I came across a blog by Trudy Boyle That I felt worth sharing. It is a good reminder that there are things in our lives where we can exercise control or at least influence what will make stressful situations better. Here is an excerpt from her post.
“When it’s raining and you have an umbrella, use it. This advice from Psychiatrist, Dr. Shoma Morita, means that when you find yourself in difficult circumstances and there is the possibility of taking any action to relieve or influence those circumstances, then do so. We may need to usher in a change of plans, however inconvenient. It may be seeking an opinion or turning over every stone to look for a solution. There are so many situations and choices that can arise in daily living and most come with options for intervention. We need to seek those options out.
This maxim is practical for all manner of difficulties, big and small that you may encounter.
"Be an active agent in your own life. Find out things that you can do. The bottom line is to take some action rather than endure unpleasant circumstances, or unnecessary suffering that can be changed, or alleviated in some way.
At times when much of our life can seem out of our control, it is even more vital to take charge of the things – even small things that we can do something about. Never underestimate the impact on our well-being that small steps can make.”
Comments are welcome.
The Alphabet And Me
Part of my early morning routine includes doing the New York Times Spelling Bee. I am also a Wordle fanatic which I play after dinner as my dessert. After many months, I noticed something rather peculiar about myself. I have become a fan of some letters and an anti-fan of others. As I realized this, I had to ask who in their right mind has a bias, positive or negative, towards innocent, inanimate graphemes? Obviously, me. Since I’ve gone this far, I will share my biases with you.
The Spelling Bee is based on a set of 7 letters, one is designated to be used in every word. They let you know how many words can be formed and how many pangrams there are. The one letter that is never allowed is “S” for obvious reasons. Personally, I think S should be allowed if not used as a plural.
What’s happened doing the Spelling Bee is that I’ve come to cringe when one or more of J, K, V, X, Z appear in the daily 7. I hope they would not take their cringe worthiness personally, but how could they not? Fortunately, my bias towards these little symbols does not extend out into the wide world of languages. There are, after all, very fine words that are formed with these consonants. As for vowels, A is my favorite. I am reasonably neutral towards the rest.
Moving on to Wordle, Vowels are the object of my persnicketiness. In fact, I’ve lost my affection for E. I find E sorely lacking in personality. I don’t know what happened to E, but it is without joie de vivre. A, I, O, U are not exactly rock stars either. Yet, when A and I, A and O, a and O and U pair up, they emit a wee shimmy. When E pairs with one of the other vowels, it is still meh.
This vowel fussiness influences my first and second word selections. I must say that despite these biases, I’ve rarely bombed out. In fact, pardon my brag, I’ve gotten Wordle in 2 guesses 30 times and counting. Even got Wordle on the first guess once. Of course, we all know that was a 100% fluke. Still fun.
The Little Things
Since my loss of sight some years ago, there has been a loss of independence. One makes adjustments. Since the pandemic, there has been a further loss of independence. Full disclosure, there are times I bemoan the things I cannot do on my own anymore. One of the things I am grateful for is taking walks around the block independently. A little thing along my walk has added extra pleasure to the outing. It almost sounds silly, but I am stoked to be able to locate the recycle can on the street.
Recent snow storms have limited the distance I can walk. One morning when I went out to see how far it was safe to walk, I had a perspective shift. Instead of grumbling about snow and ice obstacles, I had a moment of great gratitude. I could still negotiate the stairs to my 3rd floor walk up. I could increase the number of times walking back and forth to where the icy part begins. Best of all I could still locate the recycle can.
Last night we were hit again with an absolute monster snow storm. It was one of those rare times when it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. Wild stuff. I figured I would just hunker down indoors for the day. . However, this morning I felt the urge to put on my big boots, go down stairs and check it all out. I assumed I would stay put in front of my building, breathe some fresh air and return to my apartment. Nope! When I stepped out in front of my building, the street was clear. I carefully began to walk along the route I normally take. Lo and behold, the street was all clear up to the place I have been walking lately.
Then came the big test. I carefully walked to where the recycle can was. Even with snow piled up against it, I could still reach the openings .
That bit of independence was still available to me. I was so grateful and happy, I smiled the entire time I did my laps. This was a reminder to savor the joys of the little things in our lives. When we look back, we may realize they were the big things.
Comments are welcomed.
Moving Into March
A conversation does not go by without some mention of the weather. I cannot believe I am actually going to talk about the weather in this blog. In fact with all my complaints this winter, I have some gratitude for the weather. Am I nuts? Perhaps, but hear me out. Just as winter was coming on the scene, I thought I might get a little P.T.S.D.ish consideration after last January’s record breaking massive snowfall. It was dreadful for some time after the hit. I staved off a freak-out telling myself, that we survived that and the likelihood of a repeat was minimal. Also, there was nothing in the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicting otherwise.
Winter arrived rather unceremoniously. Then January rolled in as the sun rolled out for most of the month. While there were so many gray, gloomy days, there was inconsequential snowfall and a short-lived polar vortex episode. Now, here we are about to mosey into March. You remember March – Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Daylight Savings Time (please do away with time changes), Pi Day, the Ides of March, March Break, March Madness, but best of all March 20: the first day of Spring. Also, March 20 is the United Nations International Day of Happiness.
The point for me is that due to minimal snow and ice on the streets, minimal bitter cold, the usual worst months of winter have skated (no pun intended) by. Despite so few sunny days, I am very grateful for being able to wear street shoes most of these past several weeks with little worry for icy patches. Of course, as I say these things, Winter is not going quietly into that good night. It is making a ginormous ruckus as the month draws to a close, dragging that lion along with it. Nonetheless, it will still become March the day after tomorrow. And that means Hope and maybe more sunny days.
Comments are welcomed.
Small steps can lead to lasting changes. A small step may not get us very far. Generally we judge value of a step on distance. Our tendency is to take large leaps to quickly get from here to there and ‘there’ may be nowhere in sight.
Newton’s first Law of Motion, commonly referred to as the Law of Inertia. It is stated as: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Once there is motion there is momentum. This is why small steps can be so valuable. They offer momentum at a very low cost. It takes very little effort to create momentum - One dish washed, one push up, one item on the to do list done.
Have we gone very far? No, But, now there is momentum. We are in motion. That momentum and motion are likely to keep us on the path.
Random Acts Of Kindness Day
Here is a summary of the History of Random Acts of Kindness Day - February 17.
“ The Random Acts of Kindness movement started more than 40 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1982 Berkeley writer and activist Anne Herbert published the first known account of “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Acts of Senseless Beauty” in a CoEvolution Quarterly. After her article appeared, the kindness movement began to spread in surrounding communities.
Fast forward to 1991 when a local woman noticed the phrase scrawled across a warehouse wall in her neighborhood. She shared the phrase with her husband, a then 7th grade teacher, who decided to share it with his students. One of the kids happened to be the daughter of a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, who then wrote about Anne Herbert and the phrase. The article was picked up nationally by Reader’s Digest and later reprinted by the editors of Conari Press, a small press in Berkeley, California.
Inspired by the phrase and the people involved in the movement, the editors at Conari Press published a book highlighting stories of kindness. The book, aptly titled Random Acts of Kindness, was published in February 1993 and was immediately embraced by hundreds of thousands who helped continue the movement. Readers of the book and admirers of the phrase began creating local “Random Acts of Kindness Days” in mid 1993 (30 years ago!).
In February of 1995, the first national Random Acts of Kindness Day took place with participants coast to coast. As a gift to many grassroots organizations, Conari Press funded and facilitated the kickoff year.
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) was created in 1995 in the Bay Area to facilitate future celebrations, always taking place in February during Valentine’s Day week. RAK was purchased soon after by a private foundation and moved to Denver, Colorado where it is located today.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small nonprofit that invests resources into making kindness the norm. We are rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness.
The Random Acts of Kindness foundation has celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day and Week every year since 1995 with various initiatives/campaigns, always in an effort to remind the world that a simple act of kindness is sometimes all it takes to change a person’s day, week, possibly their life.”
Here Comes The Sun
The past few weeks were pretty much devoid of sunshine. The sun appeared so infrequently, I can’t even remember if it popped through the clouds at all. I suppose it did, but I can’t be certain. We all know how important the sun is to our health and well being. That dearth of sunlight was not a friend to good mental health either.
Happily, the sun seems to have resumed it’s proper place and function in the universe. Suddenly, smiles are more easily forthcoming. Sunshine, sunlight and warmth of the sun are a blessing. I found a couple of sweet poems about the sun I thought I’d share.
I told the Sun that I was glad,
I'm sure I don't know why;
Somehow the pleasant way he had
Of shining in the sky,
Just put a notion in my head
That wouldn't it be fun
If, walking on the hill, I said
"I'm happy" to the Sun. John Drinkwater
I’ll tell you how the Sun rose –
A Ribbon at a time –
The Steeples swam in Amethyst –
The news, like Squirrels, ran –
The Hills untied their Bonnets –
The Bobolinks – begun –
Then I said softly to myself –
‘That must have been the Sun!’ Emily Dickinson
Oust The Drill Sergeant
We are so much nicer to other people than we are to ourselves. Research shows we don’t need more self discipline in life to meet our goals. We need more self compassion. Self compassion helps us to sleep better, it decreases anxiety, increases emotional and physical well being, leads to a greater sense of optimism. It’s not about being happy all the time or having every life circumstance work out in your favor. Life happens. The idea is to thrive rather than just survive. One way is to develop self-compassion.
Dr. Kristin Neff of the University of Texas, Austin is the leading authority on self-compassion. In case you think self-compassion will see you happily eating chips and ice cream on the couch all day, her findings show research makes it clear that self-compassion actually enhances our lives in practical ways as well, including greater personal responsibility, decrease in procrastination, greater progress toward goals.
So, what do we do when the drill-sergeant (our critical self) begins it’s diatribe? Start by calling it out. I am being hard on myself over or because… Next, talk to yourself as you would a good friend who is having difficulty. Use the kind, wise and warm manner you would use for that friend. Understand, you are not alone. People everywhere go through rough times, even suffering. It is all a part of life. Decide you will be kind to yourself in those moments and give yourself the compassion you need.
“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” –Proverbs 16:24.
Comments are welcomed.
Energy Flows Where Attention Goes
I recently read and article by Gregg Krech on 4 points of Japanese psychology that really resonated for me. I thought I would pass the main points along.
Since so much of life is beyond our control, this skill is essential for our well-being. We can’t control other people, of course. Neither can we control the weather, the traffic, the stock market, or the price of gas. We can try to influence the external world, making our best persuasive efforts, for example, but we cannot control the outcome of our efforts. We can’t even control our own feelings or thoughts. We tend to overvalue our attempts to change what we don’t like and undervalue our capacity to accept what is.
2. Co-existing with Unpleasant Feelings
Learning to take action in a constructive and appropriate way, even when we don’t feel like it, is the essence of self-discipline. With practice, we can learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, rather than needing to monitor and change them into more pleasurable feeling states. We can learn to focus on what we are here to do, and allow our feelings to rise and fall, as they will. We can coexist with our feelings, rather than being derailed by them.
Our experience of life is based on what we pay attention to. Most of us put very little energy into developing skillful attention, but it can change the way we move through our lives as well as the experience we have moment to moment. Too often our attention is on our selves — our feelings, our thoughts, our ideas, our plans and regrets. This inner world can become a prison that prevents us from connecting and engaging with the richness and wonder of life around us. Working skillfully with attention is one of the most profound ways of enhancing your life.
Our relationships are generally what we most value in our lives, but they present us with some of our toughest challenges as well. The ability to reflect on ourselves is the key to maintaining healthy relationships, as well as cultivating a general sense of gratitude for all we have and for our life itself. Self-reflection often humbles us and softens our hearts to the challenges of others.
If we build our lives on a foundation of mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and purpose, then we have a sense of guidance in our lives, with meaning woven through our days.”
Comments are welcome.
Let’s Have A Laugh
I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, but I can’t recall the last time there was a sun sighting. The new year has begun with lots of cloudy, gray, foggy, misty days or weeks. I can’t be sure any more. There’s been a report the sun will make an appearance this weekend. I’ll let you know. With all this dreariness, it seemed the right time to have some laughs. Here are some short quotes that I hope bring some smiles.
You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?
Silence is golden unless you have kids. Then silence is just plain suspicious.
A balanced diet means a cupcake in each hand.
Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because chickens weren’t around yet.
Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it’s limits.
They say the older you get, the better you get...unless you are a banana.
People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
Adults are always asking children what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.
Here’s a list of things that look good in a leopard pattern: 1. Leopards. *End of list*
The trouble with housekeeping is that you make the beds, do the dishes and 6 months later you have to do it all over again. Joan Rivers
When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them. Rodney Dangerfield
When things don’t go right, go left.
Open For Business
I’ve written several blogs about gratitude or mentioned it in others. Well, here we go again. This time will be short and sweet. I found a quote that offers an easy and delightful way to experience gratitude.
As you likely are aware, the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects on our lives, it can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, promote happiness and well-being and spur acts of helpfulness, generosity and cooperation. There’s a great deal of established research supporting this.
You might say gratitude is like Netflix for our well-being -giving you JOY, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism on-demand (don't change that channel!
Now, here it is:
To appreciate life, you just have to be open for business.
Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds … Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given.
We just have to be open for business. -Anne Lamott
At this point, the second day of 2023, I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said in a million different ways. So, let us just toast to a year filled with more kindness, more tolerance, good health, good will, more joy and many blessings. Happy New Year to all of you and yours.
The End Becomes The Beginning
Here we are in the last few days of 2022. The word resolutions always pops up at this time. The thoughts are new year, new beginning, another chance to get it right. People tend to resolve to such things as improving diets, getting in better shape, completing projects, less time on devices and so on and on. How long is the stick-to-it time? A week? A month? There are a variety of tips for prolonging these intentions.
As for me, I gave up on making resolutions years ago. I knew I would not stick with them. I’ve taken on a different kind of practice for a new year. Basically I review the previous year making note of all that I’ve done or said that was so not cool. I fully commit to clean those things up to eliminate the chance of repeats.
On the other hand, I believe it is just as important to look at what went well and that which worked. The commitment there is to do more or better with that which was on the positive side.
Periodic reflections throughout the year and renewing my commitment to both doing less of the down sides and more of the up sides becomes a more natural process for keeping the intentions going.
My best hopes and intentions are to be kinder, more compassionate, laugh more and have a whole lot more gratitude. What about you? What are your best hopes going forward?
How about this - "Let our New Year's resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word." - Goran Persson
Twas The Week Before Christmas
The next time we get together Christmas will have come and gone. Not completely gone as this is just the day after. Still…
I just have a few words at this time. What matters most throughout December is also what matters most throughout the year. Love, benevolence, forgiveness, good will, peace, hope for starters. And, when it comes to giving we can all afford to give the gifts of smiles and kindness to anyone, any time, anywhere.
Blessings to you and yours during this holiday season with much joy in your celebrations and traditions.
Comments are welcome.
Finding Joy By Noticing
I recently read an article by Trudy Boyle about finding the simple joys in our day, in our life by paying attention. We benefit in so many ways by noticing and appreciating these little joys and pleasures. Here is an excerpt from her article.
“One of the benefits of studying Japanese Psychology is its emphasis on cultivating our skills in paying attention. It helps me to notice all the small joys in my ordinary moments. In fact, the practice of “paying attention,” is in itself a joy because it reminds me every day, in the midst of obstacles and confusion, to look and see what else there is to notice beyond the default of the obvious.
In troubled times, it is easy to believe that life is bleak, and there are undeniable bleak moments for us all. Yet, there is also the truth that kindness is rampant, and beauty is everywhere, whether we notice or not. The practice of noticing, using a wide-angle lens, gives us a chance to expand our view. And with that, we rejuvenate, experience gratitude, and possibly consider what we can do to lend a hand.
Each brand-new day brings surprises. Some we like. Some we don’t. But, we can cultivate the skill of using our attention to always see small joys. Obstacles are easy to see. But the beautiful moon, the kind words, the smell of coffee, the car that starts, the bed we slept in, or the chance to make fresh tracks in new-fallen snow (well, that might just be tomorrow) – those are opportunities we need to look for.
If you are suffering and can find no joy the proven antidote according to the Dalai Lama is to help others. “Our visit to this planet is short, so we should use our time meaningfully, which we can do by helping others wherever possible.”
“When you are kind to someone else, you end up being joyful, but why? Because we realize that we are made for goodness,“ Archbishop Desmond Tutu”
Comments are welcomed.