Friday, February 28, 2014

The New Head Honcho

The New Head Honcho

Happy card came up again today. When cards show up frequently, I know we have some work to do on the topic. So here is my question to you:

Do you believe me when I say that happiness comes from inside us? Do you believe me when I say that our point of view, our judgments, decide whether a thing, or situation is good or bad, that they don’t have an inherent plus or minus grade? Do you believe me when I talk about how we can choose our natural life, full of bliss and peace and satisfaction and contentment?

Or do you think, “Oh, that Pam. She’s full of beans.”

Changing our ideas about how the world works can be really challenging. Being willing to consider that everything doesn’t suck, being willing to buy into the notion that the world is a nicer, kinder, better place today than it has been takes a leap, takes trust. On a smaller scale, believing that we can change our lives, change ourselves, may seem impossible. Believing that we can live a nice life, with activities that satisfy us, in a peaceful, fun environment, and people who love us, whom we are crazy about, may seem impossible.

We have the power.

We limit ourselves with our notions, we hold ourselves back with our ideas, we imprison ourselves with our thoughts. We mislearn our fundamentals as tiny children, and then keep finding junk to support those mislearnings as we get older, until we are so mired in our own cesspools of bad ideas that we can barely see the good. Okay, that might be a little bit strong for a lot of us, but it sure was the truth for me.

My thinking was like this. I am doomed. I am doomed to live in a sick and pain filled body. I am doomed to only have abusive people for friends. I am doomed to work crappy jobs for peanuts. I am doomed to poor sleep filled with nightmares, to feel right at the edge of suicidal most of the time. I am doomed, well, the list went on.

I wasn’t doomed, I was choosing to believe my mislearnings. Simple. And all I had to do was change my beliefs.

What makes me feel good? Why do I choose a nice life? What makes me decide to live in new ways?

Why do I choose to feel well? How do I trust my body? What makes me find my health?

How do I choose good relationships? Why am I supported? Why do I engage?

When I begin to assume things will work out for me, when I believe that I am fortunate, when I decide that stuff goes my way, things shift around inside me. The events of the world don’t necessarily change, but my experience of them shifts dramatically.

I find gratitude, I find appreciation, I find that I feel blessed. When I get those feelings, I feel bliss easily, I feel joy easily. I enjoy what I do, and I can do what I enjoy. People may not treat me better, but I don’t take things personally, I don’t take on abuse, I don’t derive my self-esteem from their opinions.

How have I changed from letting my childhood self run the show to taking charge of my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02282014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to Throw a Pity Party

How to Throw a Pity Party

Some days it’s really easy, light, and everything seems to flow with the shine and magic, but not the poison, of mercury. Some days it’s really challenging, heavy, and everything seems to sludge along, a little bit stinky and really slow.

Some days we find extraordinarily taxing, some days leave us feeling super-charged, and blissful.

I have taken to writing a daily set of appreciations. “Why am I grateful?”is one of my favorite questions, and I write them very first thing when I get up, so I’m not much awake. I decided it was a great way to open my eyes to a new day, appreciating the one just past.

Most days, those appreciations flow off my fingers like butter in the sun, but every so often, it’s not like that. This morning, for example.

Clunk clunk clunk. I can’t think of a darn thing I’m thankful for, even though I am surrounded by luxury, love, abundance, health, and fun. I’m serious.

When that happens, when my normal flow feels chunky, I am pretty sure to have some negative emotional or moral judgments going on about something, feeling a bit sour, or bitter, maybe. At the very least, I may be pissed off about something.

This is where being a divine and infinite being of great creativity comes in handy.

Now, as creative people, when faced with this kind of old fashioned heaviness, we can innovate. We can invent ingenious ways to lighten up, we can imagine novelties that free our spirits, we can craft Creative Questions that shift everything in an instant. Aren’t we cool?

Sometimes, just playing with a question like, “Why do I feel light? or How do I feel when I feel light?” will do it, but sometimes I have to poke around in my nether mind and look for the whats: What’s making me feel this way? What’s my negative judgment? What does that heaviness come from?

When I find my topic, mine this morning was a lot of busyness at work, I can use my creativity to address and change the negative judgments. The bottom line is this, if I don’t judge something negatively, I don’t perceive it negatively. It’s that simple, and sometimes, I know, it can be really annoying.

Sometimes, we want to feel crappy. We feel like we deserve it. Sometimes, we feel justified in our funk, or our misery, or our bitterness. Sometimes, we feel like we’ve earned the right to be angry, or nasty, well, maybe you haven’t, but I know I have. But, the same way we might binge on food or alcohol, we sometimes binge on these icky feelings.

When I am in the throes of the Ick, and I recognize it, I go for it. I wallow. I squish it up between my toes, I fill my lungs with it, I taste the bitter, or sour, or angry. I deck myself out in self-pity until I am absolutely saturated with it. Usually takes me about ten minutes before I’m sick of it, and wanna get back to my happy self.

I do appreciate a good pity party.

How have I changed from feeling stuck in my ick to finding creative solutions to lift my spirits?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02272014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Price of Intimacy

The Price of Intimacy

We are all in it together. At the very least, we have being alive in common. At the most we are deeply connected, one spirit at our core, and at best we are lovingly intimate. In general, we are sliding around somewhere on those continua.

As we choose to grow up, our relationships get nicer and nicer. We find ourselves more intimate, closer, with deeper, more meaningful connections. We care more about each other, it is easier to be aware of each other, more thoughtful, kinder.

We find that we can stop ourselves from saying cruel or cutting or demeaning  things. For me, for example, I stopped using sarcasm as a weapon, and found that I didn’t need to engage in angry exchanges like I used to. We find that we prefer clear communication, and spend some effort to ensure it.

For a bit of mindfulness and awareness on my part to treat you with love and respect, I am rewarded like mad. I am supported. When I need help, you help me. When I want comfort, you are there for me. When I need to be heard, you listen. If I need space, you are respectful of that, and never take it personally.

Wow. That’s sure not like the old days.

How am I connected? Why do I enjoy being with you? What makes me glad to see you?

I manage to think twice about how I say things to you. I care about your feelings. When I was little, I didn’t have much sense of you as an individual, you  were more just there to provide for me. Little by little, I began to understand that you were like me, you had feelings about stuff. You cared about things, you had things you didn’t like, you had a past that didn’t have me in it. I might be the center of my universe, but I was not the center of yours.

Why can I see you? What makes me aware of you? Why do I notice?

Back then, I was kind of wedded to drama. Big emotional conflicts, terrifying pronouncements, lots of thoughtless behaviors that got me in trouble, little trouble, big trouble. I put myself in dangerous situations, got involved with people who had as little awareness of me as I had of them. Poor we.

I pretty much have broken up with drama. We have coffee from time to time, but it’s never very satisfying.

I used to wonder what intimacy meant. I thought there was some mysterious, secret thing about it. And so I would go to my special people, the ones I can talk to about anything, really be myself without fear of censure or negative moral judgment, and talk about it. Heh. Wondering what intimacy is when I am right in the middle of it. Cute.

Why do I choose intimacy? What makes me want to be close? How do I share?

When I have people I feel close to, I tell my secrets. It’s like exchanging my secrets for freedom. I like that. And I like being able to tell you anything.

How have I changed from keeping myself locked up to sharing the real me with thee?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02262014

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Feeling and Doing

Feeling and Doing

Doing stuff is something we are all really good at. We are doing stuff all the time, important stuff, dumb stuff, stuff that moves us forward, stuff that passes the time. We can’t get away without doing stuff, but boyoboy, can doing get us in trouble.

Doing stuff, how we feel about the stuff we do, the judgments we make about the stuff we do, all come from out thoughts.

Verbing is neutral. We plunk value judgments on stuff all the time, based on our views of the world. We have ideas about what we consume, what we discard, we have ideas about hobbies, activities, jobs and occupations. We have ideas about how tasks should be done, even whether they should be done.

We have ideas about how we should express our spirit, our emotions, our physical presence, and these ideas often clash. We judge each other, praise each other, shame each other, laud each other.

Not only that, but we do the same; judge, praise, shame, and laud our own selves for the stuff we do. It’s like, what is the difference between a pass time and wasting time? Just the judgment.

How am I occupied? Why do I like what I do? What makes me feel productive? How am I satisfied?

Many of us work for a living, some of us are stay-at-home parents, or spouses. Some of us are retired, or in school, or looking for an occupation, but however it goes, we fill our days with doing.

Doing is a great way to progress toward our dreams and goals. Having dreams and goals is part of being a grownup. They give shape to our days, and bring satisfaction and contentment to our beings.

Doing is also a great way to avoid dealing with our internal lives.

Say, what?

Being busy lets us distract ourselves from our internal GPS, our feelings, that let us know what direction we are headed in. If we feel peaceful at our core, relaxed, and happy, we are on track. If we feel agitated, miserable, angry, for more than a few minutes, we may be off track.

Emotions flow through us like thoughts, like floating down a river. When we notice them, and experience them, they are done, completed, and we can move on to the next thing. Experiencing my anger isn’t the same thing as expressing it. Expressing it can often get me in trouble. Experiencing it will move me forward.

Why do I have my emotions? What makes me notice my feelings? Why am I clear?

Being busy, focused on doing doing doing, keeps my feet out of my feelings so to speak, and I end up shoving it into my unconscious mind, where it starts ricocheting off the walls of my mind. And that makes me feel nuts.

By choosing to do what I do mindfully, and with awareness, I can feel my feelings as they flow through my being. I can occupy my time with activities that I value. I can reach my goals, and make new ones, and go to bed feeling content and satisfied.

How have I changed from being a busy bee to being mindful of my activities?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02242014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happiness 24/7

Happiness 24/7

Find happiness using this one weird secret! Professionals don’t want you to know this! Call now for the secret to happiness! Only $99.95!


But I do have a secret to happiness, and you know how I feel about secrets: Unless they are yours, I’m tellin’!

Happiness is inside each of us all the time. I’m going to say that again because it’s really important. Happiness is inside each of us all the time.

We are born with it, like brains, or skin. I think that is so remarkable. It’s right there. Maybe happiness holds our spirit, like the coating of a cell. Or maybe it is the nucleus of our spirit. Maybe it’s just a special part of our brain, like the optic nerve, or medulla oblongata, but it’s there, just waiting for us.

Whatever it is, all we have to do is find our way to it.

Happiness is available regardless of our circumstances. It’s a 24/7 service, so to speak. It is available whether we think we deserve it, whether we think we’ve done anything to earn it, whether we think we are good enough for it. It’s like our brains, or skin, we don’t have to deserve ‘em to have those, we don’t need to be something remarkable to enjoy the benefits of our dermis; we take our brains and skin for granted.

Tibetan saints get it. Enlightened beings get it. Grownups, yeah, we get it. I can be having intense physical experience, like the saint I met in Kathmandu, who couldn’t want from the intensity of his physical experience, and yet was peaceful and oozed joy and bliss. Or the people held in prisons who maintain their happiness, from their core, not from their outsides.

Happiness is not a prize to be won, it’s just a place inside us.

How do I feel when I feel happy?

That question is gold. Here’s how to do it. Become aware of your feet, become aware of your bottom, become aware of your breathing. Focus on the question, How do I feel when I feel happy? You might want to ask it several times. And notice changes in your physical being.

First thing that happens for me is that I relax my physical body. My posture often shifts upward. I find that my chest feels more open, and my heart-space feels light. I often notice that I smile.

This is what I mean when I talk about being able to change feelings as easily as changing socks. We can ask a good “how do I feel” question with focus and presence, and our physical experience changes. And the more I go to happy, or peaceful, or relaxed, the easier it is for me to get back there. And that’s a fact.

When I choose happiness, I choose soft, I choose vulnerable, I choose peaceful, too. It’s like a nice set. It comes with joy, ease, bliss, and satisfaction. I love that!

I live that a lot of the time.

How have I changed from thinking that happiness was happenstance to knowing happiness is always with me?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02232014

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Saturday, February 22, 2014



We are so good at so many things. Each of us has our own set of skills, talents, gifts, and blessings. Is relaxation on your list? Is that one of your skills?

There is so much more to relaxing than flopping down on the couch to watch TV.

When we relax our bodies, we let our muscles soften. Sometimes we may find that relaxing our muscles lets our joints self-adjust. Relaxing our bodies allows all of our body-systems to flow freely.

Why do I relax?

When we relax our minds, our thoughts flow past our awareness, like floating down a river. We aren’t thinking, but observing thought. And when we catch ourselves thinking a thought, we bring ourselves back to the river. This is meditation, like a reset for our minds.

Why am I centered?

When we relax our spirit, we stop striving for holiness, or enlightenment, or whatever our preferred spiritual pinnacle, and are able to be fully present. We experience bliss and joy. We see the beauty of the world. We feel compassion, generosity, peace. Gratitude and appreciation flow.

Why am I serene?

When we let our emotions relax, anger relaxes, fear relaxes. Anger takes resentments with it. We may find that we are more tolerant, kinder. Fear takes worry with it. And as we continue to relax, we find that we feel vulnerable, but we also find that we trust we will be okay. We are safe to acknowledge our feelings, we recognize the feelings we have that can make trouble for us, own them, let them go. We recognize the feelings that support us, own them, and nurture them.

Why am I calm?

I used to have the idea that if I was going to nurture my passions, I would have to sacrifice peace. I was used to seeing people I thought were passionate all churned up, temperamental, moody and self-absorbed. That part of following one’s passion was very unappealing to me. Turned out it wasn’t about following their passion, but about their not having chosen to grow up yet.

Why do I choose to choose?

When we decide to let life flow, everything relaxes. When change happens, which it always does, we can reacquire our equilibrium more readily when we choose to let life flow. When we choose to say “yes” to life, to relinquish our imagined control, our grip on the status quo, everything gets easier. I don’t know about you, but I sure like easier. This allows me another crazy freedom, namely, I get to be more fully me, expand my personality, so to speak. I am more flexible, so my world can expand, too. I have more options, I have more resources, and because I am relaxed, I have a lot more energy. I sure like that, too.

How have I changed from being good at clenched to being good at relaxed?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02222014

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Ms Yahbut Go Home

Ms Yahbut Go Home

When I was a little kid, my dad would tease us about the two other little girls who lived in our house (we were four little girls, and no boys.) The imaginary girls’ names were Yahbut and Yahshedidtoo. Nowadays, I think Yahshedidtoo has moved out, but Yahbut is still here. I think you know her too.

Yahbut is annoying. She interrupts when we are trying to receive nice compliments. She throws in her two cents worth when we start feeling proud of ourselves. We begin to treat ourselves with respect and she is right there shouting, “Wait a minute! Before you do anything rash, listen to this!” And the next thing you know, she’s whispering in our ear all the things she thinks we should be feeling ashamed of, or guilty about, how disgusting we are, or corrupt, or just plain old bad.

Oh, Yahbut, when will you move away to live with your sister and leave me alone! How about today?

Yahbut is a bad thought loop that gets triggered by our nice feelings about ourselves. How sad is that. It goes on and on about how much we suck. About how selfish, or thoughtless, or cruel, or lazy, or sinful, or, or, or.

Feeling like that isn’t very useful except to keep us down, keep our light from shining, keep us from sharing our gifts. Yahbut isn’t very nice.

Imagine how you would feel if you heard someone speaking to a loved one the way you talk to yourself. And yet, we say horrible things to ourselves all the time. Critical of just about everything from our appearance all the way to our spirit.

We want to stop that, because as grownups we know it’s not in our best interest to beat ourselves up. It squelches motivation, it curtails positive action, it breaks our hearts.

Why am I good enough? Why am I right? Why am I respectable? Why would I like me?

Breaking ourselves of the habit of trash-talking ourselves takes some attention. When we are paid a compliment, we now say “Thank you” and shut up. We don’t dismiss it, we don’t mitigate it, we don’t ignore it. When we start to diss ourselves after we’ve accomplished something, we stop, pause, and notice our accomplishment, own it, and let ourselves feel some pride. We don’t just move on to the next thing.

When we notice that we are talking smack about ourselves, we start asking our good Creative Questions. When we notice that we suddenly feel bad, we assume that our unconscious mind is talking smack, and we start asking good Creative Questions. We check our posture, and our breathing. We notice our facial expression, and sit up straight, breath deeply, and smile from the heart.

How am I enough? Why am I brilliant? What makes me so creative? Why do I engage? Why do I like myself?

When I don’t like me, I often surround me with people who support me in feeling like that. As I like me more and more, I find that I am surrounded with people who support me in feeling like that. What a nice improvement.

How have I changed from treating myself badly to valuing my own friendship?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02212014

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vacating the Drudge-Rut

Vacating the Drudge-Rut

How do you feel when you feel alive? Light? Engaged? Aware? Rosy? Vibrant?

For many of us, feeling alive is something we remember from the past. We have gotten ourselves mired down in crud, in bad thinking, dull routines, and stuff we don’t like. We have friends we don’t like, work jobs we don’t like, activities we don’t like. We eat food that’s supposed to be good for us, drink health drinks, and still have no energy.

Makes me tired just thinking about that life.

What makes me feel alive? How am I energized? Why do I feel engaged?

Every so often, when I am feeling stuck in that drab ol’ drudge-rut, I will make a list. I like to make lists. If you like to make lists, you might like this list. And do notice that this question is very much not good Creative Questions.

The answers come from the question: What am I doing that makes my life harder?

It takes some looking sometimes to see how we make things rough on ourselves. For example, we may have a habit of getting up at the last minute, and then have to race through our morning. We end up getting side-tracked, and next thing you know, we are late. And feel rushed, and guilty or even ashamed. So now we may act out our crappy feelings on our community.

Or maybe we get up extra early, and spend that time doing for everyone else, feel taken for granted and then resentful, and then guilty or angry for feeling bad. And what makes it even more so is that it’s often not even in our awareness, so then we can also feel crazy. Oy.

Maybe we made some resolutions that we’ve been blowing off. Maybe we have some good intentions we’ve stopped tending. Maybe we have a bad habit we’ve been meaning to phase out. And we don’t do whatever, and we feel bad, and guilty, or even ashamed.

What can we do? How do we turn it around? Why do I choose to unchoose?

Oh, yeah. We can change it in an instant. How do I feel when I feel alive? Focus on that question, ask it again, maybe try shifting it a bit to, “How else do I feel when I feel alive?” Notice the shifts in your physical experience. Pay attention to how your body feels.

When I remember that my feelings, my attitudes, my moods, and my emotional states are of my making, that I have the power to make me feel like a drudge or a dream, I am taking responsibility for my well being. I empower myself, or officially give myself the power to effect change in my own life.

When I remember that I didn’t get to this ickly place overnight, but by making thousands of tiny choices, over and over, and I can start unchoosing right this very second. Ooh, I like that feeling. I can choose to slow down inside, and treat my morning like a walking meditation on the blessings in my life. I can choose to pause for a moment and make my bed, or spend 10 minutes in the evening preparing for the day ahead. Maybe I choose to walk past my favorite don’t-wanna-eat-that aisle, maybe I choose to go to bed a little earlier. Maybe I choose to refrain from harsh words. Tiny choices, I get to choose ‘em, I get to reshape my day. I get to feel vibrant and luminous and alive.

How have I changed from feeling full of gray to feeling radiant with life?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02202014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brave Heart, Peaceful Heart

Brave Heart, Peaceful Heart

I shuffled the deck this morning as usual, and the card that popped out was “Why am I peaceful?” An answer also popped out, which is a bit unusual for me, usually I get feelings for my responses. Anyway, the answer was, “Because I am courageous.”


That answer surprised me. I wouldn’t think that courage and peace would go hand in hand, and then I started to think about it, cuz that’s what I do.

When I was a baby, I had moments of peace. As I got older, I sunk into anxiety, fear, worry, dread. It was easy to see the bleak. It was easy to see the grim. A smile requires that we go against gravity. Struggle is the starting point.

That day, when I declared I would be happy no matter what it took, was the beginning for me. I had a row to hoe that was going to be long. In the beginning, it was shallow and wobbly, that row. Now, it’s straight and deep, even and clean, to push the gardening metaphor.

When we decide we want a nice life, be it for our kids, our loved ones, or ourselves, we are choosing to grow up. On the one hand it seems easy to stay where we are. Let’s look at that.

There is a gigantic difference between comfortable and familiar. When we are in a situation that is gradually getting worse, it stays familiar. It gets so that disruptions in the middle of the night for dark drama are familiar. It gets so that horrible fights with cruel and cutting things said, even physical violence, are familiar. It gets so that anxiety is normal, grief is normal, constant worry is normal.

Because our normal feels so awful, we resort to outside stuff to feel better. Pretty much anything that changes how we feel can be addictive, and that’s often where we go. Alcohol, drugs,food, tobacco, sex, exercise, religion, shopping, physical pain, glamorizing, computer stuff, reading. It’s not the thing, it’s the way we use it; to escape that horrible familiar.

So then we decide that we want to make our lives better, we want things to be more comfortable, and you’d think that would be an easy choice, but leaving the familiar is challenging for us because we like familiar. I mean, the familiar is so familiar. Change means not-familiar, and that’s scary.

So for a lot of us, choosing nicer, comfier, more peaceful, is really scary because those ways of being are so unfamiliar.

Why would I choose peaceful? How would I choose easier? What makes me choose happy?

So, on the other hand, choosing peaceful will take some courage. It will take courage to walk away from the familiar, in whatever manner we decide to do that. I know that there are people who are so enlightened that they can accept an abusive situation and stay intact. I’m not so good at that. My other choices are change it, or leave it. There are millions of people who can help me. If I don’t fit with this one, try another. It took me eight tries to find the right therapist for me back in the day. It was so worth it.

How have I changed from cleaving to the familiar to choosing to illuminate my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie all rights reserved 02192014