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Monday, December 31, 2012

Paying it Forward in 2013

I'm a huge fan of the concept of paying it forward. I've done a lot of things for a lot of people, hoping for that result. I'm not someone who does things for others with strings attached though. Strings make me very uncomfortable, and whenever someone has bent over backwards to repay a kindness it's felt...awkward. I believe in Karma and in the cyclic nature of energy and life and I don't want to negate good Karma by expecting something in return. It doesn't make me awesome or special, just human. Okay, and I DO dig the 'warm and fuzzy' that comes from being nice; I find it very reinforcing:-) It doesn't make me a bad person.

Having said that, it's been a long time since I've done anything really nice. I just haven't had the resources emotionally or financially, and sometimes that's just the way it is. And that's okay too. It's okay to say "no". In fact, it's much better to say "no" than to say "yes" with negative intent. If you say "yes" with resentment, strings or expectations, if you have to tell everybody about the favor you're doing, if you think it somehow puts you above the person you're helping or if you fantasize about ways to take it out of that person's time or hide, than you aren't doing the other person a favor. You are doing a favor for YOURSELF. There is no good Karma attached, and there is no positive ripple of energy outward and forward. You just trap all that energy into a swirl of clinging selfishness. You don't just hurt the person you are "helping", you ultimately hurt yourself too. No warm fuzzy for you. Blah.

I am very familiar with being "helped" in this manner. It is this kind of situation that I referenced in Saying Thanks when I said "some of you have done so [helped me] by making my life hell..." It has changed much in my life and the way I do things. I will do almost anything to avoid needing any kind of help with anything, and only ever ask if it's the11th hour and I'm at the outer limit of desperation. I only mention it because I'm going through a bit of it right now, but I can handle it. It's a good reminder, and it continues to teach me how to treat people who may need my help at some point. Sometimes the best way to learn the right way is to witness and experience the wrong way. Life's funny like that sometimes:-)

It doesn't negate my gratitude, or my desire to be kind. It DOES reinforce my desire to increase my resources so that 1) I'm in a better position to be self-sufficient,  and 2) I'm in a position to do nice things for other people.

I think I can do that:-) I learned a lot in 2012. I learned how to say "no" without guilt, I learned that having less money does not make me less of a person. I am not less intelligent, less important or less relevant. My opinion doesn't count less and my abilities and experience didn't disappear just because my bank account is smaller. I know all of that sounds like a great big "Duh" but believe me, you don't really get the whole 'money is power' bit until you don't have any. It took a long time, but my power is back. And I'm going to use it to increase my resources:-)

I look forward to 2013. Thirteen is one of my lucky numbers, so that alone bodes well:-) I can't send cash, but I CAN send out ripples of happy, joy, success, love, gratitude, good intent, good results, and straight-up AWESOMENESS for all of you in the year ahead, because that is my wish for you.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas eve and I can't help but reflect on Christmas eves of the past. I remember going to church, listening to an uplifting sermon and hearing beautiful singing. I remember waiting in anticipation at my grandparents' window for the woody-wagon bearing my aunt, uncle and cousins to arrive. I remember eating so many sweets that I felt sick, and then eating some more. It was entirely over-stimulating and awesome. My sister and cousins and I would want desperately to sleep so Christmas morning would arrive more quickly, but we couldn't stop giggling and getting in trouble for it. It was tradition and it seemed then like it always would be.

Of course time marches on and with it some of the magic of childhood is lost. That's life. My daughter is now twenty, and so there is no more childish influence to the holiday...or is there. Sometimes I've thought that my awesome childhood left me unprepared for disappointment and sadness, but now I'm not so sure. I look around at what I have and the people in my life, at the continued loving influence of my family, my wonderful daughter...well, I'm still fortunate.

This year I'll do some traveling to my sister's in a friend's borrowed van (thank you Tommy!!!). We'll over eat, laugh until our stomachs hurt, watch movies and stay up too late. It won't be like it was when we were children, but we have each other (and a small pack of dogs). Our Mom just came to visit too, so we have that to be grateful for. I think if I give it a moment's thought I have to admit that that's pretty darned good.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, whatever that means to you. If it means a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanza or Solstice or Holiday...great! Whatever you celebrate I hope you have a wonderful day:-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Staying Connected

This time of year I always think about family. I realize that a lot of folks do, but it's not always a positive thing. For me it's a double-edged sword: I grew up in a close family, holidays being a blessed melee of chaos and relatives, screaming kids (us!) and adults making every effort to ensure that a great time was had by all. I remember sitting at the kids' table with my cousins, eating Cheerios for breakfast and singing 'happy birthday' to Jesus before opening a huge pile of gifts. I know how lucky I am and I'm so grateful to know such a wonderful childhood. The only part of this that's difficult is that it can highlight the relative isolation of adulthood. Now it's my responsibility to reach out and create that blessed chaos in my own life, and I'm completely clueless. As an adult, I'm realizing how much the psychological ability to connect can effect our ability to stay connected to the folks in our lives. Not exactly my forte (once again, unless you are a horse or a dog;-) and I feel it.

I suppose the way in is to connect to the warmth and joy of my happiest memories. It's true that memories can be equally effective at creating a rift and a desire to remain in a bubble, but there's some choice here. There are so many things I have no control over (a realization highlighted by the fact that I'm writing this on my daughter's computer because mine died suddenly, ahem) but I can certainly decide what I choose to remember. I can be a broken person surrounded by broken things if that's where I choose to let my thoughts linger, but that's no place to be. I find that our lives can follow our thoughts very closely, and sometimes our dreams. Far better to dream of happy things. I often dream of animals.

My favorite recurring dream is of riding a horse. It's vivid and realistic except for a liquid, sow-motion effect. It's a grey fall day and I'm galloping along with friends. I can smell the wool of my jacket, the sweat of my horse and the pungent leaves; I can hear my horse breathing heavily and the thud of footfalls in the soft earth. The wind has a bit of an edge to it and it stings my cheeks in the most invigorating way. I look down at the hogged neck of my sturdy piebald cob and am flooded with feelings of love and trust for this animal that feeds my soul with every fluid stride. The trust is mutual and we are a team, both of us entirely in the moment. When I wake I try to hang on to the moment, that memory of connection, but it slips away like all dreams do and I wake to my reality.

I know it need not be just a dream, but the future. It keeps me moving forward and seeking that connection. It gives me hope and something to strive for. But connecting to right now today is a bit more challenging. I find it interesting though, that even in dreams it's animals teaching about being in the moment and connecting. Perhaps that's the key. It IS Murphy that facilitates so much of my participation in 'the world out there' right now. Sometimes I feel badly about that, though I'm not sure why. He certainly appears to enjoy his job.

But here's the thing: "Now" is the only moment we're sure of. How do I connect and find joy right now? I won't attempt to answer that question here, but just to ponder it and do a bit of brainstorming. Just giving the idea some attention will take me a long way to improving things. I am connecting to the spirit of the season this year in a way that I haven't in a long time. I think it's a start, and a good sign. At the very least I am appreciating the thought process that's occurring and am gratefully anticipating a positive move forward as a result. Or maybe the key is to abandon thought and let something more ephemeral be in  charge for awhile. It's worth a shot, right? :-)