2020

A new year, a fresh start. Hope flecks shaved from the nothingness of a passing day. Midnight December 31st ushers in a newly defined period of opportunity to leave behind that which no longer serves us, making way for that which will. The gym will be overflowing, until February : ) Liquor stores will experience a temporary drop in sales. Sugar in all forms will temporarily be in surplus. Hope for most of us will do its thing, which, of course, is to spring eternal.

Those who love where they are in life will stay the course. Those who acknowledge the need for change may give it the old college try. Those who don’t believe in any of this nonsense will ignore the passing into the new year altogether.

Creatures of habit we are. I find the practice of framing a new year as a fresh opportunity to be most helpful. At the end of 2018, I reviewed my New Year’s resolutions to find that I had achieved only twenty percent of them. 

See Resolve https://randomthoughtsofaparttimelostsoul.com/2018/12/30/resolve/  

Processing that outcome lit a fire. Tonight, in reviewing my 2019 Resolutions I discovered that sixty percent of my goals had come to fruition, in spite of the fact that the year offered its share of unexpected challenges.

Fire, fuel, impetus, whatever; documenting the desired trajectory of one’s future seems a valuable tool. May your fire burn bright, your fuel be plentiful, and your resolve be firm as we roll together into 2020.

Sweet Dreams

I had two fitful sleep sessions last night; both punctuated by intense dream crescendos. Upon the first waking, I had been bitten by two rattlesnakes, during the second I was deep in the helping of a small band of pre-apocalyptic refugees gathering fabric and blankets in preparation for a Bird Box-ian scenario that appeared to be descending upon us.  

Clearly, I’m subconsciously relaxed.  Furthermore, it’s obvious that nothing disconcerting is lurking just beneath the surface of my perceived personal event horizon.  

 

 

Samsara

Each day I wake and tell myself, “it’s not about winning or receiving approval; it’s about gratitude, acceptance, and love.”

Then each night, I fall asleep, wondering, “Was I good enough today?”

Lifetime to lifetime, moment to moment, ever-grinding on; the turning wheel of Samsara.

Winter Hearth

The dancing flames mesmerize while the sound of crackling tinder soothes. The glow of heat warms body and soul.  The fireside offers a place for quiet reflection or fellowship with family and friends.

Winter Hearth. Holiday music from me to you. May it bring light to your spirit and warmth to your heart this season!

Gift download here: Winter Hearth
Comfort and Joy to you and yours!

The Struggle Is Real

We all struggle at one time or another. Human beings, wealthy and impoverished alike, meet adversity on their own terms, on an ongoing basis. The first noble truth of Buddhism states that; “Life is suffering, pain, and misery.” There you have it! Ironically, upon closer inspection, the weight of the difficulty life presents often seems most evident in those who most concertedly deny its presence. Of course, we all have good days. Many of us have them in spades, but none can deny that without darkness light would have no meaning. The veil of night eventually falls on even the sunniest day.

Few things shut down a room faster than open discourse on the topic of personal struggle, pain, or misery. Its as though admission of the obvious is the ultimate taboo. “How are you?” “Oh, great! All good,” Win the day in casual banter because let’s face it, few are ready for the authenticity of reality-based ‘banter.’ The very question, “How are you?” is not an invitation; it’s a social contract. “Please don’t toxify my day with an unpleasant response,” is the unspoken subtext woven into the question itself.

My life is a party compared to those I see on the news (Disclaimer: I don’t actually watch the news), but that doesn’t mean I’m not forced to dance with demons at their behest. Not my idea of a good time, but some dances are, as it turns out, unavoidable. I don’t talk about that much when people ask how I’m doing. I share the bits they want to hear for the most part, because I understand the social contract. That said, I wonder why we, as a people, find it so disquieting to lend and shoulder to those facing times of discomfort.

Perhaps in bearing the weight of our own realities, there is little strength left to heft the burdens of others, but that’s not the point is it? Listening and empathizing does not have to become an infectious ordeal. Hearing someone, where they are, good place or bad is a gift that can be given without loss. 

Being ‘heard’ is a rarity that can change the mind of a person in need. Why are we here? A personal question with infinite, experienced-based answers to be sure. I feel we are here to make the world a better place, to address the first noble truth of Buddhism, to be the sounding board for growth, change, and healing. Next time we have the opportunity to ask how someone is doing, perhaps we could do so knowing full well from personal experience, that the struggle is real.

Pennies From Heaven

The soon to be obsolete penny from a questionable Heaven, ha! Of course, Heaven certainly will survive as a concept, though it’s exact location and purpose are for each of us to determine using our own perspectives. Pennies, once worth less than the copper with which they were minted, are likely on their way to relic status. All the same, every time it rains, if it indeed rains pennies from Heaven, that’s pretty cool, so long as we carry a stainless steel umbrella and a bank bag in which to scoop them.

It rained here for most of the last two weeks. In my world, it rained pennies from Heaven. I can’t remember two weeks so rich with opportunity and experience. Gratitude is an understatement for the gift of getting to do my work, love my family, and not have a stroke (at least not one that I have been able to detect). After a long drought, rain in any form was most welcome. The fact that it brought new challenges, opportunities, and victory snatched from the jaws of its evil twin leaves me breathlessly grateful.

Not all days are sunshine and roses. When those two do appear, if wise to their rarity, we bask and inhale deeply in appreciation. When it rains, may we be on the lookout for those pennies, but mind they don’t hit you in the head. Bag them up and make a deposit. Looking on the bright side of dark times may well make for profit in the metaphorical form of pennies from heaven.

The New Normal

The new normal, is it on a higher plane than the old normal, a downturn for the worse, or back to square one where the usual simply dons a disguise? The new normal may be a safe place to rest after a period of shit-storm scale chaos. It may be a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ as in the more things change, the more they stay the same. It may be uplifting, disappointing, or overwhelmingly…normal.

In reality, the new normal is nothing more than what is set in motion the night before as we fell asleep. Perhaps it is the same old same old that we’ve chosen to embrace in lieu of reaching for the new spectacular. Or perhaps everything is normal once we’ve been exposed to it for a while, meaning that everything is always destined to eventually be the new normal.

The word “Normal” is loved by some, despised by others. Some associate normal with the safety and security of the familiar. Others associate the word with misery along the lines of drowning in a boiling vat of boredom fueled by insipid flames of mediocrity. Both relatively ‘normal’ perspectives, I suppose. See what I did there : )

Getting a driver’s license creates a new normal. Graduation creates a new normal as does marriage, having children, and watching them move away to start their own lives. These new normal states arrive on cresting waves. They crash on the beach and take up residence in the stillness of drying sand as the high tide of life recedes. They simply are.

Whether we love or abhor the feeling of normalcy, it is somehow both disquieting and comforting to know that we are responsible for it. We create it. We have the power to embrace it. We have the ability to banish it. We can choose to take a different route home from work, get lost, start over. We can choose to accept that which we find or shake the Etch A Sketch of life. Still, no matter how far and wide, we roam the new normal awaits. Best perhaps then when taking aim on the future to sight in a ‘normal’ that somehow retains a bit of twinkle in its unblinking eye.

The Yogi

Perspective makes the view. We all see something different when we look at the moon, though we all call it the by the same name. During my junior year of high school, I was failing algebra II. I could understand three out of every five words that rolled off the thickly Greek accented tongue of Mr. Papastathis. I dropped the class in which other students were doing just fine. It was like he was speaking Greek to me, ha. I tried A2 again the next semester with a different instructor and scored an A-. I’m sure the Greek teacher was a fine mathematician. Still, his teachings blurred to the point of useless for me personally. Perspective.

Learning is a personal venture, and we all take our own pathways to knowledge and wisdom. My Algebra II experience taught me more than math. It taught me that is was okay to search until I found the right teacher for a given subject. Those who impart wisdom come in many forms: educators, family, mentors, friends, and sometimes a yogi.

It’s a true gift when a random someone changes our life for the better. Often when we least expect it, our short time here can be enhanced, brightened, and improved by hearing the right message. The practice of yoga takes multiple forms, and I’ve explored most of them with many different teachers. All have been gifted with the ability to do the poses and pass the test of instructor certification. However, it became clear over the last year that very few have the ability to make a profound, state altering difference in the lives of their students, at least this pupil.

Enter “the yogi,” or as I’ve nicknamed her, Lady Dalai Lama. Class starts with her rambling a bit about whatever is on her mind. She laughs at her own jokes. Most importantly, she never fails to bring up something that resonates with me. It could be an anecdote about suddenly realizing while walking through Target with her kids that she has allowed holiday madness to take her in a mental stranglehold. Other times it’s about meeting a vacuous someone who she’s diagnosed with a case of “There’s no there in there, you know what I mean?” Most importantly, she has distilled the practice of yoga down to its most simple and essential elements, stripped away the encyclopedia of postures, and made the practice genuinely effective. Her most repeated motto for the class is “Close your eyes, no point in comparing yourself to the person next to you, yoga is not a competition.”

The Lady Dalai Lama specializes in the art of relating the finer points of each simple posture. I’ve done some of the poses hundreds or thousands of times over the years. A few words from her sage lips and I find a completely new, deeper place in the same old pose. Tuck the tailbone to the left here; notice how this grounds both feet. Extend the ring fingers there; can you feel how that releases the shoulders. Voila, the same old pose creates an exponentially deeper result. Details, not actually the province of the devil, matter most. Her class has changed my physical being, my mental state, and my life. Seeing the depth of wisdom a gifted teacher can afford, I am unable to settle for less. As we go forth on our journey of lifetime learning, when choosing mentors or teachers, we would be wise to keep a weather eye out for the essence of the yogi.