Choosing and Musing

Yesterday a friend, Lani, posted part one in a series called, “Can we learn to be happier?” on Facebook.

I thought that that was an unrealistic expectation and might even cause more suffering in this world. I believe that we focus too heavily on “the pursuit of happiness” instead of acceptance of what is.

I preferred that we instead focus on feeling content.

Lani thought they were perhaps the same thing.

I disagree. Here’s what Etymology Dictionary [DOT] com says about happiness

happy (adj.)

late 14c., “lucky, favored by fortune, prosperous;” of events, “turning out well,” from hap (n.) “chance, fortune” + -y (2). Sense of “very glad” first recorded late 14c. Ousted Old English eadig (from ead “wealth, riches”) and gesælig, which has become silly. Meaning “greatly pleased and content” is from 1520s. Old English bliðe “happy” survives as blithe. From Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for “happy” at first meant “lucky.” An exception is Welsh, where the word used first meant “wise.”

and about the word content …

content (adj.)

c.1400, from Old French content, “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain).

content (v.)

early 15c., from Middle French contenter, from content (adj.) “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain). Sense evolved through “contained,” “restrained,” to “satisfied,” as the contented person’s desires are bound by what he or she already has. Related: Contented; contentedly.

then I said I preferred equanimity which has its roots in …

equanimity (n.)

c.1600, “fairness, impartiality,” from French équanimité, from Latin aequanimitatem (nominative aequanimitas) “evenness of mind, calmness,” from aequus “even, level” (see equal (adj.)) + animus “mind, spirit” (see animus). Meaning “evenness of temper” in English is from 1610s.

Pausing,  I wondered if I was just being picky or just cranky.

That’s why I’ve gone into the etymology of each word. I grant you it’s not the Oxford English … but I don’t have a subscription right now. Perhaps that’s something I need to treat myself to. But for now… this will have to do.

I claimed yesterday that happiness was too dependent on events, circumstances, even other people and it would seem my memory served me right as it meant in the original sense something to what we would refer as “lucky”.

On second thought I think that’s what many want … to be lucky, wealthy (in the sense of $$$) and even silly giddy. Not that I would deny anyone those moments. Glory, I sure enjoy my “silly/giddy” moments. Just saying I wouldn’t want to be that way 24/7. Exhausting and often inappropriate.

Unless of course, you are Welsh and you want to be wise. Now that would be excellent. However, I don’t think I’ve ever heard even a person of Welsh decent actually express that wish. So I guess this meaning left us late in the 16th century.

What I’d like to offer is that we seek balance such as that denoted by the word equanimity.

I propose that we stop vilifying emotions by calling them good or bad. They are just feelings and we don’t have to act on them.

For a start we can just allow ourselves to feel melancholy when we do and notice how that feels in our bodies. Then go about what needs doing … or if nothing needs doing just go about feeling melancholy.

Certainly, we can warn people that that is how we are feeling, but we may also need to let them know that we don’t need fixing or advice or cheering up. I think that would make me happy on those occasions when I just need to sit with a feeling rather than fake a grin. Indeed, I think that all this duplicity is crazy making.

We rail about the weather, the state of the environment, the behaviour of others … but in the instant we really have no power over any of that. It is only setting ourselves up to believe that we are the centre of the universe. Let’s start realizing that we are all connected and that we can only be in one place in time. Working from that may not always make us “happy” but it’s a good place to start on “equanimity”.

My husband frequently quotes a poem by Li Po and I share this today in all its appropriateness.

In the landscape of spring

there is neither better or worse

the flowering branches

some grow long

some grow short

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Photo Credit Jeff Suchak

layering and textures from Kim Klassen

This Thursday blogging will examine an etymological / emotional theme for the rest of December and seeing that this is the last Thursday of 2013, we may need to extend it into January 2014.

I’d really appreciate your comments about how these posts make you feel. If you have a friend or colleague who might benefit from or even enjoy an exercise in pondering how to be authentic and balanced in this wacky world, please share a link. I’d love the company.

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Staying on the Path…

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Pitching in for a friend/artist colleague from whom I have learned so much. Thanks Lani!

Time to give back. So this Monday, I am posting a “Monday Challenge” and linking in to her site.

challengebutton

Mindfulness and self-compassion are my areas of growth for the present moment and the present moment is the only one we’ve got. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, this life in which you find yourself incarnated, is all you have; this present moment is yours to savour and to learn from.

In a little Facebook group we’ve carved out to learn more about “Elephant Training”  we’ve been talking a bit about goals, their uses, their benefits, their drawbacks. How and why to set them – and when not to.

I’d like to go across the grain and say that I feel there is a seduction in goal setting that can get us stuck, keep us procrastinating and often push us to be self-critical in the extreme. I have good company.

Leo Babauta has helped me to view goal setting as counter-productive if it takes me off that perfect path, out of the present moment.

Jonathan on “Paid-to-Exist” speaks eloquently on goals as a means to cultivating your path, but unhelpful when they pull you off it – which really speaks to me.

But as I reread for the third time, “The Mindful Way through Depression” I came across this, “Over time these goal-driven mind states will become more familiar and less of an enemy or an obstacle…Rather than a reason to despair, however, such goal-driven and judgmental mind states can be treated as cues, reminding us of how easy it is to get caught in difficult emotions around ‘getting somewhere’ or ‘making progress.’”

Kent Nerburn speaks so poignantly about not letting “goals” get in our way here:

Your Assignment … should you choose to take it

Just for today try to be more in the present moment, not letting goals – yours or someone else’s – get in the way of the wonder that resides in that unique and fleeting space in your life.

Tonight, write or sketch about that in your journal and smile, enjoying that presence and that moment twice in your life.

Be well!Image

Wonderful!

Do you ever wonder?

Me too.

The other day I was wondering why I know how, but don’t do.

You know, we all tend toward inertia, I guess. But maybe not. Maybe you might enjoy this best advice from Leo Babauta.

Maybe it will give you something to think about.

This is my attempt to DO … even though I pretty much pissed around all day…except for bathing a Wheaten and trying to comb out her mats under her chin. Hoo boy!

So this is when the rubber hits the road for me. Blog, just do it, dammit!

Talk to you tomorrow. I have some ATCs to make! and I have company tonight. But she’s understanding and talented; maybe she’ll join me!Image

Becoming…

Amy Cuddy spoke at TED recently about how your body language changes your mind changes your brain changes your life.

Rick Hanson has taught me so much about how your mind can change your brain can change your relationships, your communication, your life.

And I want to share this I wish to be the change…

I want people who are marginalized by politics, by corporations, by powermongers to hear this.

Can you help me?

Can you share this message?

Maybe together we can change what really matters. Thanks.

Turtle Journal Cover … new beginning.

Turtle Journal Cover ... new beginning.Today is Wednesday…the day my tribe casts wishes. I’ve been away so long, I feel a stranger, but it’s interesting that

Jamie Ridler

poses this question today, “What do you wish to start?

Talk about synchronicity! Which I must say I am…

Why my dears, just at lunch with my very dear friend Jamie (another Jamie with whom I’ve been working through Melody Beattie’s40 Days to a Miracle”) and I decided to switch gears from this process we’ve been doing for 18+ months and focus more on being accountable first to ourselves (and with each other) on giving ourselves permission to focus more on our artistic endeavours.

So tomorrow we start. My intention for this next period will be to spend at least one-half hour per day working on the above project which has been patiently waiting for YEARS. Yes, dear hearts, years.

Oh I hear those sighs, see those heads nodding. We all do it. So what better day to start than today? Just the prodding and prompting I needed from my two favourite Jamies.

Each day each of us will be accountable to spend the time we commit to and before hitting the pillow to email one word, “DONE!” to our partner.

Simple, no?

Day at a time.

It’s about time!

Enough…

I recently read in a post by Martina McGowan (http://martinamcgowan.visibli.com/share/LFSPsq) through SoulSeeds
this quote from Anne Lamott (who by the way is my favourite writer on spirituality) which I have decided will be my mantra,

“Every single day I try to figure out

something I no longer agree to do.”

Imagine that. Really. What if I … what if we … did what was necessary … and then stopped?

So, I am not going to do more than expected for at least 8 hours every day.

And by “more than expected” I mean what is absolutely necessary.

As an instance … when the garden needs watering,
I will water it … just enough.

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I will not weed out every single thing that I didn’t plant. It might, after all, be a gift.

I will not decide to transplant a dozen perennials.

I will not decide to dig a new area out.

I will do what is expected (supposedly by my plants), I will water them … just enough.

I won’t soak them unless they are parched.

And I certainly won’t even water them if there are rain clouds in the sky.

I will water them … just enough.

And I will enjoy that I am just enough while I am at it.

And while I’m at it…I’m giving you permission to do the same…because you are enough.

Live joyfully…

You ARE enough.

You are ENOUGH.

YOU are enough.

Beginning the New Year…

I know many of you reading this think I’ve gotten lost in some time warp because you know that it’s not New Year’s Day. No it’s Epiphany, or Little Christmas, or Orthodox Christmas or your cousin’s new partner’s birthday or something. But it is definitely NOT New Year’s.

In the words of Jan Richardson, “In some parts of the world, Epiphany (January 6, which brings the Christmas season to a close) is celebrated as “Women’s Christmas.” Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan…”

And so it is for me. I love the season of Epiphany. so I chose it as my day to wipe the slate clean and start over. Imagine! a whole season of epiphany and hopefully epiphanies.

All will be well and all is well. I am just fine. Same old ornery self. I have decided to make the 12th day of Christmas or Epiphany or Women’s Christmas MY New Year’s Day this year of 2012 CE just because it works for me and my plans for this year.

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You don’t have to be a slave to social mores either. You can pick any day or date that works for you, don’t be tied to the Julian calendar that our ancestors adopted.

And perhaps you might pick a next best date when a major life event smacks you in the forehead. May feel that a change of direction and some centering is called for. You don’t even have to make your year last for 365 days of that Julian calendar. Pick a number, any number. Now go ahead, pick a day that has meaning for you and begin your very own New Year. And while you’re at it … Celebrate your Self!

Patti Digh has been a mentor to me (though she doesn’t know that) and she is the author of Love is a Verb, Creative is a Verb, What I Wish For You: Simple Wisdom for a Happy Life and Four Word Self-help.

She begins her new year with two questions. I think they are very good questions. All encompassing yet focused they can centre (Yes, I am Canadian) and ground us. Better still they can give us a sense of direction … a compass to keep us on our own path. So I enter this, my new year asking myself these questions.

What do I want (or need) to let go of in 2012?

Stuff! Perhaps books … Image

but that will be difficult. Even those old theology books that don’t seem to fit this new life are hard to part with. But I will have to force myself to be ruthless and pare down the books so that they either have a place on one of the many bookshelves or they find a new home.

Old clothes. We all have them. Those articles we haven’t worn in years, but still hang on to … just in case. I have tons (well maybe not tons, but more than enough) of clothes that don’t suit my life, don’t suit my body type, don’t fit … and they have to go. No more hanging on waiting for that big party, the fitness routine that actually works, the waistlines to match… No more hanging on. Out they go to the thrift shop for someone else who can actually use them.

Those are tangibles and their absence will be noticeable in my house. There will be more space and less clutter.

I’m looking for the same thing within my Self. I need to feel more spacious and less cluttered. How to do that? Let go of defining myself with someone else’s yardstick. Let go of the need to seek approval from some superior far-distant Other. Let go of those core beliefs that no longer serve. Just let go…

It’s like shoveling snow…if it’s so you can get in your car and go then you know why you’re doing it, and it’s actually fun. Well, fun might be a stretch, but it’s not so much of a chore.

And what do I want to create in 2012?

Now with my new position this one is easy…I want to create a healthier, more vibrant community … both professionally and in my personal life (especially within my small “tribe”). The great work will be a process of learning and growing for me. One which I love. As to personally…keep tuned…more announcements to come.

I hope you will join me this year and we can keep on growing together!

 

 

Risking Peace

What would risking peace look like?

Each day I pull a card from a deck of self-care cards published by Cheryl Richardson as a jumping off point for morning journaling. A couple of days ago it looked like this:

ImageSure got me to thinking… risk peace, risk peace, risk peace…whatever can that mean. Because really and truly it seemed more than a coincidence that these two words seemed to be forming a complete thought that resonated deep within me.

I journaled about what they could mean. Put them on my desk with other collage materials and played with images. Here’s what that looked like.

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Just an aside you can send one of Cheryl’s self-care cards as a postcard…just go here

Now I realize that today’s word is actually two words, but once again they came to me by happenstance and together they say something a little different than if I just put down risk AND peace as my words. And they would take up 2 days instead of the one I have left b/c the 6th of January is the “real” New Year for me. Because in all actuality January 1st being the beginning of another year is arbitrary and patriarchal so I’ve decided to ignore that.

All decisions must be in place by the New Year I’ve set for myself. The goals set. The direction begun. Otherwise, I’ll just drag this out until around September which is really and truly the beginning of a new year for me. Honestly, every day is a new beginning so it’s hard for me to just pick ONE day in 365 (or so) and label it thus and so.

In case you are interested I am an Enneagram Nine…

“While peacefulness and serenity are two of the principal traits of healthy Nines, there are also times when Nines can be angry, aggressive, and anxious. However, they virtually always think of themselves as peaceful and return to various forms of peacefulness (for instance, passivity and complacency) as their ‘home base’.”

For Nines passivity often passes for peacefulness and we are often perceived as “slothful” or “lazy” because decisions are so … so … so … well aggressive. We don’t want to be seen as aggressive, or angry, or anxious and so you can see my dilemma about picking a single day as a deadline. I need deadlines. Desperately…but someone else has to set them … and even then I may balk.

There I’ve digressed enough. Sorry.

Back to where we started from:

Risk Peace.

Notice what is on the back of these cards by Cheryl Richardson

ImageThe risk card also mentions that we need to use our power. That really speaks to me because as most women do, I often acquiesce my power to others. So if I am to take risks I must realize that I have power to use gently, carefully, kindly…but never to give it to another.

The peace card refers to peace in not knowing all the answers. What an aha! that was for me. Yes! That would be true peace for me…to risk trusting, to risk confusion, to risk just being with a question AND not knowing. Risky peace for sure.

What would risking peace mean for you?