Sunday, June 30, 2013



It’s one of the most subtly brutal words in the English language. It goads us, it mocks us. It can drive us to accomplish amazing things, but the cost is often our happiness. It can also absolutely stymie us into inaction, it is one of procrastinations best friends. Did you guess yet?

Perfectionism in and of itself is, of course, just a word. But, oh, my dear, the trouble we get ourselves into when we try to apply it.

Somewhere along the line, we get some very reasonable ideas all mixed up and, boy howdy, does that make a mess. We conflate doing our best with doing it perfectly. And then we somehow get the idea that our performance determines our value. We either make ourselves nutsy trying to be perfect, or we don’t even try because we can’t be. Perfect, that is.

This one took me awhile to get. Oh, the time I wasted on perfectionism. Scrubbing things with a toothbrush, poking with a toothpick,  for days trying to get whatever perfectly clean. Re-writing through so many drafts the piece was horribly over-written. Trying to be perfect in my relationships, trying to be perfect at work. I was exhausted. I was crabby. I was so judgmental.

Or I would look at a project, think about how much it would take to do it perfectly, and I would feel overwhelmed before I even started. The next thing I knew, the project would be just getting more not-done and time would march on. I would get that thrill of danger that goes with procrastinating, which is some sort of weird reward in itself.

I had the idea that you wouldn’t like me, or value me, if I weren’t perfect. At that time, I felt so far from perfect that I could hardly stand to look in the mirror. I expected you to be kind of disgusted, like I was, and certainly not to like me.

It didn’t matter if I was trying to do it perfectly, or procrastinating because I knew I couldn’t, doing stuff got hard. Finishing things got even harder. I worried, I said horrible things to me about my behavior, things that if you’d said them I would never have stayed friends with you.

Not only did it affect me, but it stained my attitude about you, too. My way was the right way, the perfect way, and if you didn’t do it my way, you were bad and  wrong, and I was somehow better for rejecting your help. I apologize for that.

As I let go of my old ways, I came to see that most of the tasks in my life didn’t need to be done perfectly, they just needed to be done.

I came to see that there was a big difference inside me between doing something perfectly, and doing it correctly.

I came to see that striving for perfection, while it sounded good, made me so unhappy. I could never be satisfied with my work because I could always find a flaw.

I came to see that, for a lot of what I do, getting it done in a timely fashion, and then making a correction if it were needed, was a much better way to do stuff.

I came to see that there are lots of ways to complete a task, and that your way might just teach me something.

Why am I  good enough?

How have I changed from buying into perfectionism to relaxing into doing what I can?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06302013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to Find Admiration

How to Find Admiration

It always surprises me a bit at how much we pay attention to each other, and how we so often have no clue of being seen.

Your children and other family members, your co-workers, your neighbors, the clerks where you shop, wherever we go, people are paying attention to us. There isn’t anything weird or creepy about it; you pay attention, too.

When I felt crappy all the time, I would be out in the world as one of those people you see in the cafe, and tsk tsk about. I was snarky. I was rude. I could be loud and obnoxious. I thought at the time that being a noisy jerk was the only way I could get any help or attention, even if it was just negative attention. I was so wrong.

When I felt crappy all the time, I would be out in the world with a grimacy bitch face, moping down the street. I would be muttering nasty comments about the people I encountered. I felt invisible, and I felt bad, and kind of wanted you to feel bad, too. Sorry about that.

So, as I grew up, I learned that everyone makes mistakes, and approaching the customer service person as someone who wants to help, rather than as an adversary or perpetrator. Since I started being pleasant and respectful, the quality of service I get has improved ten-fold. Seriously.

As I grew up, I learned that walking down the street with my head up and a smile on my face often ended up actually cheering me up as people would respond to me with their own smile. I love smile chains.

As I grew up, I realized that the more positive I put out, the more I got back. When I felt crappy all the time, I was so full of negative that I had no room inside for self-respect, or self-love, and sadly, I didn’t have much for you, either.

As I grew up, I let go of my bitter and cynical self, and found a world full of kind people who do sweet things for not only their loved ones, but total strangers, sometimes thousands of miles away.

The more I changed my attitude, the nicer my life got, the more I found opportunities to do things I felt good about. I started having a lot more fun. I had more energy to use for fun stuff. Being
negative sucks up energy like an untuned Hummer sucks gas.

The more I changed my attitude, the more I liked being around me. I liked what I did more. I liked how I felt a lot more, and I started to like the way I handled things. I liked the way I treated people and I started to notice that I didn’t get to the end of the day feeling ashamed of myself. When I was so miserable I really wanted to feel admired. Now I find I feel like that a lot, and it’s effortless, and comfortable. I used to think feeling admired would make me feel okay. Turns out, feeling okay let’s me feel admired. Weird.

When we choose to change our attitude from dark to light, from crappy to happy, from down to up, lots of amazing things happen. We are softer, and stronger. We are quicker, but feel like we go more slowing. Life stops racing by, and a year takes a year to pass. Goofy little things can fill our hearts with joy, and it happens a lot. The things we long for in our misery come naturally and effortlessly, and cease to be so dag-blamed important. We live our own life moment by moment with satisfaction and contentment.

How have I changed from longing for to enjoy a high quality of life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06292013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Choosing Rich

Choosing Rich

Lavish. Sumptuous. Luxurious. Magnificent. Opulent.  Where is the rich in your life?

For some of us, it’s in our pockets, for some of us, it’s in our hearts, for some, it’s in our minds.

There are so many kinds of rich for us to enjoy, when we remember to enjoy them. But that’s the trick, isn’t it. Remembering.

Over and over we need to remember what we want. Over and over we need to bring our focus to what we want. This is why it is called a practice.

Going through our normal days, we have a thousand distractions. We have people clamoring for our help and attention, we have tasks to accomplish, we have little housekeep-y things to do, we have our routines to follow.

One of the most important gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of paying attention to what we are doing, what we are thinking. We need to stop from time to time and do a little assessment. What are the things you want to pay attention to? Your kids? Your partner? Your work? Maybe you are an aspiring artist, and need to find more time to do your art?

Only we can prioritize our own life so that it is meaningful for us. When we let others dictate our priorities, we can end up feeling lost, or even worse, we can find ourselves feeling resentful.

What are my priorities? What do I want? What do I want more of? What do I want less of? Who supports me with kindness and love, who hammers criticisms at me? How do I know I can choose?

I get this life. I get these years. I get to choose how I spend it. If I say that I have no choice, that is the choice I’ve made over and over. If I say that I am a victim to something or someone, that is the choice I’ve made over and over. Likewise to being a martyr, likewise to being helpless, likewise to a lot of things. Unhappiness is a practice, too.

It is up to me to notice what I want to change.

I had a great opportunity to add to the richness of my life today going to school with my 5 year old neighbor. Rolling down a grassy hill on a lovely day is sumptuous. Playing tag with people half as tall as you is a hoot. Making monster yells is fun. Life is so full of things to live, all it takes is remembering to do it, and then doing it.

When we remember to choose to enjoy ourselves, we open up pathways to opportunities that otherwise we may miss. When we are aware and present, we remember that we like to roll down hills. We remember that spinning around until your head is woogly is fun. We remember that running around like a monkey makes life richer.

What am I choosing to practice? Am I practicing acting my age, or living my life? Am I practicing seeing my cup half empty, or celebrating that I have a cup? Am I practicing being vital and loving? Am I practicing what’s important to me, or practicing letting others make my choices for me and just going along?

How have I changed from letting my environment live my life to directing my own course?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06282013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Turning Life Rightside Up

Turning Life Rightside Up

I love this topic. When I first tried getting my brain wrapped around it, I was so confused and baffled. How could this be true? How could it be true that forgiveness could be a bad thing? How could it be true that doubt can be good? Or patience and tolerance might hurt me?

Is black then white? Is day then night? Is hot then cold, and vice versa?

Heh. Kinda.

Here’s the skinny.

We have to be very aware when we use terms like “always” and “never.” I need to be aware about what I am being patient and tolerant. I need to notice what I’m not doubting. I need to pay attention to whom I am forgiving for what.

The more attention we can pay to what we are thinking, the more we notice what’s going on in our minds, the more we notice what’s going on in our minds, the more we can catch ourselves in our bad beliefs, or horrible habits.

This means we have to make little oases of time, pockets of mindfulness, in our days to give ourselves the space we need to check out what we’re thinking about, to notice what we’re doing.

Now, I hear pretty often the idea that people don’t change. I think that’s a load of hooey. Maybe even horse hockey, speaking as a person who has changed. However, no one else changed me. For all the help, support, and kindness I received, for all the nagging and yelling and finger pointing, and guilting I received, I changed me. In order for that to happen, some important stuff had to happen.

I had to doubt that the way I was living my life was the best way. I had to doubt that I knew best. I had to doubt that the people around me had my best interests at heart.

I had to stop being patient with my depressive moods, my tendency to withdraw, my tendency to pretend everything was fine.

I had to stop tolerating my destructive behaviors, my inclination to hurt myself, my search for numb.

I had to stop forgiving the horrible behavior of the people around me.

Not really what we’d expect from those words, but when we are damaged, things can get awfully upside down.
Now that I have put my life right-side up again, now I can forgive. Now I can be patient. Now I can be tolerant. Now I can do them with clear, compassionate judgment.

How have I changed from supporting bad behavior from me and you to choosing to live my nice, natural life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06272013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Todo, Tada, TaDone!

Todo, Tada, TaDone!

And on the sixth day, God said, “Meh, I’m kind of sick of this creation stuff. I think I’ll watch some TV.”

Procrastination, dropping the ball, not getting started, oh, there are so many different ways we have of not getting things done.

And each of those has so many reasons or excuses. It’s amazing some of us can ever get anything done.

Procrastination used to be a big one for me. I felt powerless to do anything about it, and all the attendant bad-person stuff. I struggled for a long time.

What made the difference for me was recognizing that I was addicted to the feeling of danger that came with procrastinating. It took me a little while to see what was going on. It blew me away. Putting stuff off had the same little thrill that other risky behaviors have. That little thrill was the pay off, but like addictions in general, it came at a high cost.

Once I framed procrastination as an addiction, it became way easier for me to stop doing it.

Sometimes, I wouldn’t complete stuff because I was feeling resentful. I’m working on it.

On the third hand, if I feel committed, it gets done.

Why do I commit?

I have had times in my life where I felt like I wasn’t committed to anything. I felt kind of adrift.

The truth is that we are committing to stuff all the time. The question is simply, to what am I committed? The answer is all around you.

Are you committed to loving, supportive relationships? Or to relationships full of strife?

Are you committed to a life of joy and satisfaction, abundance and peace? Or maybe not so much?

Are you committed to clarity, calm, and conscious living, or chaos, crises, and clutter?

Look to your life to see your commitments. Look at your calendar to see your time commitments. Are they in line with what you want? Does your life reflect what you want to believe in?

This is where the “How have I changed” question can make a huge difference for us. Identify the behavior you want to change, and the behavior you want to have, and make your question.

How have I changed from committing to stuff I don’t want to loving my commitments?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06262013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Joy of Awareness

The Joy of Awareness

Why does my awareness matter? Why bother? Who cares? I just want to get by. My life is hard, I don’t want to be paying more attention to it.

Here’s a funny thing. When we become present in our lives, and let go of our negative moral judgments, our life gets better.

Here is how it works.

Most of our misery comes from our minds. Worry, anxiety, anguish, are mental events with physical manifestations. By becoming present in our bodies, noticing where we are in our space, aware of our breath, aware of what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and sensing, aware of our thoughts, but letting them flow, not thinking on them, we shift our focus from our mental events to our physical body.

For our bodies, experience is neutral. Have you ever seen a little cat whack themselves jumping off something? They lick it, and carry on. The doggy runs and slides into the wall, shakes his head, and carries on. They don’t have all sorts of feelings about their experience, they just go on to the next one. They aren’t judging their experience as bad, it’s just an experience.

For every thought we have, our brains have a neurochemical response. This is literally where thoughts become things. The neurochemical responses trigger hormonal responses, and we start having feelings because our bodies are flooding with these chemicals. Negative thoughts release stress chemicals, positive thoughts release calming chemicals.

I’m not making this stuff up. There is a lot of new research happening on this topic.

When I hurt my shoulder a while back, I tried an experiment. I stopped judging the sensations I was having as bad. Intense, yes, oh yes! But I stopped using pain-language to describe it. When I would use pain-language, my whole body seemed to join in. Even though the experience was just in my shoulder joint area, I would feel my chest collapse in a bit, my breath got shallower, my mood sunk. My bad posture encouraged other stuff to start squeaking, and within minutes, my whole self felt terrible; body, mind, and spirit.

Without the pain-language, it was just experience. It tended to stay isolated to the joint area. Sometimes it was very intense, and made my eyes water. On the other hand, It healed faster than it “should have” for someone my age. Hmmm.

Awareness takes me out of my habitual thought loops. Awareness gives me the space to see how I am hurting myself with my bad thoughts, my bad creative questions. Awareness gives my organism the room it needs to heal, to grow, to evolve. When I am really aware, I have no bad habits, I have choice. I cannot worry when I am being aware. I am not a victim, or a martyr, or an abuser when I am aware.

How have I changed from avoiding my life to lavishing myself in my awareness?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06252013

Monday, June 24, 2013



Food, diet, nutrition. Organic or GMOs. Alcohol, supplements, drugs. Omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, breatharian.

We sure spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what we consume, what we think we should consume, what we think we shouldn’t.

We count calories, or carbs, or points, or number of Hohos consumed in one sitting. We develop distastes, aversions, even allergies that can kill us. We refuse to move, we run till our shoes fill with blood. We judge the heck out of each other for consuming, or not consuming, and doing or not doing stuff.

Oh, my.
I, too, have ideas about what nourishes us, and what sustains us. This is kinda radical, so take a breath, and read on.

For me, it boils down to this. I believe that we are sustained by spirit, or life force, or whatever you want to call it.  I believe that, regardless of what we consume, it is spirit that nourishes us, and that if I enjoy it, really experience it, it will feed me.

I believe that I create my reality with my thoughts. That includes the world I live in, which is not the world you live in, although we may have some nice overlap.

I believe that I also create my body with my thoughts. I create my health with my thoughts.

I believe that germs are benign and we get sick when we unconsciously decide to. I believe that dis-ease is not our fault, but addressing it is our responsibility.

I believe that any movement done with joy is fun. If I love it, from my core, it’s good for me.

I believe that most of what we are told by the experts is contradicted by other experts, and that, therefore, it is up to each of us to decide what is best for our own selves. What is best for me may be really bad for you, and vice versa.

I believe that it is in my best interest to learn to read my body fluently, to know what makes me feel good, or bad. To notice when something feels off. To acknowledge and experience my feelings quickly and thoroughly.

Right now, I am having a delicious nutrition drink for breakfast everyday, and supper most days. I eat a nice lunch, have a couple fruity snacks. I practice qigong pretty much daily, and I have my daily yoga routines that I’ve been doing for some hideous number of years. I feel really good most of the time.

Over the last few years I have shed fifty pounds. As best I can tell, it has had nothing to do with what I have been eating, or not eating, or how much exercise I have been doing or not doing, but rather, it has had everything to do with what I’m thinking about it. Seriously. It’s very weird, but there you go.

When I don’t feel really good, I pay attention to my thoughts until I uncover the culprits, and then I change them. I will tinker with my Creative Questions until I hit on the right ones, the ones that make me return to feeling really good.

Take what you like, and leave the rest.

How to I transmute all I consume and do into nourishment for body, mind, and spirit?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06242013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ease is the Bee’s Knees

Ease is the Bee’s Knees

The only thing we really have control over is our attitude.

When I am going along with the flow, I nod in sage agreement.

When I am struggling upstream, I often utter a little blue oath when I hear it. Now, I’m sure that when you are struggling upstream, you say, “Oh, that’s right, I forgot for a bit,” and then you relax back into your lovely, natural life, release your negative, moral judgment about what’s going on, and feel your happiness burgeon forth from the eternal spring within you. But not me. I get a little bit stubborn.

I think it’s fascinating, this phenomenon, namely, that when we are fighting life, we feel like we have earned the right to feel crappy, like feeling miserable is a prize. I think that is so messed up, even when I’m feeling it. It’s a feature of fighting life, like when we are depressed we often feel like we are really always depressed, even if it’s underneath our happiness.

When I am fighting my life, I am clenched. I am miserable. I am often in pain. When I am fighting my life, I want, I lack, I suffer. And I have earned it! I want my crappy feelings validated! Oh oh oh.

It’s as though that suffery part of me is fighting for it’s life.

The suffery part of us is like kudzu in the garden of life. As a bit of savor, a little spice, suffering can be interesting, and can serve to remind us to relax back into the flow.

But if we let it, it will smother every nice thing in our life, choking and crushing our peace, severing our connections, and blocking out our joy. And if we let it, it will dictate our thoughts, like powerful, invading alien mind-control creating an environment for its own miserable self to thrive until we feel like isolated, chaotic, black-hole-filled, weeping robots.


And I can deflect it with Creative Questions, like a mental lightsaber.

Why do I choose to lighten up? Why do I feel peaceful? Why am I calm? What makes me happy? What makes me grateful? How have I changed from choosing suffering to choosing my natural life?

When I decide to take responsibility for my life, I am agreeing to remember to lighten up. I am agreeing to deny the suffering entity a foothold. I am agreeing to let go of worry. I am agreeing to acknowledge my feelings, but not to clutch them. I am agreeing to acknowledge my physical experiences and sensations, but not to judge them.

I do all these things by relaxing all the way through. I do all these things by allowing my life to unfold. I do all these things by trusting the Universe.

I do all these things by choosing easy.

Easy does it.

Why is it all so easy?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06232013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Moving to Cando

Moving to Cando

What can you do when you put your mind to something? I bet you’ve done some neat stuff. I like living in Cando, way more than staying in Cantdo. But there is something interesting about that sentence, about that idiom. Did you catch it?

Put our mind to it.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know that I could “put my mind to it” and try right now to deadlift two hundred pounds and really wreck something. I also know that I could “put my mind to it” and start light, and work up to two hundred pounds, or even more.



I do what I am paying attention to doing. But what am I paying attention to? What am I putting my mind to?

It is so important to notice what we are thinking.

“I think about money all the time.” Do you think about having it? “No, I think about not having it.”

“I think about how much I hate my job.”  “I think about how fat I am.” “I think about how stressed out I feel.” “I think about how lonesome I am.” Oh, poor we; fat, stressed, lonesome, and working a job we hate.

Wow! Look what we can accomplish when we put our minds to it! I am quite sincere. We are amazing. Imagine what would happen if we put our minds to what we want instead of what we don’t want.

What would you do with all that success?

What else could you accomplish if you put your mind to it? Imagine what would happen if we each put our minds to vibrant health? Or if we each put our minds to having a peaceful core. Hmmm.

Creative Questions will help us do this, put our minds to it, in the most elegant and effective ways imaginable. Why am I capable? Why do I choose to engage? Why am I peaceful? Why do I have plenty of money? Why am I full of vibrant health? How do I know I am beautiful? How do I know what I want?

I want to live a life of joy and satisfaction, purpose and engagement, peace and passion. Getting there, staying there, is so much easier when I know what I want, when I recognize my joy, my peace, and so on.
Why am I living my natural life? How am I living my natural like? What makes me live my natural life? How have I changed from struggle to living my natural life? That’s the basic set of questions for you. That’s the fundament. Figure out what you want, apply the questions, and prepare to be grateful.

How have I changed from thinking I can’t to trusting that I can?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06222013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Living Richly

Living Richly

Leisure time, lovely weather, treating lunch, sparkly clean, bills paid, giving presents, going to the opera, pedicures, car wash, tiny touch of perfume; these are some of the things that make me feel rich.

What makes you feel rich?

I’m so not going to ask what makes you feel the other way.

For a lot of us, it is way easier to come up with the other list. It falls into the same category as listing what we don’t want. or selecting for only bad, scary news to focus on.

We hear a lot of smart people talking about human nature, like it’s a bad thing.

I think it is human nature to want to be the best we can be, to be happy, to evolve. I think it is human nature to strive to be more than we think we are.

It’s easy to say what we don’t want, what makes us feel lack, what hurts us, who has betrayed us, what horrors live in our nightmares.

It takes a little more to say what we want, what makes us feel rich, what gives us joy, who is trustworthy, what our living dreams are.

Make your choice. Like attracts like.

On the one hand, change is scary. On the other hand, we get bored.

On the one hand, feeling crappy is often familiar, on the other hand, with a little practice, feeling good is way easier.

On the one hand, we get what we pay attention to, on the other hand, we choose what we pay attention to.

I can change my life by changing what I pay attention to.

If I am paying attention to what I don’t want, guess what I get?

If I am paying attention to how much lack I feel, guess what I get?

If I am paying attention to how much people hurt me, guess what I get?

If I feel grateful for what I have, guess what I get?

If I pay attention to what I want, guess what I get?

It is a very simple thing. It just takes practice, like learning to walk or play the piano or drive. You could do it in your sleep. You just have to choose it, and act on it, and practice it. Put up notes to remind you. Write the keywords on a rubber band and wear it on your wrist. Make a recording of what you want and play it in the car.

Live the life you want.

How have I changed from believing in lack and want to revelling in my abundant and joyous life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 06212013