Sunday, August 31, 2014

The TaDone List

The TaDone List

One of my interesting challenges these days is feeling competent. It seems that I have ideas about competency being all connected up with energy. Now that I have noticed it, I get to do something about it.

Lately, my energy is mostly working on inside stuff. I have far fewer units to use each day than I am used to, and have to use one of them remembering that I need to pick and choose my commitments.

That is part of being competent; recognizing and respecting our limits. Sometimes they may be self-imposed, and we need to notice that. Sometimes they are imposed by our circumstances, physical, social, work related things. We can notice that, too.

Feel competent is important for us to be powerful in our lives. When we feel incompetent, we often feel like we have no impact, that we don’t make a difference. Thing is, we are always making impressions with others no matter how we feel. We have our perceptions of how we are, other people do, too.

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

By recognizing and respecting my real limits, I am being competent and self-respectful. It means that I have to learn to say “no” when my inclination is to say “yes” to everything.

When I respect my competence, others will be more likely to respect it, too. They know that I don’t use excuses, that I do my best. When I impose limits that fall short of what I can do, I feel it and often feel guilty or ashamed. That sucks.

As I am going through this interlude in my life with chemo, I am finding a TaDone list to be very helpful. I count things that I don’t count when I have lots of energy, like washing dishes and laundry, cooking meals and then eating them, getting up and getting dressed. I took them for granted before, and will again, but for now, on to the TaDone list they go. I am often surprised at the end of the day when I am reviewing my accomplishments how many little things I did that I never would have counted before.

Hitting a lick at a snake is a saying I like. It means doing a little something on a project. I find that something, like vacuuming, say, is a bunch of little things all strung together. I get the vac out, and take it to the place where I want to clean. Sometimes that’s enough for now. Then I rub it on the floor for a while, and then clean out the dust cup and filter. Sometimes that one swipe is what is finished, sometimes, I can do more. The point is to acknowledge to me that I did it.

Sometimes, what I need to do is sleep for a few hours. That one has been a big adjustment for me. I love a good nap, but am used to napping for ten to fifteen minutes and waking up refreshed. This big sleep puts a dent in the day, especially when I am working.

The first few days after chemo are also another story. They require acknowledging a whole different set of activities as accomplishments. Staying warm, protecting my hands from cold, you should see me with the fridge and my gloves! Keeping my muscles moving when they want to cramp up, drinking a lot of mineral water, and so on. These things seem annoying to me at the time, but I am getting better at regarding them as competent self-care.


How have I changed from discounting what I do to acknowledging my competency?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08312014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bad Day

The Bad Day

Here is something you may find surprising about me. I have the occasional bad day. Even with all my useful tools, even with my Creative Questions, somedays I just sink. They are very rare, rather than my status quo, and I enjoy them enormously in retrospect, but when I am feeling crabby and pissed off, and my usual stuff isn’t effective, I just go with it. Kickin’ and cussin’, but allowing it to be.

That’s part of having a positive outlook.

They mostly seem to come up when I am in the beginning of something new. The sparkle has become normal, and the acceptance hasn’t quite arrived. Transition points.

Why am I positive? What makes me seek the good? How do I know this, too, shall pass?

Because I pay attention, I know that my feelings will slide around. In the olden days they slid from meh to terrible and back again. My worst day these days doesn’t even show up on that scale, but I still feel icky. Sometimes it’s all about how much I suck, sometimes it’s all about how stuff sucks, and sometimes I think you suck. Sometimes it’s a nasty blend of all three.

I am way more relaxed about them because I know they are few and far between. I know they will end. Not like when I was depressed, and felt like I had always been that way. Because I am relaxed about them, I ease up on me a bit. I may cuss like a sailor, but I avoid making any important decisions, I often withdraw a bit, and I try to lay low. They are good days for reading trashy novels, or watching stupid movies I can judge the heck out of. They are bad for haircuts.

How is this part of having a positive outlook, you might ask.

I rarely get one that lasts more than 30 hours. So I am very appreciative of my normal cheeriness when it finally passes. The stuff that isn’t working out is usually something I can resolve pretty easily when my mood improves, and you don’t really suck, so I enjoy enjoying you again.

Allowing a crappy day from time to time reminds me that I get to choose how I am most of the time. I get to choose my outlook, my feelings, my thoughts. Most of the time. And the more I practice being the way I like to be, the easier it is for me to get back to it. Even professional musicians have days when they can’t even manage scales well. The artist has days when she can’t paint for nuthin’, and the competent adult takes a hike.

Since we can’t get our oil changed, or reboot our systems, or bag up our insides and put ‘em in a dumpster, what we get is a bad day. When we let it flow, we release a lot of old stuff, we notice old patterns and habits, we get an idea about a new goal or a new motivation.

Why am I aware? What makes me choose? Why do I respect my process?

The occasional bad day helps us stay on track. Living there doesn’t. If I feel stuck in something like that, respecting myself means that I find a way to change it. I may shake up my routine, or establish a new one, find someone to talk to whom I trust and respect, and follow their advice, find a workshop to try a new technique of meditation, or thinking, or even a class in something I’ve wanted to try for a while. There are tons of options if I am willing to stop feeling bad.

How have I changed from living with a negative outlook to allowing my life to unfold in interesting ways?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08272014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

College and Cancer

Cancer and College

Talking about our health is often as volatile as talking about religion or politics. Isn’t that interesting? I think so.  We get passionate about these things, with huge feelings, and no real way to prove we are right. Fascinating. It often seems that the more a belief cannot be proved, the more likely we are to defend it to crazy lengths.

I am right in there with everyone else; passionate about my beliefs. I try to look at them with the following measures, which I will share with you because that’s what I do.

I value integrity, enjoyment, clarity in communications, respect for us, kindness, soul-happiness and other stuff, not always in that order. In my interactions, I look for ways to relate to you, how we can connect, what makes each of us special, and encouraging our passions, all to the best of my ability.

I also value looking for the good in any situation.

Why am I positive? What makes me connect? Why do I engage?

I don’t usually talk about the specific things that are going on with me, but want to make a little exception and that is to let you know that I was given a diagnosis of cancer a few months back.

Now, it has seemed to me that cancer has a lot of really awful connotations attached to it. We tend to respond to it as a horrible thing, something dangerous, deadly, disconnecting us from the rest of the world, like it puts us in a really icky club. I decided that I didn’t want to go that way, and so I had some big work to do.

On the one hand, I had some big, emergency surgery. I am taking chemotherapy, I get really tired, and my routines are out the window. That kind of sucks. On the other hand, I have met some remarkable, dedicated, loving people who want to help me get past this. That’s really nice.

On the third hand, I am who I am. That means, I am always looking for the good, and, oh baby, I have found a lot of good in this situation. In all of this, I haven’t had a day that I didn’t feel ended up as a good day. Seriously.

I look for all the ways that I feel good. Most of me feels good. Because I don’t use pain language, I don’t engage my emotions in my physical experience. Since we use the same words to describe physical discomfort and emotional discomfort, we easily conflate the experiences, and talk about being in pain, and hurting when we might mean feeling a pulsing in a part of our body, or a constriction in our heart chakra. When we do that, we make each experience systemic.

I would rather use my Creative Questions to generate answers that support my well being, like, “Why do I enjoy radiant health?” rather than “Why am I suffering?” I would rather look at the amazing array of stuff that I am taking to shift back into radiant health as what I am doing today, rather than, O jeez, I am going to have to do this the rest of my life. Present and aware.

I am looking at the side effects of my treatments as interesting, unusual experiences, and appreciating them for the new insights I gain, the greater compassion, the higher wisdom rather than as nasty, annoying things that curtail what I want to do. I look at the change in my energy as a way to practice stillness, to value calm, to revel in my adaptability. And to make value judgments as to what I really want to be spending my time doing.

By looking at this experience with the same sort of eye as going through college, or traveling to another country, I am free to find the extraordinary in it. To enjoy myself, and to help you find ways to enjoy your particular sojourns.

How am I healthy? Why do I choose to feel good? What makes me find the gift?

How have I changed from feeling doomed to rejoicing in my liberation?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08232014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Celebrating Your Awesomeness

Celebrating Your Awesomeness

One of the many ways we thrive is with attention.

Regardless of what we think about that, we all want it on some level. For some of us, that level might be pretty deep because of mislearnings as a little child telling us that being noticed is unsafe.

Some of us seem to seek out negative attention, always in the doghouse, always in some kind of trouble with someone. We feel like the only attention we get is angry or hostile or irritated.

Some of us seem to seek out huge amounts of attention, always vying for everyone’s eye, in many different ways, always trying to be the center, but never feeling it.

Even the introverts want attention.

Some of us feel quite comfortable with nice attention up to a point, and then we have to stop it. We feel like we deserve only so much celebration of ourselves, and that’s enough!

When we live in joy, everyone wants to celebrate with us.

How am I celebrated? What makes enjoy attention? Why am I receptive?

For so many of us, giving is easy. We want to give our time, our energy, our love, our labor, our money, all to help other people, but the idea of being given to is an anathema to us.

We gotta get over that. Receptivity and acceptance are concepts that we have a bias toward. We tend to think of being receptive as being weak. Tis better to give than to receive, or so the saying goes, but what does that say about our thoughts of the one we are trying to give to?

We often think of receptivity and acceptance as a passive thing, but I will tell you this, being receptive is not about lying down and just taking it. Or submitting, or enduring. Receptivity can be wonderfully dynamic, energizing, empowering. Accepting is strength.

By choosing to receive, by choosing to accept, by choosing to allow, we are taking charge. We are valuing ourselves, we are relaxing into our authentic selves who can give and receive freely and happily.

How have I changed from seeking negative attention to accepting positive attention?

When we often find ourselves in the doghouse, it’s frequently because we have mislearned that the only attention we can get is when we screw up. By choosing to release our mislearning, and replacing it with a new way of thought, we can change the kind of attention we get from yell-y to praise-y.

Choosing to let ourselves feel celebrated is liberating and joyful. Owning that we make a difference in our world is motivating. Feeling appreciated is inspiring. And just imagine what you can accomplish when you feel liberated, joyful, motivated and inspired.

How have I changed from pushing away my celebrations to reveling in them?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08152014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Acting As If

Acting As If

The commitment card came up again this morning. When they are showing up close like that, I usually take it as an opportunity to delve deeper into what these particular Creative Questions can bring us. In this case, I want to look at our emo-habits and commitments.

We know we have a big ol’ emo-habit cookin’ when we say, “That’s just the way I am.”

We are never “just that way.” We are in a constant state of flux. Our bodies are constantly renewing on a cellular level, We are growing stuff like hair, nails, skin. We are having new experiences, even if we feel like we are in a rut. Each encounter is new, each interaction has potential to go in other directions.

What we are saying when we say, “That’s just the way I am,” is that this is what I am committed to, irrespective of whether it supports me.

“But, but, but...” I hear you say. The point is, do you believe that a person can change how they think, or not?

Why can I choose? What makes me explore my own self? How do I decide?

Sometimes we think that it is easier to stay as we are, or as we think we are. We consider ourselves, then, almost as two-dimensional beings, without depth, without free will. We may feel like our circumstances have us trapped in a life we don’t particularly like.

Somewhere inside we know that we do have free will, and that we feel like we have somehow traded it in for familiarity, because abandoning our free will for status quo is rarely a barter we make for joy or fun or peace. Sometimes we feel as though changing our perceived status quo would create such upheaval that we are afraid to try.

And so we commit to living a life of sorrow, or misery, or fear. We bring to bear all the amazing skills and creativity and resources we have to maintaining thought patterns and habits that bring us down, keep us small, hold us in. Poor we.

We decide that other people are different from us. That the people who create positive change in their lives have some mysterious thing in their character that we don’t have, that we have a fatal flaw that holds us back.

All we have is a strong commitment, based on beliefs, which are just ideas we give credence to.

What am I committed to? Where do I put my energy? What do I believe of me?

Sometimes we need to decide that we will act as if. Act as if we deserve better, act as if we are worth it, act as if we matter. This can be a surprising effective thing, acting as if. When we do this, we access more resourceful parts of ourselves, and can find new strength, new vigor, new abilities, even.

How have I changed from feeling trapped to committing to living my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08142014

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Power of Choice

The Power of Choice

The most fundamental superpower we have is our power to choose. And for so many of us, it is our least developed superpower. We kind of bumble through our lives, mostly in habit and routine, barely aware that we have any choice at all. We do the same, we feel the same, we think the same, and call it security, even if it’s not very nice.

Choosing from awareness is a dynamic thing. It’s powerful, deeply transformative, and a serious act of personal power. Wow.

Why do I choose? What makes me decide? How am I powerful?

By practicing choosing in awareness, I am placing value on myself. For many of us, this is in itself a rather daring act. For many of us, the habit of discounting our worth to bargain basement value is old, deeply ingrained, and we think of it as Truth.

As we practice being aware, of our surroundings, of where our bodies are, of how we feel in our physical selves, in our emotional selves, of our thoughts, we start to claim our lives as something worth living.

This practice helps us notice when we are caught up in habits that hurt us. It isn’t unusual for us to have a nice life, a decent place to live, enough money to manage on, friends and family who love us, and for us to feel bad. I lived there for a long time. I was so sad. I was so stuck in paucity. I lived deep in the Lack Tree Forest, focused on what I didn’t have, and choosing unconsciously to stay there.         

It was an insidious habit that ate holes in my life. Awareness helped me notice that I was choosing to look at everything as a burden. My shoulders ached all the time.

Little by little, I began to choose to appreciate what I have. Little by little, I felt grateful for the help I receive, for my job, for my home, for my friends and family. As I practiced choosing gratitude, I started to move out from the Lack Tree Forest into abundance.

Why can I choose? How am I strong? What makes me competent?

Exercising choice, consciously, over and over every day, a thousand tiny choices, means that when I have big choices to make, the path to choosing is wide and clear. I have come to know my mind. I can choose to change my feelings, I can choose to change my thoughts, my attitudes, my environment, even my relationships.

Exercising choice over and over gives me a sense of control, of my personal power. When I let my life be run by my unconscious habits, I feel helpless, out of control, and often powerless. That feels awful.

When I choose gratitude, I relax. I recognize the fullness and abundance of my life. I can make changes from a place of power rather than a place of desperation. By choice, aware, thoughtful, mindful choice. This is power.

How have I changed from letting old thoughts run my life to practicing my superpower of choice?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08132014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Power and Intimacy

Power and Intimacy

One of the lovely things about being a person is our ability to love and be loved, to care about someone, and let them care about us. To help, and be helped. These are nice aspects of being intimate.

In order to thrive, we need places to be intimate. We need to feel close to at least one person, one place to say the things we are kind of quiet about, things we often think of as our real selves.

Why am I intimate? What makes me feel close? How to I connect?

My public face is pretty cheery most of the time. I feel pretty cheery most of the time, but not always. Sometimes I get angry, or scared, or sad, or combinations of those things. I have a number of people I share those moments with. They tend to be my closest friends, and that intimacy serves me well in a whole buncha ways.

When I share my feelings with you, I often feel connected. If I am scared about something, telling you about my fears usually shifts them down into a less energetic state. I calm down. And because you care about me, I feel comforted.

When I tell you my histories, I often feel connected. Because I have told you something that happened to me, and given you a bit of information about how I am who I am, I feel more engaged with you. I feel like my experiences matter. This is a mark of friendship for me. I like to know about you.

When I am working with a teacher, my stories are almost irrelevant. My beliefs are way more important to address for my growth. Being able to let go of my stories, to know that they are just stories, gives me so much freedom to live my life in a way that supports me, and when I feel supported, I can support you so much better. I have resources to draw on, I have behavioral tools to pull out during interesting times. I own my power to impact my life in ways that make me grow, and it is easy, and relatively comfortable.

Having carefully handpicked my friends for their unbridled awesomeness means that I can see my own unbridled awesomeness much easier. I can assume it most of the time. I can take it as a given that my experience, my wisdom, my intimacy and joy will give me the foundation I need to take my life as it comes, and address with grace and joy whatever shows up.

Why do I choose to be positive? Why do I choose to be intimate? Why do I choose to enjoy?

Being intimate with our trustworthy friends, gauging our level of intimacy with less trustworthy people, using our judgment for when to say intimate stuff and when to be quiet helps us feel safe in the world. We know that we are strong, and competent, and capable, and have all the support we need as we need it, even if it is coming from unexpected sources.

Being intimate gives us experience trusting, and that allows us to trust both the universe more, and ourselves, that we will know what we need, and from whom we want it. Sometimes that doesn’t pan out, and we don’t feel cast adrift, but know that we will find out that we may need something other than what we thought, and we can be okay with that.

How have I changed from being closed off to opening my heart well and honestly?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08082014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How to be Creative

How to be Creative

This topic has been showing up a bunch for me in the last couple days. in a number of ways, so I’m sharing.

We are inherently creative beings. We all have things we like to make. For some of us, it’s cooking, or woodworking, being handy around the house. For some of us, it’s music, playing an instrument, singing, writing songs or pieces. For some of us it is art. Photography, graphics, painting or drawing, or otherwise making images. For some of us it is sculpture. For some it crafting.

For some of us, our favorite creativity is a different kind of thing, where we don’t end up with a product, like problem solving. Parents are using this kind of creativity all the time.

I like to write, and I have several things I write every day, or mostly every day. I write contemplations, appreciations, I make up a secret name of the day, I write songs and poems, including haiku and limericks.

The point is, creativity isn’t, as I used to believe, something that drops on our heads from time to time, inspiring us, but a skill we can develop by using it a lot.

How am I creative? What do I like to do? What makes me innovate?

By using our creativity a lot, doing things we enjoy, trying new creative activities, we make a nice pathway in our brains to our creative places, and then when we need it for something big, or unexpected, or very, um, interesting, we can get there easily and enjoy coming up with solutions or innovations, or substitutions.

I have had a lot of interesting and new things happening lately, and they have wreaked chaos on my tidy routines. In order to get done the things I want to get done, I have to find new ways to do them, new times to work on them, new approaches, new attitudes, shift my goals around, and let my expectations get soft.

That was a huge part of feeling more creative for me; expectations.

Some of us have expectations of failure when we try something new. Not in the “I know I will screw this up a bunch before I get competent at it,” but the “I can’t do this. It’s too hard for me!” kind of expectation. So we quit without giving ourselves time and patience and practice.

Some of us have expectations of instant success when we try something new. When it doesn’t work out the way we think it should, we get mad and blame-y and criticize the activity or the teacher, or our environment, or the materials, or something else that isn’t us. We decide it isn’t worth our time without giving it a fair trial.

When we approach a new endeavor with openness, a willingness to mess up, a willingness to try again, we find that we can enjoy the process, and not just the product as we imagine it will be.

Why am I willing? How am I open to new experiences? What makes me try again? Why do I have compassion for my new self?

Experts get that way through lots of practice, failures, and successes. These experiences allow them to integrate the process and then, when we see them doing it, we say, “Wow, that looks easy!”

Someday, I will be able to juggle. In the meantime, I am getting really good at creative dropping.

How have I changed from expecting instant success to appreciating the experience of being creative?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08072014

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Trashing the Zingers

Trashing the Zingers

A talent I have developed over the years that has made my life a lot nicer is the ability to keep my mouth shut.

That may sound weird coming from someone who loves to talk, but I used to say a lot of stuff I regretted. I learned as a young one to use sarcasm as a weapon and could flay meat with my words. If I could come up with something nasty and clever, out the words came, outcome be damned.

Teaching me to hold my tongue took a long time, but I really wanted it. My overarching goal was to be happy, and that meant that I had to stop seeking out your weaknesses and soft spots and going for them.

Why am I positive? What makes me choose? Why am I kind?

In the olden days I spent a lot of time with people who valued my nasty humor, and praised me for it, at least when I used it on other people. I was so used to the spew that I often wasn’t even aware that I did it. So I had to learn to hear what I said, and then I had to learn to hear what I was gonna say. And then I had to learn to shut it.

Why am I aware? How do I know I matter? What makes me decide?

One of the reasons it was so easy for me to just say rotten stuff was that I didn’t think it counted for anything. I didn’t have any sense of having an impact on you. I apologize for that.

As I came to see that I did have an impact, not just on the people I spent a lot of time with, but also on the people I might have one moment of contact with, and was able to remember fast enough that I wanted to feel good about me at the end of the day, I began to practice being quiet instead of sniping. I would spend a moment thinking about the customer service person being on my side instead of being the representative of Evil Incarnate when I had a problem that required their help. I started thinking about how you might be acting out a bit because you had something challenging going on that I knew nothing about, and would hold back my mean cracks.

How am I compassionate? Why do I care? Why do I like people?

As I gave up that habit, and replaced it with nice stuff, something wonderful started to happen. I began to receive nice surprises. Things would go my way. The customer service person would go out of her way to help me, sometimes even giving me a special treat, “I don’t usually do this for people, but...” Strangers would smile at me. Not creepy strangers, nice strangers. I found myself blurting out compliments to random people, and getting smiles back. I found myself asking how you were and wanting to hear the real answer. And you would often do the same for me.

Choosing to be positive meant that I had to give up some stuff. I don’t tend to make sacrifices, rather I weigh my options, remember what I want, and choose what seems like it will take me in that direction. Giving up my rapier wit was a process, and I still have to confront it from time to time, but, like so much of what I talk about here, it was worth it.

How have I changed from pride in my snide to choosing to be kind?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08072014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Creating the Big Picture

Creating the Big Picture

What do you want? The big picture thing, not just good coffee or some extra cash, but the look of your life? We hear this referred to as a goal, or our vision, or intentions. Perhaps we call it ambition.

This one can be a tricky one for many of us. We feel like we just don’t know, or that we have no ambitions. We kinda want our lives to be better, but we don’t even really know what that means for us.

Why do I know what I want? How do I choose? What makes me decide?

Back in the day, I thought that I would be happy if I had more money, was thinner, and had a sweetheart. I thought if I had a car, or nicer clothes, traveled more, or had a better job I would be happy. So I got those things, and I still wasn’t happy. I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me.

Little by little I started to understand that my happiness came from inside, not from outside stuff. The outside stuff sometimes gave me resources, but never gave me happiness. I started to understand that the more relaxed and accepting I was of how things are right now, the happier I felt. And the more I did those things, the more I realized that I wanted to share my experience with you, to create a safe space where you could try on the things that worked for me. To give them to you freely, and as completely as I could.

I had a goal.

From the goal I built a vision, namely, to write to you, and put those writings out there. I started small; a few sentences every now and then about how to use Creative Questions, and what could happen if you did, how your life could get easier.

Why do I have goals? How do I create my vision? What makes me a role model?

When Arne Rantzen, the creator of the Creative Questions cards, invited me to write to you on the Creative Questions page on Facebook, my vision got clearer. I decided to write to you every day, and bit by bit these contemplations came about.

My vision grows clearer of what I want. One of the neat things about doing this every day is that, even though a lot of people see this each day, I am still just writing to you. That piece is important to me. I know Creative Questions and the contemplations work because they help me. I know they help you, because I hear from you. And many of you have gotten your own deck of Creative Questions cards to inspire you to try a new way, to do a new thing, to change your feelings, your attitude, your outlook. I can’t tell you how thrilling that is for me.

When we take the time to think about what we really want out of our lives in the next six months, the next year, the next five years, I put some shape to my day. I have things that are important to me, and maybe only me, but when I spend some time on those intentions, I feel accomplished. I celebrate my little achievements. And then I look back, and see that all those little achievements have made a big accomplishment. I feel successful. And I am a leader.

When we have a vision that we work on, we are leaders by example. As our lives improve, we are leading by example. When I calm down, lighten up, and find joy in my everyday life, I am leading by example.

How have I changed from feeling aimless to having aspirations?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08042014



Lately I have been paying a lot of attention to where I am committed. I used to wonder about that, until I came to recognize that all I had to do was look at my life. I have put together a list of questions that I use. Some are Creative Questions, some are for information gathering. I tend not to use them all at once, but to look at one or two from time to time, especially if I am not feeling all that on track.

Have I chosen to take responsibility for my life? Do I recognize that I am living the perfect life for where I am right now? Do I own that? Do I own that I am responsible for how I feel, for what I do, for where I am?

How do I feel? Am I peaceful? Am I content? Am I happy? Do I feel like I can choose? Have I changed from letting bad feelings run the show to choosing to feel good? Do I feel like I am living my natural life of easy and fun?

How do I occupy my time? Do I feel productive at the end of the day? Do I feel accomplished? Do I feel like I have made good choices? Have I changed from feeling like I waste a lot of time to deciding what I am doing?

Who do I spend time with? Do I feel a mutual support? Do I feel like we are working together? Do I feel challenged in a positive way? Have I changed from having friends I don’t like to being thrilled with the people I love?

How do I take care of myself? Do I feed me well and often enough? Do I drink enough? Do I enjoy moving my body every day? Do I get enough rest? Do I address my spiritual, financial, and social needs? Have I changed from putting myself last to being sure I am in good standing with me?

How do I feel in my environments? Am I comfortable? Do I feel peaceful? Is my space one that brings me joy? Have I changed from hating where I live/work/play to loving my environments?

How do I take care with my loved ones? Do I pay attention to them? Do I listen and remember what they tell me? Do I help and support them as I can? Have I changed from feeling annoyed by them to finding compassion and patience?

Have I set myself measurable goals? Do I spend  time on them regularly? Are they meaningful to me? Do I count my small successes as well as the big ones, and let myself feel successful? Have I changed from ignoring my accomplishments to savoring my good feelings?

Do I practice being aware of me, my stuff, my surroundings? Have I slowed down enough to keep track of my possessions like my car, keys, wallet and cellphone? Do I pay attention to my promises? Am I mindful of my actions? Do I notice when I am feeling distracted and pull myself back? Do I give myself some time to think?

Giving myself a little time from time to time to think about these things helps me move forward. It is especially useful for me if I am feeling stuck. I tend not to look at more than one or two at a time because if I do the whole thing I will often choose to beat myself up for being such a suck. May you find them useful.

How have I changed from being committed to things that do not support me to enjoying my best efforts?

(c) Pam 2014 all rights reserved 08032014

Monday, August 04, 2014

Changing the Go-To

Changing the Go-To

One of the many things I go on and on and on about is gratitude. It was one of the big things I learned about that really helped me start making significant changes in my life.

Gratitude didn’t come easily. I was so invested in suffering that, as I used to say, I had three feelings; bad, terrible, and I wish I were dead.

It’s hard to feel anything else when that’s what you’re working with.

Most people got the “I’m fine” line. My nearest and dearest got to hear about how wretched everything else was. I had a few misery buddies who would return the favor, such as it was, and a wonderful, sunny best friend who did her best to cajole me up to “okay.” That didn’t happen a lot. We spent our time watching a lot of Monty Python, and playing cards. I think it may have been defensive on her part. And I did figure out years after she passed that she loved me unconditionally.

Somewhere on my path, someone told me that we can only really feel one thing at a time. Now I don’t know if I think that’s true, but I did discover that if I am focusing on one feeling, that is the main thing I’ve got going on.

Why can I choose? How do I decide? What makes me aware?

Noticing what I was feeling, specifically, was something I had to pay attention to. I had to accept that “bad” wasn’t a feeling, and wasn’t even very descriptive. I had to figure out what the feeling was, usually some moosh between angry and scared and grief. Once I got some kind of a handle on it, I wanted to do something about it. I was already addressing my big emo-stuff, this was more about how to manage on a day to day basis.

One of my teachers liked to say, “You can change your feelings as easily as changing your socks.” And while it irritated the heck out of me, I wanted that. He suggested that I try gratitude. I don’t think I rolled my eyes out loud, but I was skeptical. He helped me get to a place of feeling grateful, really feeling it, and had me set an anchor. For this one, I pressed the web between my thumb and forefinger while I was feeling grateful.

This was way before I knew to ask, “How do I feel when I feel grateful?”

What happened when I got really grateful? I was so focused on gratitude that the bad feelings I was having, mostly old habit feelings, went away. And I started to recognize them for habit-feelings. You know about those, right? Our go-to feelings when we don’t really have anything in particular going on.

I had to give up some stuff to change that bad go-to feeling. I had to give up saying, “That’s just the way I am.” I had to take responsibility for my feelings, how I felt, how I reacted to stuff, how I responded to my circumstances. I had to notice what was good about my life. How it was perfect for me where I was in my journey. I had to decide that I prefered feeling good, with its attendant stuff to feeling bad with its attendant stuff.

Now I wake up feeling good, feeling grateful almost every day. When I wake up crabby, I own it, I look at it, I change it. Sometimes just that is enough to let it go.

How have I changed from feeling stuck in bad feelings to choosing to feel grateful?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2014 all rights reserved 08022014