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Okay. So you say you want it all? Noted.🗹 

First, you’re going to have to start with “nothing” as a baseline. See, that way, you have a frame of reference. 

Next you’re going to have “some,” to help you learn how to manage “it all” when it arrives. If you don’t learn from this phase, it’s okay. We’ll helpfully let you start over at “nothing” again to get those More Muscles in shape.

Very few ever get to “it all” because even the ones who seem to have “it all” are deeply in debt, sick from their secrets and alone in a crowd. 

The “all” you’re really seeking isn’t a big pile of money, a perfectly-coiffed and curated persona on Instagram and a happily-ever-after with a stranger you met by swiping right on a dating app.

Actually, the ache for “it all” embedded within you is something else. Just as you’ve got a heartbeat, that’s your soulbeat. It’s:

  • Being who you are, no matter what room you walk into.
  • Learning every day that you don’t have all the answers, but that the questions themselves are sometimes the point.
  • Working toward a goal to engage all your faculties and your faith at the same time.
  • Using your own experience to know that people causing pain in your life are in pain themselves and greeting that grief with grace.
  • Getting to know and love yourself just as you would a “soulmate” so that you don’t end up with a “cellmate,” both locked into the self-defeating notion that you’ve failed to complete each other.

Life really is simpler than you make it out to be. 

  • Find your forte. Do that with all your heart. 
  • Find your community. Connect and show you care. 
  • Be yourself. If you meet a partner on the same page, be yourselves together.
  • Do your best. 
  • Take care of yourself. 
  • Be kind. 

Whatever you can’t figure out, turn it over to me in prayer. You may come to realize that in some ways, you already do have “it all.”

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When someone says, “I owe you an apology,” have they really apologized? It seems to me that until they say the words, “I’m sorry,” it doesn’t count. Owing an apology is like saying, put it on my account!

“That show’s been running for seven seasons and I never miss it,” a commenter online said, and I had to mull that over. Does that mean they like the program? Or perhaps they don’t watch it, and frankly, they don’t miss it either?

“Hey, Ruth! Long time!” It was an old acquaintance I’d run into at the store. “You look exactly the same!” he said, to which I replied, “Thank you!” I assumed it was meant as a compliment, but was it? What if he’d actually meant, “You looked like forty miles of bad road twenty years ago, and dagnabbit, you look exactly the same today! My condolences!”

Maybe we’ll never know what other people are thinking. The best we can do is to be truthful yet tactful, choosing our words carefully. With any luck, we’ll be able to make our point in a kind and thoughtful way. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” 

What if you found out you’d never be able to lose weight as long as you held a grudge in your heart? Say you hatched a plan to exact revenge and succeeded in getting your “pound of flesh,” only here’s the catch: you have to wear it on your person as a saddlebag! I can only imagine how quickly most of us would find a way to be forgiving.

We seem to hold onto grudges as a means of survival, as if being cynical will protect us from being hurt or betrayed ever again. Perhaps your body is listening and thinks you want to keep a wall between you and the possibility of being wounded again, a “blubber buffer,” if you will.

Or maybe God’s getting tired of hearing you complain about that last boyfriend who never bought you flowers, and now he’s gone and married a florist! The injustice! So the maker of all things decides to teach an object lesson. You stop hurting when you stop hating, child. Until you do, I’m going to physically add weight to you until you get the correlation. Zap! You’re zaftig.

Whatever the particulars were, whoever the players were, the only way to release yourself from past pain is to love yourself more than you hate the ones who hurt you.

When you lighten up and let go of that heavy burden, the least that will happen is that you’ll have more time for the blessings in your life. You may not lose weight, but you’ll lose hate. And that’s how you make space for grace.

What if you had an outfit that brought you good luck every time you wore it? You’d put it on and, instantly, everything in your life would go well. I bet you’d wear it every single day! But here’s the catch: It came to you from Icarus, the farthest star known to man, and it’s got alchemical properties. 

While you get the hang of wearing it, you may randomly:

  • Become invisible
  • Be able to read minds at will
  • Hit all the winning lottery numbers in every state at the same time

On the other hand, you may also:

Would you take the risk?

If only it were as simple as putting on a scarf or tucking in a pocket square!

Well, you can actually create your own personal pocket of grace. Here’s how:

  • Focus on the positive
  • Surround yourself with people who lift you up
  • Stay on the path to the “yes” life

And before you know it, you’ve created your own good vibes. Oh, and it helps to give thanks to the one who made it all possible. No, not some corporate sponsor or mystery philanthropist! The one who made it all: you, me, the sky, earth and sea. Here’s another word for that pocket of grace: Faith.

credit: today.com

Let’s say you had a meeting and it was crunch time. Looking over the attendees, you realize there’s a baby sitting in one of the chairs in a suit and tie. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day! 

Look at you. You can’t even hold your own head up, man! You’re drooling, babbling on about nothing, and your contribution at the last meeting was nothing but a big pile of poop. Get ahold of yourself! 

You notice the baby’s round belly under his pocket protector and bib.

You’re letting yourself go around the middle, there, pal. You really should do some crunches!

You wouldn’t expect a baby to know how to crunch numbers. Heck, they can’t even crunch granola yet! And surely a baby’s too young to hit the gym.

Different rules apply to people depending on the situation, and we don’t all develop at the same pace. Some may think that, just because they haven’t had an experience, that experience isn’t valid.

People who call others “snowflake” or “overly sensitive” are actually, let me see if I can find the technical term here in my thesaurus.. Oh yes. Insensitive clods!

Mercy. Let me re-phrase that. 

Such people don’t seem to have been born with a compassion compass, that thing inside that says, I may not understand what you’ve been through, but I can see that you’ve been profoundly affected by it.

Then again, if I label them insensitive clods, I’m the one being insensitive. 

Perhaps a better way to frame it is that they’re newborns in terms of the expression of empathy. Their mercy-muscles haven’t formed fully yet. One day they may be in a new situation and it’ll be crunch time for them. Here’s hoping the people in that room will show them some compassion.

…that hasn’t been said? Mass killing after mass killing, putting towns like Dayton and El Paso on the map in ways they wish had never happened. I’ve heard a lot of analysis about America in the last week, a lot of analysis about who kills and why. I am surprised to hear, for instance, that America is the only developed country with bad parents. The only one where kids play violent video games. They only country with any mental illness. These things must be true because gun violence doesn’t happen in any other developed country — not like it does here in the US.

Look, here’s what I know is true: America is a man with a gun standing before a thousand men with a thousand guns, representing a million men with a million guns, all claiming (all at once) that violence is never the fault of a man with a gun.

Here’s what else I know: There are more of us than there are of them.

Do not forget. Do not let anyone tell you to “put it behind you.” Keep it raw. Keep it festering. Hold it in your hand, even as it scorches your skin.

And then vote. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.

Also, pray.

My apologies for not being around our corner of the blog-osphere very much this week.  As the three of us have discussed privately, we are all more than a little distressed by the state of the world and our country.  Every time we turn around, there’s another story of hate, violence and death.

It is so hard not to be discouraged.  I was shuffling through images when I came across this quote on the best way not to feel hopeless by Barrack Obama.  At first glance, I thought it was a little pie-in-the-sky naïve.

Go out and do something good.  You’ll feel better.

But then I realized that it was the same advice my mother and my grandmother would have given me.  Get up off your rear.  Get going. And do something good.

And it really is good advice.  I would only adapt it slightly.

Remember that we live in a broken world.  We, you and I, are broken and far from perfect just like everyone else.

When we pick up our phones and tablets, we have a tendency to link into news.  Even if you try to play a game, you may well be plagued with pop-ups.  Just today I’ve had one about a knifing in Southern California and another about decades-long abuse in the USA Gymnastics club.

When you read a newspaper, even if you read it every page, there is an end.  When you go into the web, there is no end.  Negative story after negative story washes over you.

So put down your phone.  Turn off your tablet.

Do something that doesn’t involve a screen.  Me? I’ve warped my loom and am making a scarf for a friend.  It isn’t anything huge, but it will make her smile.

School is about to start again.  My son and I made plans this morning to get his friends over here on a regular basis.  Screen-free time around our dining room table. This, of course, means that my loom needs to go downstairs.

But that’s okay. I can get offline right now and go clean off a spot on the old kitchen table I keep in the basement.  Putting aside things go sell or otherwise get rid of is also positive in that it declutters my home and the money can go into the church’s community garden.

Small steps.  Moments spent away from your screen.  I’m not saying that the bad things don’t matter.  But I am recommending that we not let them roll over us endlessly.  That level of exposure doesn’t benefit anyone in any way.

Do something small and positive. Small steps can carry you in a more positive direction.

–SueBE

What if we come to find out we’re all just a bunch of free-range chickens in the backyard of some giant, benevolent aliens? 

Then we’d have no need to beat ourselves up when we make a mistake. Or regret choices we made when we felt we had no choice. We’d get back to basics pretty quickly. 

Be the best free-range chicken you can be! Don’t peck at the other hens. Keep your feathers clean. Get some sun in the yard. And then, you know what? Go lay an egg! 🥚

I’m not trying to insult you! Remember: you’re a free-range chicken on an alien outpost. The normal human insults have no effect on you now. Go sit on it. The egg, that is!

The aliens have thought of everything to give you a comfortable life as a beloved pet, including heated hen houses, high-quality feed, and a trail by the water.

So why don’t you go jump in the lake?🤽

No offense, of course! This is all just an exercise to show that the mean-spirited things we humans say to insult each other are all just code for: I’m aiming these specific words at you to make you feel bad. Why? It’s usually because you, or someone else hurt me, and since I don’t know how to manage these feelings or resolve them, I’m sitting in a pool of poison. All I’ve been taught by society is to pick it up and throw it at you. 

When others aim their poison arrows of pain at you, don’t engage. Let them carry their toxins on down the road. Keep your eyes up, heart open, and if you come across a bump in the road, well, just… take a flying leap… of faith, that is! Safe travels, dear hearts.💖

It was a week
to shake the faith
right out of our bones.

But faith cannot fall
to such a small god:
a god of bombs, bullets, ripped limbs.

Seek God elsewhere.
He is there in the helpers.
In solace, yes, and mourning, too.
In healing hands, in hope.

Look to those who know the truth:
What is not love
cannot be God.

Hate destroys.
Love restores.
There is your answer.

I worried a bit yesterday that the silence on our blog would be interpreted as indifference.  Indifference to gun violence.  Indifference to the killings.  Indifference to the mounting death toll.  I worried, but I couldn’t bring myself to craft a post.  After all, what could we say that hasn’t already been said?

Besides, so many people had so much to say.  Fewer guns!   2nd Amendment!  Limit guns! Protect yourselves!  Pass the background check bill!

My soul was simply too weary to wade into the blog-o-sphere and attempt to contribute.  I just didn’t have it in me.

Today, in spite of a watch that wasn’t working right and thus saw me running ten minutes late, I made it to yoga.  I rolled out my mat and breathed deeply.  Downward dog.  Child’s pose. Warrior 1.  Triangle.  Shavasana.

At the end of each class, our instructor reads a quote of some kind.  Some are meant to sooth.  Others to challenge.  Still others, simply give us something to ponder.  Today’s quote was this – we should not have to agree on anything at all to treat each other well.

As you stroll these electronic pathways, that’s what I would ask you to remember.  Agree or disagree, but please carry the light of God’s love into the world and treat each other well.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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