Let go and take a risk

Thoughts to Ponder

 “Processing our failures only keeps us in the past … forgive, let go and get back up … for if we remain in that negative space, we allow the shadow to win.’”

Window of Wisdom*

Hashing over old mistakes is a habit many of us learned from our families and teachers. We continue to reinforce that habit as we mature. But is it good for us?

When we do something wrong we should review our contribution to the argument, unpleasant situation or disaster. After accepting our part in the situation we apologize and vow to do better in the future. If we’re fortunate the other party will accept our apology and agree to move on. Otherwise, we’ve lost a friend or job.

If the situation is not resolved amicably, we still need to move forward. We can remember the situation as a learning experience and live our lives according to our new awareness. Or, like most of us we learn and change our behavior, yet carry the guilt around for the next 50 years. Nothing weighs more than guilt. It prods us at the most inconvenient times. Perhaps we’re starting a new job and each day we wonder if that is the day our supervisor learns about our colossal error that cost the old employer a valuable contract. Possibly, we meet a new love but are afraid to commit because that person may learn how we caused pain in a former relationship.

When we notice that our old mistake is costing us happiness in our current lives it is past time to heal ourselves. If we were truly contrite about the situation we can tell ourselves that we took all the steps we could to repair the damage and have changed our behavior. If the situation catches up to us, we must be truthful and show our remorse.

In the meantime, to grow into a better person we need to do as Martha Beck recommends:

“Every day, do at least one frightening thing that contributes to the

fulfillment of your desires.”**

Perhaps that frightening thing is merging onto the Interstate to get to work. We don’t like it, but we have to do it to feed our family. For me the most scary thing I need to do is make a phone call. The phone that weighs ounces in my pocket weighs 500 pounds when I have to punch in some numbers and hit send. I fear I may be interrupting something important on the other end. Yet I must do it to schedule appointments and visit with my friends. One event that terrified me was enrolling in college when I was in my early 40s. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

Each of us has different things that frighten us, but we’ll get nowhere except our rocking chairs if we give into those fears. We must do something scary each and every day to move forward to reach our goals.

Spirit, Please remind us each day to do something that frightens us, whether it is tasting an unusual food or applying for a new job. Only in that way can we grow into the strong people we are meant to be. And, so it is.

*A Window of Wisdom, July 4, 2016, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com

**July 6, 2016, Menu Item #5, Risk, The Joy Diet, Martha Beck, info@marthabeck.com

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 17, 2016

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 Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as an e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

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Thoughts to Ponder – January 15, 2016

“When you heal yourself on the inside,

everything else around you no longer triggers old pain.”

A Window of Wisdom 1007*

 The last few weeks we’ve been talking about releasing old pain and experiencing a lighter, happier life. On December 17 we talked about the harm we cause ourselves by concealing our pain. On January 1 we discussed letting our negative feelings out. Today we’re continuing to think about ways to heal yourself on the inside.

The idea that has been floating around mental therapists and religious teachers for many years is forgiveness. An old saying tells us to “forgive and forget.” It’s easy to say I forgive this person for doing that to me or my loved one. But do we actually forgive? Forgiving means to release the pain and begin to feel kindly toward the person who has injured us. That’s a tough job. From my own experience I’ll say that it’s almost impossible to forget. We may forget what E=mc2 means but we never forget an insult or other situations that cause us pain.

Recently a friend told me about a better way to release old pain. That is to thank the person for the role he or she played in your life because it affected who you are today. That may not be possible or safe to pursue. An easier and safer way is to write that person a letter pouring out your feelings while acknowledging the way that person’s actions made you a better person. How is that possible? Perhaps a person telling you repeatedly that you were stupid made you determined to prove them wrong. Maybe it encouraged you to pursue higher education or get a job requiring excellent mental skills.

I can hear you saying, “I wouldn’t dare send a letter thanking ____ for what he/she did. That would put me in danger or at the least bring their ire raining down on me.” Only mail the letter if you feel 100% safe. You don’t have to mail the letter. Just writing out the facts and feelings is releasing the old “stuff.” You can burn the letter allowing the pain to float to the clouds with the smoke. You can tear the letter to bits and send it to the landfill with the rest of your trash or release it to a river to float out to the sea.

A quicker method my friend suggested is to picture the offending person in your mind and mentally or verbally thank them for making you the person you have become. Either method is incredibly freeing. If you do this choosing to be free of the old pain, you will be.

Spirit,

Thank you for teaching us that we don’t have to carry the weight of old and new pains. We can release ourselves from this burden by thanking the offender for the role they played in our lives. We know that you will transmute the pain to feelings of freedom. We know and trust that this is so for each of us, no matter our situation.

And, so it is.

* A Window of Wisdom 1007, January 6, 2016, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/window-1007-hidden-triggers/

© by Sharon D. Dillon, January 15, 2016

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.

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.

Nine minutes a day

Thoughts to Ponder – October 2, 2015

“Procrastination always delivers stress and disappointment…

so what are you waiting for…

do it now.”

Window of Wisdom*

 

Life goes in cycles. Sometimes I’m focused on writing, then on housework and other times on yard work. Right now my focus is on the many inches of rain saturating this area, creating flood zones and leaving our trees and homes vulnerable to the forces of Hurricane Joaquin that will be arriving in the next couple days. My question is how do we keep up with all our activities at once?

Some people seem to be able to juggle many balls at once. I struggle to keep one in the air at any given time. I have a million excuses for procrastinating. I’m —

tired after working all day,

choosing to spend time with the great-grandsons,

wanting to write or finish a project,

and so on.

The list is endless. As a result I tend to feel like I’m not accomplishing anything important, like blogging on a regular basis.

Last year I had some health issues, nothing terrible, mostly annoying, but I just didn’t feel up to home tasks. Work took all my energy. Now my health is good again, yet I was feeling overwhelmed by all that needed done. Recently I traveled to Niagara Falls and surrounding area with Road Scholar. The trip was fantastic. When I arrived home with a huge pile of paperwork, souvenirs and dirty laundry to add to the rest of the piles, my mind switched gears. I must organize. Now.

I spent part of one day just getting the vacation mess in order. The next day I spent several hours sorting my writing cabinet by “Things I’ve written,” “Quotes and ideas,” and “How to.” I had been tossing everything into any drawer just to get it off my work table. After that I was able to slow down a bit. Now I’m focusing on one small task at a time.

A few years ago a wise woman told me to tackle tasks in nine minute increments. She said nine minutes is enough to sort one drawer. Nine minutes each day would get my house organized in no time. That works for most things, but not my writing cabinet. But, once I managed that task, I’ve been able to tackle one small task at a time. Yesterday, I picked up a small pile that had been hiding in a corner and found it to be last year’s Christmas cards. Less than nine minutes took care of sorting them into cards to toss and cards from loved ones to keep.

Much of my time yesterday was spent moving plants and other items into my house and shed to protect them from the weather, shopping for nylon cord, water and batteries and tying down large items. Even with that huge task and working a short shift, I was able to sort the Christmas cards. My friend was right. Nine minutes was enough to take another step toward my end goal of having an organized home and to feel good that I accomplished something useful.

I still have a lot of small piles. Most of what’s in them can probably be filed in the recycling bin. Now I know they are manageable. Nine minutes a day really does save the stress level.

Spirit,

Thank you for showing me that I can accomplish more than I thought in just a few minutes a day. I still have much to sort and other tasks to tackle, yet it now seems manageable. Also, I ask that you protect all areas potentially affected by this storm. I know that fear draws disaster, so I ask that you ease the fears of all who are located in the storm’s path. Please show everyone what steps to take to prepare or evacuate as needed.

And, so it is.

* “A Window of Wisdom, #907, September 27, 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 2, 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

Fussing and Fretting

Thoughts to Ponder – May 28, 2015

 “The focus of our own behavior should be our primary focus.”

Window of Wisdom1

“The energy we lose in fretting, we would gain with a smile.”

Pamela Harper2

How often do we think, or say, “Work would be wonderful if it wasn’t for my coworker who rambles on and on at staff meetings and my boss who expects miracles.” Or perhaps, “My marriage would be wonderful if only my husband/wife wasn’t such a jerk.” It may be true that our coworker, boss and life partner are complete and total jerks. If they are, there is nothing we can do to change them. We have to either accept their behaviors or move on to something better.

Of course, our own behaviors are exemplary. Don’t we wish? An old saying goes something like, “For every finger we point at someone else, four are pointing back at us.” Yet, pointing fingers seems to be our primary occupation. We love to criticize everyone and everything that is contrary to what we believe or how we think we act.

While we are pointing our fingers, we are also fretting about how the other person’s behavior is going to affect us.  We just think that their misbehavior will reflect badly on us. Most likely it won’t, but if it does we won’t be held responsible.

We also fret about all sorts of things that will most likely never happen. “If I buy a new car, some fool will put a dent in it.” True. Eventually, all cars get dents and scratches. “If I tell the doctor about my stomach ache, he/she will put me in the hospital and run all sorts of tests.” Possibly, and just as probably, the doctor will tell you that your stomach hurts because you’re eating something that isn’t good for you. All you have to do is eliminate that item and all will be well. I know, that particular food is delicious and life will be miserable without it. However, we just might learn to like celery if we smile when we eat it.

I’ve been fretting a lot lately about health issues. Nothing is seriously wrong. I just have several minor issues that need attention. I’m not fretting that I have a terrible condition. I’m fretting because my issues require temporary exercise and outdoor limitations, the weather is beautiful and I want to be outside having fun this time of year. I’m fretting and pouting about something very minor in the larger view of life experiences. Yet to me, they seem gigantic and fretting is draining the energy I could be using for something productive, even if it is in the house. I might think, “This will give me time to dust the ceiling fan.” Yeah, right!

At the same time I’m pointing my finger at my health care providers because their treatments are causing my short-term discomfort. My health care providers did not cause these issues, my own carelessness did. Over the years I have been careless about following their advice, so now I’m paying the price. Luckily, the price is very low when compared to what other people endure. I’m grateful that my discomfort is minor and I want it to stay that way.

As a result, I’m asking my guides to gently remind me to accept the blame for my problems, take steps to care for my health (and other issues) and stop thinking that anything else is more important. It’s hard to face, but a step I must take. I cannot blame my old behaviors on anyone but myself and fretting about the results harms no one but me. Well, except for the people who have to listen to me complain.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 28, 2015

1 Window 781, by awindowofwisdom@wordpress.com

2 Pamela Harper, pamela@pamelaharper.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