Simplicity

The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity. The passage of time has provided deeper insight into how the simplicity which I longed for in the past wasn’t something for me to wait for-it’s something for me to reach out and take hold of-both within and outside of myself. Just to be clear, when I use the word simplicity, it isn’t meant to imply a lack of excitement or an abundance of dullness. Nope. Not for this girl. Laughter, play, and enjoyment are as necessary to me as a tall glass of water on a hot summer day.

I use the word simplicity to indicate a sense of ease, a lack of unnecessary complications, or a smooth flow. There are so many ways in which we can either complicate our lives for ourselves or allow others to do so. There are a lot of things which can seem complicated while in the midst of them which truly aren’t. No matter what we’re talking about, whether relationships (of any sort), career choices, health factors which are in our control, or just life in general-simplifying all things is fairly the same. It all starts with asking ourselves some easy questions which can be difficult to answer due to several factors. These factors usually boil down to a few simple sentiments-what we think we want, fear of change, seeing sometimes necessary work as too difficult, or a combination of any or all of the above.

There are all sorts of questions which we could ask ourselves when it comes to making our lives more simple. We can figure out most situations with the one question below.

Does (insert situation or relationship here) primarily enrich my life or create stress and unhappiness?

No matter which way we slice it, we are only in control of making changes in ourselves. So, if whatever it is which we are asking this question about creates more stress and unhappiness than the good that it brings to the table-the choices are to make up our mind to accept it as it is and adjust our lives and mindset accordingly, or to make the changes that we need in order to move from stress to ease.

Of course, this is usually a process and it isn’t my intention to imply that we can just snap our fingers and jump right in or out of anything. There is though, a line which can be drawn where lack of action becomes the choice which a person makes. After a while, the sorting and decision process ends and we’ve either improved our situation or we find ourselves in a loop. Not only are these loops unhealthy for us, there comes a time in which it becomes inconsiderate to continue to expect our loved ones to stay in the loop with us. If we find ourselves circling, the best course of action is to seek out professional/impartial assistance in gathering what we need in order to get out of it. Sometimes, we may even need to withdraw a little from our social circles in order to remove the temptation or habit of remaining stuck. Some things can only be handled by ourselves.

When there is someone in our life who is living the same pattern over and over, we have to understand that after a certain early point of support and advice-there is nothing that we can do which will break this loop for them. Not only do we do them a disservice by going around and around the same issues, we are not doing ourselves any favors either. We’ve all been there at one point or another to some extent.

It’s a normal part of life to go through this learning process. What simplicity looks like is different for each of us. For me, it is a life in which things flow naturally without bullying, disrespect, or undue pressure to conform. It may be something completely different for someone else and neither definition is wrong. The only thing which is our business is when the ways of another are so different from ours that it creates stress or incompatibility. Then, it isn’t our place to change their mind. Nor is it our place to “love them enough” to keep taking their shit, or keep having the same argument, or have to keep defending ourselves. At that point, we may need to decide to love them and ourselves enough to draw boundaries, and sometimes that might mean that we have to step away in order to maintain our peace and health. There’s nothing to be gained in judging ourselves for how we’ve fared with any of our success with simplifying our lives in the past. The space in which we can work is the one where are at this very moment.

As some of you who have been coming here for a while know, I do love Buddhist quotes and the one below feels like the perfect ending.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. ~ Buddha
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/buddha.html

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Choice

I was falling short of inspiration for today’s post, so I went on Pinterest, scouring for journaling prompts. Some of the most amazing ones that I found all came from the same site, Journaling Sage. It was difficult to pick one, because there are so many great ones on the site. The one that I finally selected was:

What choice can you make today to be more free?

This question is perfect for me right now. The feeling of freedom is something which I’ve been reaching out for more and more. I’ve been making a lot of choices in the name of freedom this year. Some of them haven’t been the easiest to do, yet all of them have been necessary in one way or another.

For today however, I’m choosing the freedom to choose. I choose to give myself permission to feel what I feel, to do what feeds the higher parts of myself, to stand tall in my right to not only give respect but to receive it, and to release guilt associated with doing what’s best or necessary for me even when it means saying no.

This may seem elementary to some of you, but for others of us it isn’t always so simple. When wading through these waters, there is a lot of self discovery which takes place. With some much appreciated help, I recently discovered that somewhere along the way I had given away some of my power in the area of how I permit others to treat and speak to me. While I know exactly where this loss occurred, there is no need to share that here because to do so would only serve to give a negative impression of people from the fairly distant past. Doing that is something which I do not desire to do, nor is it my job. They do/have done a fine enough job of that on their own.

Sometimes it is difficult to get to the bottom of our needs. I am always grateful when I am able to recognize areas of my life which need some adjustment in order for me to be lighter and happier. The choice has been made, and I feel better already just for being able to see what had been going on and knowing that it is perfectly within my power to change it. That’s one of the many beautiful things about life…that we always have a choice.

What choice will you make today?

 

 

 

Bonus Post ~ Letter To My Younger Self

Yesterday, Miriam’s Well published a letter to my you younger self that I had sent in response to a call for submissions. Many of us have wished that our present day selves could go and have a chat with our younger selves about life. Sitting down to write this letter was a very healing experience. I highly recommend that some of you give it a try sometime.

To read the letter, please click here. Sure I could post it here, but I’d really like Miriam’s Well to get the traffic for being so kind as to publish my letter. Feel free to come back here to comment. ❤

Dignity

For the purposes of this post, I am only using a few of the possible meanings of the title word of this post. To see the entire definition of the word, please click below: Dictionary.com

noun, plural dignities.
1.

bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
2.

nobility or elevation of character; worthiness:

dignity of sentiments.

Dignity is one of those things which many of use do not give a whole lot of thought to for at least part of our lives. Either we do not think about it, or we hadn’t been taught the value of it. The hope is that at some point that we figure out how valuable it is, and how to restore it. We’ve all done things in our lives which may not have been in line with a sense of dignity. However, all things have the potential to lead us there.

The reason for that last line is that it would be very easy to feel so ashamed of things in the past that it feels as though we are not worthy of self-respect or a sense of dignity. Trust me, I get that. I also know that it is never too late. When we start putting the pieces of ourselves back together, all things are possible.

Perhaps we were taught or told as children that we weren’t worth much and we went through our lives believing this to one extent or another. That one is a tough nut to crack, yet with time and repetition, we can turn the volume of those ancient voices down or even hit the mute button. Once we realize that those negative messages were less about us and more about the person who planted them, it becomes simpler to let it all fade into the background. While working through all of that, it is key that we do not allow that realization to turn into anger, because that is not productive. Not only that, but we can turn it around and use those experiences to learn how to do better by ourselves and perhaps help others to do the same.

 Please try to remember that a desire to help others does not make their actions, or acceptance of the advice or example your responsibility. A few days ago, I read something to the effect of ‘caring is not the same as carrying’. I’m sure that it wasn’t worded exactly like that, and I do not remember where I read it, but the sentiment is one which automatically stuck with me.

Often, we can trace many of the things we’ve done of which we aren’t proud back to negative programming or events in our earlier years. This doesn’t give us a pass, but it does help us to understand the origins of our feelings and do something to avoid taking similar actions in the future. We should also be a little gentler on ourselves, or less harsh in our self judgements. Why? Because deeply holding onto guilt or shame over past actions or words does not propel us forward into reclaiming our dignity.

So how to we get to that place? Through a process of realizing the untruth in the old beliefs and messages which led to the loss or dimming of our dignity, and making a conscious decision to uncover who we really are. There may be things we’ve done for which there will always be a sense of shame. This doesn’t mean that there is no redemption, or that we are not worthy of having a better life.  Even though we cannot undo or unsay things, we can absolutely give ourselves permission to rise above them from here on out.

Meeting Life Halfway

Lately, I’ve been thinking a good bit about how much of a role we play in helping the Universe to honor our requests. Some people may call this praying, others making a wish, and others still something else. No matter what we choose to call it, the concept is the same. We have all at one time or another asked for help with something. There are all sorts of things which people ask for.

Being willing and ready to be proactive in our lives and not see ourselves as being “at the mercy of” fate (or another word of your choice) is important. Think of it this way. If I were to repeatedly ask to meet my soul mate, and then lament the fact that it wasn’t happening…yet, I sat in my home all the time working…would it be fair of me to be angry with the powers that be? No. Of course it wouldn’t. If my desire were to meet my soul mate, I’d have to put myself in a position for the universe to allow us to cross paths.

It’s the same with all areas of our lives. While I do not believe that we are in control of absolutely everything, I do believe that we have a much bigger role in our circumstances than many of us acknowledge. The point that I’m making here is that believing in miracles is something that I am all for. At the same time, I also believe that we often play a role in helping those miracles to manifest. It starts with our attitude and continues with our actions.

Some of you may think that I am contradicting the idea of having faith. The opposite is true. There is a difference between having faith and throwing your hands up in the air in frustration and waiting for someone else to handle it. Faith is made of two parts. Part one is believing that all things are possible. Part two is doing our part to get things moving in the right direction with both our thoughts and our actions. It’s kind of like ordering takeout. I could stand by my door all day wishing for someone to bring a delicious meal. Unless I pick up the phone or go online to place an order, I’m going to get pretty hungry.

On the other hand, let’s look at a scenario in which we wish for a better job. If I were to wish for a better job and start looking, yet I believed that there weren’t any to be found or that no one would hire me for the type of job that I desired, what do you think would happen? My negative beliefs about my ability to get a better job aren’t going to help my case. We all wield a lot more power than many of us believe. While sometimes things are out of our control, and ups and downs happen in all of our lives, we still have a choice in how we are going to choose to deal with them. There’s a lot to be said for the power of our convictions.

 

What’s The First Step In Helping Others?

There are a lot of people out there, myself included, who feel called to help others. Speaking from experience, as well as countless conversations with others who have a similar calling, there is a pretty high incidence of what can only be called burn out or self depletion which happens-especially in the early days of doing the work. Anyone who has ever flown will remember being told that the first step to take in the event of an emergency is to put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help anyone else.

For some reason, while it makes sense to just about anyone that the advice is sound for those flying in an airplane, there seems to be a stigma around tending to self first in any other arena-especially when it comes to spiritual practitioners, healers or when it comes to doing any kind of service work. It doesn’t matter whether you’re flying, helping others spiritually, working as a healer or even in your personal relationships with others-if you aren’t caring for and tending to yourself, your efforts with others will not go as smoothly as they could. Not only that, but you will be setting the stage for exhaustion and even physical illness.

While this is true for everyone, those who have high levels of sensitivity and empathy should be especially vigilant about holding space for themselves on a regular basis. There will be people who will attempt to induce guilt, because they will feel as though they aren’t getting what it is that they need from you when they need it. Plus, chances are good that you’ve spent a lot of your life not tending to your own needs and when you change that, there will be some who will resent it. As with all things, we have to use discernment. There are always exceptions, such as when someone is in a true crisis or has a real emergency. As long as self-care and development are a regular part of our routine, the rest typically falls into place.

As time goes by, many begin to recognize that caring for ourselves and caring for others are not exclusive of one another. Culturally, there is a lot of training which takes place that tells us that we are selfish for tending to our own needs and even pleasures. The interesting thing which I have observed over the years is that it is often the ones which preach this concept of selfishness the most who look out for themselves the most. By getting others to do things on their schedule and according to their desires, they free up a lot of time to do what they want to do.

The important thing to remember is that not only is making sure that you are okay not selfish, it is the first step in being able to effectively help others. Not only that, it will ensure that we are not using service to others as a reason to avoid things that may not be all that easy to resolve within ourselves and in our own lives. As time goes by, caring for yourself gets easier as you begin to see the difference in the two ways of living. Not only will you feel better, but you will see that your ability to help others increases as you help yourself. The hardest part is giving yourself permission to let go of the feelings of guilt long enough to get started.

I’d like to leave you with one last thing to think about, to put this in perspective for those who really struggle with thinking about themselves or putting themselves first.

When you neglect yourself, how do you think that impacts the people in your life who truly love you and have your best interests at heart?