In Pursuit of Happiness

I quit.

I’m done.

I can’t take more of this chaos, this insanity, this week , this year . . .

I refuse to accept that human beings have nothing more to offer each other than clinging  to stupidity in the name of the perception of freedom, and allowing a minority ignore the will of the majority who just want to feel safe from the brutality of those who see violence as the answer to everything.

I refuse to believe that we cannot find our way past fear and the perception of difference to live in  a world full of peace, kindness, and love.

I can’t continue to gather the pain and anger that fills this world, and feel so helpless. I can’t watch as media agencies care more about being first than about reporting news properly.

I can’t take any more.

It’s time to make change . . . inside myself, in society, in this world.

I don’t like walking around feeling angry, sad, frustrated, tired, and hopeless. But, I realize, that I’m the only one who can change that for myself, and maybe making the  internal changes will somehow create chain reaction that will grow into others.

Today is the day that I am going to close my eyes and ears to all the negativity in the world, and focus on happiness.

This doesn’t mean I will stop caring, but that I simply cannot take anymore in. The  only way I’m ever going to make a difference. The only way we are ever going to make change, is for each and every individual to say “Enough! This insanity has gone on for too long! We want  a better life for everyone!” And then they have to start . . . with themselves.

“Your personal contentment is more than a feel-good story. New research shows it can have a profound effect on your health. . . It’s not too late to pursue your own happiness today.” (Ronald Siegel “Why You Need to Pursue Happiness”

Today I choose to pursue happiness and love, because if I don’t I think I’m going to lose myself into a darkness m which I’ll never escape.

Today I choose pursue happiness because I cannot accept that humans cannot rise above the darkness, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Today I choose to pursue happiness and hope.

Does anyone want to join me? If we do, maybe we can change the world, one step at a time.

Yellow and purple flowers make me happy.

Yellow and purple flowers make me happy.

UPDATE (a few moments later): I’m going to learn from the wisdom of the incredible “word hermit” Andra Watkins . . . visit her post to find out more.

Battling the Bulge During Birthday Month (A Write Myself Right Update)

I have always known that February is the longest month. The combination of cold weather and (usually) snow-filled streets lends to the desire to hibernate until spring blows in; cuddling with a good book, a blanket, and rich, fattening foods.

Now, however, my February’s have become hectic months. Nathan’s birthday is February 12th, Valentine’s Day (which Nathan and I have usually avoided) becomes a bigger challenge every year as Sarah gets older, Sarah’s birthday is February 15th.

Add onto that, “Uncle” Norman, who lives with my sister, celebrates his birthday on February 11th. However, he and Deb are visiting his family in Ireland so we won’t be celebrating all of the birthdays as a family until February 25th.

In between we have February break in Massachusetts, a week-long public school vacation that starts on February 20th this year. A week-long possibility of food temptations like going to the movies with equivalent movie fare.

This Friday is the school sponsored Daddy-Daughter dance, and Saturday we will hold Sarah’s birthday bash for friends. Of course, we have to celebrate her actual birthday by sending cupcakes to school.

That’s a lot of cake.

This year there was also the additional food fiesta of the Superbowl. Since I now live in Massachusetts, I couldn’t really avoid it. Usually, it’s a good excuse to stay at home and watch movies.

Suddenly I am faced with a long month full of festivities and food, and I chose this month to begin “writing myself ‘right'”?! Am I crazy, or simply setting myself up for failure with good excuses?

The Horror!

I’m here to tell you that it is, indeed, possible. Last week, after my first full week of writing myself right, I lost two pounds. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but it is actually ahead of the game, because the program in the book suggest a 1 lb. loss a week. Think about it, two pounds a week would mean 104 lbs. in one year.

I don’t have that much to lose. I actually need to lose the equivalent of one  Sarah.

(Photo by Uncle Mom "Taochild"). No, I don't want to lose her, just the equivalent of her weight. 😉

It hasn’t been easy. I’m not going to lie. Each time I write my Morning Pages or in my journal I discover something about myself that I don’t really like, or that seems too hard to fix. Every time I log my food into Caloriecount.com (which I am using to help me keep track of the nutritional value of my food) and my day isn’t perfect, I feel frustrated with myself. Every time I don’t exercise when I should, I feel hopeless. I am definitely having emotional ups and downs.

But, and this is a big BUT (as opposed to my own butt which is hopefully getting smaller) I feel really good. I have exercised almost every day, including a 70 minute hike through rocky, hilly terrain with the family yesterday (including dogs) to celebrate Nathan’s birthday.

Nathan got to choose how he wanted to spend his day. We surprised him with breakfast in bed (Sarah’s idea) and then he wanted to go on this hike, even though it was extremely cold outside. After that, he wanted to make some of his fabulous chicken wings and watch the Lord of the Ring’s trilogy while playing games for the rest of the day. (Have I mentioned Nation is a little geeky–but I love him for that). Now, his chicken wings are killer. Seriously, they could even tempt a vegetarian. But, I managed to only eat two. That’s right

Not 10-20 as I probably used to do. It felt good. I actually ended the day without having eaten all of my calories, even including the small piece of cheese cake that I ate to celebrate (supposedly only 180 calories). I usually try to eat all of them, but it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s okay too.

Today, I start another part of my journey. I mentioned that I had signed up for a writing course. Well, the course materials came this weekend, so now I’m really beginning. I’m terrified to be completely honest. What if my talk of writing a book is all talk? What if I don’t really have a story in me? What if, like my other book, I write it and it just gathers dust in a corner somewhere? What if I fail?

It is scary enough to want to eat myself stupid. But I’m not going to. I’m sticking to the plan and I’m truly going to write myself right.

So bring it on February, the longest month of they year. Bring on your chocolate hearts, birthday cakes, and other decadent treats. I will not let you defeat me!  Now I need to go do my walking tape before I start writing!

A Little Break

I’m feeling very disconnected and confused and sad right now, so I think I need a little break for a few days. I’ll be back when I can think straight.

Thank you to all my blogging friends for reading, for responding, and for welcoming me into this wonderful community. I’ll be back soon.

Inspiration found in a Drum, a Conversation, and the Universe

I spent the day yesterday reconnecting with old friends, discovering disturbing truths, and absorbing the power of theatre done with love and respect.

I’m starting with the last because of the inspiration and beauty of this experience. I spent 5 1/2 hours in a workshop on creating theater for children with complex disabilities (either Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder). If you want to see the power of creativity on bringing children to life, just go to The Oily Cart website and click on any of the videos. I’m linking you to the description of the current show, but most of the video links are under the Previous Show link on their website. Go on. Watch one now, and be amazed. I expect some tears to pour out of your eyes.

The workshop was great except for the one annoying woman who wanted all of HER questions answered, despite the fact that most people wanted to learn the how to do rather than the how to fund. But that’s a discussion for another post. When we finally got on our feet, the room resonated with creative ideas (I love that) as we each came up with a possible production that could be done first for PMLD and then for the Autistic Spectrum. Each group offered wonderful ideas, a few of which I will not be surprised to discover show up in future Oily Cart performances (Tim Webb will “nick them” with our full knowledge).

I wish I had taken photos of the day. But I would like to share one story that Tim told us. During the current piece, they take the drum head off of a large drum and hold it over the children, one at a time. Then they pour rice on it to create sounds and shadow images that reflect through the drum head. One little girl, he told us, was lying on her side connected to her oxygen machine, and looking basically unresponsive throughout the show. Then they did this, and moved onto the next child. The little girl squirmed her body trying to get back under the drum head.

Her caregivers were astonished. That’s the power of theater.

One of Oily Carts therapy pool shows, photo by Patrick Baldwin

I spent most of the rest of the day talking with an old friend from my graduate program and a new friend who I met for a short time when she was applying for the doctoral program and I was finishing up.  Our discussion led to revelations that some of the challenges and concerns I’ve had over the years have been felt (in different ways) by others. Our conversation has led me to think more about “Life Without Tenure” (my other blog) so I may write new posts there (although I’m still thinking I might just merge the two if I can figure out how). I’m processing the conversation right now, so I don’t know if I can clarify exactly what I’m thinking.

But, I must end with a horoscope again. I’ve written before about my (not so secret) habit of checking my horoscope daily. I’ve also written about being open to messages from the universe. I read this one and couldn’t help but get a little th rill–message received:

My Horoscope AstroSync
Pisces

Pisces

Your responsibilities have grown in complexity and it’s no longer sufficient to just fulfill your promises. Things have changed as your awareness has grown over the past month. Now you must integrate your recent spiritual lessons into your everyday life. It’s not enough to write about your experiences like schoolchildren report on their summer vacations. Instead, recapture the intensity of your awakening by taking your new perspective to heart.

 

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Now I’m off to further adventures at the airport and returning to my family. Farewell Seattle, I will miss you.

When Words are Wrong

A bird perched on the corner of my roof and did nothing but be a bird. I imagine she sat tasting the breeze and listening to the sounds of invisible bugs, pausing for a moment to enjoy nothingness  until the right sound called to her and she flew away.

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I envy her.

I opened to my Google home page where I always check the weather, look at a piece of art, perhaps read Calvin and Hobbes and yes, I admit, read my horoscope. Here’s what today’s said:

My Horoscope AstroSync
Pisces

Pisces

You may feel unsettled today because you know something is about to change. Your feelings are quite volatile now and you don’t know where they are leading you. Unfortunately, your attempts to suppress your needs could provoke you to unconsciously act out. Trying to control the situation by limiting your interactions with others will only make you feel lonely. Remember that you are a Fish and should know that it’s easier to swim with the currents instead of resisting the tide.

This one rang true.
I feel lost. I feel alone. And I feel like my words are wrong.
I wish I could have a birdbrain moment, where nothing mattered but the cool wind and the bugs and my ability to fly.
The pictures were all taken by my brother at different times. For more of his fabulous photography visit him at Thru My Eyes

Sometimes I Wish . . .

Sometimes I wish
I could just let go.
Let my mind fall into the
secret world of insanity
where life takes on the shapes of your dreams.

But I know those dreams could easily turn into nightmares.

Sometimes I wish
I could just let go
of responsibility and appropriateness
of doing good in the face of bad
of my sense of decency and justice
that other people find so easy to ignore.

But then my heart weeps.

Sometimes I wish I could just let go
of the fears that hold me back
and the kindness that does the same.
I wish I could become the tigress
fighting for her family despite
the pain she may inflict
on others.
Or the secret viper whose poisonous bite
destroys without care.

Sometimes I wish . . .

But then

I Get It! The Healthy Side of WordPress

I’m sure many of you have noticed the trend over the past few days of bloggers reaching the breaking point–that point where we realize that blogging has consumed our lives in unhealthy ways and we must reconsider the role it plays in our lives. Just today the fabulous Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon made a commitment to the Post A Day Challenge (which she has really been doing all along) but questioned that commitment she “didn’t want pressure to post daily if [she] had nothing meaningful to say on a given day.” And in the response section, in a discussion with Life in the Boomer Lane, Boomer wrote “I need a Blogging 12 Step Program.”

Isn’t that what we all need?

Just this morning I gave myself permission not to create a real post today. I even was thinking about posting an appropriate Mental Health Day sign if I could find one. I didn’t.

I fully intended avoiding my traditional morning habits, but I couldn’t as I decided I had to read and respond to a few of the posts, as well as comments from people who somehow stumbled onto my blog. So, there went my morning.

But I didn’t post, which is usually the very first thing I do in the morning.

Notice how successful I am at avoiding it all day. EPIC FAIL!

Why?  Yesterday, I had one of those less than thrilling days in the classroom that seem to happen more often than not this semester. One student decided another group was ignoring him (when they weren’t) and chose to be completely disrespectful. When I called him out on it, I believe he decided I was racist. But no, I said to myself, asses are asses no matter what color they are.

This morning, staying home with a “sick” child, I spent time grading papers for my on-line Comp I class in anticipation of receiving another pile of papers today from the in person class. Now, I have to point out that the on-line class is (much to my surprise) by far the better course, with more commitment and participation from most of the students enrolled (except for a few slackers who have disappeared). The live class seems to think that drafting is optional and don’t have any desire to workshop for improvement.

As I worked my way through these papers I inevitably stumbled upon the few who chose to ignore my comments on their first draft and continue on the path of imperfection that they were on. Most of the papers were actually pretty good, but I always become frustrated when I see little change. I don’t expect perfection but I do expect effort.

That’s when it hit me, my epiphany! I come to WordPress regularly because it is a community of people who actually care about something–or many things. They care about writing! They care about ideas! They care about learning! They care about improving themselves as writers, or artists, or photographers or simply as people.  I come here, because it is full of people who care!

Does that change anything about the stress level of participating? Well, in a way it does, because I find solace in reading the blogs I love so it aids my mental health. I do need to find a balance between writing and creating and responding and reading. I do need to find a slightly better way of functioning with WordPress throughout the day. But, I also have to allow myself time with this community–because it is a community filled with love.

So this is for you (to go along with Calvin and Hobbes from yesterday)

 

Update, I was just sent this wonderful little gift from Aligeata’s Blog, and I thought I should share with all of you:

 

Keeping Up Disappearances

I admit, sometimes I choose to disappear. I stop writing; I avoid Facebook (or at least I avoid public appearances on Facebook); I only respond to necessary e-mails; and I censor my calls. I usually do that when I am feeling most out of control with my own emotions. I don’t want to dump those emotions on other people, and I don’t really know how to reach out for help. So I hole up in my inner self and disappear.

BUT, there is a big difference between choosing to disappear to regroup, and being made to disappear. Currently I am facing the latter, and it is making me angry. In a way, though, anger is good because it has made me choose to reappear. I refuse to be made to feel inferior anymore. I know that I am talented. I know that I know my stuff. I know that I have a lot to share. If I’m not welcome, then so be it. I’m going to find my own path. I still don’t know what that path is, but I’m sick of this. So, hello world. I refuse to disappear anymore!!! I’m here to stay.

Happiness and Fulfillment

 

Lightning over the outskirts of Oradea, Romani...

Image via Wikipedia

 

People are always telling me to envision what I want and then it will manifest itself. Well, I guess that works if you are clear on the details of what you want. I’ve envisioned my heart out for certain jobs, but that hasn’t work. That makes sense in some ways, because if you are picturing a really specific job, there is bound to be someone else out there picturing it too. Imagine energy competing in the sky over head, battles of color and passion competing for one little vision, eventually one of them has to win and the other fades back or is consumed. That is not how I want to live my life. I also think that my envisioning hasn’t been strong enough because of my own doubts about what I want to do with my life. So I realized this morning that I have to change my approach. I am going to focus on the concepts of happiness and fulfillment. While I’m not sure what will make me feel those things, if I focus on them, maybe the details will fall into place.  Repeat after me: Happiness and fulfillment. Happiness and fulfillment. HAPPINESS AND FULFILLMENT!!!!

A Mental Cleanse

I’ve heard of those drinks where you

purge your body of all toxins.

Green goop that goes in and out

in a couple of days.

What kind of concoction

or device

can purge your mind of all negatives?

I want something

to scrub it clean and shiny.

Reach into all the nooks and crannies

and wipe out any hidden negativity

doubt

or fears

that sneak out at inopportune moments

sabotaging dreams

or sometimes daily thoughts.

I need a complete

mental cleanse.

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