Face your truth

Thoughts to Ponder

 “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

Virginia Woolf*

 “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

Janis Joplin**

 About two weeks ago I opened my mouth and inserted foot. As soon as I verbalized my thought I felt shame. But, it has turned out to be a valuable lesson, just not one I anticipated. Here’s the short form.

While at a writers’ group one member was talking about his new book and how it will help students achieve success in college. I’m certain this book contains much hard won wisdom. Yet, I opened my mouth and said, “Discrimination no longer exists.” Where that statement came from, I had no idea. I knew that was not a true statement, yet I tried feebly to defend it. After the meeting I emailed everyone to apologize. I received very kind responses. Yet, I can’t help thinking they must think that is my real self.

Those words weighed on my mind until yesterday, when the message finally burst through my embarrassment. I was speaking to myself, telling myself I no longer have any excuses for not doing what I should be doing.

How did that attitude come to be? I has been a long, crooked path. I grew up poor, so that was an excuse not to go to college. I didn’t think I was capable of working full-time and going to school. So college was a dream for others. When I reached my 40’s I attended and graduated from a top-notch college while working full-time, disproving that theory.

During my college years I met and married a physically-challenged African-American man who had a brain that constantly astonished me. His mental retention and recall was amazing. Yet he always seemed to fall into pits that derailed his plans. I could never figure out why until one day we both had to register for classes on the same day.

He attended school in the city where we lived. My school was in a city 90 miles away. We left home at the same time. I drove the 90 miles, registered for my classes, had lunch with some classmates and drove the 90 miles home. I expected that my husband would be home watching sports on television; but he wasn’t there. I began to worry that something terrible had happened. Finally, more than an hour later he showed up tired and frustrated because registration had turned into a horrible ordeal and the school had no compassion for his difficulties.

The situation was this: Both our schools had us move through stations one through eight. I got in line and moved through the stations as directed. He started at station three and was sent back to station one. After one and two he decided he needed a coffee. After that break he lined up at station five and was sent back to three. And, so on.

What does all this have to do with my blurting out an unacceptable false statement? After stewing over this embarrassing moment, I realized I was not talking to my friend. I was talking to me. My dreams are not being fulfilled, not because of discrimination, but because I’m not following steps one through eight. I want good-fortune to fall into my lap without working for it. My age is not an issue, nor is my height, weight, need to work, or physical stamina.

My attitude is similar to my former husband’s. The rules are not made for me. I should not have to do the research, apply the BIC (butt in chair) rule to successful writing, make phone calls to set up speaking engagements, and so on. Why can’t I just sit here at home, go for walks, play with the great-grandsons and have fun while my book sells itself and I earn tons of money?

It’s ironic. What I saw in my former husband, I could not see in myself. Now that I do, I need to put that knowledge to work. However, breaking a life time habit is a tough job. While I managed to follow the rules to graduate high school and college, hold a job and raise my children, I found many ways not to give 100% and wondered why I failed.

It might be easy to say, “From now on I’m going to give 100% effort to all I attempt.” But, is that reality? I know I won’t, but I do choose to improve. From now on I’ll say:

Spirit: Thank you for this awareness that I create many of my problems. I’m not pleased that you showed me in such a humiliating manner, but appreciate the lesson. I ask that today and every day that you will guide me to be the best me I can be. And, so it is.

*Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, 1992, Prentice Hall, page 56

** ibid, page 54

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 1, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

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Formula One Thoughts

August 5, 2014

From “Agnes” cartoon, August 1, 2014
Tony Cochran

Agnes:
It feels like my thoughts are racing in tiny Formula One cars, up one side of my brain and down the other. Some crash and burn, some stall and hit the wall, some blow a motor and leave a toxic trail of antifreeze and busted parts. It just makes me crazy.

How do you keep your thoughts from driving you crazy?

Trout (Agnes’ best friend):
I don’t buy ‘em cars.

Message

Many of us experience life like Agnes does. Our thoughts race through our brains like Formula One cars: crashing, stalling, or blowing motors. Those thoughts clutter the track and don’t allow the thoughts that are still operating to drive through the mess and get to the finish line. Then, like Agnes, we feel like we’re going crazy. We can’t make good decisions because of all the debris.

Often we can’t sleep because of all the cars roaring around our brain. We don’t give proper attention to the task at hand, be it driving, developing a business plan, or playing with our children. We miss what is important.

– We don’t see the car that just cut off the driver ahead of us and miss taking proper precautions to avoid an accident.
– We type incorrect numbers into our business plan that should give us the information we need to succeed.
– We miss that precious moment when our child reveals what is on his/her mind. We only hear the words and not the meaning behind them. “I’m afraid of spiders” could mean “I’m afraid of my teacher.”

So what do we do about it? Like Trout, we “don’t buy ‘em cars.” We have to deliberately slow our thoughts to walking speed. Only in that way can we discern whether this thought or that one will help us and those around us. Yes, easier said than done. However, once we learn how to slow our thoughts, life will begin to bloom around us. Several years ago I arrived at a meeting and announced, “I saw flowers today. I heard the birds singing.” I had not realized how much of life was absent because I gave all my attention to my racing thoughts.

We have many ways to learn to slow our thoughts. We can notice our breathing is fast and shallow and take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly. After practicing a while, we’ll notice when our breathing is too rapid and automatically slip into conscious breathing patterns.

We can meditate. We can do formal practices like yoga or focusing on a candle flame, always good for our mental and physical health. Prayer is good, if done consciously. Sitting down and allowing the thoughts to float away helps. A walk in the woods is refreshing. When exercising we tend to start our routine with rapid, incomplete repetitions, but soon we slow into a deliberate pattern which helps both our body and mind. These are just a few suggestions. If we stop a minute and think about what works, we’ll recognize our best choice.

Those methods and many more have the same conclusion. They slow our breathing and our thoughts. We can focus on the issue at hand and make conscious decisions based on our needs and wants, not what just what seems easiest at the time or which race car is damaged least. Our thought tracks are clear of debris. We can stride to the finish line carrying that checkered flag.

Meditation

Creator spirit,
Thank you for teaching us to slow down and get more done. Thank you for giving us methods to slow those race cars in our brain. Thank you for giving us clear thought patterns. You made us with brains and bodies that help us reach our goals. This is a gift we treasure and use with care.
And so it is.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net and Laugh your way to peace, love and joy at http://energywriter.me
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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