Balance

Thoughts to Ponder

 “The wiser the soul, the greater the simplicity. In everything.”

 The Universe*

That is an understatement if ever there was one, but it seems to contradict our current lifestyles. We hustle about from morning to night shuffling work projects, going to the gym, running errands and fitting school events and medical appointments where we can. Statistically Americans take fewer vacation days per year than any other nationality. Why is that?

Did we listen too closely when our elders told us, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”? Are we expressing our determination to be the “best” in the world?” The best what? Manufacturer? Money maker? The smartest student? If those are the reasons, we are defeating ourselves with our keep busy at any cost mentality.

I’m not suggesting that we sit idly and wait for prosperity, fame and academic achievement to bless us with bounty. Yet, there is a point when we spend too much time doing and not enough time being. I once heard a wise person say, “There is a reason we’re called human beings rather than human doings.” She was telling us that we must find a balance between our overly rushed schedules and rest and regeneration time so we can resuscitate our souls and bodies.

Our current and past role models have set us a good example. The Dalai Lama spends hours each day teaching but he also meditates, eats good food, exercises and socializes. Mother Teresa was an example of charity in action, yet she found time each day to refresh her body and spirit. Even our presidents have taken frequent vacations from the demands of daily White House activities. They stay in touch with what is important yet, take a break from constant meetings.

If we study history we read that many of our national and international heroes took time to be quiet in the midst of chaos. We can also look at the lives of Jesus and the Buddha, both of whom spent hours teaching, yet also spent time socializing and praying.

Can we do less? I’m not suggesting any particular form of relaxation or meditation/prayer. Nor am I telling you what the ratio should be. I’m simply asking you to evaluate your life for balance and take the necessary action to set your priorities. Determine how much time to devote to your work, family, social activities and personal quiet time.

For a while you may need to pencil relaxation or meditation into your appointment calendar. I’m certain that once you develop the habit you’ll be almost instantly aware when you’ve missed your quiet time. It will be easy to spot. You’ll be irritable, stressed and overwhelmed. That will be your clue to take a few minutes to sit quietly, breathe deeply and remind yourself that calm produces more effective decisions and actions than forcing a solution.

Spirit,

Thank you for teachers who show us how to live balanced lives. Thank you also for giving us unease to show us when we are out of balance. Thank you for reminding us that finding our way from stress to calm is just a few slow, deep breaths and a moment of clearing our brain of its busyness. And, so it is.

*A Note from the Universe, August 12, 2016, www.tut.com

© by Sharon D. Dillon, August 18, 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 an e-book or paperback 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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Healing to Growth

December 17, 2015

“The more we try to keep our wounds concealed,

the more they will emerge into the areas of our life that do not pertain to our wound.”

Window of Wisdom 985*

That single sentence says in a few words what it takes most of us years of talk therapy, 12-step meetings and journaling to understand. Some of us just go about our business hoping no one guesses what we have endured or cope with in our daily lives. We think our bravado and competence erase all traces of pain, but we’re wrong. It slips out in little ways.

We may lose our tempers when a situation really doesn’t warrant that reaction. We may accuse a person of being an alcoholic, thief or slacker. We may demand punctuality without excuse, valid or not.

We may laugh too much at jokes or maintain a jolly demeanor. We may overly dramatize an unpleasant situation when relating the story to others. We might act like a hurtful event had no impact.

We’ve all experienced wounds and have learned to cope in various ways. The most effective way that I’ve found, and is recommended by most therapists, is to feel the pain in the moment, even if the hurt is just a rude word. Take whatever time necessary to feel the feelings, but not wallow in it. Continue going to work and follow your regular schedule as much as possible. Don’t use it as an excuse nor try to overcompensate.

Here is one example. My father who had lived the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease for many years transitioned three days before his birthday in December 1993. I had watched him slide from a strong, humorous man to a frail body lying in a nursing home. I was so relieved that he was out of his misery that I had little reaction to his leaving Earth. When anyone asked I said, “He’s out of pain and confusion now. I’m glad he’s in a better place.”

In May 2010 my mother who had lived with the discomfort of colon cancer and chosen not to treat it, departed the Earthly plane. Again I was relieved that she was out of pain and her own personal sadness. After a few tears, I took affairs in hand and did what had to be done. Soon after returning home I called work and said I was ready to return. My supervisor questioned that decision, but I insisted all was well.

The next year my son passed of a heart attack on the anniversary of his grandfather’s funeral. I took the news fairly calmly to not upset his partner who was still grieving the loss of her son. After hanging up the phone I descended into hysterics. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue. She told me to breathe, breathe again and yet again. When I was mostly coherent she told me how to notify his sisters and each thing I had to do to prepare for the three day drive to Minnesota to handle his affairs. As I began to pull myself together I put my pain in a safe place and soldiered on. Soon I was back at work and participating in all my normal activities.

The following December the grief of all three losses hit me like a brick. I was working at a place where Christmas is the busiest, happiest time of year. Fortunately, I’d learned a little about myself and how to deal with life. I told my supervisor what was happening and that I was going to allow myself to feel my feelings and at the same time try to be a pleasant helper to our guests. He, of course, kept a close eye on me.

After Christmas our business closed to prepare for the next season. That gave me time to allow the feelings about all three passings to flood over me. If I felt like crying, I cried. If I felt like swearing at them for abandoning me, I swore. If I felt like talking about them as if they were saints, I did that. By the time work resumed I was ready to be back to work. I had done what I needed to do to heal myself.

I realize not everyone has the gift of a three-month quiet time to heal their wounds. However, everyone has a few minutes each day to feel their feelings. They can honestly evaluate where they are in the process of healing pain, dealing with an angry situation or just slogging through daily events. Taking this time is the key to healing. It is a vital step. It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. We can say, “It’s all behind us,” but only this quiet time will tell us the truth.

Beyond healing our pain there is another upside to surviving personal devastation. It’s called Post-traumatic Growth (PTG).** “Growth results from an active, engaged process of dealing with a stressor – not the stressor itself.”***

This occurs when we have accepted and learned to live with our personal disasters. For example: from my dad I learned to be sad, angry and fearful when I’m with a safe friend. The rest of the time I can look at life’s foibles with a sense of humor. My mom taught me in a backwards way, that it’s okay to feel sad but not to let it dominate my days and years. I learned from my son to be more adventuresome and willing to try new experiences. What a gift they’ve given me.

Spirit,

Thank you for this opportunity to heal everything and anything that weighs us down. We know that releasing our pain is the only way to heal. We know that we will continue to have periods of sadness, but because we have done the healing work we need not worry that the pain tumor will burst at an inopportune time. Thank you, again.

And, so it is.

*”A Window of Wisdom,” December 14, 2015, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/window-985-stop-suffering-and -release-the-pain

**”Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, Ginny Graves, quoting Richard Tedeschi, PhD, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD., O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

***Suzanne, Danhauser, PhD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 17, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” 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.

Decide or not

Thoughts to Ponder – June 4, 2015


“If we have to seek approval from others to accept

our own choices, then we already made the wrong choice.”
Window of Wisdom*

A few days ago I wrote about accepting, or not, another’s behavior and fretting about what they are doing. Today I’m going to approach the same topic from a different angle – our own.

We know instinctively what is best for us, so why do we seek another’s advice before taking action? Perhaps it is the way we were raised or our decisions were devalued as adults. Possibly we were told so many times that we couldn’t make a decision if our lives depended upon it, that we came to believe it. How we arrived at this dependent behavior doesn’t matter. What matters is what we choose to do about it.

Do we continue relying on our friends and relatives to advise our decisions, or do we just jump in, make a decision and live with the results? If we jump in it is most likely that our decision will be confirmed in any number of ways.

I must admit that after many years of learning to make my own choices I started to slip back into indecision. A situation arose that had me stuck. I knew what to do, but I feared the feedback. This lack of confidence made me question my ability to decide. My indecision lead me to write a rambling email to a friend asking for advice. Just as I prepared to send the email my computer froze and the email was lost.  Losing that email made me realize that:

– the decision was mine and only mine, and that

– I had no business asking my friend to become involved in my problem.

I wrote my friend another email saying that I had a difficult decision to make and would tell him what I planned when I made it. After sleeping on the problem, I still feared the responses I might receive, but took the necessary action and began to breathe easier. Imagine my surprise when I received emails from several people saying that they approved my choice.

I am grateful for this gentle reminder that I need to make my own decisions.  Practicing small decisions gives me the confidence to make the right choice when the stakes are much larger, as they can be as we age. I find that there are times to rely on my daughters. Other situations don’t require their advice. If I lean on them too much, they may begin to worry that I am losing my capacity to make good decisions.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, June 4, 2015

* Window 787, by awindowofwisdom@wordpress.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” 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

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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