Saturday, August 31, 2013

Community


Community

Did you know that our community of Creative Questioners spans the globe? I’m mentioning it today because I drew the “Why do I engage?” card this morning.

We live in an extraordinary time. Maybe all times have been extraordinary in their own ways, but I sure appreciate this one.

When I was a kid, I dreamed a lot about what it would be like to live in the future. That child still lives in my mind, and over and over I sense her wonder and delight at being able to live in the future. She’s a time traveling ten year old in some strange way. But I do love that feeling.

For here we are, together, even though we are scattered all over the planet. We are able to connect so easily now with Internet, and cheap phone calling, instant contact by email. We can touch each other’s hearts in real time across thousands of miles. loving each other without visas, or long travel. We can support each other in times of strife, and rejoice with each other the rest of the time.

We have the capability to love more people now than ever in the history of the world. And, as we clear out our old emotional crap, we increase our capacity, too. Back in the days of yore, I was attached to people, but my capacity to love was so stunted. What a glorious thing it has been to experience that capacity grow.

Back then, I felt responsible for you, for your happiness and well-being, for your sense of contentment and satisfaction, for your life. I didn’t know that I couldn’t be, that I could only be responsible to you; to support you, to create a loving, nurturing, and respectful environment, to accept you as you are in this moment. to love you with an open heart and without negative emotional judgments.

And I learned that I really couldn’t make you feel anything. I couldn’t make you feel loved, or appreciated, or safe, or protected, no matter what I did. And I learned that you couldn’t make me feel any of those things, either.

Wow. All that comes from within me. All of that feeling loved and safe comes up from my core, from my perfect self. You may be able to stop others, or perhaps yourself, from hurting me, but I’m the one who decides to feel abused. I may feel abused without anything current happening at all, just leftover stuff from days of yore. Weird.

Sometimes we do awful things to each other. We, as budding grownups, need to just stop it. Vengeance is for children, not grownups, so is violence. If we see others doing we need to help them stop it.

Violence is a kick, like jumping out of an airplane, or slalom skiing, but it’s really bad for us, like heroin, or crack. And more and more of us are recognizing that, and moving away from these kinds of behaviors.

So we clean up our act, we feel better. We create a nicer space around us, where our loved ones feel safe, and so they feel comfortable to look inside, and start cleaning up their acts. Next thing you know, we feel more peaceful as a community because each of us is bringing a calm and centered self to join in.

All I can do is my part. As I learn to feel calm and centered and peaceful, I treat you differently, and that is where it begins.

How have I changed from being an out-of-control child to being a grownup?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08312013

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Boss of Me

The Boss of Me

Somedays I feel like the only reason folks want me around is for what I can do to make their lives nicer. I know, even your goofy, giggly philosopher guru has her moments. I also know that, when I am feeling that way, I have fallen into an old habit, an old thought rut, and that I can get out of it quickly and easily, and the more I do that, the easier it gets.

When I feel like that, I think of it as the Drudge Syndrome, I know I have some regrouping to do, because, in addition to being a drama queen, I was also a martyr, oh, yeah, and a victim.

The moment I really got it was while complaining to a beloved houseguest. I was going on about how he didn’t help me, and suddenly noticed that I was standing in the doorway with my arms outstretched in a classic crucifix posture. It totally cracked me up.

When I am a drama queen, I allow and encourage my feelings to escalate and cascade until I am a screaming harridan, or sobbing snotty mess and nothing was EVER this bad. When I am a victim, I feel set upon, I feel hopeless and powerless and scared, and nothing will EVER get me out of it. When I am a martyr, I feel superior, I feel isolated, I often feel angry and resentful, and nothing you do will EVER be good enough.

Yuck-a-roni.

You know how much better my life is now. I had to make it better or die. Seriously. I had to decide, and commit. I had to let go of my drama queen, and yes, she left kicking and screaming and scrabbling at my ankle. I had to cast out my victim, who wondered what on earth would become of her, and I had to evict my martyr, who said, “You’ll never survive without me!”

I have no words for how much I prefer living without those roommates.

The other one is also really common, she’s the “unwanted one.” Not as catchy a moniker, but then she wouldn’t have a flashy name, would she. She’s the one who only gets to hang around with us because she treats, or she drives, or she has a pool, or something like that. As far as she is concerned, no one would have her around if it weren’t for X.

Sigh.

She never quite includes herself, and, even though we include her, she always hangs back, she never joins in.

How do I feel when I feel wanted? Why do I feel welcome? What makes me included?

When I choose to be a part of my community, everything shifts. When I decide that I am welcome wherever I go, people are happy to see me. No, really. It’s freaky. When I choose to be on your side, stuff goes so much better. You can try to include me until your eyes cross and your lips turn blue, but until I decide to include me, I’m on the outside.

Over and over, it seems like I am the one who is responsible for my happiness. May as well just suck it up, and get happy.

How have I changed from feeling like it’s all your fault to knowing I am the boss of me?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08302013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Esteem Cleaning

Esteem Cleaning

So here’s a funny thought. I can hold you in great esteem till your fingers go all pruney, but until you decide it makes no difference. You have to choose to soak it up.

Like so many other things, I create my sense of worth. It matters not how much you value me, or how many honors I receive, or how loved I am, if I don’t feel it, it don’t exist.

It seems so strange, but there you have it. I know, I lived there.

I felt as useful as dried up pond scum for a long time. It was part of what I wanted when I decided I wanted to be happy. I didn’t have a clue how I was going to get there, but I knew I just wanted it so much.

And, like all the other stuff, it took practice to change the habit of self-loathing.

As with so much, from “where did I put my keys?” to “how do I learn to love myself?” starting from a place of awareness will make the whole transition pretty simple. With the keys/wallet/cell phone thing, when I take a moment to be aware of where I am putting them. I will usually be able to find them later. When I take a moment to notice self-hate talk, and correct it, I can break my habit.

Using Creative Questions makes the transition from old way to new way much, much easier. Here’s how to do it.

It helps to be ready with things we like about ourselves when we are changing this habit. Spending a bit of time to notice three things each we like about our appearance, our mind, our behavior or personality, and our spirit, and then write ‘em down, so we can rehearse them as we are actively changing the habit.

Saying, “my eyes don’t suck too much” is kind of missing the boat. So is, “I don’t hate my eyes.” Even if you feel like you don’t really mean it, start with, “I like my eyes,” or whatever parts of you you’ve chosen. I like my curiosity. I like my kindness. I like my openness, for example.

Remember that you always want to phrase your Creative Questions with the result you want, clearly and specifically. “Why do I think I don’t suck too much?” is a very bad creative question. “Why do I love me?” is a good one.

When you are committed to changing a habit, write it down. And use a pen and paper. Writing, especially cursive writing, get deeper into our psyche than typing does. It doesn’t really matter if you can’t even read your writing. It’s the physical act.

The writing exercise goes like this:

For seven days, write down your question, and and any responses you get from asking it. Use all three pronouns, that is, why do I, Pam, love me? Why do you, Pam, love yourself? Why does she, Pam, love herself? Write each question three times, with responses. If you don’t get a response, that’s okay. If you get a negative response, continue with that question, adding the words “would” or “could” until the negative response releases. Then do the same with “How do I, Pam, love me?” and so on, and “What makes me, Pam, love me?” and so on.

On the one hand, it’s a lot of writing. On the other hand, you are worth it.  

How have I changed from hating me to loving my amazing self?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08292013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Defying the Emo Zombies

Defying the Emo Zombies

Several of you have asked how I write these contemplations. It’s simple. I shuffle the Creative Questions card deck while I think about drawing the best card for us for today. Sometimes, a card or two just seem to hop out from the deck, and sometimes I pull one out. Then I think about it a bit, then I write to you on whatever the topic has brought to mind.

Today I pulled the “Why do I care?” card. I pulled it a few days ago, too. When I pull the same card repeatedly, I know there is an importance about it, and I wonder what that is.

I know a bunch of us are caregivers. We are diligent and loving in our gift of care, and, generally speaking, are happy to be helping. I know a bunch of us volunteer our time, or expertise, to help others. I know a bunch of us who work and take care of our families.

If I am feeling depressed, or grief-stricken, or otherwise self-absorbed, volunteering and caregiving are often very useful tools to help me shift away from those heart-sucking monsters.

Choosing to care is a powerful thing. It’s one of the many ways that I choose my experiences in life.

When I am stuck in worry, or anxiety, or grief, or depression, or fear, or anger, or denial, I have let that state of mind take me over, like alien mind-control, or maybe zombies. Here, I am choosing to abdicate responsibility for my own well-being in favor of letting something else run the show. Sometimes, it has seemed like a relief to me to let worry be in charge, or anger, or whatnot, but I really want to be a grownup.

Being a grownup means that I choose to take responsibility for myself. If I am being responsible for me, I am in charge of my experience, and so I will use Creative Questions, breathing, physical postures, or whatever, to shift away from the zombie me running the same horrible tapes over and over in my head about how awful things are.

Being a grownup means that I understand that if I think things are terrible, or I think things are great, I am right. The same way we all have 168 hours in a week, we all have stuff happen, circumstances change around on us, we experience terrible loss, or horrific illness or accidents. You know, stuff.

One of the analogies I like is the glass half empty or half full. I was a half empty gal for a long time, until I decided to be happy. Then I was a half full gal. Now I rejoice in having a glass. Sometimes my glass is full of cold, crisp water, refreshing, and hydrating and wonderful. Sometimes it’s full of lime-flavored Diet Coke, and it’s delicious, but maybe not much else good. Sometimes it’s full of pee, and that’s just nasty, so I can freak out that my glass is full of pee, or I can use it to felt wool, and soften my skin. No, seriously, pee is awesome for those things.

And that’s the trick. How do I find the awesome reason in the situation? Is there a potent life lesson to be had? Is there practice on a topic like patience, or transformation that I could use some help with? Is there another use for what’s going on that will provide me with felted slippers and fantastically soft skin?

If I think it’s awful or I think it’s great, I’m right.

How have I changed from letting the emo zombies run my life to taking responsibility for my own darn self?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08282013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Comfy Cozy

Comfy Cozy

Comfort. A cozy blanket, a cool cloth, hot soup, ginger ale, toast and tea, soothing music, and easy read, a snoozy pet. What comforts you?

We are such a go go go group, aren’t we. We race through our mornings, rush off to school or work, or our morning house tasks. We zip through our lunches, or skip them altogether, race home, wolf something down (no disrespect meant to the wolves) on our way to whatever, come home, stay up too late doing more stuff, and fall into bed exhausted.

GAH!!

Comfort. A supportive meditation cushion, a gentle breeze, a loving ear to talk to, an inspirational volume, cookies and milk, a beloved toy, a hand to hold, a good stretch, a pleasing fragrance, a crackling fire.

As we flow through our lives, comfort comes up as a topic from time to time. Sometimes, we need comfort, sometimes, our loved ones need comfort. Because these topics arise from time to time, it’s useful for us to know what comforts us so we can ask for the comforts that suit us the best.

It’s also useful for the times when our loved ones need comfort, and may not know what will give them some ease.

The more we can find ways to slow down inside, the easier things get, and isn’t easy a great comfort all by itself. Meditation is one way to slow down. Slowing down our breath consciously is another way. Relaxing our muscles is another, starting with the easy ones. Why would it be easy?

As I was learning how to slow down and my mind would be racing, I would go for a walk and chant inside my head, “Ruminate and cogitate” over and over. It stopped me thinking about “my problems” and how “messed up” I was. It also amused me to say the words that I had been doing as a way to stop doing them. Why do I choose to slow down? How do I slow down? What makes me relax?

We all have stuff. I decided a long time ago not to have problems anymore. Now I have stuff, or topics, or issues, or lessons. What a difference that little change in language made. What can I do about my stuff right now? Something? Do it. Nothing, let it go, and change the subject. One way to stop worrying about my stuff is to help you.

How do you comfort others? What makes you feel charitable? How do you show your compassion?

Offering comfort to another person, or people, is one of the many ways we feel connected to each other, one way we strengthen our sense of community. When you and I become we, we become stronger, and often happier. When we let go enough to give and receive comfort, stuff in general gets nicer.

How have I changed from being preoccupied with my crap to reaching out a comforting hand?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08272013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

One of the things I love about being a grownup is being able to feel satisfied in so many different ways.

Why is it so easy?

Well, for one thing, satisfaction is all about expectations, and whoo boy, do we have junk around expectations.

Open your mind to the possibility of a different way of handling our disappointed expectations, This can make a huge change in your level of happiness.

We have all sorts of ideas about how things are supposed to go, how people are supposed to act, what constitutes reasonable behavior. Those ideas are not universal.

The bottom line is this:  You don’t disappoint me, my expectations of you disappoint me. Just one more way I create my reality, if you see what I mean.

My expectations of you are based on my filters, my mislearning, my NEJ (negative, emotional judgment), my beliefs, and so on. My expectations are based on my personal fantasies about how the world works. Some of those are negative, and some of those are positive, but they are still fantasies.

This is also true of my expectations of me. On the one hand, I know that in this moment  I am perfect. I also know that sometimes I fall back into my old crappy habits, and disappoint my expectations. I can often find myself treating me really poorly as a punishment for that disappointment. It’s all just made up, and there I am feeling rotten about a made up story.

If I am frequently disappointed by others, I will benefit by looking at my expectations. I love it when I find ways to make my life nicer by correcting my stuff. Lord knows, I can’t correct yours!

One of the ways I make this course correction is to shift my expectations from you to “the universe” when I’m wanting things to get done. Once I started doing that, and asking Creative Questions about feeling so supported, I found that I could be supported in a whole bunch of unlikely ways, by people I never would have expected. How do I feel when I am fully supported?

One of the ways I make this course correction is to shift my idea of you into looser territory. Many years ago, I read something that stuck with me. I don’t know who said it, but it went something like, “we can’t behave out of character, only out of our idea of character.” So if I can find a way to allow you greater leeway in your thinking, in your behavior, I will be way less disappointed.

The other piece that will help me experience less disappointment is clear communication, but that’s for another time.

How have I changed from feeling so disappointed to feeling satisfied?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08262013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

News Junkie

News Junkie


Back in the days of yore, I was a news junkie. I had two papers come to the house everyday. I watched the news from the moment I got up until I left the house. I listened in the car, then I listened at work; BBC news is very classy sounding misery.


Do you have any idea how many I read about, each day, of murders, suicides, destroyed homes, kidnapped and abused children, disasters, poverty, fraud, theft, well, you get my drift. I was overwhelmed by the misery of a thousand thousand strangers.


And we wonder why we feel so depressed. And we wonder why we feel so helpless. And we wonder why think so poorly of the human race.


We say we want to “stay informed.” My question is, “Stay informed of what? How horrible people are to each other? How helpless I am to help everyone? How dangerous the world is?”


If I am seeking to become a grownup, I need to understand that seeking out the rotten side of humanity is kind of the same thing as a little child looking for icky grubs under rocks or poking at dead things with a stick. There is a horrible thrill factor, I’m sorry to say. We get a wretched kick out of all that bad news.


If I am seeking to become a grownup, I need to understand that I must make choices based on me and my values, not on heartrending stories. I need to choose what I want to support, what I want to donate my money or time to, then give my support.


And then I need to let it go.


I am seeking to be a grownup, or evolved, or enlightened, or whatever you want to call it. That means, I want to be strong, and clear, and peaceful, and happy, and generous, and service-minded, satisfied, and relaxed, among other things.


When I shower myself in bad news, I move away from my natural life and I will have to work to get back there. Now, I like my natural life. I like living there, but in order to spend more time there, I need to shower myself with stuff that supports my well being.


Why do I choose to be positive? Why do I seek the good? What makes me share my positivity with you?


When I seek out good news, like goodnewsnetwork.org, I am reminded that there are billions of us working at becoming grownups. People who strive to make a difference in their neighborhoods, or communities, or countries, or even globally. People who have buckets of money and are amazing philanthropists, people who have little money, and are amazing for volunteering to help make the lives of others more comfortable, or safer, or nicer.


When I hear of a horrible thing, I pray for the receivers, and the perpetrators, that they all may find happiness, and the root of happiness. If a well-meaning friend has sent it to me, I pray for them, too.


By choosing to move away from dark,gratuitous negativity, by choosing to move toward light, enriching positivity, I am choosing to grow up. I am declaring that I am worth my own attention, I am choosing to contribute to the well being, not only of me, and you, but of all life.


How have I changed from bathing in the negativity swamps to swimming the pool of light and love? (I know, way cheesy, but sometimes they just come out that way!)


(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08252013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Really Appreciate You

I Really Appreciate You

A dear and brilliant friend started posting daily appreciations last year. What a joy they were to read, and what a triumph to witness, as serious health issues arose for her and her husband, that  she continued to post heartfelt gratitude each day. I feel uplifted and inspired by her words everyday, and by her courage in staying appreciative.

Another dear and brilliant friend has had a group of friends who emailed each other things they were grateful for each day.

Several friends keep gratitude journals.

There are so many ways to establish a habit of expressing our gratitude, but they all have something in common, namely, they serve to raise our vibration.

Now, I know that “vibration” is woowoo talk, and I work at staying away from woowoo talk here. But, if you have ever been around big, low vibration sounds, you may have noticed something.

I got it first in a small discotheque many years ago. I’d gone dancing with friends, paid my cover, and drank water, not liquor or even soda pop. The space was tiny, and the speakers were great, but my spot was right in front of the big booming bass. It took about an hour, and I was out back puking up my water. The next time I went, it  happened again, and then I made a point of staying as far away from those speakers.

We don’t usually say, “Oh, I love heavy metal! It makes me feel so light and happy!”

If I want to feel light and happy, it will help if I move toward light and cheerful and away from dark and low.

So, what is dark and low? Chronic complainers, that is, people who don’t expend energy improving their situation, only rehearsing how awful it is. The News. The News is meant to make us feel bad so we buy stuff. Grim movies or books, dark tales of abuse or torture. Focusing on feelings of anger or grief or fear.

Those feelings come up for all of us. What we do when they do can make a huge difference in our “vibration.”

To keep things flowing, I need to experience my feelings, not necessarily to express them. When I accept how I feel, and let it flow through me, I find that I’m often finished with it in moments. And then, if I pause for a bit and appreciate the feeling, or the simple emotion, I find that I can enjoy those emotions that used to suck up my life,

Accepting, appreciating, and allowing will all help me to feel lighter. When I accept what is going on, I’m not necessarily liking it. That is, I can appreciate where I’m at without wanting to spend my life here.

By noticing what I am grateful for, by appreciating the world around me, by expressing my thanks, several things happen. I need to be in touch with my feelings to recognize the sensations of gratitude. I have to be aware to notice stuff to be grateful for. I need to have some sense of connection to tell you I appreciate you, and what you did for me.

Now if I just add relax relax relax to that, I’m going to have a pretty nice day.

How have I changed from feeling shut down to being aware of my gratitude?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08242013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Giving a Rat’s Behind

Giving a Rat’s Behind

What matters to you? What do you care about? Where do you make a difference?

Life is challenging when we are indifferent. Life is challenging when we are self-absorbed. Weirdly, life is less challenging when we feel like we are making a contribution. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but, when I reach out, I take my attention away from the things that bring me down. At the very least, it’s a break.

We are the boss of our experience, not what happens to us, but what we experience. Remember? We get to choose how to respond to the circumstances we encounter.

One of the ways I choose to be a grown up, is to be an inspiration. What an exhilarating thing that is! If I choose to be an inspiration, I am choosing to respond, not to react. If I choose to be an inspiration, I am choosing to act for the good of you, or even of mankind. I choose to act with a rational heart, with a loving mind.

I see you being an inspiration all over the place. I see you being kind to strangers, and sweet to little animals. I see you treating your kids with respect. I see your relationships weather storms and grow stronger. I see the look when you place a loving hand. I see you pay it forward in the coffee shop.

You have taught me patience by example. You have taught me how to bring balance back into my life when it feels tippy. You have given me the gift of taking emotions out of money topics.

Your kindness and attention to what I had to say helped me heal my broken spirit. Your willingness and open-heartedness to give care to your broken loved ones opens my heart.

When I see your real work, I feel motivated to do my real work. Your art, your music, your craft,  your words, your movement; you make it look effortless, and that reminds me that doing what I love is effortless.

When I see you choose to be a grown up, to take care of yourself, to ask for what you need, I feel the courage I need to do the same. When I see you accept each moment as it comes, I know I can do that, too. When I see your gratitude and appreciation shining out from your eyes, I am filled with nice warm feelings, and I feel so honored to be your friend.

And now, here I am, doing what I can to inspire. I believe in what I write to you every day, and I endeavor to live it. I tell you my story to help you find your strength to overcome your story. I tell you what I think and what I believe in because this work has brought me up from the depths of misery, loneliness, and despair to place where I am happy and peaceful most of the time. Really and truly.

And now, here I am, asking you to continue to be your inspiring self, and maybe to up your game a bit. How do you move through your daily challenges with grace? How do you maintain a loving heart? What makes you value and nurture your own self? How do you reach out to me and others?

How have I changed from not giving a rat’s behind to choosing to make a difference for me and for you?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 08232013