Saturday, November 30, 2013

Becoming a Thought-Master

Becoming a Thought-Master

The being positive card came up again today. Fell out of the deck as I was shuffling. It’s a wonderful reminder for me, as positive as I am, cuz I go to funk, too. I had a couple hours of “I suck” yesterday.

I will say that I enjoy the occasional crabbi-ass from time to time. Usually for about twenty minutes, and then I get bored.

“I suck” or “life sucks” is different. I don’t enjoy that, but they are old habits from the dark ages, and I don’t know if I will ever be cut of them. Meanwhile, I get to practice changing my feelings as easily as changing my mind.

Here’s how I do it. You may find all of this works for you, or some of it, or none. But I give it to you with all my love.

Why am I okay?

For me, “I suck” is a feeling I notice most in my lower belly and solar plexus. It’s often an amalgam of shame about something, sometimes guilt, often a feeling of not measuring up to an unknown standard, and also often simply feeling not good enough.

What makes me good enough?

So a quick way to shift things for me is to get that physical space moving, so to speak. I will take a few minutes to do standing forward bends, some crunches or sit-ups, and imagine the feeling getting squished out.

How do I feel when I feel fine?

If the guilt component is present, I take a look at the situation without all the feelings on it, as best I can, and then I assess. Was the thing actually less terrible than my feelings make it? Mostly, that is true. Am I doing something to change the situation? Mostly, I am. Can I forgive myself for this behavior? I am usually willing to do that.

What makes me innocent?

The shame piece is different, since that’s about who I am, rather than what I’ve done, or not done. Shame is sticky and smells bad. It’s like soul-grime. My two best shaming questions are: What’s wrong with you? and What’s the matter with you?

Those are, in case you missed it, excellent examples of horrible creative questions. Let your subconscious mind start working on those and I guarantee you will feel like crap in almost no time at all. You can try it, if you want. Like going to a scary movie.

How do I know I am pure? What makes me feel clear? How do I know I am lovable?

Taking responsibility for how I feel, knowing that the outsides are something I myself choose to riff on, makes me free. I am in charge of how I feel, and I am in charge of changing it. It’s not a fluke, it’s not contingent on you doing something different. My feelings and thoughts are the place in my life where I really do have control.

How have I changed from being a victim to my thoughts and feelings to owning that I am the boss of me?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11302013

Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Find Your Most Beautiful Self

How to Find Your Most Beautiful Self

Oh, you are gorgeous. Your divine self is all shiny and beautiful. I can see that part of you. Can you? Can you see your natural self? Can you see how lovely you are, and how your natural self is so attractive?

Or are you stuck in feeling like you don’t fit in, you don’t match something, you don’t look right? Sometimes we feel like we are too this way, or not enough that way.

Things happen in our lives that mess up our beliefs about how the world works in a whole lot of ways. One of those is about the way we look. We get ideas about how we should look to be attractive, and we often think that the way we should look is the way we don’t look.

We think our face should be different, our muscles should be different. We think we are too tall or short, too fat or skinny, to light or too dark. Our eyes are the wrong color, our feet are too something, or we have a spot.

If you are making your living by your appearance, some of those things may be true, the same way professional athletes have to do different things with their bodies for their jobs. and some people go to extraordinary lengths to change their looks.

This topic has been very interesting to me, especially since I started studying face reading. Wow. Between our faces, our walk, our postures and gestures, we tell each other so much about ourselves. We don’t wear our hearts on our sleeves, but on our faces.

The harder I try to not feel unattractive, the more I struggle to feel attractive, the weirder it can get, and often means I will just feel worse. And possibly just look more and more different.

But here’s the thing. No matter what we look like, when we are relaxed and soften into our natural life, we are radiantly gorgeous. It’s part of the deal. The more we let go of bad, old beliefs, mistrust of the Universe, self-hate and -punishment, the more of our True selves we have.

How do I know I am beautiful? What makes me attractive? Why do I feel lovely?

There is a difference between taking care of ourselves, and struggling to make ourselves attractive. There is a difference between pampering ourselves, and punishing ourselves. The more we relax our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies, the easier it is for us to choose taking care, and pampering over punishing and struggling.

The more we move away from trying to fit a standard, and embrace our true self with love, the more we show up, in our true self, in our natural gorgeous appearance, radiating peace, and satisfaction, bliss and contentment. People see us for who we are at our center, not for our past, or our history or our story.

We respond to the world, then, from our core, our perfect self. We see the world with compassionate eyes, with patient ears, with gentle and powerful touch, with wisdom, and boundaries, and love. And as we show up this way in the world, we create space for our people to find their core, their perfect selves, their natural lives. We can talk and talk, but it’s by living our talk that we make that space happen for our loved ones, for ourselves.

And when we look in the mirror, then, we smile with love at this beautiful person who has done so much to make our life comfortable, joyful, satisfying, and peaceful -- our very own self.

How have I changed from feeling ugly or less than, to seeing the truth of my radiant, beautiful self?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11292013
Please do not buy a deck of Creative Questions Cards today. If you have the day off from work, find someones you love to spend some time with, feel grateful for something, and peace in.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

It Takes a Hamlet

It Takes a Hamlet

I am always curious as to what card will come to me each day. I love having a little focal point in the day. Stuff comes up all the time, and I have a choice for how I’ll respond, or react, and when I have a good, solid, Creative Question floating around in my head, I often make better decisions.

I gotta say, I prefer making better decisions. In order to do that, I have to stay on top of stuff.  And by that I mean that I need to be aware of what I’m on about.

There are a few ways I’ve found to do that. One is to slow down inside, to relax. Relax. Relax.

I am, little by little, coming to recognize when I am heading to my ol’ overwhelmed feeling. I used to go there all the time. Overwhelmed would lead to headaches, and then a cold. If I played my cards right, I could end up with bronchitis or pneumonia, forcing me to back off.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather back off from the overwhelmed than have my body, uh, body-slam me into relaxing.

I have also surrounded myself with my brilliant and loving friends and family. When I have stuff come up that feels too much for just me, I go to them for comfort, and counsel, and wisdom. They helped me learn the difference between talking about what’s going on and complaining, and the difference between complaining and whining.

They taught me about how to relax and let my life flow. They stood by me as I’ve worked through my stuff, shed my tears, beaten pillows, and screamed out old traumas.

The act of evolving, becoming enlightened, or growing up, whatever you want to call it, is all about teamwork. This is a tricky one for introverts to get. It may be tricky for you extroverts, too. If it is, let me know, please.

I thought that I was supposed to do all this growing up by myself. Poor little me. I was so wrong. I need your help. I need your insights, and instruction, I need your comforting arms, and gentle hand to pet my head. I need you to remind me when I start to stray, and to give me a little shove when I get too far off the path. I need you to give me the look from time to time when I am being ridiculous, or to remind me to relax back into the flow of life.

It turns out that life is way easier when I have a great team to work with.

So now it looks like one of my tasks of growing up is to surround myself with loving, wise, supportive people.

In the dark ages, my life was full of drunks, abusers, misery buddies, and pain pals. Oy. I got a lot of support for drinking and drugging, for yelling, for acting nuts, and being dramatic. None of that really ever did much for my well being.

Choosing to step out of that into the light was the most courageous thing I ever did. All it took was a change of attitude. And creating my team.

I love having my team, and being on their teams. And, while we have to do the inside work each by our own selves, being encouraged and, best of all, loved without strings by our chosen ones is what makes the difference. I have created a lovely, loving hamlet of people who bring wonder to my life.

You can do this, too. You can start today. You can change your attitude, and set your sights to bring in true and loving friends, and to be a true and loving friend to to them.

How have I changed from struggling alone to having a life full of helpers whom I love, and who love me?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11282013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making Body Magic

Making Body Magic

I drew the “Why am I right?” card this morning. We’ve had it come up a bunch of times lately, so I was letting the question roll around in my head, and noticed that I really feel it in my body.

How do I feel when I feel wrong? Ask it, let it sink in, notice. Where do you feel “wrong” most vividly? My middle back folds in, my shoulders droop, and my breathing gets small.

And now, shake it off!

How do I feel when I feel right? Ask it, let this sink in. notice. Where do you feel “right” most vividly? Basically, my posture and breathing improve.

How about you? In your body?

This is useful information. It works surprisingly well for a number of things.

Twelve step programs use a phrase to help in the transition from what-I-was-like to what-I’m-like-now. They say, “act as if.”

If I want more confidence, it will help me to act as if I am confident. If I want to feel right more, it will help if I know how I feel when I am right. Same with positive, same with creative. Same with healthy. When I have bad headache, or cold, sometimes it helps to change my posture. Weird.

So one thing that will help me feel better is to be in my body with more awareness. My tendency is to get up in my brain, all thinking and intellectualizing. You know, philosopher and all that. Plus, my body hurt back in the day. A lot. All the time. So hightailing it into my thinky stuff helped distract me.

I started changing that by noticing my emotions, and learning to be aware of how I was feeling in the moment. That one took me a long time, lots of practice. But, as I learned to acknowledge my emotions at the time I was having them, I also started to feel better in my body. How curious.

And I learned that, while emotions lead to feelings which can lead to body postures, muscle tension, aches and pains, changing my body postures, relaxing muscles and so forth, can also have a big impact on my feelings and emotions.

Smiling with eye-crinkles and holding it for a minute or so actually causes a nice release of serotonin. An upright posture will help us feel more uplifted, and then we can put confidence, or being right, or creative, or positive on top of that.

And when we notice that we are literally in a slump (notice that we use that word for that thing) we can help ourselves out from it by not slumping in our bodies. It’s almost magical.

If I am feeling blue, I need to get up and dressed, and at least go out for a walk. If it’s grey outside, I will feel better if I can wear some light yellow lensed glasses. If I am seeing red, it will help if I can keep my breath deep, but slow it way down, the way it is when I am deeply relaxed. And so on. Putting my body into the postures and patterns of my goal-feeling is a wonderful, quick, and easy way to get where I wanna be.

How have I changed from feeling bad to being the boss of my thoughts, emotions, and feelings?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11272013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Owning Our Divine Greatness

Owning Our Divine Greatness

Again, I drew the “Why do I have a purpose?”card, from the blue and yellow deck. The word that popped out for me was “innocent.”

Each of us has a purpose, a point to our existence. Each of us has a special set of skills, talents, and experience that combine to make a rich and amazing blend. When we figure out what to do with it, and start doing it, the world is blessed by our gift.

Some of us are blessed with knowing what we want, knowing what we want to do, almost from the beginning. They are the people who are now what they wanted to be when they were a kid. It’s not the case for many of us.

In days of yore, I felt like I was living without direction, without purpose. Looking back, I think I may have been wrong about that. I think that, because I was so focused on feeling bad, that my purpose was to nurture that; my bad thoughts, my bad feelings, my physical discomfort, my unpleasing circumstances and dissatisfying relationships.

I realize that’s kind of harsh, but I also know you want a better life. Me, too. So we need to take a few minutes from time to time to see where we are putting our energy. Do I talk about that too much? I don’t think so, heaven knows I need the reminders.

I remember that conversation wherein my friend said, “Law of Attraction? That doesn’t work. I think about money all the time, and I’m still broke.” I said, “Do you think about having money, or not having money?” He said, “I think about not having it. Oh. I get it.”

Why do I choose to think about what I want?

Whatever I’m focusing on will get more so. This isn’t 100%, but it is a very good general rule. When I am thinking about feeling overwhelmed, too much on my plate, I start moving into shutdown. For me, that can be a cold or a migraine type headache. I would much prefer to change my thinking and avoid the sick, so I will do that.

Thinking about things I want is nice, thinking about how I want to be is nice, too. I gave up on the whole “that’s just how I am” thing a long time ago. I am not my behavior, and I can change my behavior, and my thoughts, and my stupid bad attitude. I can do that. I have to want to change. I have to want to be more me, that divine, infinite being with more depth and breadth and compassion and love than I can even imagine right now.

We each are so much more on the inside than we are on the outsides. It’s one of the reasons I started playing the “Secret Name of the Day” game. When I give myself a different name, and let myself move into that name for a while, I access other aspects of my personality, aspects that I don’t usually tap into. This lets me see that I am so much more than I let myself be, and I move more deeply into my own greatness.

Why do I accept my greatness? What makes me acknowledge my infinite being? How do I know I am remarkable?

When we can get there, and touch that deep, divine aspect of ourselves, we can find our true ambitions, our pure goals, our being’s purpose. We can find the focus we need to get out of our own way, to grow up, to blossom, and live the life we want from deep within.

How have I changed from supporting my misery to supporting the self I want to be?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11262013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Autumn Tears

Autumn Tears

It’s autumn here. The temperature is right around freezing, we’ve had a little snow, the leaves have fallen from the trees. I’ve watched my birdies get fatter and fatter at the feeder, and seen the squirrels burying like crazy. I love autumn.

At the same time, I get really sad in autumn, watching all the plants die off, or go into hibernation. But it’s a strange and curious sad, because it’s also just part of the cycle. So I feel sad without all the attendant stuff that I often have with that feeling.

For me, when I am feeling the other kind of sad, I can feel ripped off, like something has been taken from me. I often feel miserable in that grief. Sobs and tears and snot being wrenched out from me.

In this kind of autumn sorrow, I feel different, part of a cycle, like exhaling. I like this kind of sad. This kind of sad is enjoyable to me, and when I can remove the accreted crud, I have found I can feel it elsewhere, too.

Point is, having a positive mindset doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean I pretend I’m feeling up when I’m not. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean I lie about what’s going on with me to make things see good when they aren’t.

It does mean I notice what I am feeling, and if it’s crap, I change it. Oh, yeah, it’s just that easy.

When I can, I remember that circumstances aren’t inherently good or bad, but only become so when I judge them. Yeah, that was a big one for me to get my head wrapped around, too. I still have to think about it from time to time.

Why would I choose to feel positive? How do I choose to exercise my judgment? What makes me choose to find the good?

How do I choose to exercise my judgment? What happens when I decide that event X is okay and not a crisis? What happens to me?

Sometimes, it feels okay because I realize I can handle it. Then, I get to save a lot of energy not freaking out about whatever the thing is.

Sometimes, it feels okay because I remember I can ask you for help. Then I get to save a lot of energy not worrying about whatever the thing is.

Sometimes, it feels okay because I know I’m already doing something about it. I get to stay peaceful.

Sometimes, it feels okay because it’s part of a cycle.

Sometimes, it just feels bad, and I have to get through it. Sometimes, I have to do that over and over again.

I can do that, and still have a positive outlook. And so can you.

How have I changed from thinking I’m stuck in the crap, to having a positive outlook?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11252013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Worth Loving

Worth Loving

It ‘s a two-card day! I love that, the random blending of questions. Today’s duo are “Why am I good enough?” and “Why do I like what I do?”  Oh, yeah!

Feeling good enough, and liking what I do are both fundamental to a nice life. Amazingly, both of them are my choice.

I know, I know, I was full of those objections, too.

I’m not good enough because I am too this way or that way, I’m not good enough because I’m too much here and not enough there. I’m not good enough because of some other external thing or some behavior I have.

I can’t like what I do because it’s stupid, or gross, or boring. I can’t like what I do because it goes against my beliefs. I can’t like what I do because it’s beneath me.

Harsh words ahead, folks. Brace yourselves. “That’s just how I am.” is a load of old litter. It’s a cop out. And it’s time to cut the crap.

So I stop shrugging my shoulders and saying, “That’s just how I am.”  Crappy thoughts make crappy feelings, and crappy feelings make crappy behavior and, lo, I feel bad about me. Change the thoughts, and I change my life. I have to decide I’m worth loving. I have to choose to feel good enough.

It’s the same with what I’m doing. When I hate what I’m doing, it’s a horrible chore. When I can find a compelling reason to do it, I may not love the work, but I can get through it way more easily. Sometimes I can find ways to enjoy gross tasks, sometimes I can’t. Then, it gets back to finding what is motivation for me.

One thing I do when I can is break the big nasty task into little pieces. When I break a big job into a bunch of little jobs, I find it much easier to enjoy it. My progress may be slower, but I don’t end up feeling all pissy.

Another thing I can do is layer the task with something I like, an audiobook in the background, a movie I know well so I don’t have to look at it, sometimes, promising myself a little reward at the end can be all the motivation I need.

If I really hate what I’m doing, and little tricks don’t help, I need to find something new to do. Sometimes, I do something I hate for a bigger reason. Maybe I get great benefits, or a really nice salary that helps my family. As long as it feels worth it, it can be sufficient.

Sometimes, I end up doing stuff I don’t like doing because I feel like I’m not good enough to do the things I want to do. What a catch-22. At the same time, as I start practicing feeling good enough, that feeling will loosen up and shift out, and with almost no effort, I can find myself doing things that I enjoy, that feel worthwhile, that are satisfying to me.

Bottom line, over and over again, is that I am responsible for my own well-being. That isn’t a big horrible thing, it’s a lovely soft thing, taking care of me with loving kindness gets me all filled up so I can take care of you the same way.

How do I feel when I feel good enough? How do I feel when I like what I do?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11242013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finding Spirit

Finding Spirit

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found a good, solid, clear definition of spirituality. I am not religious per se, but I do have spiritual feelings. Sorting out my ideas about my spirituality has been like the story of the seven blind men trying to describe an elephant; an elephant is like a rope, an elephant is like a tree, like the side of a hut, like the leaf of a banana tree; the tail, the leg, the body, the ear.

So I feel my way along, gleaning a little information here, a little more understanding there. I use my heart to feel my way.  

For me, being spiritual has several parts. Part one is recognizing the brilliance of nature. Spotting the golden ration out in the world, watching the results of our planet turning, listening to the birdies chattering, checking out a snowflake, or a stone. Why do I slow down and see? Why can I hear?

Part two is noticing my beliefs. Once I’ve identified a belief, I check it out and see how it fits with my primary commandment: Be excellent to each other. Since I am an “other” for someone, I figure that puts me in there, too. So I look for beliefs that diminish me, or you, and then set about changing them. Why am I good to myself? What makes me compassionate?

Part three is noticing my attitude. Oh, man, I used to hate that line, “You need to change your attitude, Missy!” I think it was the “Missy” that was like a poke in the chest and would get me all riled up. On the other hand, they were right, and eventually I did. And I do. I’ve learned that my day sucks only when I let it suck.

When I let myself relax out and away from my knee-jerk-y, negative emotional judgments, when I can relax away from worry and fear and anger, when I soften into my natural life, I see your good heart. I see your challenges and feel compassion and can find respect. When I feel compassion and respect for you, our relationship shifts. You don’t have to do a thing. It's like adding a paperclip to an element in a mobile -- everything has to shift to accommodate that little change.

So, my spiritual practice consists of being aware of my insides and outsides most of the time. Of noticing crappy beliefs that don’t support my prime directive, and change ‘em. Of noticing my attitude and changing it as needed. I meditate, I practice qigong, and I practice tonglen.

One of the ways I practice tonglen is to remember, “Other people feel this discomfort, too. May we all be free of this.”  Simple, easy. The point is that I am never “the only one.”  When I think, “I am the only one who ever blah blah blah,” I can bet my booty that my ego is running the show.

When my ego is running the show, stuff is going to get weird. I am going to feel put upon, or I will want to put upon you. I will bring all my worst stuff to the surface, and justify it all to heck and back. I will feel righteous. Putting you down feels natural to me in that state, because I am better than you.


So that’s part of it, too. Noticing when I’ve let my ego-self take over, and letting go, relaxing back into my natural life.  And remembering that each person in my life brings me a gift of some sort each day. If I can’t see it, the failing is mine, and only mine, and they will bring it again to me tomorrow.

How have I changed from feeling a spiritual disconnect to feeling spirit throughout my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 11232013