What the F*^ck?!

I greet you this day with arms outstretched in gratitude. It is this gratitude which is keeping me sane right now.

I woke this morning in a good mood. I made coffee, showered and walked the dog. The sky was gray with a hint of sun sneaking through just above the horizon. The weather forecast promised more sun and as I made the drive into my office the forecast was coming true. I have a general belief that we as a race of human beings are ultimately good people. I see goodness but sometimes I need to work extra hard to see even the

I have this problem in life; I follow rules. I’m not sure why I do it (sarcasm) because it seems that the majority of the world doesn’t believe it’s important to follow the rules.

I drove to work and less than two miles from my house I noticed a tailgater. Now I’m driving the speed limit through a school zone and this moron passes me. I forgot to mention there was also a double yellow line. The hits just kept on coming. The next moron was a tailgater through a construction zone and then another moron forces me to slam on my brakes as she, whoops, did I just say she, took off out of a parking lot and cut me off almost forcing the car behind me to see what the backseat of a Honda Element is live. There was a time when I enjoyed loved getting into my car and simply driving. many times there was no specific destination in mind. I just wanted to drive. I loved the freedom of going where I wanted to go when I wanted to go, to see and experience things around me. That love, I feel has been snatched away from me, from many of us. Very few of us are mindful enough within our daily lives to ewnjoy the simplicity that life can be. Instead we complicate things with our ouwn special brand of self-importance.

This is a piece I found from Waylon Lewis.

“I am sad because this world seems to be full of ‘wisdom’ that tells us to reject ourselves, to be something other, something better. I am sad because our culture demands palm oil, plastic, speed, sex…without regard for compassion, for love, for justice. 
  
I am sad because we have heard all this before, and our reaction is to escape, to relax into depression instead of relaxing into cheerfulness, into doing something about it. I am sad because ‘People watch Netflix more than they hang out with their friends, exercise, and read—combined.’ But, yet, I am heartened because community still matters. I have so many friends who show up and speak with passion, yet kindness. I am heartened because I—tired and defeated as I am, sometimes—will rise again tomorrow, and greet the day, and work hard again. I am heartened because there is so much kindness, and gentleness, and honesty, in so many corners of this world where greed and environmental aggression have not yet made their way. 
 
I am heartened because of you. You who care enough to read, and contemplate, and learn, and write, and share, and lead lives of mindful bravery. Good luck out there, sweethearts!” ~ Waylon Lewis 

This life that we all have been granted an opportunity to live can be an amazingly beautiful thing if we would simply choose to slow down and actually “live” this life.

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Namaste

Thoughts of a Thinker

I greet you with arms outstretched in gratitude on this beautiful morning.

I completed my first post surgical walk today. That’s not to say That I haven’t been walking, but there’s a huge difference between “going for a walk” with purpose and getting up from my desk or my couch. It is good to be back in this space. I know and have long ago accepted the fact that my running may not ever be what it once was. I have also accepted there will be a great deal of effort and time devoted to my progress.

I think when I walk. I think when I run. I do my best problem solving when I am by myself with the world relatively shut off. Thinking is one of the attributes of exercise which I enjoy. In his book “Walden”, Thoreau wrote, “A man thinking or working will always be alone, let him be where he will.”

This time alone with the birds is an opportunity for me to problem solve, long before the rest of the world becomes awake. The noise at this early hour is acceptable. I can hear the birds calling to each other. Time passes and I am allowed this brief interlude of solitude before the pace of the day begins to quicken and the time for thinking, at least for me, has gone. Now my thoughts are on autopilot. Being on autopilot is also a dangerous place for me to reside. It is necessary for me to check in frequently throughout the day and ensure I do not lose my way. When I need that time, I close the door to my office and take a few minutes before the next client enters to reflect. I also use my lunch hour to ensure I have even more time to remove the metaphorical batteries, place them back on the charger and ensure I have the emotional energy to traverse the remainder of the day.

Thoughts from this morning’s walk; which planet is visible in the southern sky? It’s Saturn by the way. Why do my healed incisions itch, especially the one on the inside of my knee? Why are my ears ringing this morning yet they didn’t ring at all yesterday? Why did the driver of that car feel it was important to run the red light? Where are they going this morning? Why do they believe they are more important than the rest of us who obey the laws? Why is Dunkin Donuts Closed at 5 AM? Why do they not open and allow their customers to travel 50 yards down the street to visit one of their competitors?  Surely Thoreau did not have to worry or think even in a more mild fashion about some of these topics. but think he did.

Thoreau was born in 1817. I believe that his thoughts today would not be to different from those he might have today. Thoreau, when he wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience” spoke of the importance of individualism. Thoreau expressed a belief in the power and what he referred to as an “obligation” of the individual to determine right from wrong independent of the dictates of society. Thoreau said, “any man more right than his neighbors, constitutes a majority of one.”

It is this belief which I share with Thoreau and reinforces my need for solitude.

Namaste

How to Feel Happier During an Unhappy Time

This is republished from Gretchen Rubin.

Sometimes, it’s not possible — or at least not easy — to feel happy. However, it’s sometimes possible to feel happier. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Remind yourself of reasons to be grateful. When things look really dark, it’s hard to feel grateful, but remembering what’s good in your life can help put problems into perspective. I have a friend who recently suffered a big disappointment at work. She said to me, “As long as my family is healthy, I can’t get too upset about anything.”

2. Remember your body. Take a twenty-minute walk outside to boost your energy and dissolve stress. Don’t let yourself get too hungryGet enough sleep. Manage pain. It’s very tempting to run yourself ragged trying to deal with a crisis, but in the long run, you just wear yourself out.

3. Do something fun. Temporarily distract yourself from the stress, and re-charge your battery, with an enjoyable activity. Watching a funny movie is a reliable way to give yourself a pleasant break, and listening to your favorite music is one of the quickest ways to change your mood. When my older daughter was in the intensive-care unit as a newborn, my husband dragged me off to a movie one afternoon — and that few hours of distraction made me much better able to cope with the situation. Be careful, however, not to “treat” yourself by doing something that’s eventually going to make you feel worse (taking up smoking again, drinking too much, indulging in retail therapy). My comfort-food activity is reading children’s literature.

4. Take action. If you’re in a bad situation, take steps to bring about change. If you’re having trouble with your new boss, you could decide to try to transfer. Or you could change your behavior. Or you could find ways to pay less attention to your boss. Ask yourself, “What exactly is the problem?” It’s astounding to me that often, when I take time to identify a problem exactly, a possible solution presents itself.

5. Look for meaning. Re-frame an event to see the positive along with the negative. Maybe getting fired will give you the push you need to move to the city where you’ve always wanted to live. Maybe your illness has strengthened your relationships with your family. You don’t need to be thankful that something bad has happened, but you can try to find positive consequences even in a catastrophic event. Here are some examples.

6. Connect with friends and family. Strong relationships are a KEY to happiness, so fight the impulse to isolate yourself. Show up. Make plans. Ask for help, offer your help to others.

7. Make something better. If something in your life has gotten worse, try to make something else better – and it doesn’t have to be something important. Clean a closet. Organize your photographs. Work in the yard.

8. Act toward other people the way you wish they’d act toward you. If you wish your friends would help you find someone to date, see if you can fix up a friend. If you wish people would help you find a job, see if you can help someone else find a job. If you can’t think of a way to help someone you know, do something generous in a more impersonal way. For instance: commit to being an organ donor! When you’re feeling very low, it can be hard to muster the energy to help someone else, but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Do good, feel good; it really works.

By taking whatever steps you can, you give yourself a deeper reservoir to deal with your happiness challenge. What other strategies have you used to make yourself happier during an unhappy time?

Life in Transformation

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude for this beautiful day.

Life is transformation. I can think of several individuals in my life who would disagree with this notion. Then again, those same individuals would disagree with just about any notion which identifies the personal responsibility with which we need to take to transform our lives.

I am coming up to the first scheduled day off since May. It’s been a long time I know. I’ll be heading back to the Adirondacks for some quiet time which will include a lot of reading, a lot of writing as I work toward completion of my book. This time will be punctuated with several sips of bourbon and some Puterkos Pizza.

Fall is upon us. The light of each day grows progressively shorter. We inch closer to the Winter Solstice. It’s that time of year when we begin to once again regain precious minutes of daylight. The calendar, at the same time, inching closer to the new arrival of Spring.

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I woke this morning to rays of beautiful sunshine peeking through the slats of the blinds. One of my joys is having an opportunity to wake without an alarm. Another joy are the beautiful sounds coming from the birds at the freshly filled feeder and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. It is these simple things which bring me the most joy. The joy I find in such simplicity reminds me not to take life too seriously, to not worry about the things which I cannot control and to live each day to its fullest.

“When you go out into the woods and you look at the trees, you see all these different trees and some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are green and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it, you see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans you lose all that. And you’re constantly saying “you are too this,” or “I am to this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are.” ~Ram Dass

If you think that life is a journey to some sort of destination you could not be more wrong. I understand your thoughts right now because we have all heard the sayings on the t-shirts and bumper stickers which remind us that “life is a journey.” If we think of life as a journey then we keep going faster and faster to reach this unknown destination. Life is transformation. Life is a transformation. We are reminded of this every day while also being reminded of the opposite. We are constantly changing, evolving, and improving. Our growth has nothing to do with speed. In fact it often this need for speed, the need to reach a believed destination which causes us to stumble and make decisions which may not be in our best interest. We need to slow down and assess our direction. We need to ask ourselves what we are transforming into. Every Sunday I receive a text message that asks, “Slow down and ask what you have learned this past week?” What have I learned that can impede my transformation and which can help my transformation excel? Am I a better person today than I was yesterday? Better than last week, last month, last year?

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I use photography to help better understand the path on which I am on. I look at my photographs, camera in hand to see how I can see my life and its surroundings differently.

How do you see yourself? When you look at yourself, do yourself a favor and don’t blame others for the condition of your life. Your decisions are just that, your decisions. If you look to blame others, you will find the hole in which you are in become ever deepening. Accept responsibility for your actions. Ask for help from honest individuals and develop a plan that will help you achieve the goals which you have set.

Namaste

A Beautiful Day

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude. Gratitude for this beautiful day and this beautiful life.

This past Sunday, I was awarded with two exceptional items in my day. The first, my grandson’s presence at our home for the entire day. As sick as he was feeling and as unenergetic as he was, it remains a pleasure to have him grace our home with his presence. The other was the beautiful weather which accompanied Chase.

My Sunday morning went as smooth as it normally does. I take a few minutes to ask the question,”What good can I do this day?” This question is a daily question. It is a challenge to myself to be a better person every minute of every day. I am not perfect and I catch myself falling back into old ways; old behaviors. Difficulties only arise when I do not catch myself lingering in the past and do not acknowledge the work which remains. As I grow older, I am acutely aware my time on this plant is set. Like everyone else, I am unaware of my expiration date. There is no fear for me in death, there is however fear that I will not accomplish everything which I have set out to accomplish.

I digress as I desire to keep this post brief and to remain on point.

I rocked Chase to sleep, that beautiful feeling of contentment in my arms. I am having difficulty deciding if I want to continue to sit, holding him or put him down. I decide on the latter and decide to retreat outdoors. Before I do so, I gathered my journal, my newest addition to the fountain pen family which has been freshly inked, my journal, a favorite cigar, my lighter and a two fingers of one of my favorite whiskeys.

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I am immediately caught by the stunning scene as I exit my home. The sun, still high in the sky, its rays piercing through the still covered canopy of the maple tree in my backyard.

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The sweet smell of fall immediately strikes my nose; leaves which have recently fallen from their perch, the decay of the pumpkins being chewed upon by the neighborhood squirrels and the dew remaining on the grass. Yesterday, Stephen and I had raked all of the leaves and the grass was cut. Today, it was as if the grass was never touched; carpeted by a new covering of colorful leaves. A smile crosses my face and I retreat from the porch to my favorite Adirondack chair. I softly brush the leaves from the seat and place myself in the comfort of this chair. I clipped my cigar and touched the flame to the end and begin to puff. The smell of this exquisite smoke curls upward and eventually dissolves into nothingness. It is at this moment which I am reminded again of the briefness of life.

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I reach for my pen, a Visconti Homosapien freshly inked with a beautiful blue ink. The ink, I notice is the same blue as that of the sky.

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I open to the last page written and this beautiful nib glides effortlessly across the page, my thoughts flowing with the same ease. The pen, recapped, returns to it’s leather home and now I sit. I sit and simply take in the beauty that is this day.

Namaste

Walking and Thinking

Walking and Thinking

Early afternoon and the blue sky, covered now and then with pillow like clouds being pushed by a breeze which reminded us that winter was recently left behind. As I walked the stone road along the edge of the lake with my dog, the temperatures in the high thirties with a windchill pushing it down into the low thirties causes me to grit my teeth and be thankful I carried gloves with me.

I walked the stone road until I reached the bend in the lake. I sat on the edge of a smooth granite slab, my legs dangling over the edge, feet almost touching the water. Jack, my dog walked to the edge and sat beside me. The slab warmed by the sun. I watched as fish rose from time to time and the breeze blowing gently across the water’s surface causing small ripples.

This time of year, on this side of the lake few others venture allowing me the solitude which I sought. I became restless after a few minutes, thoughts racing around in my head. I unzipped my backpack and retrieved my journal and fountain pen. I began to write about the activities of the week which had just ended. The double bombing Monday morning at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the explosion at the factory outside Waco, Texas and the activities on Friday which saw one of the alleged bombers killed and the other taken into custody.

As a social worker and also as one who cherishes his sanity and the solitude which he creates around him; I found myself not paying much attention directly to those actions, but they remained in my thoughts. Why would someone do such a thing? This is a particular thought which I allow to come and go, never allowing it to spend much time in the forefront of my thoughts because I know anxiety and poor sleep will not be far behind.

It is times such as these that I turn to my long deceased friends Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Borroughs and Ralph Waldo Emerson to help me make sense of such things. They are of little direct help other than to remind me that there are some things in life for which logical sense will never be made. Instead I turn my tangled web of thoughts to those things which I can understand; nature. The solitude and solace provided by nature begins the process of untangling those thoughts. Here things are much simpler, as they should be. Henry thought a walk spoiled when he couldn’t out-pace the town and its news and when his mid was not successful shedding that news and those thoughts.

I began to think of my walk as spoiled so I retreat further into the solace and solitude brought to me by my walk in nature. I focused my breath and with shaky hand wrote and wrote; thoughts streaming forth as if from a faucet left on. Here amidst the pine trees and the rippling water I can breathe again. My breath comes easier, more rhythmic. Here my tangle of thoughts continues to unwind.

After a short time my thinking becomes increasingly clear. I can hear the chirping of nearby birds and the ripple of the water as the breeze, now more noticeable continues to disturb the once placid surface of the pond.

The walk has done its job. My thoughts, slowed to a snail’s pace are now clear. I acknowledge there is no sense to be made of this past weeks events and it is better to leave them where they began. I cap my fountain pen, close my journal and cinch the cord tight around the smooth leather binding. I sit for a few more minutes and decide it is time to go. Jack and I make the return walk to our car; my heart and head lighter from this walk.

It is humbling to know these thoughts will return again. It is comforting to know I have the woods in which to walk to help make sense of what I can to lighten my load.

Namaste

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