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