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Posts Tagged ‘life’

One of the fascinating things about childhood is that as we grow older our perspectives on it change. What were once annoying practices foisted upon us now make perfect sense. Where once we had wishes for things far more grand and perhaps expensive than we could afford now seem so unnecessary. Just like our parents told us. Thing is, parental advice just wasn’t always all that much fun; we were kids after all. We weren’t interested in having values instilled in us; it seemed tedious.

Yet here we are, ever so many years later, reflecting on the pearls of wisdom that our parents were thanklessly sharing with us. Okay, maybe they weren’t all pearls of wisdom, but plenty of them were great guidelines, both large and small, for managing life along the way.

Below I’ve listed just a few of the things my parents taught me, and there is at least one humorous, heartwarming, life-changing, and/or scary – but always memorable – story to go with each. Undoubtedly, you have your own list you can make up quite different from mine. Especially if your parents have passed over, you might be surprised in making that list how much of what you like about yourself actually came from what they were teaching you all along. Life is funny that way.

So here’s to all the parents who caught a lot of crap, patiently waited out hysterics, bit their lip when they wanted to scream, and resisted rolling their eyes as they explained something to us for the 19th time. And here’s to all the parents who went about their lives day by day, totally unaware that their children were watching and soaking up ways to manage some of the simplest things that would stand them in good stead for a lifetime.

My list:

  • Simple is good
  • Keep the house cool by following the sun to adjust the blinds/shades
  • You don’t have to have a lot of money to have a good time
  • You can never have too many flowers
  • Eat fresh
  • Bugs aren’t really all that scary when it comes right down to it
  • Budget your money
  • Make your bed every day
  • Take lots of pictures
  • Going away to college helps you grow up

 

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We have become such a throwaway world, yet there are some of us who just are not going to ever fit that mold. That old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” suits many of us just fine. And we’ll keep using something so long as it is in good working condition, even though it’s no longer new and shiny. Enter my old toaster.

OldToaster-Farewell2

I can’t tell you how old this toaster is, though it’s well over 20 years, probably 30. They just don’t make stuff to last like this anymore. So as it will soon be moving on, I thought to give it a nice farewell in the photo above, Still Life with Toaster.

It has been a faithful appliance, never giving me a bit of trouble. Until recently, when it started making that awful grating noise before coughing up a piece of toast. Worse yet, I caught it flashing a little spark one morning before it handed me my bagel. And that’s not good. I mentally went over all the things I should do if my toaster were to actually catch fire, the most important one being to write an e-mail to someone who always wants to know what they can get me for a gift. “I have an idea,” I said, and they were on board in two seconds. A little online research into types of toasters, scouring reviews, considering prices (did you know you can buy toasters for $200.00?) and I was able to offer some options.

It wasn’t long after, the following arrived. How exciting! Why is getting a new toaster so exciting? Simply because it’s been over 30 years since I’ve needed a new one. Who knows what new features will now turn bread into toast?

NewToaster2

How nice will it be to toast a bagel without having a thought about the kitchen catching fire? Or listening to a ratcheting sound when a nice English muffin is really all I want? I am still a big believer in the simple things in life, and if a new toaster some every 30 odd years or so comes my way, I’m happy. And the old toaster can move on, knowing it more than fulfilled it’s purpose in life – it sure doesn’t owe me a thing.

Jazzy-Toaster2

p.s. What fun would opening a large box be if not without a little help from the premiere local box specialist, Jazzy?

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Sunlight in Spring Forest, Bavaria, Germany

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WomanThinkingBW-2On my path in life I have been told this numerous times by those who have guided me along the way. When life is going smoothly, we can understand this and can breathe a luxurious sigh of relief. Feel happy, even. But when things are not going all that well, in one way or another, a fairly immediate response to that same statement sounds something like, “Seriously? This is exactly where I’m supposed to be?”

I don’t know where so many people got the idea that life should just sail along and bad things should never happen to us, but it’s a pretty commonly held belief at its core. Intellectually, we all know better, of course. Things happen. That’s life. But on some deeper emotional level, many of us are truly taken aback when life throws us the usual curves it dishes up. Somehow we should not really get injured or  ill, certainly not seriously, (occasional colds being the understandable exception); we should not lose loved ones, nor have to suffer terrible financial hardship; everything in GirlThinking-2relationships should be able to be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction in the end; our children should be grateful and well-behaved; we should not lose our jobs; our homes should never catch fire, nor our cars break down in the middle of nowhere … these things just shouldn’t be happening. Right?

And yet they do. And in the midst of all the mess that is a part of life, I am repeatedly told that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. As are you.

I know when I step back that it’s true. I can’t control a great deal of what life brings to me, but I can control how I react to it, and in that, I AM exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m in the ideal spot to look at a situation, grasp its reality, and respond to it in the highest and best way possible.

Every obstacle we meet in life can be looked at as an opportunity to grow, to further develop the abilities we have to handle life and everything in it with love, dignity and grace. Of course, we have the option to feel miserable, to whine, complain and throw tantrums, but when we’re done with that, having found it’s gotten us nowhere, we can still try and figure out why what’s happening is happening, why it’s such a challenge, and then do something about it.

So even as I will sometimes want to sit and whine and/or do nothing in the face of various challenges, I remind myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. And there may be a reason for that; I have something to learn. If it’s not a good place, what do I need to do to make it better? I can actually be grateful to be given this chance to grow.

It’s a different perspective … and surprisingly effective when given a try.

 

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MiraclesNow-GBernstein2We have often heard when the student is ready the teacher arrives. Sometimes that teacher arrives in person, at other times, in the form of an author and her book.  Recently a friend bestowed a lovely gift on me, a book by a metaphysical author of whom I’ve been unaware, Gabrielle Bernstein.

In her book, Miracles Now, Gabrielle, (she feels like a friend already), gives us 108 simple tools that we can all apply right now to help ease our stress, feel happier, and find our path in life. These may be in the form of affirmations, meditations, (both short and long), quick ways to change our thoughts, etc. Today – and yesterday – I”m reading the same one – #46. Measure Your Success with How Much Fun You’re Having.

Uh-oh. I suddenly felt I must be failing miserably! Not that I don’t have fun, I do, but as a measure of my success? Hmmm … Methinks I need to up my success rate!

I can’t imagine that this doesn’t strike a chord with anyone reading this post. We are often told by our spiritual teachers and guides that we need to find the joy in the moment – to not worry about the past, because it’s gone, nor the future, because it hasn’t arrived, but to cherish and enjoy the present moment, the never-again-to-be-repeated-NOW. We all know that this is not always that simple … we’re human and live in a challenging world. But I don’t think there’s a one of us that couldn’t bear being happier; however, that means taking responsibility for it, too.

So while success is often measured in what we have or what we do, Gabrielle Bernstein affirms what I think most of us really know to be true; “happiness is an inside job.” Our job is to stay in the flow with joy and let pass all the things in life which we cannot control. Her Miracle Message is “I measure my success by how much fun I’m having.”

Here’s a toast to all of us being enormously successful!

 

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WingbackChair2If you’re sensing that there may be a bit of a double-entendre in that title, you are so right.

Here you see a photo of a wingback chair, new to me. In some ways, it seemed to have arrived in my possession as a consolation (prize) to offset a number of things I found myself having to deal with recently. And, being an item that I’ve wished I had for such a long time, I find it not only the most wonderful reading chair possible, but also one that consoles me when I curl up in its winged shape.

There really are times when we feel we’ve spent as much of our energy as we have coping with whatever is on our plates. But wait … the Universe has one more challenge to throw our way. Really? I say. Apparently so. In Living in the Light, Shakti Gawain writes about problems as messages. She says that when there are problems in our lives, it may be the Universe trying to get our attention, to tell us something we need to be aware of, something that needs to be changed. If we pay attention, we learn from the messages; if we don’t, the problems often intensify until we start to pay attention.

So I’d say I’ve been smacked quite smartly about now. And I am paying attention.

But back to the chair.

I’d gone across the street to my neighbors’ house to discuss something relevant to said problem and we chatted for an hour or so. When we came out, I noticed a wingback chair sitting at the end of another neighbor’s driveway in the spot where he usually puts out his garbage or recycling. Could that chair really be there for someone to pluck? I immediately sat in it. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, right? Mmmmm – comfy. He was mowing the lawn so we waved him down to see if, indeed, this chair was there for the taking. It was.

In no time, I had this chair, which had been in his family for quite some time and is in excellent condition, in my living room just waiting for me to grab a book and read. He was happy it went to someone he knew and I was thrilled to have it. (And of course, he has visiting privileges.) Somehow this chair appeared in that spot in a very brief period of time … it seemed meant for me, a consolation for an array of recent difficulties and for which I am very grateful.

I sit it in it and read and I sit in it and contemplate … exactly what is the message I’ve been assiduously avoiding that I needed such a wake-up call? Of course, I’m quite sure I know, and now I have someplace to sit and plan what steps I next need to take in my life. Funny how things work out.

 

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When we cease to learn, we truly cease to be alive. Along the way, here are a few things I’ve learned:
* If I leave my Sunday paper on the sidewalk where the delivery people toss it long enough, even though that’s all of 20′ from my front door, someone will definitely take it.
Claude-On-Sidechair3* If I don’t keep an eagle-eye on how much water Claude drinks while I’m making coffee/preparing their breakfast and meds – because who knows, maybe last evening was really his last meal EVER – he is sure to anxiously consume copious amounts and promptly throw it up in the only appropriate place, the w/w carpeting upstairs.
* If the barometric pressure changes overnight, I will wake up with a sinus/migraine headache and there is no way of heading it off the night before.
* Having a sufficient supply of eggs, milk and bread on hand is always comforting.
* No matter how nasty symptoms from a virus/cold/flu are, eventually they subside and move out. (The catch is trying to remember that while in the middle of it when all you want to do is sleep until it’s over.)
* The unconditional love of animals is a soothing balm to whatever ails the mind, body and soul.
CloudySunnySky2* Temperatures in the single digits eventually become double again.
* Behind the clouds, fog or overcast skies, the sun is always shining and will bathe us in warmth soon enough.
* Buried in the symptoms that make us feel like crap when we’re ill is always the opportunity to learn, (yet again), that we are always safe and loved no matter how we feel. A challenge, yes, but still an opportunity.

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