Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Over the past few months, my sister and I have been trying to figure out a very puzzling situation. We hash and rehash what has happened over and over again, trying to understand why things have gone the way they have. Almost every conversation about the matter has ended up with “What I don’t understand is ….”.
It occurs to me that we often get caught up in trying to figure out the thought patterns of others in an effort to understand. “So and so is not thinking rationally” we say. Basically though, when we say this, what we are really saying is that they don’t think like us. Our own thought pattern goes like this: “If A, then B”. However, we notice people whose thought pattern seems more like “If A, then X - or F - or 10 - or red” and we just can’t figure it out.. Of course, we assume that our thinking is rational and theirs is not! Quite a judgement.
What we have to accept is that we never will figure out other peoples’ logic. Time spent trying to do so is time that is wasted. We will never figure it out. The only thing to do is to accept people, their thoughts and actions as they are, to accept that that is the way things are. Once we do this, we are free to move on to determining what our own response will be. Now, whenever my sister and I speak about the issue, we stop when we get to “What I don’t understand is” and replace it with “That’s the way it is” and move the discussion to what we are going to do. As a result, we are moving forward rather than being stuck in a never-ending circle of trying to understand others.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I received this question from a reader of the blog I posted on “I am moving to Canada”:
"This is so inspiring. But suppose you did have some doubts... what would you do with them? I'm not trying to be arch, I am just wondering how you overcome doubts (and fears and anxieties) when you are in the midst of big changes, particularly when things are not in your control"
This is such a good question, for we are all beleaguered by doubts and fears whenever we face change. In our quest for stability and control in our lives, we hold on to what we know and resist what we don’t know or are uncertain about. In holding on, we are under the illusion that we are in control. But we aren’t, for one thing we need to get used to is that the future is a total unknown. No matter how we plan, scheme and schedule, the future is a mystery. There is no one who can tell with certainty what the future holds and how it will unfold. We are never in control, for how can we be in control of something that we don’t know? It is impossible.
Now, you may ask – if the future is uncertain and outside of our control, then why set goals, articulate a vision and even think about designing our lives? Why not just live moment to moment, not thinking at all about what the next moment will bring? Because we do need context for our lives. We need to guide our good, and being clear about what we want to be and how we want our lives to look is fundamental. Yet, we can’t or shouldn’t hold onto this, for our vision is limited by where we are looking from. It’s a big world out there, and we are only looking from a very, very small part of it. So, even in defining our vision we must be mindful and open to bigger and better for our lives. For example, many years ago I penned a very powerful vision for my life at 60. Moving to Canada was not in the plan at all then, yet I can now see that moving to Canada is very important in achieving that vision!
Doubts and fears may serve a useful purpose as they cause us to stop and think about what we are doing, and may indicate if and when we are going off course. But doubts and fears can also hold us back, if we yield to them. Fears and anxieties have arisen throughout my journey to Canada, and will probably arise again. To make sure that they don’t hold me back, I have a few simple but powerful techniques:
1. 1. Affirmations: my favourite is "This too shall pass". It is so powerful in reminding me that nothing is permanent. When I say it I literally feel my body relaxing
2. 2. Gratitude - I find something to give thanks for - I write down or say three things I am grateful for
3. 3. Take action - I focus on something immediate – say, an item from my "to do" list. Whenever I feel that I have too much to do, I just go back to my to do list and do one thing. Action is a great way to deal with fears
4. 4. Laughter – I laugh - for no reason at all
Remember - it's not the situation that's the problem, it's your reaction to it. It’s not the doubts and fears, it’s how we deal with them. Accepting them but taking action regardless is the key to moving forward.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I am relocating from Jamaica to Canada next month. It is a major move in my life, not just for me, but also my two teenagers. It has been in the works for the past 2 ½ years, and now it is coming to fruition.
I will be blogging my experiences as I navigate this new life. I wonder that I haven’t blogged it before ….. perhaps I was still in a bit of denial about it really happening. Hmmmm ….. something to think about.
What I do know, is how my "free and laughing" approach has helped me to make the move – free and laughing! I am positive, upbeat, courageous, forward-looking. I know without a doubt that this is the right move. And so everything is falling into place nicely. And when things don’t seem to be manifesting the way I think they should, I laugh, exhale and affirm the best. My daily mantra is "I move to Canada with ease, grace and joy".
So, here’s how I have been applying "Free and Laughing".
1. Be present – I know without a doubt that this is the right move. And so everything is falling into place nicely. I am present to things as they occur. And when things don’t seem to be manifesting the way I think they should, I laugh, exhale and affirm the best. My daily mantra is "I move to Canada with ease, grace and joy".
2. Observe – I am very aware of all the changes in my life and the impact it is having on my mental, emotional and physical state. For example, on Wednesday, two days after I returned from a one-week visit to Canada, my hip started to ache really badly. I almost considered not going to my yoga class. Good thing I did (something told me to go), for Donovan, my yoga teacher pointed out that "It’s the move". When I got home I checked Louise Hay’s book "Heal Your Body" and lo and behold – hip problems indicate fear of moving forward. I share her lovely affirmation with you "Hip hip hooray! There is joy in every day. I am balanced and free. I move forward in life with ease and with joy in every age".
3. Release – I have come to terms with releasing my attachment to the things in my home, my home itself, my plants, my books, my dogs and ultimately, Jamaica.
4. Accept – I am now accepting my new home, Canada. For example, when I was there last week, I reveled in the juicy, fresh cherries, not missing mangoes in Jamaica at all! Accepting that Canada will be cold – and that I will make the best of it and learn to ski and snowboard!
5. Trust – what a journey of trusting! Trusting that all is well, even when things seem otherwise. Trusting that my life is unfolding exactly as it should. Trusting that all who I meet are there for my ultimate good. Trusting that I am making the right choices for my children and me.
6. Love – loving every minute, every one and every thing. And loving most of all myself, and knowing that I will bloom wherever I am planted.
I move to Canada with ease, grace and joy. I live my life with ease, grace and joy – wherever I happen to be!
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
1. We all wake up late
2. Shane’s school uniform is not ironed
3. My car has a flat tyre
But, it is also the morning when:
1. I breathe
2. I affirm Divine Order
3. Marlon, the gardener is working today
4. My friend Paula, whose son goes to the same school and who passes my gate each morning, is also running late
5. I call Paula and she picks up the children
6. Marlon changes the tyre
7. My daughter gets to her exam on time
8. I exhale and give thanks for Divine Order - and my faith!
Throughout all this, I observe my children. They are calm and cool, sitting quietly as they wait. I give thanks for their faith.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Last September Tropical Storm Gustav wreaked havoc on Jamaica. For days it tumbled rain upon us. It brought down my backyard wall and fence. The rains caused landslides, washed away homes, bridges and roads. People lost their lives. But it also pruned the trees, aerated the roots and thoroughly watered and nourished the soil. The results? Bumper crops of otaheite apples, breadfruit, citrus – and now mangoes.
It is the same way in our lives. Things happen to us that are chaotic, disruptive and traumatic. Yet as time passes we come to realise that they created real good in our lives. Have you ever said in wonder "What a good thing so and so happened"? At the time, "so and so" was quite chaotic and painful, yet months or even years later, when we see the growth in ourselves, we recognise that some good resulted because of it. Just to be able to see the good in a situation is a blessing.
Today, look for the blessings in your life. Look at a situation that is painful for you and give thanks for your growth and any good at all that has come from it. This is not to deny the pain, just to accept it and recognise the good. In accepting the mangoes from my tree, I am not at all denying the devastation of Gustav, just giving thanks for the blessings. Give thanks today for the bumper crop of blessings flowing through your life.
Monday, May 18, 2009
"This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond"
Rumi- translation by Coleman Barks
Friday, May 15, 2009
When I was leaving, I presented him with the gift of a mango that I had picked from my tree this morning, in gratitude for his welcoming disposition which was so in contrast to my experience yesterday.
What made the difference? Me! Having spent the morning writing my blog and changing my state from unfree and unlaughing to free and laughing, the only experience I could possibly have had was a free and laughing one! And I did! The guard was grateful for the mango, and I was grateful for the experience. Win win.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I turned into a parking space at a small shopping plaza. The vehicle beside me was parked badly i.e. on the yellow line, and so I adjusted how I parked in order to give the driver space to enter his car. A security guard began frantically signalling to me, his face contorted with the most sour disposition, to park properly i.e. square within the yellow lines. An abundance of hand signalling, word mouthing and eye rolling followed as he tried to explain what he wanted me to do. I turned down my windows and said "Good morning sir" which usually has the effect of softening the unhappy person. Not this time. He did respond in like words, but retained his very unpleasant disposition. I asked him "Would you like me to park in a certain way"? He railed yes, and I must park properly and what is wrong with people who can’t drive, and on and on and on. Each time I tried to adjust my car, he indicated that it wasn’t perfect. I found myself getting flustered, and even considered just leaving, as the matter I was attending to was not urgent. Meanwhile, the driver of the vehicle that had bad-parked beside me was looking at the whole interlude with the greatest of humour. That made me even more upset as HE was the reason I had not parked properly in the first place!
Finally I parked to the guard’s satisfaction and went about my business. When I returned, he was still carrying on loudly about how "Some people can’t drive they can only steer, etc." clearly aimed at “some people” being me. I was most upset, and just could not bring myself to be free and laughing!
In reflecting on this situation, what COULD I have done to be free and laughing? I had a number of choices:
1. I could have happily ignored the guard’s instructions. Maybe not a good idea, as he was so wrapped up in his wanting to be right and exert his ultimate authority as the ruler of the space!
2. I could have driven off – I really didn’t need the product, and it turned out that the store didn’t have it anyway. So my instinct to leave was telling me something
3. I could have changed my countenance. Even when he responded dourly to my gay “good morning” I could have simply said with the brightest of smiles "I will be happy to park properly, just bear with me a minute. I really do appreciate your help". Would that have made a difference to him? Maybe, maybe not. But it would have made a real difference to me!
There are other things I could have done, but these scenarios give examples of the multitude of choices facing us in any given moment. At any moment during that 5-minute interlude, I could have chosen a different way of being and acting.
Now I am free and laughing about that moment – a day later, but at least I am free of the emotion and able to laugh! I can move on to enjoy my moments today, unburdened by yesterday’s experience. I am now present to this moment. I am free and laughing!