Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Siouxsies Musings has a new home!

Siouxsiesmusings has moved to the following web address:

Do stop by anytime. We love visitors and comments!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for maintenance

Please see today's post at

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Literal Thinking and Lateral Thinking

Dear Readers, My blog is  moving to I will be posting on both blogs for the remainder of the A to Z challenge, but do visit my new digs! It's a really lovely place. Love, Siouxsie

Early in April, I posted a poem about how I welcome being wrong and mistaken after starting out thinking I had to be and always was right.

I don't know if it's just a brain-wiring thing or a temperament or a habit, but I tend to think VERY literally, taking things at face value. I have to work pretty hard to remember that taking things too literally is one of the ways I end up misunderstanding someone.

Just as I have realized my strong tendency toward literal thinking, I have also begun to learn to practice lateral thinking. Wikipedia tells me . . .
Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. 
Just today, I had a disappointing experience of literal thinking going awry. Someone I love is headed to jail tomorrow for a five-day stay. I had googled “how to prepare for jail.” One site said inmates are not permitted to take books into the jail, as they can be a place to hide drugs, but that books can be shipped from Amazon. With that, I spent quite a bit of time looking for books that he might like, and then I reserved like 87 books at the library, toted them home, and he went through them and chose five that I was going to buy and ship to the jail. Once I had them in my Amazon cart, I decided to double check the website for the rules and regs. Well. This particular jail does not allow books to be sent to inmates.
Seems like Albert Einstein was onto this idea way before Mr. Edward deBono coined the term lateral thinking, when he said, 'We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Coming to accept my natural way of thinking as being quite literal has allowed me to move beyond it into new methods of solving problems, asking questions, finding solutions, and communicating. I don't criticize myself anymore for this; I just understand it's the way my brain works. And if there's one thing I'm all about, it's being creative in my life.

Are you more of a literal thinker or a lateral thinker? Or something else?

Monday, April 13, 2015


Dear Readers, My blog is  moving to I will be posting on both blogs for the remainder of the A to Z challenge, but do visit my new digs! It's a really lovely place. Love, Siouxsie

Like so many big concepts in my life, I learned the word "karma" from the Beatles, in their song, "Instant Karma." I didn't bother to find out what karma was. Considering the amount of fear I carried around as a child, I only knew that if it was gonna get me, I probably didn't want to get too close to it.

Even the Bible's version of this was frightening and ominous: "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)

There are other places on the internet and in books where you can read all about karma. The manner in which I am using this word is similar to the idea of sowing and reaping, and has to do with the energetic connections of our actions.

What I was taught was that bad things happen to good people, and while I don't disagree with that, there is great power in giving out compassion, kindness, goodness, patience, love, peace and joy to the world. When we are radiating these types of characteristics, we are going to draw those same things to ourselves.

I see it again and again. When I approach people with a smile, and a genuine caring heart, they are much more likely to be open to me, to help me with what I am asking for, and to take in the positive "vibes" I am giving out. I've seen the opposite as well -- when I'm resentful or already angry before I come into contact with someone, the interaction is of a complete different quality.

So, I've accepted it. I love knowing that the energy I give out has an impact on others, and also impacts what comes back to me. This belief motivates me even more to come to people and situations with an open heart, as a perpetual beginner, and a lifelong learner.

How do you experience the concept of sowing and reaping in your life?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

To my Readers!

I really, really, really, really, really, really like you!

Sunday Musings

I am the bird and I hold the cage.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Junuh

I've been a fan of Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) for quite awhile, but only recently learned that he had based his book The Legend of Bagger Vance on the Hindu text The Bhagavad Vita. When I originally saw the movie, I interpreted Bagger's character to be representative of the Holy Spirit.  However you interpret the character, he's full of wisdom and I love this scene where Junuh accepts his fear and uncertainty about how to move past the horrors he experienced in the war. 

Each of us carries around burdens, no matter how charmed our life has been. This clip from the film is a powerful representation of what happens when we accept that we each are here for a unique purpose and we step into that purpose. Now is the time.

Bagger Vance: What I'm talkin about is a game... A game that can't be won only played... 
Rannulph Junuh: You don't understand... 
Bagger Vance: I don't need to understand... Ain't a soul on this entire earth ain't got a burden to carry he don't understand, you ain't alone in that... But you been carryin' this one long enough... Time to go on... lay it down... 
Rannulph Junuh: I don't know how... 
Bagger Vance: You got a choice... You can stop... Or you can start... 
Rannulph Junuh: Start? 
Bagger Vance: Walkin... 
Rannulph Junuh: Where? 
Bagger Vance: Right back to wehre you always been... and then stand there... Still... real still... And remember... 
Rannulph Junuh: It's too long ago... 
Bagger Vance: Oh no sir it was just a moment ago... Time for you to come on out the shadows Junuh... Time for you to choose... 
Rannulph Junuh: I can't... 
Bagger Vance: Yes you can... but you ain't alone... I"m right here with ya... I've been here all along... Now play the game... Your game... The one that only you was meant to play... Then one that was given to you when you come into this world... You ready?... Stike that ball Junuh don't hold nothin back give it everything... Now's the time... Let yourself remember... Remember YOUR swing... That's right Junuh, settle yourself... Let's go... Now is the time, Junuh... 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Intuition and Inner Wisdom

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As the theme of my posts this month is Acceptance, I'm linking to my day 1 post about the subject for latecomers to the series, or for anyone who might like to be reminded what part acceptance plays in each topic I am writing about.


A Time I Needed my Intuition

We had come to a fork in the trail. Although we had a topographical map in front of us, and several days experience, we simply could not agree which path to take. Our leader told us that night we had discussed it for five hours before making a decision. I'm here to tell the story, so we obviously made a decision that got us somewhere closer to our goal. We had no wristwatches, just a deep-felt need to make the "right" decision.

My understanding of the world back then dictated that only one of those paths could be right. I was the leader for the day, so I felt an extra measure of responsibility (and fear) to make sure we chose the right path. Imagine if I had understood the concept of intuition back then.

What is Intuition?

Intuition is the feeling or sense that a particular decision is the right one and is based on instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning. Intuition and conscience are bedfellows, and we all have the ability to listen to that inner wisdom or to override it. Because intuition often comes in small bursts, it can be a little too easy to stride forth without taking it into account.

An intuitive sense becomes stronger as we act on it. I recognize my own intuitions as being very subtle and gentle, and accessible to me the more calm I am inside.

I've overridden my conscience quite a few times when it comes to anything having to do with immediate gratification. My intuition has instructed me to forego a certain food, but I have had it anyway. My intuition has told me to get up from the bed or chair or couch, and I have insisted upon staying put, refusing to act on something that was instructing me to move.

So What?

When I finally came to accept that my intuition is actually my inner wisdom and is something to listen to and act on, I began to experience some interesting happenings. Of primary importance to me is that the net result of acting on intuition is a confidence that the choice I made was the very best one I could have made.

Quite often, my intuition has prompted me to reach out to another in some way; to pay attention to someone, or give to them, or speak to them, or listen to them. As a matter of fact, my intuition often prompts me to extend those same courtesies to myself: pay attention to myself, give something to myself, listen to myself.

I find that my intuition comes to bear quite often when I write, and the closer I listen to that still, small voice, the happier I am with the outcome.

Intuition comes to us in similar ways each time. For me, it is a small sensation in my center; almost a little signal flag going up. Once I am aware of the sensation, I bring my rational mind to bear on the intuition, recognizing that the intuitive instinct might be different than I would typically think to do.

Now What?

The more I (and you) are attuned to instinct and intuition, the more we will notice it. The more we act on it and experience the positive outcomes, the more certain we can be that we are tuning into our actual intuition. Keep in mind that if something doesn't feel right, that means there is something wrong. Listen to your gut.

In what form does your intuition come to you? Where do you notice it in your body? What helps you know you can trust your gut instincts?

Thursday, April 9, 2015


A Humanist Message for my Father

The week my father died, a family friend came to visit him. Dad was not moving from his hospital bed anymore, but the bed was located in the bedroom of his home, the place where he had lived since 1960 and the only place for him to spend his final days. Dad was sleeping most of the time and our friend spoke to him as he slept, "Dale, you are a good man." I think he visited just so he could give that message to my dad.

Dad had certainly not gotten that message growing up. His family was of German descent, and in many ways fit the stereotypical German temperament. Certainly his mother came across as distant. As the seventh children of seven, with an alcoholic father, and the gender dynamic of three older brothers, followed by three older sisters, Dad had to be pretty scrappy and resourceful in getting what he needed.

I think my father was an amazing man, who was deeply wounded as a child. This wound made him both a loving and affectionate father, as well as one who possessed a limited ability to deal with conflict in a healthy way. The messages he received and internalized in his fundamentalist church and college instruction impacted him as well.

What is Humanism, Anyway?

Humanism wasn't something we discussed in my home. It really wasn't even something that was on our radar as a blip. I believe my first introduction to it would have been as something antithetical to Christian faith, as it focuses on the goodness of humans, which is of course, not the message of Christianity.

I read a quote about humanism this morning on Wikipedia which resonates deeply within me:
"The general love of humanity ... a virtue hitherto quite nameless among us, and which we will venture to call 'humanism,' for the time has come to create such a word for such a beautiful and necessary thing." 
And that's why I have come to accept humanism. The general love of humanity for the sake of the love of humanity is what makes the most sense of all to me. It's what can inform our interactions with each other, our treatment of ourselves, our care for the environment and the earth, our considerations for people who are of different race, creed, culture, sexual orientation, or education than we.

What if Humanism is the Highest Belief System? 

Imagine each individual person looking both inward and outward and seeing the goodness that there is. Imagine what would happen if people could get a vision of themselves as being good and worthy and valuable at their core. Imagine the differences in how people take care of themselves, how they take care of others in their lives, and how they regard less powerful beings such as persons with special needs; those who have been abused; defenseless, dependent animals; those in poverty; the marginalized; panhandlers; the homeless.

Seeing myself and others as good is, to quote the words of a former pastor of mine, a goal big enough to demand my best.

An Invitation

I invite you to consider this question:

What is possible if we see the goodness in ourselves and others?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Giving Advice

How do I?

I find myself in the position this morning of not knowing where to begin on a project, and the project today is cleaning my house. I've never really had "cleaning days" or any systemic cleaning practices that have become second nature. The cleaning I do is more of the "lick and a promise" sort. I thought about asking others who are great housecleaners where I should begin, but I decided before I do that, I would write a blog post to a certain someone who wants to know how to clean their home.

Should I use the internet? 

The internet is filled to the brim with "how-to" websites. The search words "how to clean your home" yield 268,000,000 results. So, there's no shortage out there of advice. The best advice I can possibly get, however, comes from my inner wise self. No one else has my home's layout, my particular clutter challenges, my preferences, my tools, my temperament. Looking to my inner wise self will give me a fantastic place to start. Maybe I'll be left with a question or two that I genuinely don't know the answer to. Then I can find out the answer to that specific question.

In the meantime, I have actually noticed quite often that when I give advice to others (either solicited or unsolicited), it is almost always advice to applies to one or more situations in my own life as well. Like the saying, we do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. Same thing with advice: we give advice that we believe will be helpful to another, but we can't help it being helpful to ourselves as well.

What do I accept about giving advice?

The acceptance piece of giving advice is that I'm really the best person to give myself advice. I think this becomes more true the healthier we are, but I believe that we each have the best solutions within us. Sometimes we just need a good coach to help us access them.

Try it. Think of something you feel stuck about. Look inside and ask your inner wise self how you might proceed. Trust yourself. It's a process of learning to listen to ourselves, to act on our gut instinct, and to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves." We must also apply critical thinking to this process. Thoughts come and go, and they're not all from our inner wisdom!

Can I see an example?

Here is my letter to my certain someone about the issue facing her today:

Dear Friend,

You've gotten to the place where it's time to clean and you don't know where to begin? Well, anywhere you start is a fine place, since it means you are actually taking the first step. However, there are a few cleaning principles that may come in handy as you go about your work.

Do clean from top to bottom. There is a reason why that is an actual phrase. As you clean the top, there are items and detritus that waft downward, so you work your way down so as to keep clean the part you have already done.

As you look at the room you are cleaning, think of it in layers. The first layer is the items that do not belong in that room, and the items that are misplaced. Get your laundry baskets and identify them with kitchen, daughter's room, basement and son's room. As you come across things that go in those places, put them into the correct basket. After you finish this step, empty the baskets by putting the items in their proper places.

Set the Time Timer for 15 minutes. Allow yourself to clean for just 15 minutes, but feel free to continue on for another 15 and another, as long as you want. Just get started.

Do a first layer sweep of the room first thing. Have a trash bag attached to your apron so you can throw away trash right away. Have a second trash bag where you can put recyclables.

Express gratitude for each item you pick up or clean. You are tremendously blessed in so many ways. Allow your cleaning to be a reflection of that truth.

Clean your rooms in a counter-clockwise manner by starting with your living room, then master bedroom, bathroom, hall, kepler's room, office, kitchen, family room.

Second layer of the process is cleaning flat surfaces. You will want to have along your cleaning supplies and tools for this step. Purple cleaning cloths, Windex multi-surface spray, Miracle 2 spray, bucket of soapy water, baking soda dispenser as well as barkeeper's friend, drying cloths, furniture oil and cloth, clorox wipes.

Flat surfaces include windowsills, tops of the lower windows, windows, tables, mirrors, hearth and mantel, the piano, countertops, tub, wooden furniture, etc. These will be evident. Having already done the first layer of putting away all the things that do not belong, this layer will go quickly.

Third layer is to clean the floors. Use the rainbow vacuum to vacuum the rooms, again in compass order, and add the basement steps in at the end. After vacuuming and putting the vacuum away and emptying the water basin, clean the ceramic floor in the bathroom and the wood floor in the kitchen.

Completing these three layers will give you a completely different feel in your home. When you think of your mother's home, which is the standard you tend to think of, you will remember that not only is her home actually clean, but it also is beautiful. Allow yourself to focus on the cleanliness portion right now, and once it is clean and you are breathing in the freshness and enjoyment of that, you can look at how you would like to add, subtract or multiply to bring more beauty into your own home.

Next time we'll look at the layers and steps for cleaning the basement storage, bathroom, and living areas.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feast or Famine


I've never been in a famine. But I've been to plenty of feasts. I come from a large extended family, and for many years there were 60 or so of us who gathered in my grandmother's large home at Thanksgiving. Ah, those were the days. Eventually, all the cousins started having their own children and then grandchildren, and the different branches of the family divided the gatherings into smaller groups. Many of the people who gathered in those rooms are no longer alive, but the memories will never fade.

Feast or Fast

"Feast or famine" is a phrase that actually started out as "feast or fast." Those two phrases strike me as remarkably different. "Feast or fast" sounds like two contrasting actions, where "feast or famine" sounds like two contrasting conditions. With my focus on the concept of acceptance this month, I will be looking at "feast or famine" as two conditions we find ourselves in quite often.

I have alluded to my previous all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking. Therefore, feast or famine to me meant either-or. Either I have more than I need, or I don't have enough. Either I have too much to do, or I don't have anything to do. That has to do with my perception of what a famine actually is. Again with the b/w thinking, I always think of a famine as a time where there is no, not any, none at all, food. But a famine actually happens in a drought, or when a crop fails, and causes a scarcity of food.

What does it mean?

So, how does acceptance work with this phrase, feast or famine?

I know I prefer to have more than enough, than not enough. Isn't it interesting to consider, though, when I have more than enough of something, I often have less than enough of something else?

Too much time on my hands? Not enough social interactions with people.
Too many social engagements on my calendar? Not enough downtime.
Too much food to eat? Not enough ability to utilize the food as fuel.

Perception and Acceptance

Therefore, the feast and the famine are often simply my perception. There are people in the world who clearly are dealing with famine of the food kind, and it's not their perception. For the rest of us, it's rare that we utter feast or famine in regard to food.

I can imagine a mindset where I welcome the feasts as well as the famines, recognizing that neither of them can possibly last forever because of, if I may, the laws of thermodynamics, as applied to physical conditions. A mindset where I lean into the fullness of the feast and the leanness of the famine.


Currently, I'm in a feast of resources, opportunities, books, and inspiration; certainly a type of freedom that many do not have. I'm also in a famine of another type of freedom that many do have. In understanding that feast or famine is a simplified way of saying that we have both feast and famine rolling past us all the time, I accept the areas of feasting and the areas of famine. As soon as I accept them, I can begin to notice if I want any less of the feast, or any more of the famine.

What feasts and famines are present in your life that are asking for acceptance?

Monday, April 6, 2015


 exploding_sun image by schnuffibossi1
In my former worldview and system of thinking, I did not believe in Enlightenment, aside from the common, everyday use of the term. Gradually, I have begun to experience more and more what feels like capital e Enlightenment. This article by Barbara-Lynn Freed put a lot into words that I hadn't actually verbalized.

She suggests that there are 5 ways to cultivate enlightenment:

1. Taking Personal Responsibility
2. Trusting Your Inner Authority
3. Being Authentically Vulnerable
4. Cultivating Unconditional Love and Forgiveness
5. Developing True Compassion

The first one of these that I understood was forgiveness. Way back when the big kids were little, I read something about the difference between saying "I'm sorry" and "I'm sorry, Will you please forgive me?" Asking for forgiveness allows us to be authentically vulnerable by humbling ourselves, and allows the one being asked to intentionally offer forgiveness.

Our culture is RIFE with "I'm sorry," and yet it is often an empty formality. "[I'm] sorry you had to wait thirteen extra seconds for your fries." "[I'm] sorry I forgot to call you back/rsvp/return your widget/answer your email." Not every instance of "I'm sorry" must be followed up by "Will you please forgive me?" In relationships, many times an apology followed up by a request for forgiveness quadruples (at least) the power of the apology. As hard as it is for some to say "I'm sorry," there are many more who have never uttered the words "Will you please forgive me?"

The next step for me was to begin to understand the value of listening to my own inner authority. In small group one evening, another young mother, Kristin, listened to me explaining how I had been listening to myself and acting based on what I sensed my inner wisdom telling me. Kristin longingly expressed how she wished she had such a thing, that she never seemed to know what to do.

Although my first exposure to the idea of taking personal responsibility was dear Viktor Frankl in "Man's Search for Meaning, it was Tony Robbins who showed me the power of taking personal responsibility. Have you ever noticed how often in movies and television, a character will say, "I had no choice."? Au contraire, tiny one, I always want to say. You did have a choice. Our most amazing choice available is that one which comes with every single experience. We get to choose how we are going to respond to it.

Last week in the court, the first defendant was a 19-yr-old developmentally delayed man. He was in jail on domestic violence charges against his aunt, who had been housing him. The only person he had as a possible replacement caregiver was a distant great-uncle. He has no other family, no friends. My heart broke for him. That may not be compassion, as much as it is sympathy, but I think it's in the right direction -- seeing him as a worthy and valued human who is capable and lovable, as well as someone who, like all of us, thrives when in an environment where we can express our capabilities and experience love.

Imagine a world, or a community, or a family, or even many individuals who take personal responsibility for their lives, who take the risk to trust their inner authority, believing that authentic vulnerability is actually a strength that benefits all of us, and who give and receive love and compassion and forgiveness. I can begin to imagine it, because I am seeing it in my own life. I want to be part of sharing and igniting this vision in other people. Won't you join me?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How it's Going: FAT TUESDAY series, Part 6

not actual serving size
Suzy's Going Public Post

A Problem and a Potential Solution

Baby Steps on the Road to Healthy Living

I Think I Might Have Found my Why

I Have a Sponsor

I went back and re-read my FAT TUESDAY series. I was reminded of the thoughts and feelings that were present while I wrote and the ones that sometimes occur when I eat. Since the A to Z Blog Challenge takes Sundays off, I'm writing my next FAT TUESDAY installment today.

When we last looked in on our protagonist, she was planning to shop and eat the perimeter of the grocery store, keep a food journal, and limit eating hours to 7am-7pm daily.

Do you use any food or exercise apps? My Fitness Pal? Endomondo? I have. For me, though, they add a layer to my eating that is actually unhelpful, as I focus more on the number of calories, grams of carbs, etc., than the experience of eating the food and what I feel like after I do so. I think this is why the food journal baby step only lasted a few days. It may be back in the future, but isn't working right now.

The perimeter of the grocery store continues to be an extremely helpful focus. I find myself shopping this way more and more, and the food in the house is primarily healthful, although we still have a few snack and processed foods.

Finally, deciding to stop eating at 7pm every evening has been a very good baby step for me. Coupled with deciding that there are no banned foods, I'm finding the 7pm stopping point to work very well.

Understanding baby steps also seems to be of value in my journey. Typically, I have imagined a baby step to be something that is small, but also short-lived before the next one is implemented. When I think about the way a baby walks, she takes a step, or maybe two, and then lands on her butt before she gets up again to take another step. No baby I know walks like an Olympic speed-walker.

I have actually found myself sometimes saying no thank you to the delicious ice cream in the freezer asking to be eaten. It's my very favorite kind, locally made, expensive, and very high quality. There seems to be something powerful to having the ice cream available and to know I can eat it anytime I want (between 7am and 7pm). No big fights about it within. Therefore, no compulsion to eat it now as if I can never get anymore again.

Today, as we discussed dinner, I first suggested pizza, probably out of habit, and the memory of how that first bite of cheesy, saucy, dough tastes. After a few minutes, I realized I didn't really want pizza. I wanted one of my super duper smoothies. (kale, spinach, kefir, blueberries, wheatgrass, etc) I was pleasantly surprised at this turn of events.

Having a sponsor is more helpful than I would ever have imagined.

So, my eating isn't perfect. Never has been. Never will be. I really do not believe there is any such thing as perfection, so that's not even the goal. I'm looking to be nourished, to be in touch with what I eat, to make choices that actually serve my health, and oh yeah, to enjoy it all.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Discipline of Determination

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image by Daniel Eskridge
Of all the experiences in my life, my time at Wheaton College as an undergrad is high on the list of the most formative. My time at Wheaton began with an 18-day wilderness trip called Vanguard, truly unique in its impact on me at every level. At that time, Coach Harvey Chrouser's influence on the Vanguard program was still strongly evident. There was great emphasis placed on perseverance, going beyond what felt comfortable, and strong character. 

I had the great privilege a few years later to be Coach Chrouser's typist and editor for his book about Honey Rock. I never knew President V. Raymond Edman, but I felt like I got an insider view as I read, re-read, edited, and formatted Chrouser's book. 

As I considered my topic for today, Down syndrome seemed the logical choice. But, I've written a lot about Down syndrome, and will no doubt write more. It just isn't today's topic. I feel a strong desire to write about Difficulties today. 

I realized that in my collection of aphorisms to live by, several of them deal with how to live in the light of difficulties. 

Longfellow's poem, The Rainy Day
Matthew 6:34 about focusing on this day right here
A poem my dad used to quote: Don't You Quit
M. Scott Peck's opening words in The Road Less Traveled: 
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
President ("Prexy") Edman wrote a total of 19 books. I found a selection from "The Disciplines of Life" this morning that said it well:
Young persons sometimes ask Mr. [Henry] Ford, 'How can I make my life a success?''—as if anyone could answer that question half as well as the one who asks it. But occasionally Mr. Ford does give a valuable tip, even if at the moment the young person receiving it fails to appreciate it. One such tip would be—'If you start a thing, finish it.' It sounds rather familiar, a piece of old-fashioned advice—but it is part of an engineer's design for living—finish it!
   '' 'Yes,' one says, 'but the thing may not be worth finishing.' Of course, when he says 'finish it,' Mr. Ford isn't thinking about the thing at all, he is thinking about you—you, Miss Maiden, and you, Sir Youth. In the preparatory time of life the real job is not what you are working on, but what it is doing to you. You start it with a great gush of interest—you miss your meals for it—then suddenly it goes stale—and you quit. Or you find that your plan is wrong—and you quit. And all that you have as profit from your effort is the knowledge of how to quit. 'Well,' you say, 'the thing wasn't worth it!' Quite probably, but you are, and that's the whole point. (emphasis added)
Difficulties abound in our lives. If it's not our own lack of planning, stupidity, or mistakes plaguing us, it's other people and their ideas about how things should be. Difficulties come like the weather, literally, sometimes. When it snows, Kepler is adamant about not walking on the snowy sidewalk, even if there is just a whisper of snow there. Events get rained out. Tornadoes destroy towns and lives.

Accepting that difficulties are part and parcel of the journey of life allows us to put our attention onto what to do in the face of them. Resisting difficulties doesn't change anything at all, least of all, us. As Mr. Ford said, "The real job is not what you are working on, but what it is doing to you." Our real job is not to eliminate all the difficulties (although when we can, it's obviously a good idea), but to recognize that each of us is worth pressing through the difficulty, allowing the process to shape and strengthen us.

And that, Miss Maiden and Sir Youth, is my message for us today. We are worth it. Difficulties will come. Let us press into them and know that we are being shaped into something stronger as we do.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Compassion and Children

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Bob and Ina were a middle-aged childless couple living in our small Kentucky town after being missionaries in a land across a sea. They were building a home where they would spend their retirement. On the day we were to go over to ooh and ahh about the place, before we left, Bob grumpily told me to make sure I kept the kids' grimy hands off their freshly painted walls.

Oh, I was indignant. AS IF. Anxious as I was back then about any signs of imperfection, I spent the entire walk-through tensely replacing curious childlike arms at sides lest they mar the precious walls.  

Still striding purposefully forth as a young mum, I'd take walks with a baby strapped in the Bjorn carrier on my front, a toddler in the Tough Traveler backpack on my back, and a slightly larger toddler in the umbrella stroller. With all my energy consumed by carrying the weight of their world on my body, we walked and I taught them everything I could think of, everything we saw. 

When my baby number four came along, I shifted from carrying the physical weight to carrying the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual weight. We had sent Valerie to kindergarten that fall because baby was due in late October and even I knew it might be a bit much to homeschool three (ages 5,4,and 3) with a baby on my hip. 

Once kindergarten had concluded, I had my vim and vigor back and embarked on the formal process of educating our kids. Thinking that my kids were uniquely unique in their uniqueness and pretty much the top kids ever born on this small blue dot of God's green earth, we spelled and sang and memorized and walked and drew and added and read our way through the years.

The bombshell of our later-in-life baby who brought Down syndrome into our world threw me for the looped-de-est loop that ever sideswiped a mama bear. And I reeled for years, trying to continue to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Finally, finally, I learned to embrace the whole kit and kaboodle, the mess and inefficiency and snail-like pace of these bright, quick, beautiful, sentient beings. 

Last night, as I set out to floss my teeth (take note, dentist person!), my special floss threaders for my lingual bar retainer were not where I had left them. Immediately, I suspected knew that Kepler was responsible for this reorganization, but he was asleep so no asky keppie tilly morning. 

Years ago, I would have raged, furious that I couldn't leave a small item out on the counter and know it would be there next time I needed it. By now, though, I simply put my Kepler thinking cap on, and remembered that he likes to put miscellaneous items down the laundry chute. 

I checked. No flosser threaders, but I found two barrettes that had been next to the f.t.'s and grew suspicious. Little Keppie has occasionally flushed a thing or two before. 

Throughout, I was calm, open to what lesson I might be having the chance to learn, and accepting the change in plans that is part and parcel of children in our lives. The compassion section of my heart has had room to grow as the controlling section has faded.

Although not everyone gets to or wants to say yes to the chaos of children, ours have been part of my journey to acceptance, which, by the way, I'm still on. 

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Being All Wrong, Mostly Mistaken, and Somewhat Short-sighted

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i am from a place 
where i
had answers 
for all beings
i thought 
had to know
to know all
to be all seeing

a fearful place
my knowing brain
craving order
some way 
to explain
from the pain

it served me well
to  thirty two

but i still thought 
i thought i knew
i thought i knew
just what to do

along the way
my knowing fell
certainty dropped
i could not spell

the answers were gone
the questions were rife
and i got down 
to the basics 
of life

the light bulb came
it's just as well
to know i'm ringing
the for sure wrong bell

and now i love
the being wrong
the big mistakes
the off-key song

i love the oops
and losing the path
and i understand
it's ok to laugh

i forget, i fall, 
i break, i smell
i misspeak, misstep,
mishap, misspell

i smile yes
to my imperfeck
and gladly check
and check my check
and even overlook the speck

perfection boo
imperfection swell
being wrong's ok
mistakes aren't hell

i forget, i fall,
i break, i smell
i misspeak, misstep,
mishap, misspell

and now i love
the being wrong
the big mistakes
the off-key song

i love the oops
and losing the path
and i understand
it's ok to laugh

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Acceptance (A is for)

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You are cordially invited to join me this month as I explore the idea of Acceptance and its powerful effects on our lives.

What is Acceptance?

I'd heard of Lamaze childbirth classes, but I wanted "Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth." I first learned about acceptance in our classes. We focused on learning to breathe into the pain, to accept it and ride through the wave of the contraction.

This method was in stark contrast to Lamaze, which taught you to focus on something else and get through the pain. One says yes to the pain of the contraction and relaxes through it. The other just hangs on, trying to get through it as soon as possible.

Although "accept" encompasses coming to believe that an opinion or explanation is valid or correct, for me it deals directly with validity, and not correctness. Acceptance is all about embracing the unwanted, allowing it to be just as it is, without my judgment, my approval or my consent.

I think acceptance is, at least in part, a developmental stage we reach at different times in life.

So What?

Do you have any challenges in your life? I think most of us do. And you may have noticed how little control we actually have over the how and when and what. However, we do have at least some control over how we respond to the challenges. Acceptance is a key part of successfully navigating the challenges, and seeing them as opportunities.

Now What?

Acceptance takes intention and persistence and courage and all the good stuff inside me. Acceptance comes through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. It's a journey, not a destination. It's an ongoing decision for us humans.

To paraphrase an old song; What the World Needs Now is Acceptance, Sweet Acceptance.

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The theme of my blogs for the Blogging A to Z challenge this month is Acceptance, following the  reflection practice of asking these three questions: What?  So What? Now What? At least, unless I change my mind, which I did about tomorrow's post.