Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Pleasure Connoisseur

The Pleasure Connoisseur

Back in the Before Time, I never had any fun. I thought I did, with drugs and alcohol, staying up all night, being kinda bad. Fun I couldn't remember. Fun that made me sick. Um. Right.

I once spent an hour with a pal in treatment coming up with things to do that would be fun. That was kinda fun. It’s also kinda sad that I still remember that hour as being some of the best fun I’d had in a year.

Real pleasure, like any other skill, takes some practice.

First, we need to notice what is fun for us. If we are out of the habit of having fun, making that list and keeping it handy, both as a reference, and as inspiration, is a good thing to do. We can add to the list, or adjust it in other ways as we need to.

Next, we need to squish time into our calendars for that fun to happen. We have to treat it with the same respect we do grocery shopping, or getting our prescriptions filled, or fueling our cars. In fact, having fun falls right into that category; things that sustain us.

And, most importantly, we need to follow through with that scheduled fun until we get used to having it, and just do it.

We become pleasure connoisseurs. Isn’t that nice!   

We find the pleasure in easy stuff like a lovely day, or a smiling baby. We taste the pleasure in a delicious soup, or berry, or the air. We hear the pleasure in bird song, or flowing traffic, or the sounds of our bodies in a quiet room. We feel the pleasure in soft warm fur on a creature who loves us, an intense sensation during Qi Gong practice.

We begin to find the pleasure buried in the other stuff. Life is made up of so many different kinds of experiences, and each one has some kind of pleasure. The first time I experienced a really clean, deep grief was profound. It took me some time to recognise it as a kind of pleasure. It did some reframing on my part, a little redefining of what I thought of as pleasure.

Pleasure is experiencing the kernel of life in every moment, regardless of the quality of that moment.

When we bring to our lives, moment by moment, a sense of wonder and delight, every experience is pleasurable. We start to seek the pleasures out, to notice them as they appear. Becoming sensitive to pleasure has another wonderful side effect.

We become more aware.

And, curiously, the more aware we become, the more pleasure we find, the more enjoyment we have, the more often we feel satisfied. We find that we are happier, and being happy, we garner attention from people who want to feel that way, too.

And, curiously, the happier we get, from the inside out, the more we become leaders to peace, and joy, and satisfaction, and pleasure, for the people we encounter.

How have I changed from hardly any fun to being a pleasure connoisseur?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04302013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

Are you the real deal? Or do you put it on for everyone? Have you relaxed into yourself? Or do you hide behind an image?

Sometimes we get the idea that it’s not okay to be ourselves. We may feel like we aren’t good enough, and so we pretend we think we are.

We may feel like we aren’t smart enough, or fancy enough, or talented enough, or well enough connected. We may feel like we were born on the wrong side of the tracks. We may want to hide a lack of credentials, or an addiction, or a challenging home life. We may want to hide the fact that we are rageful or full of grief.

So we start to pretend that we are fine, fancy, talented, smart, in the loop, happy, and peaceful.

And we start to feel fake.

Funnily, that just adds to the stress, that fear that we will be found out, that our house of cards built with such care, is going to come down on our heads.

It’s exhausting.

Why are you good enough? Why would you be safe to be yourself? How could you enjoy being you?

Sometimes, we feel like we are too much, and so we fake it is to pretend we aren’t as amazing as we really are. We pretend we aren’t as talented, or brilliant, or creative, or kind. This is so insidious. Especially when we surround ourselves with people who want us to be less than we are, for whatever their reasons are, one of those lose-lose situations we find ourselves in from time to time.

Being ourselves is a huge relief. We don’t have to worry about being found out, for one thing. We don’t have to think about how to act, or what to say. It leaves us with a ton of extra energy, a ton of room inside to fill up with nice stuff.

When I was pretending to be fancy, I was always clenched inside. When I relaxed, I discovered that I was as fancy as I wanted to be. When I was pretending not to be smart, everything was tight, I had to be paying super close attention to everything that was going on, so I could respond the right way. When I relaxed, and just let me be, the ones who were uncomfortable with it left, and new friends who love me as I am showed up.

And so it went. Sometimes, we pretend with big lies, and we have to take responsibility for that. It’s worth it. Being who you are is worth it. Moving into our natural lives is worth it.

I have to say, I kind of oozed into being myself. I really didn’t know me at all, so I took it slow and easy. And I had been pretending to be okay for so long that it seemed genuine to me, except that I felt like a phoney. But that was enough of a clue to get me on the right track.

So, I got help with it, too, trusted friends calling me on it when I felt fake to them. They weren’t always right, but often enough that I started to get it.

Here I am, as I am.

How have I changed from hiding behind my masks to letting them go and loving me?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04292103

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'll Fix You, I'll Hurt Me

I’ll Fix You, I’ll Hurt Me

Back in the end days of the dark ages, I had a shrink friend who would say the unspoken motto of his clients, “I’ll fix you, I’ll hurt me.” I often laughed a little too loudly, a little too long; it always touched that inflamed nerve.

So often, when we think we are powerless, when we feel like victims, we cast around for things we can do to show the people we think are victimizing us how awful they are. Crying and carrying on doesn’t seem to work. Screaming, or the silent treatment doesn’t work. So we go to more drastic measures by hurting ourselves, and pick on ourselves until we have infected, bleeding sores, or cut ourselves, or we consume too much or too little, over-exercise, cut ourselves off from other loved ones, and a thousand other things that hurt us deeply, but usually make little impact on the Other.

When we are depressed, or miserable, we often mope around, flashing long faces, sad looks, heaving heavy sighs. When caring people ask how we are, we say that we are, sigh, fine. It’s often as though we want to punish others for, at the very least, not being us.

When we live in fear, we often strike out at imagined threats, we react rather than respond to people who mean us no harm, we may even strike out at them, and boy, is that confusing for those nice people.

These sure weren’t behaviors I liked doing, but, frankly, I didn’t know any other way. I was a scared and angry victim, and angry martyr, I was depressed, so I put a lot of that anger at me, the rest went to you, and I lived in the heart of Terroropolis, so I jumped at everything, snapped a lot, felt exhausted all the time, and really didn’t like what I did very much at all.

I had to learn how to do new things, like how to treat myself with respect. I had to learn how to address my anger and fear in different ways. I had to learn new ways of dealing with stress, with disappointment, with guilt and shame. I had to learn how to act like a grown up.

I had to learn that I am not a victim unless I agree to it with you. You can be rotten to me, but the victim part is my choice. I can choose to stay peaceful inside.

I had to learn that I am not a martyr unless I choose. If I let go of my belief that no one else can do X, I can relax and let other’s help me. I can choose to relax.

I had to learn that if it doesn’t make me feel happy from the inside out, I can change it. I can choose to exercise my choice.

Why do I choose to grow up? Why do I choose peaceful? Why do I choose relaxed? Why do I choose to choose?

I thought that being a grownup meant that I had to give up fun, not that I had all that much. I thought that being responsible meant that I would turn into a skware from Skwaresville. I thought that leaving the people who treated me so poorly, but who loved me, meant that I would be alone and unloved, miserable and helpless.

None of that was true. The more I choose to be a grownup, the more fun I have, the easier it is to have fun. In the words of a dear friend, “Being grown up is like being a teenager with resources.” The more responsibility I take for my own life, the more juice I have to do stuff for you, for us. When I have left, or been left by, the meanies, I have all this new room for nice things, loving wonderful people. I love having my closest friends be people I never worry about because they take good care of themselves, and subsequently, of me, too.

How have I changed from feeling ashamed of what I do to feeling proud, competent and empowered by my choices?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04282013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Forgiveness, Doubt, Patience, and Tolerance

Forgiveness, Doubt, Patience, and Tolerance

Back in the dark ages, I went to treatment and did my first moral inventory. They had given me a booklet to use, but I found that for me, it was kind of backwards. They had “patience” and “tolerance” in the list of good qualities, but they had not been good for me. Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship knows that part of what keeps you there is patience and tolerance.

When I gave my little moral inventory to the guy, he was surprised. Aren’t tolerance and patience always good? Isn’t forgiveness always good? Isn’t doubt always bad?

Always and never are tricksters. I try to avoid them, like those mean kids up the street who act like your friend so they can trip you up and mock you.

So here’s some of what I’ve learned about these four things.

Tolerance, per the dictionary, is the ability to endure pain and hardship.

Patience is the bearing of pains or trials without complaint.

Forgiveness is the giving up of resentment.

Doubt is to consider something unlikely or to distrust.

They all seem good as they are, but they will turn on you of you aren’t paying attention.

Tolerating abusive or otherwise bad situations our own, or other’s, patiently waiting for someone else to change their bad or disrespectful behavior, rehearsing all the wrongs done us over and over in the name of forgiveness without ever letting them go, refusing to doubt beliefs that don’t support our well being.

See what I mean? Solid gold coyote tricksters.

We have two crazy-powerful gifts. One is the ability to look at ourselves. We can look at our lives with a certain objectivity. We can even see things we may not like, about ourselves, about those around us, about how our lives go.

The second is that we can change our behavior. It may take becoming intolerant of our own, or someone else’s behavior. It may take letting go resentments, or doubting and changing our beliefs, sometimes it requires turning our world upside down, only to discover that it had been upside down for years and that we’ve now corrected it.

Changing our behavior can, and often will, change our circumstances and environment. Changing it with love and respect will make it smoother, easier, and more fun. Deciding, and then acting on that decision is an act of power and courage. The more we notice our own acts of power and courage, of love, of respect, of kindness, the more deeply we move into our natural lives. Then, we find that happiness, joy, satisfaction, connection and so much more are our normal, and the tricksters find it hard to trick us.

How have I changed from duping myself to seeing clearly and choosing the way I want to go?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04272013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Internal Sunshine

Sunny-side In

Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about being happy. In fact, I am something of a happiness expert. Not only did I haul myself out of a deep and long-time well of despair into the sunshine, but I’ve help a ton of other people do the same. And because you are reading this, I am assuming I’m showing you the signposts, too.

Many people think that happy people don’t have issues or topics or stuff. We have stuff. We address it and let it go. We do what we can now, and let it go. We take care of ourselves, and our others as best we can, get help as needed, and let it go. We choose to trust that things will work out for the best, we remember that “this too shall pass,” and are always on the look-out for the gift.

Many people think that happy people are shallow, that they don’t understand how awful the world is. We do see, and we see what those other folks are missing. We see the tiny kindnesses people do for each other every day. We contribute our own to the pool, too. We know that each breath we take in peace and joy adds to it. We see that the world is learning, there are more and more teachers and students every day. We know that choosing happiness is an act of great courage when there is so much pressure to be afraid and angry.

Many people think that happy people are different from them, that they had happy childhoods, happy adolescences, and so on. Some of us did, many of us didn’t. We choose to spend our attention on the nice things, the fun things, the productive things. We deal with our stuff so we don’t have ugly issues cluttering up our emotional basements, but we don’t linger there.

Many people think that happy people are never frustrated or thwarted or crabby or sad. “Ha!” I say. We find ways out quicker so we can get back to our internal sunshine. Because we seek solutions, rather than worrying our problems, our roads are smoother.

Many people think that abusers and victimizers and perpetrators and crazies never go after happy people. They do. They go after everyone. We just don’t bite. We deflect, we disperse, we diffuse. They need engagement to do their stuff, and when we don’t engage, they leave and look for someone who will.

We can’t force happiness. It is comprised of a thousand tiny choices each day. The choice to notice and change our bad creative questions for good Creative Questions. The choice to leave thoughts of how hard or bad or sad or icky something is to think about how nice or comfy or sweet something else is. The choice to look up instead of feeling down.

Choosing to feel gratitude and appreciation. Choosing to notice the abundance in our lives. Choosing to find enjoyment in what we do. Choosing to claim our power. Choosing to change the things in our lives that grind us down and choosing to replace them with things that build us up. Choosing to take care and respect ourselves. Choosing to respect and give care to our loved ones. Choosing to take our work seriously. Choosing to play.

I’m not going to list a thousand, Ten will suffice as an example.

Happiness will grow if we nurture it and relax and slow down a bit inside. Happiness will blossom if we cut away the deadwood and clear the thatch. And when it comes from deep inside, it comes with peace, and that, my dear, is wonderfully contagious.

How have I changed from trying to force it to letting my happiness flow?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 02042013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tailor Made

Tailor Made

My porch is my sanctum, my retreat, my favorite room in the house. And then, I walk in and am greeted by my sweet cats, my books and piano, my fireplace and artwork. Even when it is messy it makes me smile.

I love my home. It has sheltered me when my heart was broken. It comforted me when my body was broken. It has held my joy, calmed my fears, protected me.

It is a giant playhouse when I feel silly. It is a giant playhouse for the cats all the time. It is a library, it is a music warehouse, it is a fine bakery and cafe, an interactive garden center, a studio for many activities.

When I am home, I belong somewhere. For someone who felt for a long time there was no where I belonged, it is balm.

What makes your home perfect for you? Your cozy bed? That little nook where you can daydream? Your kitchen? The shower? Your chair? Your garden, maybe, in the backyard?

One of the joys of being aware is noticing how we feel in certain places. I think of it as internal ambiance. The feeling I have when Christmas is imminent, that rainy cool spring evening feeling that always makes me think of France even though I’ve never been there in March or April. The cozy fireplace feeling.

What are your favorite internal ambience feelings? Do you know what triggers them? It may be a scent, or a certain color of light, the way the rain is falling.

As we grow our understanding of what we like, and what we want, as we discard what we don’t want, or need, liking our lives more and more is automatic. The more comfy I am in my life, the more I tailor it to me, and the more I tailor it to me, the comfier it gets.  

My home is filled with things that inspire me. From art to music, from treasures collected over the years, a couple heirlooms, stoic plants, and so on, I see things I love wherever I look.

What inspires you? Do you feel moved more by images, or sounds, or smells, or textures? Do you have a heapin’ helpin’ of your inspiration in your spaces?

What makes you happy to have with you as you travel around? I used to carry a ton of stuff, and now I really prefer going light. As long as I have my camera-reader-game console-communication device, I’m good. I used to keep a lot of junk in my car; food wrappers, cans, and bottles, and cups, books, magazines, changes of clothes, shoes, boots, plus the stuff you should have, emergency kits and whatnot. Now, I don’t. And I tend to go through it whenever I get gas and toss the dreck. I even go through the carwash these days.

What inspires you in your workspace? Do you like it austere? Do you like a riot of color and texture? Or both? How do you work best? In silence, or with ambient noise, or entertainment purring through your earplugs? Have you claimed your space?

When we take the time to notice what we like, and then bring it into existence in our personal environment, we are taking charge of our lives in a significant way. When we know what we like, when we know what we want, and then make it happen, we are respecting ourselves in a way that no one outside of us can do for us. If you wanna go Law of Attraction, it will bring to us more of what we want.

How have I changed from settling for my environment as is to tailoring my space to my whims?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04252013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Do Wha'?

Do Wha’?

How are you feeling about your occupations these days? How much of what you do are you loving to do? How much do you hate doing? How much do you just do?

We see a lot of advice these days to do what you love and the money will follow. It’s good advice up to a point.

I watched two dear friends do what they loved, both were artists. One painted like crazy, then to promote it, kinda just did stuff, some stuff she made up, some stuff people told her to do. She had a show at a gallery that charged her to show there. She made a little money, but has stuck with her Clark Kent job.

The other friend painted like crazy, had a few coffee shop shows and then said “enough.” She started researching how to sell art, and borrowed money to show at a big to-do in NYC where she met with some success, made a lot of contacts, but most importantly saw how really successful artists promoted themselves. She paid attention, learned from what they did, and now, she does what she loves and the money follows.

There is a huge difference between the two, isn’t there.

On the one hand, artist A was diligent about her art, but casual about her approach to selling it.

On the other hand, artist B was diligent about her art, and treated the selling of it as a thesis project, learning everything she could, and taking it very seriously, then came up with an action plan, and implemented it.

Many of us work Clark Kent jobs. We get tons of training in tasks that are meaningless to us, except in the performance of our duties. And yet, when it comes to the stuff that really speaks to us, our art, or music, or dance, or or or, we act like it is inconsequential, that to actually learn how to promote it would be wrong, or that we are wrong somehow for doing what we love because we are too something that we think we shouldn’t be.

And so we talk about starving artists, or actor-waiters, and so on, and grumble about how it’s so hard to break into the field of our choosing. And we don’t do our research, or put ourselves out there where we can actually be seen. Like when I was six, lived in the country, and wondered why I didn’t have any customers at my lemonade stand.

And it often taps into our Personal Doubt, that first moment in our life when we doubt our perfection. We doubt that we are good enough, or that we are right, or that we are helpful, or wanted, or lovable, or or or.

If we aren’t whatever that quality is, then we surely don’t deserve to have our life’s work be something that brings us joy, now, do we. Except that we do. All of us do. We deserve to give wing to our special gifts, we deserve to give ourselves a chance to shine.

Why do I choose to take my life seriously?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04/24/2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Bad Day

A Bad Day

I have to admit, some days I wake up and I just don’t care. I don’t wanna get up. I don’t wanna do my day. I wanna have toast and tea in bed and complain about the crumbs and the tea being cold. I wanna doze and watch stupid TV and read comic books, stupid magazines and easy novels. I wanna disconnect, I wanna snuggle with the kitties, cry, and not get dressed until 3:00 in the afternoon. From time to time I do just that.

Most of the time I’d rather not.

I’ve learned over my years of taking Mandarin lessons that my brain cycles through high-function times and into low-function times. During those low-function times, it seems I can barely remember my name, much less how to construct a topic-comment sentence with complements of degree.

I think our feelings may do the same kind of thing, and when they do, it’s nice to respect that, give yourself permission to slump, blob, flop.

To enjoy a bad mood for a while is kind of fun, an emotional treat.

It’s when I start living there that I get in trouble.

Paying attention to how we actually are is such an important part of being aware. In my life, it is the difference between being real and talking a good game.

Most days, I wake up on the right side of the bed, happy to start my day, light of heart and easy of mind.

Occasionally, I wake up crabby, notice it, and can tickle myself into a good mood pretty easily.

Every very so once in awhile, I wake up pissy, and I may hang onto it for hours. I think it’s hilarious, so that will often break me out of it, but sometimes it just doesn’t.

I need to pay attention, I need to be aware, so that I can notice if I’m actually in a bad mood, a physical or emotional or mental low ebb, or if I’m indulging in an old, bad habit.

I need to remember the difference between an emotion, a purely physical reaction to a thought, and a feeling, a patterned combination of thoughts and emotions that I have learned as a response to specific circumstances, or similar circumstances.

I need to remember that I am not a victim to my feelings, and that I can change them by changing my thoughts.

And I need to remember that respecting me entails respecting my occasional bad mood, my occasional sick day, my occasional flare of temper, or wash of tears.

I know I will go back to caring a lot about a lot of stuff

Tomorrow will be soon enough.

How have I changed from living in a bad day to only visiting there once in awhile?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04232013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hooray For You Day!

Hooray For You Day!

My life, and the lives of many others, are so much nicer because you are in it. The gifts you bring to the world, your particular, special combination, is so valuable. I wonder if you know that? I wonder if you know how much?

You are with you all the time, so I think it’s easy for you to forget how special you are. You feel stuff, fatigue, or sorrow, or stress, and you forget how special you are. You get caught up in the daily stuff, spending your time around the same people everyday, and you forget how special you are.

Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “How do I know I am valuable? How else do I know I am valuable?”

When we take a moment now and then to remember that we are special, that our existence is a gift to the world, it helps us to remember to treat ourselves respectfully, and to treat others respectfully, too.

It helps us to remember that we need to slow down inside, to experience our experiences, to be aware of what we are doing and how we are feeling about it, to evaluate our thoughts, and actions, and decide if we need to modify them.

I want to be the best me I can manage. I do what I can to walk my talk. And I have days with bumps, when finding the juice to lift my spirits takes a bit of effort.

When I feel like that, I have to dig a little deeper to raise my vibrations, if you catch my drift. Then, I ask myself Creative Questions like, “How do I contribute? Why am I important? What makes me matter?”

By remembering that my existence makes a difference, it is easier for me to feel happy again. Or to take responsibility for my feelings, and rearrange them however I need to do that.

Remembering that I make a difference helps me remember that I am connected with the world, that it’s not just me putting my energy out to life, but life giving me energy back. It’s not just a one-way street.

Recognizing that we are gifts to each other. Recognizing that we make a difference for each other. Remembering that, in our daily lives we are choosing and choosing and choosing. Making sure that we check in on our choices on a regular basis so that we don’t feel buffeted or taken advantage of. Sometimes sentence fragments say it best.

Own the fact that you are a contribution. Own the fact that you are significant. Draw on that truth for energy and motivation as you make your contribution. Be the best you you can manage. Notice that we appreciate you so much, even if we aren’t saying it.

How have I changed from feeling like a lump to recognizing that I make a difference?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04222013

The Secret to Happiness Club

The Secret to Happiness Club

So here’s a question for you. Do you focus on your problems, or on solutions?

I gotta tell you, I didn’t know that my problems had solutions back in my dark ages. On the one hand, it was such a strange, uncomfortable feeling to just feel so messed up, with no recourse, and no hope. One of the symptoms of “messed up” was that there was no chance of ever feeling better.

On the other hand, I saw that some people around me seemed happy. They seemed to have figured out something I didn’t even know needed figuring.

I told myself that they were square and simple-minded, that they were shallow. If they only understood how horrible the world was, they would be a sad as me, as angry, and as scared.

On the third hand, I felt like they were keeping a secret. They were. And they were all members of The Secret to Happiness Club.

It seemed that there were some requirements for membership:

I had to own that my misery was my own doing, not the fault of my circumstances, or of you.

I had to decide to be happy.

I had to act on that decision daily.

I had to get help to alter both my circumstances and my thinking.

I didn’t need to satisfy those requirements in order, I didn’t need to do them well, I just needed to be sincere, and do my best.

It took me a long time to own that I was the source, and cure, of my misery. It seemed so much easier and way more comfy to be a victim. I liked the sound of my motto, “it’s not my fault!” Only problem was that any loudmouthed jerk could become the boss of me with just their own say-so. That was scary. And often painful. Gee, wonder why?

Each degree of ownership made the decision to practice being happy, on my terms, easier and easier.

Each time I chose happiness and needed a teacher to help me with the next level, the perfect teacher showed up.

Each step helped me feel more creative in every aspect of my life. I felt less and less constrained by needing to maintain my depressed feelings, and miserable outlook. They take tons of energy, way more than being happy. Some of my circumstances changed a lot as I chose happiness, some didn’t change at all, but my attitude has changed so much that those long-term circumstances may as well have turned inside out.

Instead of worrying my troubles, I am creative in my search for solutions, and opportunities to live my natural life of joy, peach, satisfaction, connection, and happiness.

Wanna join the club?

How have I changed from feeling down to creating my happy life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04212013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me, a special treat for you!

I love my birthday, and since I feel so happy, I want to share that with you. For today only, if you buy a deck of Creative Questions cards, I will throw in a free set of CQ fridge magnets! They usually cost $12.

Go to www.tinyurl.com/AmazonCQcards and buy your deck today!

How Do You Do?

How Do You Do?

We are always doing something. Even in my deepest Zen meditation, I am doing: I am doing, breathing, letting my thoughts flow through, being still. Doing. Nothing.

When I love what I’m doing, I put my heart into it. I want my results to shine, I want excellence. When I love what I’m doing, doing it is so fun. It’s time spent living my natural life, feeling joyful, and peaceful, and satisfied, and engaged. Like writing these contemplations every day.

It’s gets a little more challenging when I’m not so crazy about what I’m doing, or if it’s hard to do, or boring. It’s also more challenging if I resent the person asking me to do it. And sometimes the person I’m resenting is me. That may be the worst situation.

One of my strongest personal drives is enjoyment. If I can find a way to enjoy what I have to do, I can do anything. Your personal drive may be the same, or it could be purpose, or productivity, or learning, or feeling like you are doing the right thing, or winning, or something else entirely. It’s a wonderful thing to find out what your favorite personal drives are, it makes it way easier to motivate yourself.

One of my task givers at my Clark Kent job asks me to do what’s referred to in workshops as Bring-Me-a-Rock, you know, “bring me a rock.” “What kind of a rock?” “I’ll know it when I see it.” That, among other things, caused many of his people to quit in frustration. I really didn’t wanna quit. I like my job, for the most part. I had to figure out what I could do to make finding his right rock doable.

Since my thing is enjoyment, I’ve turned it into a game. If I can get him the right “rock” in four moves or less, I win, five or more, he wins. I win more often these days, but I don’t keep score. It keeps it fun for me, and he gets the work he assigns me with way less fuss.

He also will ask for what I like to think of as square eggs. Bring me a dozen square eggs. I’ve learned a lot about how to do research, about finding and using resources, and about what can, and really can’t, be done. And I think of these tasks like being on a scavenger hunt. Sometimes, I’m looking for a real square egg, but sometimes, I need to be clever. And sometimes I’ve amazed myself.

I’ve learned to hear his message, and ignore the yelling. I no longer feel abused, I’m now listening to how many times in a row he will say exactly the same thing. Much more fun for me than feeling abused. Plus it keeps me calm, and that benefits my whole office suite.

The bottom line is that I live inside me, you don’t. You live in there. I can’t change you, I certainly won’t change you by yelling or saying horrible things to you. I can only change me. If I have things that need to be done, I need to find ways to make them enjoyable for me, and I need to find ways to ask you for help that supports your favorite drives. Then it’s fun for everyone.

My task giver may have some trouble asking for what he wants, but he has good heart, and I see him trying really hard to do a good job. (Don’t tell him that, he’d be a little embarrassed that I noticed.) Seeing those things helps me find my respect for a fellow human being, and helps me modify my behavior to treat him respectfully, and to do my best to accomplish the tasks he assigns.

Plus, I will take all the opportunity I can find to live my natural life, because, baby, I like it!

How have I changed from doing grudgingly to loving what I do?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04202013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Gift-Vision Goggles

Gift-Vision Goggles

What an amazing thing life is. If I am paying attention, I am given gifts beyond measure every day.

I like presents, so I try to pay close attention.

Sometimes my presents are easy; an unexpected kindness, a smile of encouragement, a hug, a little favor, adorableness from the little lives I take care of.

Sometimes my presents take a little unwrapping: a valuable lesson tucked away in someone else’s unpleasant behavior, a reminder to practice patience in slow traffic, an opportunity to pray for the world to relax, deal with it’s uh, stuff, and grow up.

Sometimes they take a whole lot of unwrapping: surviving a heartbreaking grief, for example.

And what it boils down to is that I could spend my whole day and night just appreciating stuff in my life. And that wouldn’t be such a bad life.

Over and over and over it is brought home to me that the quality of my daily life, my hourly life, is based on the attitude I have to it.

When I am devoting my daily practice time to misery, suffering, general ickiness, the gifts the Universe presents often show up as more misery. Poor little Universe, trying to hard to make me happy and only being misunderstood and reviled.

When my daily practice is devoted to experiencing joy and appreciation, I see the gifts, hidden and otherwise, as clearly as if I were wearing Gift-Vision goggles.

Ooo! Gift-Vision Goggles! I wonder if I could get ThinkGeek to carry them?

Gift-Vision Goggles need three things; Why do I choose? Why am I grateful? Why is it so easy? When I practice these three things, I start to see the gifts.

I hear some of you say, as I used to, “But my situation is different. My situation is worse.”

Do you really want to feel like a lost cause? Do you really want to feel like nothing will make it better?  Do you really want to think that your situation is so much worse than everyone else’s, or that your misery is programmed into your genes?

I did.

My Al-Anon group confronted me on my inverse grandiosity. Who did I think I was that I could act like my life was the worst on the planet. The sooner I can get over myself, the better my life can get.

I got over myself. On the one hand, I had stuff. On the other hand, I had resources. I had talented, brilliant, compassionate people who wanted to help me. (Took me eight tries to find my beloved late therapist. Totally worth it.)

Now I live a life that’s about 92% joyful. I live a life full of wonderful gifts. I live a life where I can rejoice with my friends, even when we are sad. Let’s hear it for spiritual evolution! Hoo Rah!

How have I changed from focusing on the poo to appreciating the gift?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04192013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Miracles Claimers

Miracles Claimers

Do I talk about miracles too much? I don’t think so. I think that miracles need to be talked about a lot more.

I’m not talking about the image of the Blessed Virgin appearing on your toast, although that’s kind of cool.

I am talking about the little daily miracles, the weekly ones, the big ones. I’m also talking about an attitude, one of expecting that things will work out. Why do things go my way?

Thinking about miracles happening for us changes our mindset. We anticipate miracles, and we start looking for them. Finding the dime we need to get the sandwich out of the vending machine. Doris Day parking when we are feeling pressed for time. The kindness of a stranger offering help when we need it.  Why do things really go my way?

Getting in the habit of looking for miracles helps us get in the habit of looking for solutions, answers, results, resolutions, instead of dwelling on the problem or issue.  Why do I look for resolutions?

Getting in the habit of looking for miracles helps us notice our progress. Many of us, I expect most everyone reading this, want to evolve. We want to put aside our old, damaging habits for new, supportive habits. We want to wake up feeling good, and go to bed feeling satisfied. Why am I a success?

And getting in the habit of noticing, and appreciating, our miracles helps us live in gratitude and grace. How do I appreciate the details of my life?

And, most of all, getting in the habit of living a life full of miracles means that my life will fill me with so much joy and peace that I will just have to share it, even with the jerks and dorks and lame-os I encounter as I go about my business. Why do I choose my natural life?

It means that, when I get scolded over and over for a simple mistake, I don’t take it on, I don’t lose my center, I stay peaceful. It means that minor infractions don’t even register, and I can respond with a pleasant demeanor and get back to my stuff. That means, even if someone is hurling abuse at me, I am not abused.

Oh. Wow.

It means that if I am diverted from my center, the path back is well-worn and clear, easy to follow, even if I’m crying.

It also means that, rather than spreading strife around my world, I am spreading peace. And you know that is how it’s going to happen, each of us deciding to live our natural life, responding to our stuff from a place that is centered and peaceful, and overflowing with joy, that’s how we will change from violent savages to enlightened beings. One by one. One habit, one choice, one moment at a time.

How have I changed from foundering in drama to claiming my miracles?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 04182013