Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Rusty Truster

The Rusty Truster

Okay, here’s the idea-kick I’ve been on lately:  We live the life we are committed to. Look around you and you will see your commitments.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that concept gave me a fresh outlook, and has helped me refocus my thinking.

One of the very curious things about living is that we are so often right in the middle of it that we can’t see what’s around us. Finding ways to get some perspective is enlightening and useful.

Those of us committed to wealth are wealthy. Those of us committed to advancement are advancing. Committed to stuff? You got stuff. Committed to joy? You got joy. Committed to suffering, well, you’ve got the idea.

Some of us are committed to hiding our light. Isn’t that sad? When each of us is special, when each of us has unique gifts that the world needs, hiding our light isn’t very useful. It takes up a lot of energy we could be using to have fun, or be helpful, or some other worthwhile or enjoyable thing.

One of the side effects of light-hiding is that we start to believe that we don’t even have a light to shine. Our self-esteem suffers. We start making self-deprecating comments to others. We don’t challenge ourselves. We underachieve, we waste our potential.

Depending on what path our light-hiding takes, we can begin to bury ourselves. It might be with over-committing to our families, or our jobs, or it might be weight-gain, or too much stuff. The more we hide our true selves, the more insecure we feel, and the less we trust.

Not trusting gets us in big trouble. When our trusting apparatus gets rusty, we can’t let go. The rustier it gets, the more stuff we can’t let go of. I’m not just talking about renting storage units filled with crap you may never use again, although that’s a $22 BILLION business.

Not letting go of body clutter, not letting go of resentments, not letting go of tasks, not letting go.

So then, in order to hold on, to hold the bushel basket over our light, so to speak, we have to tighten up. And we get chronic muscle pain, and poor circulation, and headaches, and gut aches, and...

By recognizing our importance, by letting ourselves matter, we start to soften a bit. We can begin to trust a bit. We can let go a bit. We may find that we don’t have to do it all by ourselves, or that the weight comes off, or the clutter leaves. We find that we can actually relax doing nice stuff instead of just flopping down with the remote and a beer (which, oddly enough, isn’t actually relaxing to our bodies or minds, but is addictive.)

How have I changed from feeling like a dim bulb to shining for all I’m worth?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02282013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Make Everything Better

How to Make Everything Better

Here is an outstanding tip for a quick fix that can help every area of your life. Truly. Almost instantly.

Love yourself.

Warmly, deeply, proudly, kindly, respectfully, joyously love yourself.

We all live on the earth, we all live somewhere. We live with others, in our homes, perhaps, and definitely in our communities. We care about them, and have other feelings, we like to do things for them, and let them do things for us.

And, at the end of the day we close our eyes and it’s just us in there.

Some of us hate ourselves. We feel despicable because we think we are too something, or not something enough. Perhaps we did or didn’t do something at some point in our lives, and we flog ourselves with it. Perhaps someone did or didn’t do something to us, and we flog ourselves with it. We are often filled with anger.

Some of us have disconnected from ourselves. It’s like we have a big, black hole inside that cannot be filled. We are so lonely, our hearts break all day long. We often cannot sleep because the nothingness inside is overwhelming. We sometimes feel like our soul moved out. We are often filled with fear.

Some of us feel shattered, like the pain we’ve had in our lives has broken us up into bits of glass, sparkly, perhaps, but sharp-edged and kind of useless. We are often filled with anger and fear.

These examples are drawn from my own life, so believe me, I know.

There are so many ways for us to not love ourselves, but none of them does us any good, nor does anyone else any good.

The bottom line is that, at our core we are perfection. We are divine creations of beauty and brilliance and grace. Yes, I mean you! Hating ourselves, being disconnected, feeling shattered, takes a ton of energy. Loving ourselves is energizing. It fills us up.

It is a choice.

We decide to like ourselves, to treat ourselves with kindness and consideration. We decide to forgive ourselves. We decide to love ourselves unconditionally, even though we are so whatever, or not enough whatever. We notice when we think mean thinks at ourselves, and apologize to ourselves, and correct the think. We use Creative Questions to help our decision go deep and wide within us. We get help if we need it.

How have I changed from feeling like a pile of poo to loving myself?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02272013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Better, Nicer, Funner, Winner!

Better, Nicer, Funner, Winner!

I love it when I draw a card that gets folks all riled up! This is one of those.

“Why am I a winner?”

It used to rile me up, too. It made me feel like I felt around our abusive Physical Education teacher. Unless you were him, you sucked and he wanted to make sure you knew it. As a sickly kid with asthma, I kind of super-sucked. (Imagine someone making the “L” fingers for “loser” gesture on their forehead here.)

I pictured this long line of kids, with one happy one at the front, and the rest of us, well, not so happy.

I felt like there wasn’t anything at which I could not fail. So, I had a knee-jerk reaction to the word “winner.” It wasn’t nice, and it didn’t make me feel good, and did nothing for you. In fact, it made it very difficult for me to enjoy your successes with you, which made me a crappy friend. I’d feel envy of your good stuff, jealous of my good stuff, like I had to hold it tight, and, as we know, tight isn’t very relaxed, comfy, or fun.

Over the course of time, I found a new way to think about winning. “She has a winning smile.” That’s nice, I like smiles. “He has such a winning way about him.” That’s nice, too. Winning. Winsome; full of winningness. Why do I have winning ways?

So I started to see that line as running shoulder to shoulder instead of front to back. That way, we are all number 1. How do I feel when I feel like I’m number 1?

I mean, the bottom line is that it’s my life. Feeling like a loser doesn’t help me, it doesn’t motivate or inspire me, it makes me feel like giving up. Your reaction might be different, it might spur you on to greater things, but me, I just wanna hole up and watch stupid TV.

When I see us all as winners, at so many different things, I feel encouraged. I feel strong, and happy, and kind of excited at the thoughts I have about what we can accomplish together. You know how I feel about Creative Questions, how they have changed my life in so many ways, and continue to change it daily. Well, adding Creative Questions to all the stuff you’ve found that works and I say, “Holy Moly! We are WINNERS!” Let’s go teach folks about how to do this living stuff better, nicer, funner!

When I feel like a winner, I want to do my best. If I can’t possibly win, why bother. (Why bother? is an awesomely bad creative question, isn’t it!) Why do I take the time?

When I feel like I’m number 1 in my life, I want to be a good example, I want to be seen as leading a life that looks attractive and delightful. Why am I so successful?

Choosing to feel like winner supports us all.

How have I changed from believing there can be only one, to knowing we can win better together?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02262013

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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Genuine Article

The Genuine Article

I wonder why so many of us feel like fakes. We worry that if people got to know the “real” us, they would despise us. I mean, I get it. I felt like that, too, for a long time.

We put up a wall. And then project onto it some version of ourselves that we think is more acceptable. Except that it’s kinda flat, and doesn’t really fool anyone who is paying attention.

We get this notion into our heads that somehow we are what has happened to us, or what we have done. We may not even remember it, but it’s there, coloring everything. It’s why it’s so crucial to address our old stuff and clear it out.

So, we figure if we are very fancy, or clever, or odd, or outrageous, or bookish, or shy, or something else, people will pay attention to that, and miss the fact that we are so damaged. We hate ourselves way more than anyone else would bother to, for the most part, and that just breaks my heart.

We may indulge in self-destructive behaviors. Sometimes it’s outside things like dangerous driving, or shoplifting. One of mine was cutting through alleys downtown at night. (Until a kind-of scary man in an alley one night stopped me, and scolded me and made me promise never to do it again.) Sometimes we hurt our physical bodies with our diets, too much or too little, or drugs or booze, or over-exercising, sometimes we cut or burn or hit ourselves.

Sometimes we get into being-abused relationships. Often we pretend they aren’t. That gets so wacky. We may say to ourselves, “Well, I’m not being beaten, so this isn’t abusive.” even though we are being emotionally abused, or neglected. We absolve ourselves of all self-responsibility.

Sometimes we get into abusing relationships. Often we will pretend they aren’t. We may say to ourselves, “My partner made me hit or shove or poke or lock up or whatever him/her.” We absolve ourselves of all self-responsibility.

Sometimes we turn into our same-sex parent, acting out the behaviors we witnessed while growing up. And we project our opposite-sex parent’s behavior onto our partner, even if they aren’t doing those behaviors at all. And we can’t see it. And we won’t believe it.

The worst offender in our adult lives is inside us. It took me a long time to figure that one out. I might have put someone else’s picture on it, but the abusive, demeaning talk is all coming from me, from my thoughts. It may be something I mis-learned as a child, or teen, and have been repeating for ages until we don’t even think we hear it anymore.

Putting up a front, even a good one, won’t make that inside stuff go away. All the kooky stuff we may do or consume won’t make it go away, either. The only way is to integrate those negative experiences, and practice and practice and practice changing the habits of those particular thoughts.

If anyone is worth doing that, it’s you.

How have I changed from hiding my perfect self, to clearing away the wreckage of my past and shining me up?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02252013


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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Zen It

Zen It

I had a curious experience this week. Between the snowing and the melting, I had a nice two inch layer of ice on the sixty or so feet of sidewalk in front of my home. Now, I like to walk, but not so much on lumpy, slick ice, so I started to chop. What a set of lessons I got from that.

Lesson one:  Chopping the ice on your sidewalk is seen as a civic service, and pedestrians are vocal in their appreciation.

Lesson two:  Chopping with a relaxed body, and relaxed arms, is effective, and way less tiring than pounding. The weight of the chopper and my arm worked with gravity to chop effectively. I wish I had figured that out on the first chunk of sidewalk that I chopped.

Lesson three: Chopping is a fine opportunity for Zen meditation. Emptying the mind while chopping in a state of relaxation was amazing, fun, and I was fine the next morning, no stiffness or soreness.

We all have stuff we have to do. Some of it we enjoy doing, some of it we don’t so much. Enjoyment isn’t inherent in a task. Tedium or heinousness also are not inherent in a task.

Once we accept that our sense of delight or downer comes from inside us, from our notions and judgments, we can turn any task we do into something positive, and even find ways to enjoy it.

I don’t know about you, but I would way rather like what I’m doing than not.

When I hate what I’m doing, I don’t care very much about how I do it, and I often find that I make mistakes, or I’m sloppy with my work. Sometimes that doesn’t matter so much, but sometimes it can matter quite a bit.

When I hate what I’m doing, I often find that I resent the task-giver for the assignment. I bet you can see where this is headed; right into the misery room. It was great when I was committed to misery, but now, with my commitment to a natural, joyous life, I’m ready to change it. That means I am in charge of how I feel, in charge of how I choose to view the world. In charge of me.

I know that some of us are pissed right now. We prefer to believe that suffering is the human condition, that we have no choice about how we feel. We prefer the idea that misery is thrust upon us by thoughtless, or cruel people. We would rather be victims than adults.

We really need to get over it.

When I let go of the idea that you are doing something to me, that I am responsible for my response (see where the word comes from?) I take my personal power. When I choose how I will respond it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I can be living a lovely, comfy life in a little house with a white picket fence and 2.5 happy children, or sitting in a dank cell, held for reasons I may not even know, and I still can choose how I feel. The person in the sweet home can be miserable and feel trapped, the person in the cell can feel free and happy. Extreme examples, yes, but they make the point.

What makes me choose my responses to my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02242013

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

I like to read, and own, books and magazines. I like music and movies. I like to make things. I like to play with my cats. That means, in my world that I have stuff. And without careful management and culling, stuff becomes clutter, oh, yes, it does.

There are hundreds of placing online to help you dispel your excess stuff, my favorite is  Clearing the dreck from your decks is a lovely thing.

We’ve got other clutter, too, inside us. This kind of clutter is more insidious.  We can have an austere home, but be a hoarder on the inside. Isn’t that crazy?

So what do we hoard inside? Old traumas, betrayals, disappointments, fears, hurts, abuses, humiliations, failures, well, you get the picture.

We store them up in our emotional basements, our emotional attics. And then we pretend they aren’t there, and wonder why we are so miserable.

Imagine this:  The hoarder of physical stuff is asked, “What are you going to do with all the stuff? You have to walk around it, your rooms are so full they are useless, you can’t get to the stove to cook nourishing meals, and there are  bugs and it stinks.” And she answers, “Oh, I ignore it. It will go away. It doesn’t have any impact on my life. Oh, I just forget about it. You’re wrong; there is nothing bad here, life is just like this. ”

All that internal detritus is incomplete experiences. And we take that flotsam, that residue, and we build on it; tottery, unstable ideas and thoughts, shaky and damaging. We get ideas like, all women are control freaks, all men are cruel, I never get rewarded, I am helpless, life is hard, suffering is the human condition.

I feel so sad for the people I see who think they are not responsible for their lives, for their feelings. like the hoarder who thinks all her rotting crap has no impact on her life.

We try lots of outside stuff to make our lives feel better; more money, a fancier job, a bigger house. We think we will be happier with a new partner, or if we lose or gain weight, if we get chest implants, or carve new faces. We think our lives will be happier if we volunteer enough, or work hard enough, or do enough hard stuff.

It’s the hoarder throwing sheets over her piles of crap so’s not to notice ‘em.

Nothing we do “out there” will make us happier, more peaceful, centered, and serene. It’s only when we start the very interesting process of clearing out the wreckage of our past, addressing our mis-learnings, practice new behaviors, changing our thinking, that we find true inner comfiness.

It’s not the walk in the forest that makes us feel so calm, it’s what we do inside while we’re on the walk.

How have I changed from blaming the world for my crap to taking my responsibility?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02232013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love Letter

Love Letter

This is not a new topic for me, for us, but it’s one of my favorites, namely, how wonderful you are.

One of the things that has happened as I have practiced what I preach is that I appreciate you more all the time. There are so many reasons, I can only address a few of them.

You are trying so hard to make a nice life for yourself and your loved ones. I see you, or hear you, or read you, doing your best day after day. I respect your efforts so much.

Why do I do my best?

You’ve learned valuable stuff I haven’t, and I like to learn from you. You offer me good challenges, ask me good questions, and offer me good insights. I see you relaxing into your wisdom more each day.

How do I know I am wise?

I see you letting go of fears, of anger and resentments. I see you looking past the annoying crap that others do, and looking into their hearts. I see you finding your way in your heart to love them at their core, and not confusing the behavior with the person.

What makes me love the real you?

I see your loving heart, caring so deeply about stuff. I see your commitment, your love of your family and friends.

Why do I care?

I see you often put yourself last, doing what you can to take care of us, staying up too late, eating weird, working too much. I see you making efforts to change that. I see you moving your body, striving for good nutrition.

Why do I treat my whole self with respect?

I see you seeking balance in your daily life. I see you spending some time with meditation, exercise, diligent work. I even see you making time to play. You are so fun to play with!

How have I changed from being a drudge to enjoying all aspects of my life?

I see you facing the challenges that come your way. I see you asking for help, I see you actually receiving help. I see you meeting your challenges with grace and gratitude. I am so impressed by you.

Why do I find the silver lining?

You were born out of a miracle, you have grown into a living miracle. You are unique and glorious. You are brilliant, and tender, and powerful. I am so happy you are here.

How have I changed from denying it to accepting the miracle of my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02222013

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Similar, But Different

Similar, But Different.

I have been having some interesting conversations lately about words that get us fired up in that indignant or annoyed way. Each of us has some; phrases that other folks wouldn’t even notice that hit us like a firecracker. Pow!

One of mine is “you people.” It was amazing to me how many folks would call up and yell at me on the switchboard where I worked and say that phrase. Not so much any more, but I get it.

My point is that we are all, on the one hand, people, and on the other hand, different. We have a lot of things in common, but we have differences that we need to recognize and remember as we go through our days.

What works for me, for thousands of others, may not work for you. You aren’t wrong, or bad, if it doesn’t work like that for you, just different, and we need to find a different way to address whatever the “it” is.

I have many examples from my life where it worked for everyone else, but not for me. I have seen many clients, and friends, where X worked for everyone but them.

Our differences are part of what makes us so amazing. And needing to find ways to address those when conventional stuff doesn’t work is so exciting! A beloved friend was having stuff, and tried talk therapy, which worked so well for me, and a bunch of our mutual friends. It was a disaster for him. Awful. He tried it several times, with the same results. He wasn’t doing it wrong, it just didn’t work for him. He started writing plays, and worked through his stuff that way with great success. Unconventional and very effective.

Sometimes, when something that goes this way for everyone else, it goes that way for us. We feel excluded, we feel like we are doing something wrong, we feel like outsiders. Those feelings are coming from inside us, and we can find a way to change them.

By remembering that truth is only Truth when it is true for every single person and there are over 7 billion of us, that most everything except breathing, is a suggestion, we open ourselves to find solutions that work for us. It may be the case that we have a hidden resistance to X, and when we find and release it, X will work. It may be that we are missing a certain enzyme, or dexterity, or sense, and then we discover a work-around. It may be that we hate doing X, but love triangles, so let’s find a way to work with triangles instead of X.

When we struggle and fight to make something fit, we are resisting our lovely, natural life. We might choose to take a close look at ourselves, and see how we could be committed to the not-side of what we think we want. We see what we are committed to by looking at our lives. We are committed to the way things have been for a while. If we don’t like the way things have been, we need to examine, and change, our commitments. It can be as simple as changing our bad creative questions into good ones. It may require more attention and practice if it’s a situation we’ve been in for a long time.

What makes me consciously choose my commitments?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02212013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Inside-Out Pearl

The Inside-Out Pearl

I talk a lot about our natural lives here. I talk about perfect self. I, of course, talk about Creative Questions. So what the heck am I talking about?

We all use creative questions all the time. They are, quite simply, questions with results built in. When we ask them, our subconscious mind goes to work to provide answers that satisfy the question. “What’s wrong with me?” is popular, so is, “Why doesn’t anything ever go my way?” If we look at those two questions, we’ll see that we get answers like, “I’m stupid, ugly, no one likes me,” and so on, and “I’m unlucky, I’m cursed, I don’t deserve it, I’m bad,” and so on. We often are unaware of the subconscious answers, but research is showing us that each thought we have produces a corresponding emotion, and that when you string a bunch of those together you get feelings.

Questions like those make bad feelings, bad feelings make bad moods, bad moods make bad decisions, and the next thing you know life sucks, and you, and the people around you, feel heavy and miserable. Oof.

So, underneath all of that, at the very core of each of us, is our perfect self. That bit of us that hasn’t been damaged, or hurt, or goozhed on as we live our lives, stumbling and bumbling around doing the best we can. I think of it as kind of like an inside-out pearl. Our perfect self is perfect. Call it soul, or life force, or whatever, it’s perfect, we are perfect at our core. The traumas we experience, our joys and sorrows, our mis-learnings, mis-interpretations, misunderstandings, all these things accrete around that perfect self. I like to think that my primary job in this life is to clean the gunk off my perfect self, to work through the traumas, to correct the mis-learnings, and so on.

Perfect self is available to you in every moment. Each moment of our life is perfect in itself. When we get present, we can start to feel that. It’s nice.

As we get more adept at tuning into our perfect self, more comfortable with using Creative Questions, we get more of our natural life. Our natural life is easy, peaceful, joyful, and productive. We feel happy and connected with each other. We feel engaged and satisfied with our tasks. We allow and accept life as it unfolds without judgement, with pleasure, and gratitude. We enjoy abundance, we prosper, we are generous, and the world is generous with us. We support each other, and we feel supported.

I wanna live there.

I mostly do.

Creative Questions help you get there faster. Way faster. “Why do I feel good?” is a dynamic, powerful tool. The affirmation, “I feel good.” isn’t dynamic, at best it is static, and can even be destructive for us if we feel like we are lying to ourselves. Using Creative Questions, taking time to imagine how our natural life feels, looks, smells, sounds, tastes, all these things help us draw that life up to the surface from our perfect self. And we feel better. And when we feel better, we show our loved ones the way to feel better. And as they feel better, they show their loved ones the way, and we’ve made a huge difference in the world. Why are we so amazing.

How have I changed from believing that this is it, to lovingly cultivating my natural life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02202013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

From Nadir to Zenith

From Nadir to Zenith

How do you feel when you are thriving? Isn’t that a great question? Now, settle in; feet, bottom, shoulders soft, face soft, breathe, and ask it again, How do I feel when I thrive?

Oh, yeah. My core feels full of sunshine. I feel soft and capable. I feel generous and grateful. I feel brilliant.

(Just a reminder that when you are asking Creative Questions, you don’t need to try to come up with answers, your subconscious mind is doing that for you. You may notice that you feel different, and you may get answers, but they aren’t necessary.)

When I feel like I am thriving, I have energy, I have enthusiasm, I want to give my gifts and talents. I wake up happy, I go to bed satisfied.

I don’t always feel like that, although I do most of the time. But sometimes, I feel like I’m foundering; weak, wobbly, dim, dumb. I can usually tell when I’m headed in that direction because I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to do anything. And I wonder, “why do I feel so crappy?” (bad creative question.)

The nadir. (I love that word. It always seems like it should be an animal that eat bugs out from holes.)

When I hit a nadir, Creative Questions seem to act like zinc on a cold, they shorten it considerably. It used to be that I would hit that funk in February and stay there through March. (Why won’t you leave me alone! Why are you bugging me?)

Why do I feel full of sunshine? Why is it so easy? Why do I love my life?

The same way that you can stave off migraines by dosing them in the earliest stages, the instant I notice that I begin to feel cloudy, I start playing with my sunshine Questions. Why am I happy? Why do I like to be around people? What makes me want to play with you?

Remembering that my mood is the result of my thoughts, that the events of my day are neutral until I interpret them, yes, even the “bad” ones, helps me to change my thoughts, and then my mood changes, too. Creative Questions are such an elegant tool for that.

Why do I choose to look up? How do I enjoy my day? What makes me present?

I have several activities each week that I look forward to. I discovered that happy anticipation is something I like. I have several activities each day that I look forward to, for the same reasons. I really struck gold with writing to you -- I’ve written every day for over a year, and I am more excited now than I was when I started. Doing my focusing meditation, pulling the card for us, letting the ideas roll around, and then seeing what comes out my fingertips, it’s a daily joy for me, and, happily, you like them, too!

Changing our attitude from getting by to thriving, regardless of our circumstances, makes everything better.

How have I changed from being a victim of my own moods, to directing the course of my days?

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(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02192013

Monday, February 18, 2013

So Busy

So Busy

What do you do for fun? How do you enjoy yourself? What do you look forward to in your days?

I don’t want to hear, “Nothing.” And I also know that some of you wanna say that. You feel all Gloomy-Doomy. Poor you.

What is going on when we have no free time? Oh, yeah, there is a lot to do. But there will always be more to do than we can get done. More than anyone can get done.

Why else? No one else will do it, or will do it the right way. Hmm. Okay.

Why else? If I don’t fill my time from wake up to fall asleep, I might feel something I don’t want to, or notice something I don’t want to. Uh-oh.

Busy-ness is a wonderful way to avoid stuff that may be painful, or ugly, or require us to do something uncomfortable.

I must say, I love to do stuff. I work my Clark Kent job. I teach meditation, Creative Questions, and knitting classes. I write to you everyday, practice qigong, meditate, garden, craft, read, socialize, study Chinese, oh, my list goes on.

I also make time for nothing everyday to check in with myself. And I do what I can to have a bunch of hours of leisure time each week, time when I can decide in the moment what I want to do. It wasn’t always like that.

Many years ago, I was planning a trip to Hong Kong. I mentioned to a very wise friend that I thought I’d likely not sleep the whole time I was there for fear I would miss something. He said, “You’ll always miss something, even if you never sleep. One of our tasks is to learn to choose.”

If we are spending all our time doing, and no time reflecting, or considering, or letting our brains just go, we aren’t choosing. Taking the reins, deciding what we want, and then moving toward it, choosing. I can’t choose if I don’t know my mind.

Yes, dishes and clothes and floors need to be washed. Yes, things need to be cleaned, errands need to be run, activities for the kids, and so on. In those bits of busy-ness are spaces. Using those spaces, five minutes to get present and peaceful a few times in the course of your running around, will do more for your day than the wine or joint at night. Micro-mini-vacations.

When we practice taking a bit of time out of our crazy days to be peaceful in ourselves, we find peace more easily. It gets easier to see what we can put off, what needs to be done right now. When we practice stillness, imagining a quiet forest perhaps, or a beach, or some other place that fills us with that sense of serenity, and still, and peace, we find our core more easily, we do our tasks more easily, and with more gratitude and joy. We may even find we make time for a new hobby.

How have I changed from racing through my busy day to accomplishing what I need to with peace and joy?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02182013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A White Pebble Day

A White Pebble Day

Many years ago, I heard about a daily practice that sounding so interesting to me. The head of the house would set up a large, narrow-mouthed vase, with two containers of pebbles, one black and one white. Each day, the family would decide if it had been a good, white pebble day or a bad, black pebble day and would drop that pebble into the vase. At the end of the year, they would dump out the pebbles, sort ‘em and see if they’d had a good or bad year.

Concrete. Clear. Black and White. Good or Bad.

I was sure that my jar would be full of black pebbles. And, while I didn’t ever do the practice, I’ve thought about it a lot. I found myself wondering what made a day good or bad.

I started to think about it, rather than just assuming I’d had a bad day. I started to consider my day specifically.

I started to think that it was easy to have a black pebble day, I started to think that it took a little ingenuity to have bad stuff happen, and find a way to turn that into a white pebble day.I started to think that it would be a matter of honor to have more white pebbles. What did I need to do to get ‘em?

Did being in a bad mood mean a bad day? What had to happen for a day to be good? Could a good day be one where nothing bad happened? Could a day be good even if I felt sick, or sad, or scared, or mad? Could a day with a flat tire be a good day if I got help?

Wanting that imaginary white pebble made me start looking for silver linings in my cloudy days. I started looking for ways to interpret my stuff as a plus instead of a minus.

I started to notice that the news I watched every day was geared to upsetting me; neighborhood fires, shootings, attempted abductions. This wasn’t information that was useful, this wasn’t current events, this was catastrophizing to make me feel bad so I would go shopping to make myself feel good. The national news was the same thing. There might have been one thing that was actually current events, mostly it was the other stuff, the commercial stuff.

I turned off the news. I found out about the big stuff soon enough, and the other stuff, well, I heard about it when my friend’s house burned down, and I could help her.

More white pebbles.

I found myself thinking about my friend whose house burned down. That was a bad day. And she was so happy and grateful for her life, her pets who got out safely, the rescue of some of her stuff. She was so happy and grateful for the friends who put them up, for the friends who gave them clothes, and bedding and kitchen stuff, who helped them find a new place.

Happy and grateful even though her home burned down. White pebble day.

Finding the good in a day. Finding the lesson, finding the benefit, finding the joy. Practicing each day to look for the reasons to choose the white pebble until it is such a habit that your jar is mostly full of those lovely white pebbles.

How have I changed from seeing the worst, to choosing to have a white pebble day?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02172013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dumping a Dayful Day

Dumping a Dayful Day

One of the most wonderful feelings in the world to me is that of coming home. Just thinking about it, I relax, I smile, I feel “ahhhhh.”  I love home.

My home isn’t fancy, it’s very lived in. My home is full of stuff I love; art, books and projects, cat toys, music and instruments, crafting supplies, delicious food, lovely clothes. It’s also full to the rafters with peace. I find my home both energizing and relaxing. Being home refreshes my spirit, nourishes my soul.

Can you tell I love my home? It’s perfect for me.

It wasn’t always so. I’ve lived in this same place for almost 30 years. Amazing. And for the first fifteen or so I did not love home. I found it jarring, and stressful, demanding and uncomfortable, and somehow not good enough, fancy enough, elegant enough.

Poor me.

The more I came to love myself, the more I loved my home. That was surprising. And then, a beloved roommate inspired me to sit on my porch. That’s when things really started to change for me.

I sit on the porch every day, unless it’s precipitating sideways pretty hard. It’s open to the elements, and in Minnesota that can mean anywhere from -20F/-29C to 100F/38C or more. It’s exciting.

When I sit on my porch, I make the space sacred by my attitude. I’ve seen clients, I’ve led meditation sessions, hosted dinners, had long chats with my dear friends and neighbors.

There is one other thing I do on the porch that makes all the difference in the world. I let go of my day. I let go of the things that stressed me. There is nothing I can do until I get back to my Clark Kent job. Let it go. I celebrate my successes. There is always something, even if it was holding my temper. I appreciate the kindnesses done to or for me. I mark out the ones I want to acknowledge with a card. I notice the flow of life around me; the sights and smells, the sounds of birdies and traffic, I feel my feet grounded in my life, I soften my muscles, I soften my thoughts, I open my heart. I come home.

Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to come home, sometimes it can take over an hour. But I endeavor to stay on the porch until I’ve cleaned out my day, and can take off my emotional shoes at the door. I only want to bring into my house love and peace and happiness and enjoyment, not stress and disappointment and anxiety and fear and anger and sorrow.

I try to do the same thing when I am traveling, either sitting in my car, or in the lobby. I find I imagine actually taking off my emotional shoes and leaving them outside to air overnight. If it’s been a particularly dayful day, I will imagine taking off my emotional overcoat and leaving it out to air.

Treating our homes as a sanctuary for our spirit, making a safe haven, or retreat, helps us cope. If you have family members who are not with you in this, make your own sacred space where you can feel the presence of your perfect self, maybe a corner in your bedroom, or in the basement. It doesn’t really matter, the sacredness is actually within you.

How have I changed from bringing home all the detritus of the day, to leaving outside and coming in clean?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02152013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How May I Help You?

How May You Help Me?

Support. We give it, we get it. We need it, we have a lot of feelings about it.

Being a people is so interesting. We have so much stuff about stuff. We can clear a lot of it out by doing our work, but many of us choose not to, and then wonder why our lives are difficult and sucky.

We have patterns and habits and ideas that we established as tiny children, and many of them are based on misinterpretations of things.

As we grow, things happen to us, some are wonderful and some may be such horrifying trauma that we push it down into our emotional basements, tape it closed and lock the door. Only problem is that it’s still in there, and it’s still influencing us; our thoughts, our feelings, our behavior. It’s only when we decide to clean out those old, vile traumas, to work through those experiences, that we can start to actually be free.

There are so many ways to do that. It may take some seeking, but some style of healing therapy will help. And I’ve never met anyone who was able to accomplish that kind of deep-psyche housecleaning alone.


Some of us are really good at asking for help, and then accepting it. And then appreciating it, and showing our gratitude. That’s nice for everyone.

If we feel like we aren’t getting the support we need, several different things can be going on.

Some of us ask for help a lot, but in such a way that we never get it. We feel like we are doing it all alone and no matter what we do, no one pitches in. When we feel like things are so off-kilter, we’ve got an unconscious resistance thing going. Often we feel like we don’t deserve to be supported, we don’t deserve help, we have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We feel frustrated.

Why do I deserve help? Why can I accept help? Why do I have all the help I need?

Some of us feel like we just can’t ask for help, that we have to do it all. We feel like we have to prove that we are tough and independent. We may have some trouble making commitments to others, and even to ourselves. We often feel isolated and cut off, but also push others away. We feel defensive and under that, scared.

Why am I safe to receive assistance? Why would I choose to connect?

By noticing our thoughts around receiving support, we can turn them around into good Creative Questions. When we let others help us, our lives get easier, and more fun. We have more time to do the things that bring us joy, more time to help and support each other, which gives our loved ones more joy, more time, and they in turn support their loved ones, and, lo, the world is a better place.

How have I changed from denying your help to accepting assistance with joy and grace?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02142013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Spur

The Spur

What matters the most to you? Family? Career? Money? Recognition? Enjoyment? Being right? Creating? Did you notice the shift there? We went from outside stuff to inside stuff. How interesting that we can have several things that matter the most.

Each of us has that, the thing we are always looking for, the little spur that inspires our choices, informs our realities.

On the outside, we may devote ourselves to the comfort and well being of our families, or we may work diligently and long to do the best job we can. Perhaps we focus on the stock market or real estate with the the goal of having millions. Maybe we seek attention through various venues. But there is another piece happening inside. It is the deep thing that drives us.

For some of us, it is a positive spur. We wake up cheery and excited to greet the day. We expect that we will have a nice day, and are rarely disappointed.

For some of us, it is more like a burr under our saddle, a needling, a pricking, that bugs the heck out of us. We may wake feeling apprehensive about the day. We may indulge in negative fantasies about what will happen, we may dwell on how previous events are going to sour. Our chests sink, our frowns deepen, our eyebrows squish together. We stress. We fear. Maybe we even anger.

We have a niggling doubt about ourselves. That doubt can prompt us in a couple ways. It can drive us to try too hard, pushing and pushing to prove that we are okay. We become lawyers to prove we are right.  We become heads of things to prove we are good enough. We found charities to prove we are giving. We become religious to prove we are wholesome. If I feel like I have to prove something, I am working from that doubt. I am overcompensating for my feelings of doubt about myself.

But it has another face, too. Sometimes we succumb to that doubt and we decide it’s true. We believe that we are not right. We believe that we are not good enough. We believe that we are selfish. We believe that we are corrupt. We give up. We become indifferent. We procrastinate. We let things slide, we get in trouble.

Both ways are hard. Both ways can be painful, full of challenges, and not the fun kind. Both ways leave us feeling bad about ourselves, and, frankly, that’s heartbreaking. We are such miracles at our core, each of us has such amazing gifts, to have such struggle, instead of joy, well. it’s just sad.

Creative Questions to the rescue! As we identify that feeling, that niggling doubt, we form that statement, and from that statement, we get our bad creative question. Our bad question lets us know what our new, useful, transformative question will be. And as we start using that new Creative Question, our lives begin to shift. We shake our faith in our doubt. We find that we may begin to love our work, or we may find that we want to do something altogether different. However it goes, it’s so liberating.

How have I changed from being a slave to my doubt to living free in my good Creative Questions?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02132013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hi, I'm Badin Rong

Hi, I’m Badin Rong

Right and wrong, wow. What a huge thing that is, for so many of us. Good and bad. How many of us struggle, and weep, feeling like we are bad and wrong.

Curiously, and as a sidebar, that feeling often hits us after we’ve done something, not actually acting as a deterrent. At the time, in general, we make the best decision we can. It’s in hindsight that the “oh, craps” come out.

Also, curiously, many of us seem to think that telling others they are bad and wrong is a good idea.

People are funny.

Feeling bad and wrong really isn’t very useful as a lifestyle. Thing one, it is depressing, demoralizing, and demotivating. If I’m bad and wrong, why should I even try? (notice the bad creative question.) Feeling like that releases all the stress-compounds into our bodies, and they, in turn, start wreaking havoc on our bodies to let us know we are headed down the wrong path.

Thing two, it’s usually not true that we are bad and wrong. We may have made a mistake, it could even be a doozy, but that is about our behavior, not about we. I can correct my behavior, that’s called making amends. We all err from time to time. Take responsibility for it, correct it as best you can, let it go, and move on.

Thing three, believing we are bad and wrong is believing in lies, and one of our jobs is to find Truth. Truth, not to be confused with truth, is universal. That is, it holds for everyone. Breathing is good holds for everyone, that’s a nice example of Truth. High colonics and automatic weapons are good hold for some, and not others; that is an example of truth.

Thing four, when we feel bad and wrong, it is often difficult for us to “get back,” back into our own good graces, back to feeling competent, back to feeling valuable. The more we put ourselves in that place, the more time we spend around people who are reinforcing it, the longer it takes, the harder it may get.

Creative Questions! That’s the ticket back to feeling competent, worthy, valuable, good. Why am I right? Because I am a divine creation. Why am I accurate? Because I care about what I do. How do I know the truth? Because I see clearly. Why is it easy for me to get back? Because I know I am not my behavior.

Why else? How else?

When I feel right, being basically a good person, I make better decisions than when I feel wrong. When I feel right, I feel good, and that fills me with the milk of human kindness, and I wanna be nice to you. That makes you feel nice, and you spread it around to your loved ones, and then they feel good, and so on, and so on, and, Lo, we have changed the world. Why are we so wonderful?

How have I changed from feeling bad and wrong to knowing I’m right?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02122013