Journaling, gardening the soul

Writer, Emma Dibdin states in her article, The Mental Health Benefits of Journaling, that “expressive writing through journaling can be a powerful way to process stress, trauma, and different emotions.” I refer to journaling as gardening of the soul. Journaling digs into the dirt weeding out invasive thoughts, fertilizing the heart, and watering the spirit keeping the mind, body, and spirit in balance.

One does not need to have perfect penmanship, grammar, and proper sentence structure to journal. My journal is riddled at times with just words and phrases with the complete thoughts and memories taking shape, if at all, many pages, and days or even months later. I call my journal a prayer journal because I lift these word fragments up for clarity and meaning. Oftentimes, I receive it and other times patience is the virtue. A journal can have any name or no name at all.

Journaling, write or type

MasterClass explores the pros and cons of writing versus typing in their article, Handwriting vs. Typing: What are the Benefits of Writing by Hand? I, personally, find the benefits of handwriting for the purpose of journaling outweigh those of typing. Handwriting helps me to be disciplined and thoughtful and when I look back at my journal entries days, months, or even years later I can readily recall my mood and mindset by virtue of my handwriting. My penmanship appears  authentic more so than typed words. Journaling need not be kept to handwriting or typing either. Painting, pencil drawing, or photography are great formats for journaling. Thus, there are no hard and fast rules for journaling. Actor, Johnny Depp remarked that his body is a journal when asked about all his many tattoos. To each their own when it comes to journaling.

I use lined Moleskin™ journals that I carry with me throughout the day as anything may spur an opinion, a reflection, a question to ponder. Journaling turns me into an observer not only from within but of the world and relationships around me. If you find it difficult get into the swing of journaling, there are scores of journals with ready-made journal prompts to get you hooked on journaling.

Journaling, a personal memoir

Journaling has become a form of survival for me. Journaling is an anxiety drug, addictive, yes but without the negative consequences. After years of keeping a journal, I briefly fell out of the habit. I began journaling again by looking at the process of keeping a journal as writing a letter everyday sometimes in the form of a prayer. Writing provides a form of clarity that brings with it a unique perspective that may not appear immediately much like the answers to my prayers but later when there is an opportunity to process the information fully in mind, body, and spirit.

The chaos of the world coupled with any chaos in mind, body, and spirit can make it difficult on some days to organize or even motivate me to open my journal. During these times I may copy Biblical verses, meaningful quotes as well as paste photos in my journal to help center myself to dig deeper into what I am thinking and feeling.

In my last blog post, Harmony, the political season, I mentioned having a response ready for those who may want to engage me in sensitive, divisive, or personal topics such as politics, religion, or personal health matters. Journaling helps to define my responses, and in doing so, helps me to define my values and beliefs to be confident in expressing myself to others. My expressions do not always come out right but humanity in of itself is always a work in progress. Grace is powerful like the habit of daily journaling.

Journaling is like physical exercise. It can be difficult to get started but once you find that time in your day to make room for it, you will eventually see the benefits of it in mind, body, and spirit. If you want to achieve greater harmony in life, I strongly recommend the daily habit of journaling in whatever form suits you. You will eventually see a beautiful garden begin to bloom in every season.

Peace,
Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2010-2022 All Rights Reserved

Harmony, the political season

The political election cycle is in high gear. It has been stuck there for the last several decades. Nonetheless harmony in mind, body, and spirit will surely be tested during this election season especially in the after light of the insurrection of January 6, 2021.

In his Detroit Free Press column of July 17, 2022, “The cable news rules: it’s better to attach than to defend,” award-winning sports journalist and author, Mitch Albom writes, “So ask yourself, if you’ve stopped consuming news, is it because it is too negative or not negative enough?… Are we root, root, rooting for the home team to fail more than win, and if they don’t win is it really a shame, or pretty-much what we wanted?” This question was in response as Albom writes, “is from an Axios report that came out the previous week, claiming that cable news viewing amongst the three major outlets has dropped dramatically in the U.S., ‘down 19% in prime time for the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2021.’”

Opinions are plenty, truth is scarce.

I mention this Detroit Free Press article because I do no watch cable news. It is not journalism seeking truth but seeking opinions. Opinions are not necessarily bad after all I am giving my opinion here. It may resonate with you or it may not. However, I cannot engage in personal political conversations when people do not obtain current news from multiple written sources so they can weigh in and corroborate the truth versus media propaganda. Sadly, few people take the time to do so. They listen intently to their favorite television or podcast source. I admit I do not always get it right either, but I am willing to discuss politics and current events when the other person has put in the effort.

Truth, supply and demand

If we replace the words “goods and services” with “truth” in Merriam-Webster’s definition of supply and demand, it reads, “The amount of truth that is available for people to buy compared to the amount of truth that people want to buy. – If less truth that the public wants are produced, the law of truth demands that more can be charged for the truth.

So, what am I trying to say here? I am asking, what is the supply and demand for truth? Truth people want to hear compared to what the facts bear out as truth. Is it just a game of ratings? Is just a game as to which party can score more wins than losses without regard to the benefits for their constituents? The PACT Act that would have expanded veterans healthcare is a good case in point.

Mark Twain once said, “it’s easier to fool people than convince them they have been fooled.”

And so goes the current cable news media and partisan politics.

Spanish philosopher, George Santayana is credited with axiom, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” While Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The difference between the two statements is remembering and learning. Many people have never learned our true history because it was never taught accurately which is currently a hot topic; and one cannot remember that which was never learned. History was obviously not a favorite subject for many until the truth came out about it.

Political history

I will fully admit my politics have evolved tremendously since I voted in my first presidential election in 1980. My activist heart has been hurtful to others at times during the evolvement of my personal views particularly leading up to and past the 2016 and 2020 elections. I am not willing to set aside my activist heart in the upcoming elections, however, I will not be divisive, and I hope you will not be either. We can see where the name-calling memes and partisan bashing has led us to today’s political climate.

As my political views have evolved so has my spirit. Some who know me personally would say my right-leaning has shifted to left-leaning. I would counter that I lean on my heart and the words of James 1:26-27 (GW). God knows my heart as He knows everyone’s heart, the faithful and the unfaithful. Not only must my relationship with God be right, but the outward expression of that relationship must also be right. If a person believes in God or not, history (or God, in my opinion) will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we learn the lesson of humanity. Whether it arises from our impulsive nature or inherent self-seeking superiority, God and/or history is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is entirely not right in our lives.

We are all human underneath the genders, the pronouns, the racial, religious, and ethnic colors.

Let me repeat. We are all human. We are bound to each other for better or for worse.

It is an individual’s choice to allow each other the patience to have its perfect work. If we can travel this road without the bashing, the bullying, the bloodshed, the rage, then one by one we can make the difference by having necessary inclusive conversations by withholding unnecessary propaganda opinions. Unfortunately, Christian nationalism does not allow individual choice. It does not have ears to hear, hearts to love, or minds to embrace diversity.

How do we maintain harmony in search of truth during a contentious political election cycle?
I will hold firm to my values. I will hold my tongue no matter the taste of blood, if necessary. My actions, my purse, and my vote will do my talking.

“If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless. Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” James 1:26-27 (GW)

This will likely be my last post regarding politics and the upcoming election cycle. I have my response ready to those who may want to engage me in political conversations. Who wants to vote on it?

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2010-2022 All Rights Reserved

 

2022 Words to Live By, a mid-year update

The following is an update to my post on November 26, 2021. “2022 Words to Live By.”

This week will be the first anniversary of moving to our forever house near the shore of Lake Michigan. It is often said that what a difference a year can make in one’s life and yet many things stay the same.

For example, Lake Michigan’s conditions often are ripe for rip currents. The location of rip currents can be difficult to predict; some tend to recur always in the same places, but others can appear and disappear suddenly at various locations along the beach. A rip current is strongest closest to the surface. What most beachgoers do not understand is the surface of a rip current often is a smooth area of water without breaking waves, and this deceptive appearance may cause some beachgoers to believe that it is a suitable place to the enter the water.

“Each day is the scholar of yesterday.” Publilius Syrus

Wholeness

Wholeness pertains to all aspects of human nature, especially one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual development.

The appearance and disappearance of rip currents is dependent on the bottom topography and the exact direction from which the surfs and swells are coming. The spirit is the bottom topography of life; and it is that foundation that takes on the existence of rip currents in mind and body.

How does one survive a rip current?

A person caught in a rip current can be swept away from shore very quickly because rip currents are extraordinarily strong and move perpendicular to the shore. Drownings occur when the swimmer panics exhausting themselves by fighting against the force of the current.

The most important thing to remember when ever I am caught in a rip current in water or in life is not to panic. Continue to breathe, try to keep my head above water, and do not exhaust myself fighting against the force of the current. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since rip currents are often narrow in width.

Habits

Panic is one of the most difficult habits to break when in the middle of one of life’s rip currents especially when it comes to physical survival. If every habit has 3 components: a trigger, a routine, and a reward, then what reward can there be in the habit of panicking?

Is it a desire for sympathy? Is it the loneliness for attention? Or is it a cry for help?

For harmony to exist in mind, body, and spirit in my life, I have made the conscious decision to stop cancer’s outspoken narrative. I thought by controlling the narrative of speaking out on my diagnosis with chronic myeloid leukemia that I may also have inspiring affect on others who carry a similar health burden. No matter how you may look upon my openness to speak on it, I have decided that I have given this rip current too much power. I will no longer speak privately or publicly about it instead I will just swim parallel to it.

Perspective

Over the July 4th holiday, my sons and I had a chance to catch up and communicate about our changing perspectives on life. We were able to frankly discuss the topics closest to the surface and the deceptive appearance of each other’s life. After discussing all the relevant data in a meaningful way, they know their haven is on the shore with family at this idyllic place on Lake Michigan.

Perspective has been a key word to live by so far in 2022 both professionally and personally. I am breaking the habit of perfectionist thinking. Funny how a rip currents in mind and body can make us believe we can control outcomes when all we need to do is relax and allow the waves to eventually bring us ashore. It further confirms my perspective that harmony in mind, body, and spirit is allowing the spirit to lead the way.

Word to live by

What will these three words, wholeness, habits, and perspective continue to teach me as I live by them? I do not know. I am too busy sunning myself at the beach living them today.

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Caring, the well of self-worth

Psychology says, “the less you care, the happier you will be.”

Jesus Christ preached in The Sermon on the Mountain, “So, I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?”

The comedian, George Carlin quipped, “when I first heard the song, Don’t Worry – Be Happy, I realized it was exactly the kind of mindless philosophy that Americans would respond to. It would be a great national anthem along with Me First.”

Caring, the well of self-worth

Doe the responsibility of caring fall on each of us, or does it depend on the subject matter?

There are people whom you may know that seemingly care too deeply. You may also know that person who lacks one iota of empathy. Are you one or the other? Or do you fall somewhere in between?

The new buzzword ‘self-care’ in these pandemic times and according to the influx of countless docu-series causes this owl to step back and ponder the ethics of caring about anything.

When it is all too much to care or not to care can lead to any number of different responses:

• Oversimplification
• Angry outbursts
• Impatient mistakes
• Sullen silence
• Convenient deafness

When is less caring more or caring more irresponsible?

Whether it is that new catchphrase work-life balance, over-indulgent, narcissistic relationships, media tinnitus, or pandemic isolation that is causing me to wonder about my caring gene or the caring genes of others, it must be time to clean out the owl box and set new caring boundaries.

Happiness is inconsistent. Happiness is bipolar, a transistor of positive and negatives charges that motivates a particular caring response.

We can ask the questions:

Does caring less make one happier?

Is there less anxiety when one cares less about how much food and clothes one has?

Does singing an anthem of me first an unethical response to the treatment of others?

I contend there is a time to care and there is a time to put the caring in the fuck-it bucket and the only thing one needs to care about at that precise moment is answering the question, who is hurting right now, this second? Chances are the person asking the question.

I have learned from my own experience with leukemia the connection between caring and happiness. Setting boundaries in our friendships, family relationships, and work identity is key to caring for ourselves, others, and the hurting world we live.

The harmony of caring in mind, body, and spirit comes from our own well of self-worth. When one cares enough about their own mind, body, and spirit, then one knows how much and when to care on any given day beyond oneself. If each of us gave up all the self-evaluating about how much we have or when we will have it, about the imminence of death, life after death, and death itself, perhaps we can begin to care about purpose of our caring and live a happier life before death.

Peace,
Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Abortion, mind-body-spirit

If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs Wade then the U.S. Supreme Court must demand its government and citizens to provide the following:

~ Paid healthcare for mom and baby to survive and live a healthy life
~ Paid mental health services for mom and baby to survive and live a healthy life
~ Paid childcare so Mom and baby can survive and live a healthy life
~ Gun control to enforce the ideal that life is more important than owning an automatic assault weapon so Mom and baby can survive and live a healthy life
~ Paid adoption costs for parents wanting to adopt so biological Mom and baby can survive and live a healthy life


These are just a few of the demands that must be met so for all who believe that women should not have the choice for decisions over their own bodies. Babies are not created solely by women’s actions or bodies, but women are the ones who in mind, body, and spirit must bear the consequences.


Happy Mother’s Day, the march continues for healthy lives in mind, body, and spirit!

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Empathy, uncomfortable shoes

Corporate communications employ a question at the end of their email to determine who and how many people have read what has been emailed. This past week’s corporate communications question resulted in a vast majority of readers preferring to walk in shoes with a tiny pebble versus wearing wet socks.

It is easy to flick a tiny pebble from the bottom of a shoe versus having to sit down to take off the shoes and then struggle to tug off a wet sock. Wet socks take more time and effort than a pebble. Empathy is much like the pebble versus wet socks question. The Dali Lama would remind us, “Empathy is the most precious quality.”

Empathy, uncomfortable shoes

My current favorite television series is Billions on Showtime®. I am deeply affected by the character, Taylor Mason, a non-binary on the show played by the actor, Asia Kate Dillon who is also non-binary and uses singular they pronouns in real life. I love the character and they are an extraordinary actor particularly in the role of Taylor Mason. Asia has the German word, ‘Einfühlung’ tattooed on the left side of their neck which translates to ‘empathy.’ I would like that same tattoo albeit not on the neck (ouch!) which is precisely the point of its’ placement by my guess.

I am walking in the shoes of the singular they pronouns in my own life as my son’s partner desires to be referred to as they, them, theirs. I admit I have stumbled in my pebbled shoe, yet I am beginning to become more accustomed to using singular pronouns while others in their wet socks grumble.

What moves me to feel and see as the other person?

Empathy requires a conscious component to intelligence, a self-awareness, and rationality. I would be unlikely to have the ability to entertain someone else’s perspective without a phenomenal consciousness like the proverbial pebble. It is that awareness that allows me to understand how others experience joy and pain, and not just humans. If I do not exploit this innate empathy gene, I can miss how it plays a role in my life from being able to have meaningful relationships, maintaining social order, to enjoying the humanities.

It is not enough to simply say, “I hear you.”

No matter what was done to me, and no matter what was done to another, we each have a soul. To participate in life, we are intimately involved with the fate of others and they in us. Only empathy, that expression of love, can connect my soul to another soul. When we walk in uncomfortable shoes of empathy whether it is expressed for own self-care or for others, we restore that lost connection to the soul that had required a tremendous amount of shame.

Empathy brings humans together and I will go further to say all earthly creatures by encouraging a sense of interconnectedness. Self-awareness of our feelings and belief systems are a part of that interconnectedness through our development of empathy. We do not have to sacrifice our own feelings or beliefs for that of another’s. In fact, the development of empathy and mutual respect frees us from the bond of isolation and the exaggeration of fear. Empathy is that essential quality to attaining harmony in mind, body, and spirit.

Peace,

Blog - Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Happiness, Finding purpose

I have not posted here in the last two weeks. To be honest, I was not feeling it. Unusual. Uncharacteristic.

What I am feeling is depression. Despair. Delusion.

Last week during the wellness segment of an operational Teams® meeting, a graphic was put upon the screen about defining happiness. It read,

“Finding purpose in life can bring about positive feelings. Ask yourself:
• What excites me?
• What energizes me?
• What challenges my creativity?
• What makes me feel productive?”

The timing of this graphic query felt odd to me. I felt self-conscious for even considering my happiness while Ukrainian lives are being uprooted and destroyed by Russia’s thug, Vladimir Putin, and his red army.

Happiness, finding purpose

An old colleague of mine once told me that if we have our health and our family, we have all that we need to be happy. What if we do not have one or the other, or even both? What if we no longer have a country?

Each person has a unique experience to life. The trajectory toward happiness is not the same for each person. There are often fluctuations in an individual’s happiness depending on their current life stage – independence, climbing the pay scale, marriage and children, retirement, then back to dependence – hence, the circle of life. Managing the expectations of each life stage can make or break the happiness code.

I have listed below a few quotes on happiness and reflecting on their words may help us to define our own happiness and find purpose in our current stage of life.

Our far-flung faculty, joined by assorted scribes, sages, and stars, offer up their “Every moment of your life that is not a complete nightmare is happiness.” –Merrill Markoe, humor writer

“Happiness is touching someone and making their life better. This last year I went to Russia to train women to set up their own domestic violence shelters, and to give them hope that they could make things better for women in their society, as we have in the U.S. I was happy to have made a difference.” –Lynn Gold-Bikin, J.D., chairperson of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” –Samuel Johnson, 18th-century English philosopher

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” –Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize-winning scientist

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” –Jane Austen

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.” –Martha Washington

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.” — Martha Stewart

“Happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family–in another city,” –George Burns

“The deepest happiness comes from relationships with others–the mythic ‘touching of souls’–a parent and a child, a couple in love, best friends, the selfless helping of one another.” –Frank Farley, professor of psychology, Temple University

“We are becoming a nation of people who, in their quest for happiness, all too often fall short of achieving any kind of inner peace. . . We think that by always reaching higher, accomplishing more, more money, a better body, the perfect mate–that we will automatically be happy That’s an illusion. All this reaching is making us crazy. We need to rest.” –Melvyn Kinder, clinical psychologist

“I’m as happy as a man can get, without arousing suspicion.” –Hal Kantor, screenwriter

“There is no 12-step program to happiness, or to its longer-lasting cousin, satisfaction. Some people think a happy society can be achieved by suppressing individualistic desires; others believe individual happiness can be attained without attending to the needs of others. But individual and social needs shape each other. Lasting happiness requires constant negotiation and redefinition of both personal and societal goals.” –Stephanie Coontz, Ph.D., family historian and author of The Way We Never Were

“You never find happiness until you stop looking for it.” –Chuang Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 5th-6th century B.C.

“Happiness is absorption in a cause which in the end is but illusion.” –Joseph Campbell

“If there were in the world today any enormous number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.” –Bertrand Russell

“Happiness is a blue sky, without clouds.” –Alfred Hitchcock

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.” –Edith Wharton

Taking my own parental advice

When my two sons were in their teens and the topic of college and career would come up, my advice to them was simply this, “Pursue your passion, find your purpose.” My oldest son, who pursued a fine arts degree in photography and has his photography being shown in art exhibitions. My youngest son is applying his cultural anthropology degree in a field his father and I could not have imagined. Only they can speak to their true level of happiness but I hear it in our conversations unless it turns to the subjects of food, gas, and healthcare costs, political and world affairs. Yet, we know there will always be bad things happening in the world and the question then becomes, “what we are doing to create happiness in the world?”

I guess, I already knew the answers to the questions listed in that graphic. Life is short no matter what stage of life and health we are in because all we need do is look at the world around us. When we pursue our passion, we find our purpose and harmony in mind, body, and spirit will surely follow.

Peace,
Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Perseverance, a supreme effort

A few weeks ago, a friend messaged me. I had not heard from them in months since leaving the department we both worked. They let me know they had failed an exam that was necessary to moving to the next level of their career. They were upset to say the least and I knew what was also going through their mind. I did not have to even ask. Was their health condition holding them back in being able to remember the material to pass the exam. I knew that was the question and more than likely the root of their anger more than the exam. They reached out because they knew I would listen. They also knew I understood the brain fatigue that can happen with an incurable illness. We understood our commonalities without having to voice them. I told them that not everyone passes the exam the first time. Step back. Reflect. Study. Do not give up.

I reached out to them again the other day to check on how they were doing. They immediately messaged back to let me know they passed the exam. They knew more than what they thought they did was their response. I told them that I knew they would pass the test and that I was proud of them.

Perseverance, a supreme effort

I have not always been a good listener. Listening can take perseverance even listening to ourselves.

Endurance vs Perseverance

Everyone can endure when tested, but not everyone can persevere. Endurance is not a choice. Perseverance is supreme effort. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance is letting go of the fear of failing while endurance is hanging on to what we are currently doing. 

Is the goal worth the perseverance?

I have learned in my own experiences that there is no shame in enduring and persevering does not always make a winner. The stepping back for 24 hours, a few weeks or years to reflect is a critical step in the process of achievement of any goal. The adage, timing is everything is only the half of it. Just like another truth – we cannot conclusively time the market. If we could do that then we would all be rich. The point is we know more than we think we do, but we do not always execute at the right time.

Is the grass greener, the air more refreshing, the sky bluer on the other side?

I am not advocating procrastination, wringing of the hands, and wondering whether to move here or there, do this or that. It is about evaluating risk.

Step back – ask the question why? Why do I want …?

Reflect – ask the question what? What happens after …?

Study – ask the question when? When is the right time or ever for…?

How to pass the test is letting go of the fear to hear the answers. Harmony in mind, body, and spirit may be in the enduring or in the persevering. We know more than what we think we do. We just have to trust our answers.

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

 

Anger, an inner cold war

Whether Russia does indeed invade Ukraine (which appears to be imminent) or not, was the cold war between Russia and the United States ever really over? 

In the last 15 years or so, other cold wars have been brewing.

Anger, an inner cold war

From the Great Recession of 2008 to the Great Resignation of 2022 and everything in between from the rise of domestic terrorism everywhere including our schools, political unrest, white supremacy, natural disasters to the slide of Christianity, the January 6th insurrection toward the destruction of U.S. democracy, is it any wonder that harmony in mind, body, and spirit is elusive?
All these cumulative events have made us more anxious, depressed, and angry not to mention what is going on in our own individual lives.

There is an intense state of resentful antagonism between our inner desires and worldly demands – an inner cold war that has been steeping for far too long now. Bitterness fertilized by our own personal bias, decisions, circumstances, and place of hurt.

Some people believe that things happen for a reason and no matter how traumatic, gratitude is the answer. I do not share that belief. If that were true, God would be okay with the origins of my place of hurt, leukemia that is not yet in remission, and now, another possible scary health condition. I told myself and others when I was diagnosed that I was not sad and that I was not angry. I lied. I just did not know it then. I am also not grateful, at least not for leukemia and whatever else I may be diagnosed with, and certainly not for my individual place of hurt.

How do we become more resilient?

I believe most of us would agree that innovative approaches to mental health are necessary. Medications are helpful and even lifesaving but cannot be the only answer. I have written on numerous occasions that our personal place of hurt cannot be healed unless we achieve inner harmony which is feeling known and valued by important others. It is the key to our well-being in mind, body, and spirit. All we see in the world today especially since the beginning of the COVID pandemic proves we are at the tipping point of our own inner cold war.

Mind, body, and spirit in their separate silos have differing levels of harmony, if any at all. Yet, one or two cannot make up for the others.

We normally see time as our enemy. Time running out, good experiences ending too soon, and taking away our youth, our looks, our health, our future and eventually our lives. Yet time is an ever present-present factor. It is essential for us to find a positive way of relating to it and to what consumes us. Resiliency, our ability to bounce back from whatever ails us is measured not in the pills that physicians throw at us to keep us going, to keep us living, but speaking our truth and taking steps to bring harmony back into our daily lives even if it is for the first time. If the Great Resignation is any indicator, more people are recognizing their inner cold war and taking steps to being mindful of time.

Building resiliency to win the inner cold war

  1. Connect with empathetic and understanding people.
  2. Take care of your body.
  3. Practice mindfulness.
  4. Write your way through it in a daily journal.
  5. Help others.

Whether we are ill in mind, body, and spirit or all three, our resiliency can be difficult to summon.  Time is not on our side. It never was. However, harmony is still achievable and for that I am grateful.

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Perspective, my last nerve died

Preview in new tab

COVID lingers in variants. The news media is on an automatic loop of mandates and misery. Tic-toc-tic BOOM!

When I decided on my words to live by in 2022, 2 of my 3 words are habits and perspective. The pandemic lockdown and my own self-imposed immunocompromised lockdown have forced me to consider my daily routine.

Is it a habit or a routine? 

It is a matter of perspective.

Am I anxious about how I just spent the last 1,440 minutes, or how I will spend the next 1,440 minutes?

Routines can be good if we are talking about children. Routines helped my children create good sleeping habits, for example. Routines, however, quash creativity.

Perspective, my last nerve died

Last week I was told that I was an “anti-crastinator” – the opposite of a procrastinator. While I am a planner personality when my paycheck depends on it, I began to wonder if monetary rewards were my answer to building sustainable habits to ending my boring daily life.

Routines become actions.

There is one routine that has become a daily habit. Journaling. How was I able to sustain that habit without the fishpole with a dollar bill dangling from it? Journaling provides me immense pleasure no matter my disposition.

The enormous body of research and anecdotal evidence says that habit formation starts with small, tenacious steps that forgives transgressions and supports the ultimate high endeavors of achievement. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse.

The first clue.

The harmony in mind, body, and spirit creates a sustainable habit in which not even money can satisfy the power of doing whatever it is whether exercising, a hobby, or a creative project that brings joy. It is forgiveness. What do I mean by that?

The second clue.

The reason I choose three words to live by each year instead of new year resolutions is that resolutions rarely succeed. New Year resolutions fade away usually by this time of year. Choosing words to live by allows me that tenacious transgressional step of the equation not once a year as starting again in a new year but every day no matter my disposition. New year resolutions require perfection or at least I believe they do to the outward world. The ultimate high endeavors of achievement happen when there is harmony in mind, body, and spirit. My journaling for example does not take perfection.

The third clue.

Boredom had killed my last nerve. Getting ourselves out of a rut and developing sustainable habits is difficult. Unsatisfying habits are always unhealthy, even if we do not specifically think of diet and exercise.

A sustainable habit must give us something that we cannot get elsewhere. It must rely on the mind, body, and spirit to achieve it; otherwise, there is no harmony in it irrespective of our disposition.

What is the value of harmony?

Is it a monetary reward? Is in the experience? Is it in the sharing of it with others?

My perspective on habits have been challenged in lockdown. Truthfully, they were challenged before COVID dominated our lives. The pandemic lockdown killed my last nerve by considering how I choose to spend them each day. The news media on their COVID auto-loop has confirmed that I am like so many others assessing daily enrichment.

My anti-crastination has kicked in and I am fully invested in creating sustainable habits that bring harmony into my life in mind, body, and spirit. Who knows? I might just become more physically active, mentally durable, and spiritually alive. If I do not fully achieve habit sustainability? My perspective is on forgiveness and the little anti-crastinator that could. Now, that it harmony!

Peace,
Blogging Owl Photo

 

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Light, the lasting joy

We entered the new year without one of our guiding lights of joy who would have turned 100 years old today – comedian, actor, animal activist, Betty White. Since her passing, I have wondered about Betty’s seemingly endless joy. She was obviously in good health for her age. Betty worked consistently up to the time of her death acting and raising animal welfare awareness.

Betty seemed to be self-aware of everything she did. She instinctively knew that marrying again after the death of her beloved soulmate and husband, Alan would not bring her joy. She obviously knew that she always needed to be doing things – activities she was enthusiastic about – acting and animals. I still wonder though if she wondered about the secret of longevity or if she marveled at her own.

Light, the lasting joy

I believe that harmony in mind, body, and spirit begins with pushing back the darkness with the light. I do not mean pushing down the darkness and ignoring it, but that the light is a ‘lamp for our feet’ (Psalm 119:105). I do not know if Betty White was a person of any religious faith. Does it matter? Faith is a personal choice.

Joy has been elusive for me these past weeks even though I am a person of faith. Is it the winter doldrums? Is it being in lockdown because of the coronavirus variant pandemic? Is it because I am weary of my perfectionist tendencies in an imperfect world, work, or wondering of my own potential longevity? All of which is out of my control, right?

Joy moments

We need better skills not more products or pills to provide long lasting joy. Although, I am not discounting those with diagnosed mental disorders that may require medication to feel righted in their everyday lives for I am one of those people. Yet, there is more to life than just surviving during the day.

Dalai Lama XIV stated, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday, and the other is called tomorrow. Do today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

There are 1,440 minutes in a day.

How many minutes are being spent eating and sleeping?
How many minutes are spent scrolling social media or watching television?
How many minutes are reading an article, a work project, or a book?
How many minutes are exercising?
How many minutes are working at a job?
Thankfully, I work remotely and for those who don’t – how many minutes does it take in their daily commute?
How many minutes are interacting with family and friends either in-person or electronically?
How many minutes are playing or walking with pets?

1,440 minutes in a day does not sound like many minutes after answering the questions on basic daily activities. Yet, loneliness abounds even on the busiest days. I wonder if Betty White was ever lonely even on her busiest days.

We can piece joy moments together like taking steps on walk outside in nature or like a puzzle sprawled out on the dining room table. We can find joy in others and in activities, but what skills do we need to find joy within ourselves? Is it serving others? Betty did that with her animal awareness activism and bringing her precious brand of comedy to her acting.

It used to be said at least in the church environment that we are to serve others with our time, talents, and treasures. How many of those do I have? How can I best utilize what I have and squeeze them into 1,440 minutes? I am not being irritable about the question. I am just asking for suggestions sake. Or am I a bit bitter?

The perfectionist and planner-personality in me wants to dwell on this time-talents-treasures thought some more. It would mean however using up precious minutes, and it would also most assuredly, involve yesterday as I would need to revisit what obviously did not work for me then. It would also mean involving tomorrow because I would most assuredly be color-coding the minutes into joyful categories.

As I stated my last blog post, spirituality is a tricky thing. Harmony in mind and body is tricky too when we think about the number of minutes we have in a day. Have I depressed you enough with this post yet? I hope not. I want you to take 3 precious minutes of your day today and do the following:

1. Wish Betty White a happy 100th birthday in heaven today. Rest in peace, dear Betty. (Time)
2. Do one thing you are good at that brings you joy. (Talent)
3. Make a financial contribution today even if it is $5 to an animal rescue in her honor. (Treasure)

Self-awareness is self-care. Betty White was a light, a lasting joy from which we all can learn the skills we need for joy. I will piece them together today to believe, love, and to live.

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

RPSM

P.S.

Please consider my favorite rescue, Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan at www.rpsm.org. My editors, Barkley LeRoy and Penny Louise would like to thank you too.

Wholeness, an unmasking

This past week was the one-year anniversary of the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. I listened to President Biden address the nation on January 6th about the dangers of losing our democracy.
“I did not seek this fight brought to this capital one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either,” President Biden says. “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation and allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

The divisions in the United States seem to be partisan, Republican vs Democrat, red vs blue, but are they really? Are income inequality, racial resentment, and the people’s declining trust in our institutions really a “versus” anger?

Yesterday, I watched Dave Chappelle’s comedy special on Netflix, “The Closer.” Dave tries to set the record straight on his feelings toward the LBGTQ community – part personal reflection and history lesson – the show takes on a serious perspective rather than comedic on the divisions between communities. How can we laugh about ourselves as human beings and at the same time understand our differences through the lens of another without taking offense?

Anger is fear turned inside out.

Our anger has exposed our fear of our collective places of hurt. How do we find our equilibrium to put away the daggers?

Wholeness, the unmasking

One of my three words to live in 2022, is wholeness. Achieving wholeness, that elusive equilibrium of mind, body, and spirit may just be what we all need this year as we enter the third year of COVID-19 and its variants.

Fear is being less than, incapable of, and believing the worst will happen if others perceive what may happen to be already happening. It causes us to believe the worst will happen and we will not survive it. Our brains are on a treadmill that will not shut off. This brain treadmill actively aids our fear emotion, paralyzing us and resulting in procrastination or a path of talking vs action. (Yes, there is that ‘versus’ word again.)

Fear is holding us hostage from joy.

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
~ from the poem, “Eternity” by William Blake

What is your fear? Let me share mine.

I am not who I am. If you find me out, you may change your perspective of me.

My place of hurt is driven by my fear of failure, feelings of unworthiness that stem from adverse childhood experiences. It has been heightened by my age and now because of my leukemia diagnosis. My fear is being less than, incapable of, and the worst will happen when you find out I am not who I am – the positive, intelligent, spiritual person you thought me to be. And if that happens what becomes of me?

The vicious cycle of worry.

Worry leads to a need for more control, which leads to taking more responsibility, which leads to more exhaustion, which leads to anger and resentment. The defense against anger or resentment is more control. Is that what happened on the steps of the U.S. Capitol? Is that what happens when we strike out from our individual place of hurt?

The underbelly of blessings.

‘Let go, let God’ is a popular spiritual mantra. ‘Resist reaction. Reason rules.’ Has been my often-forgotten mantra. I need a new mantra and perhaps, we all do.

The more we think something the more power we give to it. Am I thinking positively about something or am I thinking negatively?

I cannot change ‘them’ or ‘that,’ but I can change how I react which could result in wholeness.

Every gain has an inherent loss.

I will be ecstatic when I achieve remission from my leukemia, and I will also grieve what the chemotherapy has done to me. Every blessing has an underbelly we did not see coming at the beginning of the journey. We cannot always kick the rocks over in our path to see the other side when we are walking it. The rocks are simply too heavy for us to overturn. Trust is a tricky thing even in spirituality.

To become whole, what we want to change begins within us and must be done with kindness.

Self-aware is self-care.

Authentic Self

I hate that it is taken me so long to get to this point of admission. Yet with patience and kindness I hope you will come to understand me as I want to understand you. We each have a place of hurt. Yours is different than mine although our places of hurt may have shared similarities. May we be safe in using our authentic voices. Mine is not a versus of yours but an agreement of ours. I hope one day we can laugh at ourselves despite our differences to achieve wholeness for us both. May we always have the courage to use our authentic voice.

Wholeness for me personally will be an ongoing struggle but one I hope to achieve. The more I think about wholeness, the more power I give to it. I will think of wholeness like my favorite dessert – a pecan pie with a sweet warm center.

May we all achieve harmony in mind, body, and spirit no matter the rocks in our path or the trickiness in our mantras.

Peace,
Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

 

 

Book Review: Not for Writers Only

It is not Christmas unless there are books under the tree. The first book I began reading was, Writers on Writing“Writers on Writing – 4 Questions, 55 Writers, Hundreds of Insights & 111 Journal Writing Prompts” written by Chip Scanlan, published by Euclid Grove Publishing, St. Petersburg, FL. The author asks 55 writers and editors 4 questions in a simple question and answer format. The first two lines of the Introduction set the premise of the book: 

“What are the secrets of successful writers?

“How do you become one?

 

Over a third of the way through reading this book, I imagined myself at a cocktail party hosted by Chip Scanlan with his 55 invited guests. I was intrigued by the conversations when I sat on a comfortable sofa opposite of a writer with another impressive resume. Even though they may have an impressive writing resume does not mean they like the table turned with answering questions. Politely excusing myself in need of using the lady’s room, I moved on to finding more interesting conversation.

Mingling among a small group of writers and editors who nodded in agreement with the fourth question posed by Chip, I too found myself nodding in agreement. As I made my way around visiting with the other guests, I ran into a select few that rambled in their answers. It was the guests, however, who were complete in their answers to the questions that I found the most fascinating. They were confident in their writing ‘voice,’ and I would have offered to freshen their drink to continue the conversation further if I knew where to find bar.

At the end of the evening, I thanked my wonderful host, Chip Scanlan with the hope he will invite me again. I will be writing in my journal for weeks to come reflecting on all these insightful conversations.

Not for Writers Only

The book, “Writers on Writing – 4 Questions, 55 Writers, Hundreds of Insights & 111 Journal Writing Prompts” is a marvelous book for writers, people who have a passion for writing, or simply, who want to become writers. Yet what strikes me about this book is that it is not just for writers only. Here are my four reasons I recommend this book and not just for those who are interested in the lives of distinguished writers and editors along with 4 questions of my own.

Profession

Even if you are not a prolific writer or find the subject of writing dull, someone wrote the content of the news program, article, or the podcast you listen to. With the current assault on the media and journalism, this book provides a glimpse into how writers write their content. Let me be clear, the writers and editors Chip Scanlan interviews have impressive resumes. They are not the opinionated bobble-heads on cable news. Why do you believe the readers or listeners connect with these writers and editors?

Conversation

Writers and editors are human too. The four questions the author, Chip Scanlan poses to these 55 people in his words are deceptively simple. Notice that I have never disclosed the four questions because it is impossible to fully appreciate the concept of this book without reading the answers and insights given by the writers and editors.

After reading the book, replace the word writer in each of the four questions with another profession, title, including homemaker or parent. You will find that the answers provided by Chip’s 55 guests are a worthwhile study on how people respond to these questions. Writers on Writing has set me on a course to have more interesting conversations with people I do not know including my next-door neighbor. If you were a writer or editor, what subjects or people interest you?

Education

Writers on Writing, the book itself is insightful into the craft of writing. Use the book to better enhance your own writing and interviewing skills. The four questions Chip Scanlan poses and the 55 answers can help even the person conducting a job interview to the candidate who is applying for the job. Students will find Writers on Writing a helpful resource for school essays and group projects. I found the book to be a must-have resource book for my own writing and blogging. Professionally or personally, what is your opinion on writing?

Reflection

The author, Chip Scanlan is an author after my own heart – journaling! As described on the back of the book’s cover, Chip does indeed make this book an interactive writing workshop. These journal prompts really go after the heart of writing. I love it!! As I mentioned earlier, even if you are not a writer insert your own profession to these the journal writing prompts. You will be considering the world around you in a whole new light. In fact, you may realize you just may be a writer after all. You journal, don’t you?

Hoot Rating

On a 1 to 5 Hoot Rating Scale, The Blogging Owl gives 5-Hoots to “Writers on Writing – 4 Questions, 55 Writers, Hundreds of Insights & 111 Journal Writing Prompts” written by Chip Scanlan.

5 Hoot Rating

This book is available on Amazon and other national booksellers, however also consider supporting your local independent bookseller.

Happy Reading (and writing) in the New Year!

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2022 All Rights Reserved

Compassion, a spiritual hunger

Spirituality to me means opening my heart and cultivating my capacity to experience awe, reverence, and gratitude. It is an ability to see the sacred in the ordinary during my day and night, to feel the poignancy of my life, to the know the passion and understand the purpose of my existence by which I give myself over to that which is greater than myself.

The Breadth of Life

Many people have left the church and synagogue because organized religion is not meeting their spiritual needs. It does not mean that people do not believe in God, but they are not feeling connected to God sitting in the traditional pew. Others have become indeed agnostic or are atheists.

The Latin root of the word, spirituality means “breath.”

The trend towards seeking this breath of life in alternative forms of spirituality has figured prominently on the landscape of America for the last several decades and continues to do so. I am not making any judgements on these alternative forms of spirituality. However, when I first noticed my spiritual hunger it was in the summer of 2009. I began to identify my spiritual hunger in conjunction with mental therapy and a new inspiration to learn more about my religious faith.

Compassion, a spiritual hunger

I have attended church throughout my life except for brief periods of straying in my twenties. It was only after losing my career due to the collapse of the U.S. economy in the summer of 2009 that my breath of life was slowing leaving me. I was experiencing such a spiritual hunger even while sitting in my organized, traditional church pew. How could this be?

The central experience at the heart of spirituality is of a comforting stillness that feels reliable and secure.

I was anything but still. Frantic would be a better description of my entire life. I needed to come to terms with who I was, where I was from, and why I felt the way I did. It was that realization that began a “writing my way through it”  in my journal, a habit I maintained since childhood. Writing was and continues to be my survival mechanism and my ability to find harmony in mind, body, and spirit. Yet, writing though it was not enough in the ensuing years after 2009.

My spiritual hunger

I began my own path to silence in the words of Mother Teresa’s “A Simple Path” –
The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace

Although my spirituality is from a Christian perspective, similar ideas are found elsewhere, not only in other religions but other transcendental influences in our lives. I do not judge these other influences because I believe God brings each of us to the point of our own reckoning. The proximity between worldly ego and the soul’s true self increases through exploration, and the advancing of an individual’s maturity and wisdom.

When I truly understood my past and present, I was able to fully appreciate the aim of spiritually and why I was hungering for it. Grace and compassion were lacking in my spiritual diet. Sitting in that church pew for decades and I did not believe in God’s grace and compassion until I was able to feed myself with the grace and compassion for myself. My therapist taught me that lesson not a pastor or a minister. God brought me full circle back to him.

Satisfying a spiritual hunger

I repeat again:

Spirituality to me means opening my heart and cultivating my capacity to experience awe, reverence, and gratitude. It is an ability to see the sacred in the ordinary during my day and night, to feel the poignancy of my life, to the know the passion and understand the purpose of my existence by which I give myself over to that which is greater than myself.

For me, that higher power is God whether I am sitting in an organized church’s pew or sitting on the beach looking out over an eternal expanse of water.

Spirituality does not arrive fully formed without effort. Care of the soul needs to be fed every day for there to be harmony with it in mind and body. Deprived and that spiritual hunger is what we see every day in a life and world without compassion and grace.

Quiet Solitude

How do I do it? How do I find that silence to feed my soul?

Every morning and sometimes throughout the day and evening, I write in my journal. The pages filled with every emotion, pages of questions, requests for redemption and healing, you name it. It is all in there. Every. Single. Day. I ask for His presence – that I may see Him at work in my life, that I hear His words in others, and that I feel the compassion. And when COVID is hopefully in our rearview mirror, I will be in a church pew with a new appreciation for God’s compassion and grace. But I don’t need to be in a pew to know and feel God’s presence.

Wherever I go. Wherever I am. God is there. I am never disappointed. I am fully fed.

My spirituality may not look like yours, but I promise you, that you will not have harmony in life in mind and body without the spirit. The aim of spirituality is compassion. Believe that compassion is available to you, give it to yourself, and then pass it on. God knows, the world desperately needs it right now.

Peace,

Blogging Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

Grief, sets the table

At Thanksgiving, my oldest son who is a photographer came to visit. He brought from his car bag after bag of which was photography equipment, cameras, lens, film. I asked him if he brought any clothes with him as he lives four hours away and was planning to spend a few days with us. He pointed to a small backpack.

At one point during his stay, he had a few of his photography bags open on the kitchen table and I marveled at all the different sizes of lens that I assumed were just a small portion of his photography cache. I gingerly picked up what I thought to be a zoom lens and marveled at the length and weight of it.

As I began to move my son’s camera equipment so I could set the table for dinner, I wondered about the capability of our own eyes. Even with 20-20 vision, our human eyes do not have the same accommodation to magnify images to see the lovely details and crop out the unwanted subject matter. Our human optical ‘zoom’ lens does not have the physical mechanism as my son’s camera lens. We have instead an emotional lens.

Grief, sets the table

Christmas is a few days away. Whether you are dining alone or with a few close family members, friends or perhaps casting responsible caution to the wind during this ongoing pandemic to seat a large gathering of people, there are many who’s holiday is the beginning of their “year of firsts.”

A missing table setting. An empty chair. A bite of comfort food that has lost its taste.

Grief, sets the table.

Loneliness sits down in the middle of joy’s welcoming table.

In his letter to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, Ben Franklin wrote in part, “… but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

If death and taxes are certain then grief is sure to follow both.

While I was contemplating a camera lens at Thanksgiving time, a colleague had just entered her year of firsts with the sudden and unexpected death of her mother from COVID. As I tried to console her without overstepping her grief with my own experience, I was preparing myself for another visit from grief at my Christmas table.

My colleague spoke of becoming an orphan. I spoke of my feeling of abandonment. Whatever the feeling…

Grief, sets the table.

An unsurmountable loss irrespective of the feelings for the one we lose, the future holds “what might have been.”

The loss of my father diminished me. Overwhelmed and unmoored, I tried to come to terms with my grief. I re-evaluated myself and the world in the light of my loss. The attempt to look for meaning was a way to achieve balance amid the instability. Grief led me to maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

What I needed in my grief was nourishment of support from positive sources. I found few of them. I came from a dysfunctional setting compounded by the suddenness of losing my father three days before Christmas.

the grieving (3)
Whether it is a person, pet, divorce, career, home, or other significant loss…

Grief, sets the table.

It is important to remember that each person setting around the table is experiencing some sort of loss. The chatty Cathy to the silent Simon they are dealing with their loss in their own unique and individual way.

Indian poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his poem, “you become an image of what is remembered forever.”

No truer words have been written even more so than death and taxes.

When we call to mind the memories because of the joy or despite their content, we also honor them and ourselves by living a healthy and fulfilled life.

Grief, sets the table.

When we look at our loss through our individual emotional lens, we can either zoom in to see the lovelier details or zoom out to crop out the unwanted subject matter. And the difference between death and taxes is that we can choose to pay the taxes or not.

My recommendation: pay the taxes. Allow grief to drip all the snot out of your head. Allow it to swell up your eyes from shedding all the tears until you fall into a deep sleep for days.

Grief, sets the table.

Then you will be able to move on until the next time when grief sets the table whether it is in your year of firsts or in your 31st year.

This holiday season when you are at the holiday table serve an extra helping of love, grace, and acceptance because you never know what loss someone at the table may be enduring. Grief sets the table for us all.

high cost of loving

In Closing,

If you are experiencing overwhelming grief and finding it difficult to finding the harmony in mind, body, and spirit, I urge you to find support through grief counseling – online, in person therapy, or a local grief support group.

Signs to look for:
1. Suicidal thoughts
2. Symptoms of distress – loss of appetite, insomnia, increased instability and anger or panic attacks
3. Struggling with daily self-care and everyday tasks
4. Denial of the loss
5. Avoidance of familiar places, situations, or social interaction
6. Substance abuse
7. Unexplained illnesses
8. Self-blame for the loss; guilt
9. Plagued with intrusive thoughts or reliving the loss
10. Lack of family or friend support system; or they cannot sustain the length of time of your grief

May you find peace and harmony this holiday season,

Blog - Owl Photo

In memory of my father, LeRoy C. Prielipp, 5/5/38 – 12/22/90

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

Peace, finding the harmony

A few years ago, during the time that I refer to as the lost years of the U.S. presidency when chaos ruled over character, a dear friend texted me, “you are allowing him to steal your peace” after one of my online rants. I knew the peace she was speaking of, “the peace that surpasses all understanding” from Philippians 4:7.

“Freedom is dearer than bread or joy.” Jessie Sampter, Poet

“Peace is not possible without freedom from which all that prevents it.” s.l. prielipp-falzone, Writer/Poet

Peace, finding the harmony

It is easy to underestimate the power of peace within our mind, body, and spirit. It is not the peace that ignores others or even oneself by shutting down or ignoring what steals our peace. The true form of peace comes from wakefulness (and I am not referring to the trending “woke” terminology).

If there is one thing that I have learned over the past year or so is that when I am at peace I am engaged with life while also feeling relaxed, calm, and safe even despite having leukemia in the middle of a global coronavirus pandemic. Do I dare say that cancer produced gratitude for seeing peace for what it is? … a protection from stress that causes my immune system to grow stronger in body and empowers my spirit?

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live in peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim, Mildred Norman, American teacher

Practicing stillness

Our culture puts demands on us with invasive demands for our attention, a juggling of busyness and responsibilities that sucks out the life-giving marrow from our mind and spirit. The sadness of this predicament is that we allow it.

Every morning (and nighttime) with rare fail and without interruption, I am in my space practicing stillness. No electronic devices. No earbuds. No sound. Nothing but stillness in my favorite chair in the privacy of my bedroom – other times it may be in nature, the backyard, the beach at Lake Michigan behind my house, in the state park near the river or on a trail far from the noise of the world.

I pray. I mediate. I journal. Every. Single. Day.

You may not believe as I do in God, but you have the universe, that sense of transcendental, something eternal, a spirit by another name, something beyond words that is meaningful where peace surpasses all understanding.

This is the durable peace that I come home to even when I am consumed by fear, frustration, or heartache from the world. A durable peace which prevents my overreactions and allows me to treat others and find support by them in ways that bring harmony into the world.

Reclaiming time

I know it is not realistic for others to follow my stillness routine. My 24 hours is different than the next person who has different responsibilities than me. Yet whether it is 10 minutes, 30, 60 or longer, each of us can find our safe space. Look for it. I know you will find it. And when you do, be grateful not for what you do not have – quantity and quality of space or material stuff – peace will change the perspective. If you are having difficulty summoning up gratitude, help others. I guarantee you someone has less than you.

Guard whatever space and time you have.

While the contents of this world are everchanging, the sun still shines, the stars still twinkle, the waves of the lake and river still flow. Just like the world in all its vastness, I am but a drop or speck that moves and changes in that lake or sky of human culture. I can only control that which is in my power.

I continue to reclaim what I have given over. For example, I turn off all notifications from 5 pm to 7 am from the limited media I still have activated including email. I do not answer the phone after 8 pm and not before 7 am or 10 am on weekends. The telephone and text are only available for my husband and sons on off hours who have specific notification sounds, otherwise, I do not look at my phone or iPad after 9 pm. I find other ways to connect with others such as through my writing. You have an artistic endeavor that may connect others to you. Explore it!

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa, Saint

“Peace is its own reward.” Mahatma Gandhi, Political Ethicist

Ours is a continuous journey that begins in our wakefulness observing the stillness we create in our individual space in pursuit of a durable peace that brings harmony to mind, body, and spirit. I hope you start your own journey today. It will help you to release yourself from the toxicity of people and elements of the world. In the words of my friend, “do not allow anyone to steal your peace.”

In Closing

Last week Dictionary.com announced its word of the year for 2021: Allyship

A wonderful source to explore allyship is a project created by @amelielamont www.guidetoallyship.com. If you find this guide useful, buy her a cup of coffee like I did.

“Everyone has the right to peaceful coexistence, the basic personal freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity to lead a productive life.” Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize

Peace,

Blog - Owl Photo

This post is dedicated to my friend, Anne-Marie.

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

Intelligence, of a different kind

Author, Stephen King had tweeted that he had finished another episode of the Apple TV series, “Invasion” that had a ‘Lord of the Flies’ vibe to it. That was enough of a recommendation for me to begin watching this 2021 series myself.

IMDb describes Invasion by co-creators, Simon Kinberg and David Weil, as a Sci Fi drama this way: “Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity’s existence. Events unfold real time through the eyes of five ordinary people across the globe as they struggle to make sense of the chaos unraveling around them.”

Sound familiar?

The first season of the series concluded last week. The series, Invasion is much more than just another Sci Fi drama about an alien invasion. It is a study of human relationships we are experiencing in our current chaotic world. Insert the word “coronavirus,” “MAGA,” “socialism,” or whatever has you staying awake at night, and you may already believe there is an invasion of alien lifeforms.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence,” said writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Intelligence, of a different kind

In a more perfect world, we see beyond our own limited and biased perspectives. Even if we cannot imagine the reasons for another’s perspective, we remain civil to understand the conflict of choices and varying opinions.

But we do not live in a perfect world

Last week’s most recent school shooting at Oxford High School in my home state, Michigan is just another example of how imperfect of world we currently live in. Go into any coffee shop, diner, or participate in any online discussion, and people are sharing their beliefs on gun control. Discussions get heated and out of control quickly.

It would be nice if we could temporarily put a moratorium on these heated interactions or discussions by defusing our discomfort using our defense mechanisms such as denying evidence or rationalizing the current ‘invasive’ topic. We can if we choose to do so.

Developing our social intelligence

People have better innate social intelligence than others. They know how to work the room carrying on conversations with people known or unknown to them. Socially intelligent people are active listeners. How can the less active listener become better at listening and thereby becoming better communicators?

One person’s cloudy sky is another person’s blue sky.

They may both correct to the extent based upon their beliefs and values, and consequently how they choose to make decisions. The sky is indeed blue; and the sky may even have clouds at times that blot out the sun. This dissonance we often feel in these discussions result in a tendency to summarize the other person’s opinions into the simplest terms or even in silly, disturbing memes.

Our opinions are most often rooted in deeply personal and emotionally invested beliefs. We each may be a critical thinker, but one may believe in alien life and the other may not believe in them. One just needs more evidence to become persuaded on the existence of aliens. While others want to hang onto what we “know” about the world. It is human nature; and we will go to great lengths to convince others of what we know based upon our invested beliefs.

But wait!! The aliens are invading us!

We are, by our very own nature, selfish. I fully admit that I am. I feel ashamed when I fail my own mantra to “resist reaction reason rules” and reflexively fail to take the time to see or try to understand the perspective of other people. It takes patience and effort to take ourselves out of our own world.

I go back to Apple TV’s series, Invasion. How does it make me feel to see the other person through their eyes? Invasions of any kind, out of this world or within my own? I believe we can become socially, better active listeners and communicators when we reveal our humanity in the true spirit of service with the imperative of “we are in this together.” That level of sensitivity and compassion that this type of perspective breeds is enormous.  Do we have the free-will ability to make that choice? I believe we do. I am open to understanding your perspective.

Peace,

Blog - Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

Kindness, the default option

In computer science, the default option refers to a user-configurable setting assigned to an application. This default setting represents a button that is safest to use when the Enter key is pressed. It is a button I wish was an option on my keyboard when posting to my personal FaceBook page. In fact, I should have just removed my hands completely from the keyboard or better still pressed the off button on my laptop. I no longer have an active personal Facebook page.

When my FaceBook page was active, I envied my FaceBook connections that could easily scroll past their connections’ posts on political and damning memes to just privately drool on other’s dinner photos, snicker at baby goat or cat antic videos, or make “aww” faces when fawning over cute puppy and baby snapshots as I had imagined. On the other hand, why are these connections on FaceBook when they rarely communicate on their own timelines? I assume voyeurism was their default option.

I also learned from my FaceBook connections things that I did not need to know or should not know; but then again, I am positive my connections may well have been thinking the same thing about my over exposures. Could these same connections wish too that they could go back to retract, amend, or delete some of their posts or memes that I wish I would have when my FaceBook page was active?

My decision to deactivate my personal FaceBook page came at a time when I had too much on my plate. My screen time was out of control not to mention my anxiety. I allowed FaceBook to have too much of my precious headspace.

Since deactivating my personal Facebook on December 23, 2020, I did not necessarily set out to establish a practice of being more kind. Yet, kindness is what I needed to see in the world and not to confuse people with my kindness, I eventually learned that I needed to be kind to myself first. I forgave myself for my FaceBook faux pas and vowed that my need to communicate needed a  reckoning.

Kindness, the Default Option

Leading my interactions with kindness means being clear in all my communications even with my own internal communications. It starts with self-acceptance which means accepting myself just as I am. Being kinder to myself led me toward the goal of forgiving myself for mistakes, shortcomings and allowing myself to feel good about my strengths and talents.

That was step one.

Step two was re-conceptualizing what it meant to be kind.

Sonya Lyubomirsky, a University of California-Riverside psychologist, found that practicing acts of kindness, as well as, expressing thankfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness was common among happy people. Kindness has a rebounding loop. Kindness, empathy, and compassion present a greater opportunity to make a world a better place. When I was contemplating on The Blogging Owl FaceBook page about deactivating my blog Facebook pages after the recent Congressional hearings with regard to Facebook, one of my readers posted, “You make social media better.” At the time, I did not think I was being too hard on myself about my personal FaceBook page, but this comment on my blog FaceBook page made me feel better.

Positive Intent vs Assumption of Negative Intent

Most people assume negative intent from others when it appears their words or actions do not align with their own values. As in the case of my own FaceBook experience, I can attest that I have been shocked and dismayed at times with family, close friends and acquaintances at revelations made on their timelines or their posts on other timelines. I am sure as I reflect on my own posts that my FaceBook connections could say the same about me.

On the other hand, it is possible we extend too much benefit of the doubt to people we like, or who are on “our side” of the topic. The closer we are to someone we are more likely we are to overlook their comments as a rash reaction rather than a deep-seeded conviction. Our assumptions may be further than the truth. Yet social conditioning often traps us into jumping to wrong conclusions about people we are acquainted and people we do not know well or even like.

So, what are my expectations with this kindness conundrum?

The practice of kindness starts with an intention.

Kindness begins where I am. The gift of the practice of kindness is how it changes me, and in turn, the other person that I extend kindness to. When I practice being kind to myself, I learn how to be kind to others. It does not mean self-sacrifice. It means I care for myself as a person capable of warmth, of balance, of a peaceful response to life. I want others to feel that same way.

December ushers in the opportunities for kindness.

The holidays are upon us. Rituals, spiritual and community celebrations are gifts that can bring us together. Holiday madness can also lead positive intentions to the assumption of negative intent just from a simple greeting. Whether you are a person that celebrates a religious holiday this season or not, please do not make it a battle on what is appropriate between Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Season’s Greetings, Holiday Wishes, Happy Holiday, just greet others with holiday expressions of your choosing and I will do the same.

May kindness be your default option this holiday season and beyond.

Peace,

Blog - Owl Photo

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

 


2022 – Words to Live By

One year ago, I would not have imagined where I am at today. Two months into a leukemia diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment I was dwelling on what life was going to be like for me personally and professionally when I chose my words to live by for 2021 – mindfulness, creativity, and discernment. Even when I look back on my post announcing the words and the meaning I held for them then and now is quite remarkable.

The first 3 months of 2021 were not going well it seemed in all aspects of my life. My husband and I took a deep breath and discerned that we could build a better future in mind, body, and spirit by taking advantage of the hot real estate market. The next months would be nothing shoring of amazing. We downsized and sold a home where we had lived for 28 years and raised our 2 sons. We sold a second vacation home and purchased a bigger home near Lake Michigan. The creativity of decluttering, downsizing, donating and a designing the homes for sale took every ounce of mental and physical capacity from both of us. All the while, we were mindful of creating a future in a happier space and place where we will eventually retire in the future.

This new reality was the furthest thing from my mind one year ago.

Now as I did in the fall of 2020, I reflect on the words I have chosen to live by since beginning my list in 2017.

Words to Live by List

2018:      Minimalism, Grace, Truth
2019:      Wisdom, Honor, Joy
2020:      Silence, Commit, Fulfill
2021:      Mindfulness, Creativity, Discernment

2022: Words to Live By

Over the last 2 months I have written down dozens of words, crossing them out as the weeks went by, and each time thinking I had next words to live by in 2022. It was not a process of elimination but my past 12 words to live by finally called out the words to live by in 2022.

SONNET 144
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still;
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colour’d ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn’d fiend
Suspect I may, but not directly tell;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another’s hell:
Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

~ William Shakespeare

Wholeness

If there is one lesson, I have learned this past year repeatedly is that one of the three – mind, body, spirit – will take over when one or the other two areas are wanting.

The word, wholeness, has different a meaning for each one of us such as another person or a spiritual presence that completes what is lacking within us. Let us look at one of the phrases that Dictionary.com defines as wholeness:

“Pertaining to all aspects of human nature, especially one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual development.”

I selected the word, wholeness, for my first word to live by in 2022 because of personal chronic conditions like CML (chronic myeloid leukemia) and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) that can keep me from feeling whole. It is during these times, my spiritual faith kicks in but even then, that is a work in progress even for the most devout.

In 2022, wholeness will mean gaining my equilibrium and bringing the harmony of mind, body, spirit into tune.

Habits

Why are good habits difficult to begin and bad habits difficult to break?

Most people think of habits as being physically based like a new year’s resolution to lose weight. It is easy to think in these terms as because it is logical that putting off or ignoring an increasing waistline may put us in a bind (no pun intended) or blind side us later in life.

Conversely, good habits, the ones that we believe are serving us well and, on the surface, considered as good attributes but, may not be serving our relationships personally or professionally.

Every habit has 3 components: 1) a trigger, 2) a routine, and 3) a reward. Even the tiniest of habits can serve us or enslave us from a future that keeps us locked in our place of hurt – that place in mind, body, spirit that keeps us from becoming whole.

Habits, conscious and subconscious, insignificant and compelling will be on topic in 2022.

Perspective

Personalities, preferences, problems involve perspective. Yet, it is often difficult to keep the chaos of the world in perspective when the world has turned into a social media frenzy of what is truth and what is a lie.

We have become a more anxious, fearful, and activist society. Therapy appointments are in high demand and can take months to schedule. Is it because mental illness has come out of the closet treating it like any other disease of the body? Have we just lost our perspective on the greater good? Or both?

How can human beings be so intelligent and effective in solving certain problems yet so dysfunctional and destructive at the same time?

How can we keep our balance in a world that seems to have a bad case of vertigo without losing control?

There are so many more questions to ask that I must continually remind myself of my mantra, “resist reaction reason rules.” But what is reasonable?

Perspective, seeing all relevant data in a meaningful way apart from the fire and frenzy is my third word to live by in 2022.

Life’s Battlefield

To my nature’s better angel, I add these three words: habits, wholeness, and perspective to my list of words to live by in 2022.

In closing,

You may have noticed changes here at The Blogging Owl such as the updated tag line, “Harmony of Mind, Body, Spirit.” The new tag line represents the site’s new perspective on wellness. I will be addressing current news and topics to help us thrive in mind, body, and spirit.

The Blogging Owl also has a new page at the top of the site, The Owl’s Hoot Reviews. Beginning January 2022, this page will house my book and other mini reviews of interest based on a 1 to 5 Hoot rating scale. Previous book reviews will be updated and added as well. Nothing has changed about my love of books!

Used books will also start appearing on the shelves of The Owl Bookshelf page and for purchase at my Etsy store in the Spring of 2022.

If you have been a loyal reader of The Blogging Owl, I sincerely thank you. I began blogging in 2007 and the site has evolved over the years. You will notice that I have cleaned house of previous series of posts that many of my readers have enjoyed, and quite frankly, may have been the reason they began following The Blogging Owl, however, cleaning and updating the site was long overdue. It is my genuine hope that you will continue to follow this blog for the wit and wisdom toward harmony in mind, body, and spirit.

Peace,

theowl

(c) 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved

2021 – Words To Live By

It is that time of year again where I reflect on this past year and I look forward to the year ahead. I used to share New Year resolutions. In 2018, I changed my resolutions to three words to live by in the coming year. In 2018, I chose minimalism, grace, and truth for 2019. Last year, I chose three verbs for 2020 – wisdom (seek), honor (speak), and joy (share). This year was a particularly thoughtful year because of the global pandemic due to the coronavirus coupled with my recent diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia.

A Watershed Year

When I reflect on the last six words chosen, I ask myself, “Have I grown as a person in living my message in mind, body, and spirit? Is my voice communicating my authentic self?”

The pandemic lockdown allowed several things to occur in my life. I was gratefully able to work remotely, which allowed me to spend a great deal of time at my second home in northwest Michigan near Lake Michigan. I spent much of my time when not working, in and near the lake, contemplating my life and looking toward the future. My thoughts surfed over waves of nostalgia as I am in the last year of a biological decade contemplating a new milestone birthday in 2021.

After recently reading my 2020 Words to Live By post and reading my earlier posts on COVID-19, the word cancer appeared in my writing long before I was surprised with my leukemia diagnosis this past September. I thought about my lockdown sabbatical at Lake Michigan. It was one of the best summers of my life. Now cancer would like me to negatively dwell on all these thoughts to conclusively ask, “Is this it? God granted me one last glorious summer, my favorite season. Will this be my last Christmas? Will I be here at the end of my next biological decade?”

I have a positive prognosis for living a normal lifetime even with CML providing I take my daily chemotherapy for whatever days God grants me. I have not reached remission; but my oncologist is pleased with my progress these two and half months. I remain positive in mind, body, and spirit.

COVID and cancer

2020 has helped me to define how I choose to live my life beginning now and not waiting for the ball to drop on 2021.

Mindfulness

In my post, Iron Sharpens Iron of September 7, 2020, I shared my intentions and afterthoughts of my August summer vacation.

August prepared me for what I would learn by the end of September.

Life can change in a moment. I take into 2021, the first lesson of 2020 with the word: mindfulness.

When I think about mindfulness, I think about the three principles of unities in drama from Aristotle’s Poetics – a play’s requirement to have a single action occurring in a single place and within a single day – unity of action, unity of place, and unity of time.

Now let me be clear, I am not stating that every day be dramatically filled with vivid emotion or conflict; but if it is, I will allow myself to live in that moment. I will give my full attention to only what is in the present, experiencing my thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment. In other words, I will not dwell on yesterday or worry about tomorrow. No more climbing ladders of any type. We only have today, right?

Creativity

When I reflect on what brings me the most joy outside of my family and friends, I think of being creative. Creativity to me is an exploration, being authentic, whether is it writing, crafting, designing, gardening, or simply nature.

One important lesson of the pandemic lockdown is eliminating negative connectivity.

Negativity in mind, body, and spirit eliminates creativity of any kind. Therefore, I am eliminating the negativity that seeps into my daily life. Negativity takes up too much space in the unities of life. For example, I am deactivating my personal Facebook timeline and eliminating negative relationships relating to any noun – person, place, or thing.

This day forward I am investing in my creative-self and wherever that creativity takes me without judgment or promises. Legacy is for others to decide so why dwell on it.

Discernment

While all words that I have chosen to live by are important, this next word, discernment is critical.

Am I living my message?

To live my message, establishing boundaries becomes especially important in mind, body, and spirit. Personality and character are often thought of as being the same. However, our personality is our inner spirit, and our character is our outer nature. My personal devotion to Jesus Christ brings the two together – my personality and my character. That transformation was brought about by love, the overflowing result of being in true fellowship with Christ. I cannot allow anyone or anything to invade that relationship.

People bound in love for one another without judgment, worthiness, or differences are people who make the difference in the world. I will do my best to respond in love. I will also respond to bigotry as if the people others demean are witnessing my response. My relationships will either survive or they won’t. These are the natural consequences.

Discernment, for me, is the ability to distinguish intellectually or recognize spiritually without the world dictating to me how to live my life in the moment. If I am living my message today, in this moment, then I am making a difference in the world. If making a difference in the world is not important, then why am I here?

Mindfulness, Creativity, and Discernment

The three words I add to my list to live by.

May everyone know the true peace and joy in 2021.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Good Health and Prosperity for all!


Peace and Joy,
Blog - Owl Photo
The Blogging Owl


“Like” my Facebook pages: The Blogging Owl and The Prayer Journals

(c) 2017-2020 All Rights Reserved