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