human. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

April 28--Focus: This Day

Always remember the future comes one day at a time.  --Dean Acheson

    Continuing with the pondering of one's life being easy, or not (see April 27 post), I noted that one reason my life is easy is that I practice living "one day at a time." Being a (former?) card-carrying control freak, this is huge progress and gigantic relief. I need focus only on today, and the next thing in front of me. Sure, I make plans for future days, but I strive to keep the focus on today. It is a huge relief to acknowledge that I don't have to get everything on my to-do list done today. I get things done in time as I am able, and should I suddenly leave this earthly life, my tasks not being done won't matter at all. 
    The one-day-at-a-time perspective lessens my tendency to worry. Jesus told us not to worry or be afraid, that tomorrow will take care of itself. Another favorite slogan of mine, "this, too, shall pass," helps me remember that even though life may not be to my liking this moment, things will be different shortly. Difficult circumstances are much easier to handle one day at a time. Sometimes life even requires "one hour at a time." 
    Being overwhelmed doesn't feel good. Let's keep the focus on what we can handle at the moment, and, of course, breathe. 
A sense of humor is most helpful! 😉😉

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

April 27--Think Higher

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.  --Benjamin Disraeli

    I was with a group of folks last night whom I have known for many years. They are dear friends with great variety in age, careers, health challenges, etc. I posed the questions, "Is your life easy? If so, why? If not, what might make it easier?" 
    Each one answered that yes, life is easy. A recurring reason offered for that ease is an attitude of gratitude, with several even writing a daily gratitude list. Philosophers throughout the ages have expounded on the fact that the great thoughts of gratitude do nurture us, and it is those very thoughts that enable us to create even more to appreciate. 
    I feel safe in saying that we have all experienced our thoughts taking us to low, dark places. Whether we practice it or not, we know that we have control over our thoughts. It costs nothing and feels a whole lot better to stick with the great thoughts. As Dr. Seuss wrote...


    Is your life easy? Have some fun pondering those questions above.

Monday, April 26, 2021

April 26--A Little of This, A Little of That

The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. 
--Henry Havelock Ellis

    Holding on seems fairly easy. It seems we are oriented toward that. We see grown adults still living with parents. There is a TV show about obsessive hoarding. We cling to beliefs and patterns of living that no longer serve us. Holding on appears to maintain the status quo, and avoid the dreaded change. I believe, however, that holding on and attempts at controlling ultimately lead one backward, as the rest of the world moves forward. The January 6 Capitol riot was all about holding on, and we witnessed what a horrifying mess that made. 
    Letting go, on the other hand, takes conscious effort and, often, courage. I frequently consider the "fine mingling" in my interactions with my adult sons. I want to support and love them, but I don't want to meddle in their lives. It's a fine line. I encourage them to tell me when I need to hold on less and let go more. Letting go gets forced on us sometimes, as loved ones transition and relationships end. Change inevitably follows letting go--that's the whole point, really. Let go, change, grow. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

April 25--Teachable

Experience teaches only the teachable.  --Aldous Huxley

    One would think spending 18 years in school, completing high school, college and grad school, would make one teachable. I guess I was, to a certain extent. 
    Relative to the school of life, however, it took a 12-Step program to give me the understanding of being teachable. I was so miserable that I was willing to take suggestions and learn from those who were living in recovery. It's a mighty powerful thing to admit we don't know the answer, to be willing to ask for help and to use that help to grow.
    The Twelve Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous describe what we all can experience if we are teachable:
  1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  3. We will comprehend the word serenity.
  4. We will know peace.
  5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  8. Self-seeking will slip away.
  9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
  10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
    Learning every day,

Saturday, April 24, 2021

April 24--Growing = Living

If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. 
--Gail Sheehy

    I don't think there is much I can add to that simple yet full-on-true quote. I would offer that sometimes those closest to us don't appreciate the changes and growth and will resist, but that's part of the process. It is relatively easy to see old, stuck, repetitive behaviors in others. I pray that I can see them in myself and surrender to change and growth. It has worked quite well for me so far!
    Lovin' life,

Friday, April 23, 2021

April 23--New Adventures

Live out your imagination, not your history.  --Arthur Bryan

    If we hang mentally in the past, we continue to recreate it. That may be fine if we have a good history, but why not use the imagination to create something even better? And if it's not a good history, it is time to forgive, let go and look ahead. We can always envision a greater good, and that is the only way to make it happen.
    As John Lennon told us, "Imagine..."

Thursday, April 22, 2021

April 22--The Melancholy of Change

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  --Anatole France

    With April's theme of growth, I note that change and growth go hand-in-hand, both driving forces. Growth results in change, and change results in growth. They take us from one life to the next. We can resist, or simply feel the melancholy and move on to new adventures. 
    I relate strongly to the melancholy feelings around change. We've certainly felt it as we've moved through the changes introduced by the pandemic. Freedom to go and do as we choose has been greatly limited. I recall early in my 12-Step journey that my longed-for recovery brought me the sadness of leaving behind my "best friend," my substance of choice. I feel melancholy when a much-anticipated trip is completed and it's back to "normal life." Leaving a job may mean leaving work and folks one has enjoyed for a long time. How about becoming an empty-nester? There's a much longed-for change (children becoming successful, self-supporting adults) that brings on the melancholy of missing them and the joys of their upbringing. When I consider the prospect of moving from our current home of 36 years, the melancholy is instant. We are not planning such a move at the moment, but it will likely happen someday as we enter another phase of life. 
    Feeling the melancholy of change is a part of being human. Allowing those feelings to move through us actually makes dying to the old life easier.
    Growing and changing,

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

April 21--I'm Back!

To look back is to relax one's vigil.  --Bette Davis

    We are now operating with the quotes from the "Daily Joy" book, and April's theme is growth.
    Looking back over my three-week break, I can easily relax now. Tax season is over for me, despite the extension. We buckled down and got most of the work done by April 15. It was intense. I'm super-glad it is over. Transitioning from more-than-full-time work to not working is a piece of cake. 😉😉
    The end of tax season flowed right into a long weekend in Colorado to surprise our older son for his birthday. We had the great joy of staying with him and his partner in their brand new home. We had evenings with our other son who works on weekends. It was quite a treat to have the space for all five of us to gather around the dinner table and share meals. The dogs had room to romp and laze. The birthday boy and I played golf on Sunday. I cannot think of anything higher on my "joy" list than golfing with my sons. We went on a lovely trek along a northern Colorado reservoir with the magnificent snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the background. 
    Life is good, life is relaxed, I am grateful!

Douglas Reservoir