Monday, December 15, 2014

Appreciating the Small

Appreciating the Small

About 465 days ago I started a daily appreciations practice. My rule for it is simple. I think about the day before, and notice what I appreciated, or felt grateful about. I’m not allowed to impose today’s ideas about yesterday’s stuff. I can’t “pretend” I loved a sunset if I didn’t.Then I write about that stuff, and publish it on Facebook. You get the idea.

Knowing that I have an appreciation to write means that I have that attitude floating around in the background all the time. It doesn’t necessarily slow me down, but it does help me remember to savor moments during the day, to choose presence, to look for opportunities to feed my spirit.

That changes things.

Why am I so grateful? What makes me appreciate? How do I feel when I am grateful?

With that attitude tinting my worldview, I see you both more broadly and more deeply. I see how hard you try, I see your tender heart. Compassion for you is easy when I appreciate you.

When I have that feeling supporting my outlook, I notice how much “magical” stuff I’m surrounded by. Now, I don’t think cars or plumbing or computers are really magical, but I find it a fun way to talk about stuff that I don’t really understand the workings of. I mean, did you know that the holes under the rim of the toilet are crucial to it flushing properly? I appreciate that, and am much better about keeping them clean now.

On days when I have spent the day in bed with the chemo-flu, my appreciations may be pretty concise. On days when my energy is high and I have gotten to do stuff I may go on and on. Somedays, I get kinda blissed out on how cool this whole life thing is, and I will tend to go on about that, too.

I am also clear that there is stuff I am not grateful for. I am not particularly grateful for chemo-flu, buzzy burny feet, tingly numb hands, hot twinge-y eyes. I am grateful for my practice which allows me to acknowledge these experiences, and move on. I am grateful for treatments that bring me wellness, but I sure don’t have to be grateful for the side effects! I can choose to suspend my judgment to a certain extent.

I tend not to dwell on that stuff to the best of my ability.

I am clear that I am much more than I think I am. I am capable of much more compassion, much more creativity, much more appreciation. I am aware that I am capable of much more happiness. I am aware that I can model that behavior for you, so you can see one of a million ways to be happier, more creative, more compassionate, more appreciative.

I am aware that I often sound like a blissed out dork. I am. It took me a lot of practice to get here. Every moment of that was worth it. There are days when I don’t have to think about feeling good at all, and other days when I have to choose it over and over and over. It’s worth it.

Choosing happy means I have more energy, something I hold precious these days. Being miserable uses it up like a gas-guzzling engine, so I feel like I’m running on empty. Appreciating stuff; my home, my friends, my environment, my comfy chair, hot water upstairs, generates energy when I mean it.

How have I changed from taking the wonder for granted to appreciating the amazing little things in my life?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 12152014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Call Me Good Enough

Call Me Good Enough

The last few months have been very interesting for me. Learning to work with Edgar, my ostomy, learning to work around chemo, learning to prioritize ferociously, learning to respond to the physical needs of my body, and taking care of my spirit, each of these has been a course in amazing.

Why am I competent? Why am I strong? What makes me capable?

The card I got today is the “Why am I good enough?” card. I realized that through all the unusual events of late I have never asked the question, “Why me?”

When I choose to believe that I am good enough, I can go with the flow. When I go with the flow, I can let go feeling like a victim. “Why me?” and “How did this happen to me?” aren’t useful questions in these circumstances..

When I choose to believe that I am good enough, I can ask for help easily. I can find the joy in each day because I don’t feel like my physical discomfort gets in the way of my spirit. I can do what I can do, and let the rest go for today, and call it good enough.

When I choose to believe that I am good enough, I can feel physically crappy, and emotionally happy because I don’t need to put judgments on my physical sensations.

Huh. That one blew me away.

I mislearned that if I feel physically bad, I have to sound like it. I have to put a certain painful twang into my voice so you know how martyred I am by my body. Why is that? Won’t you believe me if I don’t sound like I’m suffering? Maybe I won’t believe me if I don’t sound like I’m suffering. What I do know is that I am supporting me in feeling bad when I put on that voice.

Is that what I want?

Sometimes we support ourselves in things that make us feel bad because we get something else out of it. This “else” is called secondary gains, and, oh, that one was a bite of bitter for me. Like choosing to be in abusive relationships so you would want to rescue me. Or choosing to feel sick so I could stay home from my bad jobs.Or choosing to be incompetent so you would take care of me.  Or staying poor so I could feel noble. I’m serious! Oy!

How do I know I am good enough? Why am I worthy? What makes me feel clear?

Choosing to feel good enough, choosing to like me and accept me as I am gives me so much freedom.

Does that sound funny to you, choosing to feel good enough? It’s a choice we make, mostly unconsciously, all day long. Or not. It’s a choice, like what cereal to have for breakfast, or whether to acknowledge the nasty email from the ex.

How have I changed from supporting my feeling-bad self to choosing to feel good enough?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 12092014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Creating the Big Easy

Creating the Big Easy

One of those lines we hear on TV a lot is this, “We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way” On TV the easy way is usually caving in to the bullies, and the hard way is staying true to oneself. Mostly it’s not like that in the “real” world.  Here is a true thing: Easy is better, but not always what we think it is.

“Why is it easy?” is a lot like asking “How do I go with the flow of life?” When I stop resisting what is, and allow it, I don’t freak out. I don’t tense up, I don’t struggle, I don’t suffer.

With this chemo stuff, I have a bunch of opportunities to go with the flow. I find myself amazed that I can physically feel bad, and emotionally feel good, that I can find other stuff to attend to besides my discomfort, and that I really believe that “this too shall pass.”

I am amazed that I can let go of my big list of shoulds, and just be where I am. How can it be just so easy? Why do I go with the flow? What makes me flexible?

So here’s a wacky thing. Since I started rehearsing these “easy” questions, I’ve mostly stopped having bad days. That sure doesn’t mean that, uh, interesting stuff doesn’t happen any more. It does mean that I have some choices to make.

Do I want to be so rigid that one “interesting” thing can ruin my day and make me choose to feel angry or scared or miserable? Or do I want to be so flexible that one interesting thing can be the trigger to a wonderful day?

Sometimes I have ideas about myself. “That’s just the way I am.” Or, “I’m a taurus. That’s how we are.” Or, “I’m a woman, or American, or size 16.” When I hear me saying stuff like that, I have to stop for a bit. Am I saying that to support the me I want to be, or to justify or excuse a behavior that keeps me in struggle?

Why would I choose easy? What makes me let go of misery? How do I recognize my choices?

A big part of growing up is recognizing, and owning, our choices. It can be very challenging to do, especially when we feel buffeted by circumstances. We may be feeling like we are reacting to what is going on, not responding. We may feel like we can’t respond, like we aren’t choosing, but we can make our choices in a fraction of a second. Being aware, or looking back and noticing, can start to make a huge difference for us, for our comfort, for our sense of competency, for our feelings of personal power, for our experience of ease.

Sometimes we bale out on stuff we know would make us feel better, but it’s just on the other side of our comfort zone. It would take moving into unfamiliar territory and we don’t like to do that.  We have the idea that familiar is the same as easy. It’s not. When I was in an abusive relationship, of which I had several, it felt very familiar. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was ¨normal” for my life. Choosing to let that go was challenging, but gave me back a lot of me, and made so many things easier.

By looking at my ideas of ¨who I am¨ and assessing them, by looking into my heart and seeing who I want to be, I can start making choices that support me, that don’t hold me back, that don’t make me miserable, or push my loved ones out. I make choices that make my life easy.

How have I changed from making it hard to making it easy?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 12062014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making the Worst of It

Making the Worst of It

One of the wonderful things that has changed since I decided to be happy is that I look for solutions instead of worrying my problems.

One of the things that is so fun about finding solutions is that it’s all about being creative, and that’s more fun than a crate of happy puppies.

One of the things that is so fun about being creative is that I make the rules. I can dream up anything, it doesn’t have to be possible, or real, or legal, it’s just made up.

How do I know I am creative? Why do I find solutions? What makes me choose?

In the olden days, I would get stuck in my own little pile of ick.I would poke around in it,rehearsing how icky it was. I would worry about whether it was going to get ickier. I would beat me up about getting stuck in the first place, I would get scared about what all that ick was going to do to me, I would get angry at me and say awful things about how I must deserve ick if that’s what I had.

All that energy I was using to support my ick sapped my motivation to do anything else. All that worrying got me so anxious I couldn’t sleep well, my digestion would get dicey, I would catch stuff like colds, and tended to spend my time mostly alone, or, if it was with people, I would complain with like-minded folks who were sitting in their own pile of ick.

One of the features of wallowing in my own mire is that I cannot be present and wallow. Huh. I wallow in a negative, nasty past, or I wallow in a mirky and stinky future. Generally speaking, the present moment is mostly kind of neutral.

One of the things that I love about coming up with solutions is that solutions are goals. We often need to make a plan, and carry it out, and achieve it. I love goals. It’s something to look forward to, a good reason to get out of bed and get moving. I love goals because keeping my goal, that thing I want, in mind, helps me stay focused so I spend less time frittering my hours away. I get things done.

The same way that we have to practice happiness, we have to practice misery. We have to choose it over and over. Many of us choose it to the point of depression. By deciding to exercise our creativity, we can start to come up with ways to unchoose misery. We can come up with creative ways to banish negative thoughts, we can come up with hobbies, that is, non-work occupations we can feel passionate about. Surfing the Internet, for example, is not a hobby. Nor is housework. or TV. Collecting, exploring, making stuff, learning a language or to play an instrument; these are hobbies.

By choosing to exercise my creativity for good, for my good and the good of my communities, I am expanding my life a bit. I am engaging a bit more. I am deepening my connections. When I choose to come up with solutions, I become more interested in other stuff, less self-obsessed. When I choose to play with new hobbies, I refresh my spirit. When I choose to create goals for myself, I feel energized and enthusiastic. Using my creativity like this makes it one of my super powers to be used for good. And that makes me feel happy.

How have I changed from creating misery for myself to creating the life I want to live?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11192014

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sad Cowboy

The Sad Cowboy

Team player is a concept a lot of us have a hard time with. We have a lot of strong feelings about the phrase.

Some of us say that we aren’t team players; we are not joiners. We tend to introversion, preferring to work alone, play alone, and often live alone. How could I be a team player when I am a lone wolf?

Some of us say that we aren’t team players; we don’t support the mission or vision of the team.

Why would I be a team player? How do I play well with others? What makes me get along?

One of the features of being a person is that we live in communities. Some are sort of thrust upon us, like the city or town we live in, then the neighborhood we choose to live in, our families, our places of employment, the places where we hang out, so to speak, like church, or coffee shops, or gyms.

Now, I tend to think of myself as a bit of a non-conformist. I tend to think that I don’t much go along with the crowd. That’s true for many aspects of my life, but it does not serve me at work, for example.

I used to buck the system at my jobs. I didn’t feel any affinity for the overarching vision/mission statement we had, so I felt like an outsider. That’s kind of a crummy way to feel when you spend eight or more hours a day someplace. I tended to feel like I was better-than because I wasn’t being compliant, but I was also miserable, made trouble for myself, and had a pretty negative impact on my co-workers. I never felt supported and totally blamed them.

Why can I choose? How can I cooperate? What makes me feel like a contribution?

When I started to choose to be happy, I came up with my own mission statements, to support my co-workers, my friends, my family, and other communities. I changed my mindset to allow for them supporting me back. I made allowances for them, and began to accept the allowances they made for me.

I came to see that working with people for common goals isn’t being a sheep. Following the rules in the places I choose to be isn’t being a mindless drone.

It’s kind of like using good etiquette. We don’t chew with our mouths closed because some random authority figure told us to, we chew with our mouths closed so we aren’t blowing chunks of chewed food onto our plate, or your plate, or on you. Gross.

Etiquette, simple manners, make getting along easier. I like easy. Pretty much following the rules at work and in my other communities makes getting along easier.

When I am part of a community, and am feeling out of step, I need to take a look. Is it someplace I really want to be? If not, then I need to leave. If so, then maybe I need to look at how I am cooperating within the structures of the community. Am I bucking the system? Am I playing non-conformist cowboy? Do I need to relax out of my defiance?

How have I changed from being a sad lone wolf to enjoying cooperation?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11172014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Feel so ALIVE!!!!

I Feel so ALIVE!!!!

So here’s a curious little thing you might not know about me, cuz it seems like I tell you everything. This summer I was a couple hours away from death by colon cancer and surgery saved me.

That’s kind of a dramatic thing, and if you know me, and I think you do, you know I don’t much go in for drama. In the olden days, I loved drama. I thought it was exciting. I liked getting attention, even though it was mostly negative attention. I was such an adrenaline junkie, always looking for something to get cranked up about. I thought I felt alive, but mostly what I felt was jangled.

What I do like is feeling alive. For me, that means feeling present in my natural life; engaged, fresh, aware, joyful, contented, surfing the flow of life. Oh, yeah!

What a lot of us do is avoid feeling alive. We go to miserable. We go to worry. We go to stress. We say things like, “I can’t, I always, that’s just the way I am.” We feel hollow and wonder what is missing, so we have another whatever we go to for that kind of comfort, a drink, a toke, a candy bar, sex, TV; we each have our favorite go-tos.

Why am I alive? How do I feel vibrant? What makes me relish my existence?

Until we decide that we want to feel our aliveness, we pretty much won’t. Sometimes we may get a taste of it when we have great sex, or enjoy some other high-energy activity that gets our blood moving, but unlike choosing aliveness, this sort of thing fades pretty quickly.

When I choose aliveness, I choose to open to what life will bring me. I become aware of the myriad opportunities around me for so much. On my way into work this morning, I started thinking about all the people I love, all the people I like, and how much I get back from them. Next thing I knew, I felt loved by the world, the environment I was driving through, the cosmos. Pretty trippy for a normal commute, but not untypical for me these days.

When I choose aliveness, it is challenging for me to be disappointed. Things are perfect in this moment. I appreciate this moment. I open my heart to the possibilities of the moment.

When I choose aliveness, it is challenging for me to be scared or angry or full of grief. These are feelings out of the present time for the most part, imagining bad stuff about the future, or dwelling on stuff from the past. Sometimes we have to go there to clean up our emotional responses, to work through an old issue, but just going there to hang out keeps us from living in the present.

I think there is a difference between living in the moment, and living for the moment. When I am present, in the moment, I am aware of my choices. I am aware of their consequences, I am aware of my goals. I may not have them at the front of my mind, but they are close. When I am living for the moment, I am usually ignoring my choices, ignoring their consequences, and ignoring my goals. I am frequently disrespectful of myself, and of you. It might be fun at the time, but I rarely love the payback.

Why would I choose alive? How does aliveness support me? How do I feel when I feel alive?

How have I changed from feeling numb or worse to enjoying feeling alive?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11132014

Monday, November 03, 2014

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

This topic has been showing up a lot around me lately, always a good cue to do a little writing. The card is one of my favorites, Why can I choose?

This act, the act of choice, is what makes the difference between a sucky life and a happy life.

I have been seeing articles claiming that positive thinking is bad. Seriously. That happiness is overrated. These articles seem to promote sour grapes, and they both have very interesting, and erroneous takes on both positivity and happiness.

Why can I choose? Why I can choose to be miserable, why I can choose to feel good?

Positive thinking is not daydreaming about the future. It is not pretending things are other than they are. It is not living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Positive thinking is the difference between “I can’t” and “I can.” Positive thinking is relaxed. Positive thinking flows from gratitude and appreciation.

Happiness is not pie-in-the-sky thinking based on outside stuff, but rather it is connecting with our perfect selves deep inside and finding the peace and joy that are already there.

If I am miserable, I am not present, I am not aware, I am in my head thinking, “Things should be different,” but often not having any idea what different would even look like.

And there, as the saying goes, is the rub.

Dissatisfaction is often best friends with “I don’t know,” as in, “What would make me feel better?” “I don’t know.” “What would be more satisfying?” “I don’t know.” And so on.

That little phrase, I don’t know, is a killer. Thing is, we do know. Thing is, we have to take the time, care enough about our well being, to go looking for the answers. They are all there, inside us.

What do I want? What makes me feel good? How do I know what I desire? Why can I choose? Why do I choose?

In making the transition from miserable to happy, I had to choose a lot. I had to do a lot of soul searching. I had to make some challenging, life changing decisions. I chose to leave my entire community not once, but twice. I chose to change my life style. I had to choose to act, to impose some discipline on my life. These were not easy to do, but they were simple, and the impact they had on how I felt and how I behaved with my loved ones was huge.

I need to spend time thinking about what would make me feel better. As I am going through chemo, there are days when I am having a lot of distracting sensation. I have days when I am really tired. At the same time, I don’t have days when I can find nothing to appreciate, to be grateful for. Since this whole shebang started, I’ve had two bad days. That is by choice, and by action. One of the questions I ask on those days is “How do I feel good?” Then I inventory the parts of my body that feel fine. Why am I responsible for how I feel? How do I take responsibility for me? What makes me accountable?

By owning that I choose this or that, I give myself the power to change those choices to ones that support me. And when I am taking care of me, I am a better friend to you, too.

How have I changed from denying my choice to choosing to act on what I want?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 11/03/2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Semantics: Friend or Foe

Semantics: Friend or Foe

Semantics. Attitudes. Thinking about these a lot lately. How the higher the quality of our semantics, and the better our attitudes, the better our quality of life. Judgment fits in there, too. Stuff that happens is neutral until we put our judgment on it, and then, whammy. Judgment isn’t Truth, it’s an opinion, and that means we can change our minds about it.

Semantics is, simply put, the meanings we attach to words. When we use words, we have feelings about them. In fact, some researchers say that we have an emotional response to every single thought we think, even the unconscious ones.

If I want to improve the quality of my life, I need to pay attention to my semantics. For example, as I am flowing with this chemo stuff, I do not feel like a warrior. When I am a warrior, I need an enemy, and creating an enemy gives that enemy power. My power. Ha! I wanna keep my power, thank you very much. I certainly don’t wanna give it to a disease or to symptoms.

I know a lot of people disagree with me on that one. I think they think that the word “warrior” sounds fierce and tough. For me, it’s not a positive, as long as I have to have an enemy.

Additionally, I do not feel like a survivor, even though I was hours away from death. I thrive. I thrive in my spirit, in my relationships. I thrive in my thoughts. I thrive in my choices.

I choose to use other words than “pain.” Pain has a lot of negative associations for me. It is a rich, full word that I have used to describe everything from self-harm to bad back problems to broken hearted misery to being batshit crazy. Using this word for me is very low vibrations. I like high vibrations.

Why do I choose to be happy? How do I choose to be content? What makes me feel peaceful?

As I am flowing with this chemo stuff, I have opportunities every day to choose to use high vibrational language that makes me feel strong and competent, capable and loving. I use the phrase, “This, too, shall pass.” and choose to relax into whatever is going on.

When I remember that whatever is happening isn’t inherently good or bad, but what I choose to make of it, I have power. I have choice. This is simply experience. I choose to flow with it, or resist it. Resisting takes effort, flowing takes wisdom. Uh oh, did I say that? Kinda judgmental, but I will let it stand.

Being happy generates energy. Being miserable uses energy. Using low vibrational words brings us down. Using high vibrational words raises us up. Having an attitude of positivity keeps us moving in ease. Having an attitude of negativity mires us in many ways.

There are days when I can barely get out of bed. When I am being negative, I feel lazy, worthless, and then I get depressed. When I remember I have choice, I choose to enjoy a soft day of snoozing and reading, video games, movies, dozing, cat patting, and other lovely indulgences. I feel respectful of my being. I love my company. The only difference between the two is my attitude and judgment.

When I notice language I use that brings me down, I modify it. I find words that might be completely neutral for you, but that make me feel awful. I do what I can to stop using them.

How have I changed from being my own downer to choosing to elevate my being?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 10292014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Banishing the Monsters in the Basement

Banishing the Monsters in the Basement

What follows will be a bit challenging. You know I like to warn you about that.

Here’s the thing. I get this life. I don’t know about reincarnation, or afterlife, or anything like that, so until I have proof, I get this life.

The first chunk of it was deeply challenging. As a kid, I would ask my adults to tell me about their childhoods, wanting to find some common ground maybe, or some compassion for them, and mostly the answer I got was, “I don’t remember.”

I decided that I would remember. I practiced remembering. Seriously. I would be in the middle of doing something and say to myself, “remember this.” I buried the memories of a lot of trauma and abuse, but I still had access to a lot of my childhood play, and friends, and school, and home.

When I got into therapy, I processed a lot of those memories, and more that came up, and little by little I released a lot of trauma, a lot of emotional angst and pain and terror.

I get this life.

How do I want to live it? Do I want to live it at the mercy of old, unconscious crap that forces me into behaviors and beliefs that leave me feeling like I don’t like me, I don’t like what I do, I don’t like you? Feeling like there is something wrong with me, feeling crappy in general?

I don’t.

Why do I choose to examine my life? Why do I choose to be positive? Why do I choose to let go the trauma of my past? Why do I look at my past with courage and compassion?

I hear people say that they did some therapy, and that’s enough. Are you happy? Are you content and satisfied with the quality of your life? Do you still have emotional issues that grab you by the throat and throw you to the ground?

Choosing to clean up our unconscious minds leaves us with a lot of energy, energy we used to use holding our demons at bay. Feeling happy also energizes us, spirit fills us and we are fair to bursting with good will and joi de vivre. We now want to bring our dreams to life, to help our loved ones find happiness, to notice how good things are to the world.

I can’t do that when I am leaning against my unconscious mind’s basement door trying to keep my monsters at bay. Even if I’m not aware of it, that will take up a good chunk of juice, and leave me feeling unsettled, kinda scared, worried, miserable, and like I fail a lot.

Owning my whole life, the good with the bad, helps me see how I am a whole person. It helps me flow with whatever happens because I have been through awful stuff and not only survived, but thrive and have fun. By cleaning out my emotional basement, I have way more room to be the person I want to be.

How have I changed from holding back my monsters to dealing with them until they are done?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 10162014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



Lately, I haven’t been thinking a lot about my goals. That’s okay, I have ‘em and there is probably time. Instead, I have been thinking about my commitments. One of the reasons is because my physical well-being has been so in my face lately, my spoons of NRG have changed so much, and I am finding that I just don’t give a rip about some stuff that matters when I feel differently.


Some of my intentions have stayed strong. My intention to be present and aware. My intention for personal growth. My intention to positivity. My intention to teach. My intention to enjoy peace at my core. No trouble with those. They are pretty much habits now.

At the same time I am finding myself going through periods of feeling crummy. It may be queasiness, or muscle stuff, or apathy-inducing fatigue, or several other rather unpleasant experiences. This is the time for my commitments to shine. While I am making sure to get good rest, I also have cause to be up and at ‘em for at least several hours a day. Sometimes I will notice that I am all hunched over. Usually I am also, then, feeling down to go with the posture.

Why do I choose to be positive? Why do I choose to look at the bright side? How does my positivity serve me?

One of the things I am bringing a commitment to is my posture. When I am hunch-y, I feel hunch-y, crunchy, down in the mouth, and I notice every little thing that feels off or bad.

When I shift my posture to an uplifted stance I feel better. It is easier to notice what feels good. I can commit to feeling good even when I feel crummy. Good is relative in a bunch of ways. Instead of thinking, “Gah, I feel so crappy.” I can choose to ask, “How do I feel good today?” and shower my mind and body with a good Creative Question. It is a simple, mechanical fix that works.

When I am feeling crummy day after day, I can let it become a feature of my internal landscape, a new set-point so to speak, and riff off of that point. Maybe I don’t feel great compared to my pre-cancer days, but I can feel great relative to yesterday. Or this morning.

How do I choose to feel good? How am I healthy? What makes me resilient?

I can be aware of my posture, and remember that “upright and relaxed” will always improve my sense of well-being. If it’s available, getting sunshine in my eyes will also help, and often requires looking up. I don’t mean stare at the sun, but I do mean let it shine on your face, and indirectly flood your eyes.

I can remember the phrase, “H.A.L.T.” or “Never let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.” Any one of those can bring us down, and a combination of them can be devastating.

If my discomfort is being particularly annoying, getting into my head is a good way to take a break. A good book, or movie, or puzzle, or chat about anything other than how I’m feeling,  will often distract me enough so that I stop feeding the discomfort attention, which makes it stronger.

Being committed to things makes us creative, especially when our commitment is challenged. That creativity can often help us grow emotionally, giving us more confidence, a stronger sense of capability, a sense of being competent.

How have I changed from focusing on what I don’t want to making commitments for what I do want?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 10142014

Thursday, October 09, 2014



Bottom line is that it’s simple. It’s so simple that most of the time we can’t see how simple it is. We kind of like complicated, it makes us feel important. But simple sets us free.

Are you wondering what on earth I’m talking about? Living our lives. Living our lives in simplicity and freedom.

How do we do that?

How do I choose? How am I happy? How have I changed from living in chaos to choosing simplicity?

Simplicity is, to a large part, all attitude. I make things complicated by intellectualizing them, thinking things to death, questioning, and not in a good way, everything. I make things complicated with negative fantasies about the future. I make things complicated by ruminating on my perceived guilt and shame. I make things complicated by second guessing you, deciding what you mean rather than asking you straight out. I make things complicated by being vague in my communications, by not knowing what I want, by not being present.


When I choose to relax, I am choosing simple. When I choose not to intellectualize, I am choosing simple. When I choose not to fret, when I choose not to make stuff up about you, when I choose to be clear and present, I am choosing simple.

Simple is often a scary concept for us. We feel like we would be losing something if our lives didn’t feel complicated, like we would be bored, or not matter, like we would turn into a hippy-type person, or a slacker, or not care. How could we live productive, valuable lives if things are simple? Life is hard and complicated.

It’s all wrong.

When I choose simple,  my time is softer. My mood is softer, too. Simple makes for lighter, more uplifted spirits. It’s way easier for me to get stuff done when I am cheerful than when I am morose. When I choose simple and aware, I can find joy all over the place. That makes even little things a delight. I can relish small tasks, I don’t need to make stuff complicated to feel important because feeling connected, engaged, and present is so much better.

Now, you need to understand that in the olden days, if there was a way to make it hard, that’s what I did. With everything. When I wasn’t feeling ashamed or guilty, I was fretting about me, about you, about the starving people of the world, about the dwindling rainforests and crime in the streets. If it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t worth doing. Oy.

I catch myself doing that from time to time. I will set myself a task, and then make it hard by including a world of distractions. I will make it hard by worrying about how it will turn out, how to do it perfectly. I can often stop myself from doing stuff by perfectionism.

Choosing simple makes it easy, and I do like easy. And it makes life fun. I love fun! And simple means I can find easy and fun pretty much anywhere.

How have I changed from believing in complicated to choosing simple?

© Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 10092014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Life in Miseriopolis

Life in Miseriopolis

Back when I lived in Miseriopolis, I used to think people were jerks. In general, of course, but also because they didn’t seem to want to listen to me go on about my misery; my angst, my pain, my suffering, how hard my life was, how I was disrespected, blah blah blah. I felt discounted, I felt like my feelings weren’t being validated. That was all about you, you see, and how you lacked in compassion for me.

I am so sorry. I didn’t know.

I had a great deal of mislearning about how to be an adult. I won’t go so far as to say everything I knew about being an adult was a mislearning, but I am a bit tempted.

One great mislearning was that misery was my birthright. I was entitled to feel miserable, with all its attendant benefits, like being able to bow out of things I had agreed to, but didn’t wanna do, by being sick with a migraine or back pain. Who could argue with that? Was I miserable because I was sick, or was I sick because I was miserable?

Another great mislearning was that my misery was somehow your fault. That meant that all my interactions with you had a dash of bitterness and resentment attached. How charming. It’s why I felt okay about being snarky and sarcastic with you. You deserved it for making me suffer. Somehow.

Another great mislearning was that “this is just the way things are.” What a cop out. There is a huge difference between accepting what is and flowing with life, and becoming resigned to X. Flowing with life gives us room for peace, and joy, and bliss. Resignation is not joyful, or peaceful. It’s all full of rust and dust and bitter gall.

Ask many people who have gone from misery to joy how they did it, and most of them will say, “I realized it was a choice.”

Why am I a leader? What makes me positive? How am I uplifting?

Someone will always lead. May as well be us. We set examples all the time, may as well lead by them. We have choices to make a thousand times a day. May as well choose up.

One of the secrets about this attitude stuff is that cheery has a lot more energy than miserable. Miserable takes up loads of energy. We are meant to be uplifted, that makes us feel light, light is high-efficiency. Misery is down and dark. Dark takes up a lot of juice, it is very low-efficiency. That’s part of why we wanna just stay in bed when we feel down.

One of the secrets about this attitude stuff is that my feelings are my responsibility. I know it seems like Joe Blow makes me mad, or scared, or sad, but it’s me acting as his proxy. I am responsible for my feelings. I finally got it one morning when my little fur family was making me crazy. I was ranting at them, and suddenly realized that they were doing what they do every day, it was only my reaction that was different.

Unchoosing misery, choosing uplifted, is one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves, and subsequently for our families, our communities, and on and on.

How have I changed from being entitled to my misery to choosing to lighten up?

  1. Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 10082014