puppy going along for the ride

New Day Resolution

I have often written about new year’s resolutions and how to craft them. This advice centered around making things happen – how to design the perfect plan for the new year and having the consistency and perseverance to make it happen. Total Type A stuff. Then I started to shift the new year resolution advice into doing the inner work to ensure we didn’t lose what we gained. For many of us, it is not accomplishing that is the issue, but the self-sabotage that happens just before or after we get what we want. If we don’t believe we deserve what we want or have old beliefs that good things can’t happen to us, no matter how hard we try, we never truly keep what we want.

On the verge of 2020, I wrote of the importance of truly knowing what you want. This dug deeper into our belief systems and desires. How many of our previous resolutions were based on societal pressure or outside beliefs? When looking at what we want, are we really looking at what would make us happy or are we going toward what others have told us will make us happy?

Then 2020 happened.

At the end of that infamous year, I didn’t write about resolutions because it felt like I no longer had control over my life. Did any of your 2020 resolutions come true? Did you make new friends? Did you travel more? Did you advance in your career? Did you lose 20 pounds? No, for most of us 2020 sent us into survival mode. My posts at the end of 2020 did not encourage resolutions, but instead encouraged making little changes toward a better world, knowing and embracing your unique gift and purpose in life, how to stay positive and raise the vibration for yourself and others, and how to just survive when the whole world seems to be in chaos.

As I enter 2022, again I am bypassing the new year’s resolutions post. I have no expectations, no annual goals. My plan instead is to set a goal for each day. How do I want to be? Today I might focus on gratitude. Tomorrow I might focus on open-mindedness or acceptance. The day after maybe I’ll be inspired to make creativity the goal of the day. Every morning I will wake up and ask how I can be of service to myself and other. Throughout the day, I will actively make choices for my own self-care and for the well-being of others. This is not a vision board concept of how I want my ultimate life to be; this is not about my destination. This is a snapshot of this day, this moment, and asking if I am being the best me I can be; this is about making the most of the journey.

My puppy enjoying being in the backseat.
Photo by Melissa Heisler

By being in the moment, by focusing on making this single day as perfect and joyous as possible, I become freed from the anger, resentment, and regrets of the past. I become freed from the worries of the future my brain likes to spiral into. I become freed from my own expectations of what I should be accomplishing. Instead, I will learn to 100% be in this specific moment. Perhaps today I will have a lot of energy and will write the next chapter of my book. Perhaps today I will feel the drain on a 50+ year old body and need to give myself more rest. Perhaps today I will open my mind to learn something new.  Perhaps today I will share an adventure with my puppy who is the queen of living in the moment.

I guess I do have a resolution for 2022. That resolution is to turn over my life to a higher power and to just go along for the ride. My goal is to fully surrender to something that better knows what is good for me and others, that other thing that is truly in control of my life and its outcome. And I am hopeful. Every time I take the lead, every time I try to force what I think I want the result to be, it ends in unhappiness for me and those around me, whether I gain what I want or not. I am excited to take a backseat in my own life and see where I am driven. My only responsibility is to do as directed to the best of my ability in each moment.

Wishing you and yours good health and emotional well-being in the new year.

rescued dog

Would you answer the call?

It is said that when a person makes plans, God laughs. Last week, my week was planned. I knew what I would be doing and when. Over the years, I have become more flexible with my schedule, but I still have a schedule. Tuesday morning shifted my schedule. Most mornings my adopted dog Güera and I meet up with a neighbor and her dogs to walk. Tuesday was no different, until the dogs stopped by a field. When we came to the field, we found a severely dehydrated and malnourished dog.

Day One

We could have left. We both had work. We both had plans. We both had busy days. None of that seemed important anymore. A meditation teacher from Myanmar once said, “When the sunshine of loving-kindness meets the tears of suffering the rainbow of compassion appears.” The rainbow of compassion took hold of us, and we could not help but assist this dog. A mutual friend was called and arrived with water. Cautiously approaching the dog, for we did not know if it was vitious or diseased, we gave it two liters of water which it greedily ate up. The dog could not stand. It stretched with its neck to get to the water. Food was also brought but untouched. Later that day I returned with water which again was met with approval. The dog was about two feet from where it had been, but again showed no signs of being able to stand up or move freely.

Day Two

I had plans the next day, which were rearranged again to bring food and water to the little girl. Day two she was up a bit on her front paws, and she greedily ate everything we brought to her. Two meals were consumed within minutes. We were glad that she was looking a bit better, but she was obviously dragging her hind legs. We didn’t know if she was in an accident. We didn’t dare touch her, because we had no idea if she would bite us to protect herself.

Day Three

Day three, after again adjusting my plans, I fed her in the morning then returned in the afternoon with a different friend. We were thrilled to see that she was now using three of her legs. Having planned to bring her to a veterinarian that day for examination, when the time came, we did not have the courage. If her one leg was injured, it was quite possible that she might defend herself if there was pain when we picked her up. The trip to the vet did not happen, but I did get close enough to her to pet her. She accepted it calmly. Her eyes and demeanor clearly showed that she was not a threat.

Day Four

Friday, day four, after again shifting my schedule to accommodate this injured dog’s needs, I was accompanied by a dog trainer and some lovely people who often rescue dogs. We were all surprised to see Boxie, who had been named day two because she looked part boxer, was up on all four legs. Compared to how she had looked only a few days before this seemed a miracle. The current helpers were skillfully able to transport the dog to a very accommodating and supportive veterinarian who checked Boxie out. She did not have any major diseases and was just suffering from malnutrition and the normal bugs one would expect to find on a dog that was left in the wild. That evening Boxie came home with me because she had nowhere else to go. She is now recuperating at a shelter, as my own adopted dog was not adjusting well to our houseguest.

Besides a plug below requesting your help to find a home for this sweet girl, I also wanted to share some of the lessons this experience gave me.

The Pause: In my old Type A ways, had I rushed to get Boxie to a veterinarian the first day they may have put her down because of her condition, I would not have found the right people to help me move her, and I would not have found the shelter who took her in. Although it took conscious effort to not rush into things, every time I allowed myself to pause, the next right step appeared.

The Ego: I felt so much guilt the night after I brought Boxie to the shelter. It was not because she was not being cared for, but because I should have done it. I should have rescued her and taken her in. I was a bad person. All the guilt and remorse I felt was my ego taking on a role. I knew in my heart, not keeping her was the right thing for Boxie, my dog Güera, and our family. When I took away my expectations and judgments, I found serenity in my actions.

Purpose: My life had become pretty routine lately, and I felt trapped and unsatisfied in that routine. When faced with an opportunity to do something new and to help someone else, it gave my life purpose. When I could put aside my schedule, the flexibility gave me the ability to connect with others, help save a life, and bring together a community of support. #TeamBoxie

As you go about your week, keep your eye out for opportunities to help others, act as guided when you receive intuition, remove egoistic expectations and judgments, and rediscover your deeper purpose for living.

If you are interested in helping Boxie find her forever home, please contact me or Rescate Perruno. Rescue dogs are routinely sent from Los Cabos, Mexico to the USA and Canada. We’d love to show you how easy it would be to have this darling become part of your family.

rage

Rage and Addiction

Recently, I explored the relationship insights I found through a talk called Why you will marry the wrong person. The talk brought up two other concepts, seemingly distant from romantic relationships, but very top of mind for me right now – rage and addiction.

Rage

Have you seen people losing their shit lately?  Have you been losing it too? As positive as I try to be, I have to admit that I have been a bit judgmental, angry, and dare I say, rageful lately. I like to think that it is not normal for me. I like to think of myself as a mench, a helper fully accepting of others. Truth is, I am at my core pretty judgmental which can morph into anger and rage. In his talk, Alain de Botton explains how rage is linked to optimism.

It is easy to own my being an optimist. I have always seen the world as it could be. I see individuals as the best people they can become. I know at my heart things could be better; we could have heaven on earth. And I have a lot of rage. Alain de Botton explains that optimism drives rage. When we have expectations, hope, and desire for how things ideally can be, we can become angry that things are not positively different now. We can be rageful because things are not how we would hope them to be. Can you relate?

What can we do with the rage we feel? Alain recommends turning rage into grief. Which I took to meaning turning anger to acceptance. Accepting things as they are, not as we hope they will be. Accepting the truth that we as a society are not ready to become our ideal. Accepting that we may have some more bumping times before things improve.

Acceptance does not mean we give up hope or stop moving toward change. Acceptance does mean that we release our expectations that things will be different. Grieving through acceptance, releasing the optimistic expectations that things should be different right now is a positive step toward progress. Instead of fighting the reality of today and becoming angered by it, grieving that we are where we are and truly accepting it, is the pathway to real change and progress.

This transition from rage to acceptance can be seen in the serenity prayer. Accepting – and maybe grieving for – the things we can not change. Seeing things realistically and changing the things we can. And the all-important wisdom to know the difference. If you feel rage, it is probably something that needs to be accepted and grieved. Acting with rage on the things we can not change, even if it is for the benefit of most, only brings more rage and contention. Releasing unrealistic rose-colored glass optimism regarding the things we do not have the influence to change, paves the way to peace.

Addiction

On a wholly other topic, Alain discussed how he did not like defining addictions by the substance people are addicted to. To him, the “what” is not as important as the “why.” The “what” may be drugs, alcohol, sex, Candy Crush, shopping, or a myriad of other benign or harmful obsessions. Although some of these we are physiologically addicted to, we turn to them all because of the “why.” The “why” of addiction is that we can not be alone in our thoughts and therefore we find patterns of behavior that keep us from this self-knowledge.

It is hard to be completely open and vulnerable with ourselves. It takes a strong person to boldly look at our beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and biases. It takes some guts to look at our own good, bad, and ugly. Most of us will not do it, which is why we turn to something outside of ourselves to release the disquiet we feel. When we have the courage to do a self-inventory and learn to have new thoughts and behaviors, our need to look for peace through addictive external means diminishes.

I hope that you found some nugget of support through reading about rage, optimism, addiction, and self-knowledge. Share your discoveries with us here.

Romeo and Juliet

Real Love

I try to stay away from sensationalized headlines, but recently I clicked on a talk called “Why you will marry the wrong person.” Thankfully the talk turned out to be more substance that I expected. It was in fact a very poignant look at relationships.

Feelings

By chance, a recent Netflix binge was a show called, “Virgin River.” This Hallmark-inspired soap opera focused almost wholly on feelings. In fact, the characters talk about hardly anything expect their emotions and how they feel. Every decision they make, all of their focus is on their emotions, and their desire for others to understand, fix, or change how they feel. Throughout the show the characters move from love to hate to jealously and are steered blindly by their feelings. It became funny because the characters’ answer to every problem was “I love you.” Yet never did they really supply a reason why they love the other person. It was like saying “I love you” explained every fault and fixed every issue.

In contrast, Alain de Botton recommends in his YouTube speech that we do not follow are feelings. He says that our feelings and instincts can not be trusted because they are based in what is familiar. What is familiar is how our first love, our parents, made us feel. Did our parents get divorced when we were young? Then being around people who will probably leave is familiar and comfortable. Trusting our feelings gets us in trouble, because it draws us to repeat the same issues again and again.  

Romeo and Juliet
Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Love

The Virgin River cast is all about the act of being loved. They focus on the receiving of flowers, attention, and special gifts. They expect their admirers to intuit and respond to their innermost wants and needs, without having to express those needs at all. It is the old belief that if you really loved me, you would know and do exactly what I need.

To love someone is very different than receiving love. To love someone, we accept them warts and all. Everyone is a mix of good and bad. To truly love someone, it is not only an admiration of their good qualities, but compassionate acceptance of their whole self.

Vulnerability

To rule our feelings and truly receive and give real love, we need to be vulnerable. Consciously or unconsciously many of us play games in our relationships, mostly because we are terrified to be truly vulnerable. Instead, we play games to try to get what we need. Instead of saying I need you, we micromanage others trying to make them act how we wish. Out of fear of rejection, we may become distant so we can not be hurt; therefore creating the rift in the relationship out of fear that there may be a rift in the relationship. Instead of saying what we need, we try to manipulate others to give us what we need. This usually backfires.

To be in an authentic relationship, we need to share our truth openly and honestly holding space for our partner to do the same. This may mean accepting things about others we may not fully like. It may mean accepting feedback from our partner as constructive criticism and not attack.

Who are you in relationships? Are you the Virgin River character or Disney princess who believes the fact of love will make everything right? Or are you a vulnerable realist who sees people for who they are and uses compassion and boundaries to create honest, loving relationships?

Midlife Rebirth

I stumbled upon another brilliant talk from Brené Brown. Not sure what the full interview was about, but what was shared here is about the growth that comes midlife when we realize that most everything we have been working toward doesn’t make us happy. Whether you are in a midlife crisis, or in your 20’s and choosing your path, she has some sage advice. Here are some things that resonated with me.

Know Your Theme

Like any good fictional character, I believe we all have a theme, a challenge that we work through in this lifetime. Our key challenge usually centers around similar issues which we are here to learn and grow from. What is your whole life defined by? My lifepath is an exploration of self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-love, and self-empowerment. Whether in my personal relationships, my career, or even my health, every obstacle in my path usually relates to one of these themes. Knowing that we have a theme can help us get out of the weeds, see things from a broader perspective, approach worldly challenges differently, and see our life in an expansive way.

Let Go to Grow

We learn a lot of tactics in our youth to survive when we have little choice in matters. That is all well and good. What becomes a problem is taking these survival tactics, our armor, into our adulthood. Oftentimes what protects us in youth, no longer serves us in adulthood. When we see this intellectually, it may still be difficult to release these old tools and tactics, but when we can, we open the door to growth and becoming who we are truly meant to be.

Define Your Joy

As I started my midlife rebirth decades ago, this was the first lesson I embraced. When we can stop looking at our peers, our families, and our communities for what is prescribed as the best life, we can begin to explore what really makes us happy. Taking the time to discover, define, and accept what makes you you can help you make better choices as to where you spend your time and energy.

Enjoy the Ordinary

In our youth, we look for accomplishment and acclaim for our worth. As life provides us with trials and challenges, we begin to be grateful for the ordinary moments. It is hard to imagine someone going through the past year and not now being grateful to move about freely or to hug their loved ones. Unfortunately, it often takes tragedy and hardship to help us realize what really matters.

Share Your Gifts

Once you stop playing society’s game and embrace yourself and your purpose, have the courage to share it with the world. There is only one you. You may have something the world is to receive. Maybe it is just something for your community or family, but there is a light, a gift you are here to share. Stop holding yourself back. Embrace you. Embrace your purpose. Gift it to the world.

What is your experience of midlife rebirth? Share with us.

curb your ego

I get in the way of my happiness

How I get in the way of my happiness may not be what you think. You may be thinking I refuse to accept things that would make me happy or don’t allow myself to ask for what I need. Both of which I have done in the past, and still do more than I would like to admit. No, the other way I keep myself from joy is focusing on my ego, my needs, my perspective, without allowing myself to see and be in the bigger picture. When I focus on my ego – my little insignificant self, my perspectives, my assumptions, my expectations, my intellect, my public image, ad nauseum – instead of being more secure and happy, I am less.

Years ago, I wrote a post about how taking on a different persona when playing Wii made it easier to take risks and not to take failures so personally. Since then, I have been receiving lesson after lesson about how surrendering myself, my ego, brings more happiness. My new favorite book, The Art of Living, explores this topic. Here are my thoughts on finding joy by releasing one’s ego through living in the moment with humility and equality.

curb your ego
Photo by Orkun Azap on Unsplash

Live in the Moment

We humans tend to live in the present through the filter of our past. Using our past experiences and perceptions, we create a story about what is happening currently. We are not in the present moment. We are in our minds playing out a story about the present moment. The story we create is not the truth about this specific situation. Just because a red car cut us off in the past, does not mean every red car is going to cut us off.

We feel more secure when things are known and predictable. We don’t do well in the unknown and therefore we create certainty by assuming that things will be like they were before. It is a story we create in our minds to understand and make things concrete. We would rather believe a lie than to sit in uncertain unknowing. We want to believe this manufactured truth, because we think we will find peace in the certainty. We don’t.

When we try to define a situation or predict the future based on the past, we miss the reality of this very moment. The past can inform and instruct us, but when we assume that things will be exactly like they were before, we are creating expectations which usually fall short. Instead, if we can be in each moment, experiencing everything fresh and new, we can see the reality of the situation without bias from our previous experience.

Live with Humility

Humility is usually thought of as making one’s self lower than, less than. Humility is actually defined as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” It is arrogant to believe that our firm, ridged views are 100% correct and infallible. We think that being certain in what we know will give as safety and security. I have found the opposite to be true. When I can release my strong beliefs and approach the world with wonder and openness, I feel calm and at peace. Certainty is a rigidity which takes away our power and strength.

If I swear that the sky is green, if my parents believed the sky is green, if their parents believed, I would fight and dispel anyone with contrary beliefs. I need everyone and every fact to align with my thinking to feel safe. Instead, if I thought the sky was green, but had an open mind I could then analyze any new opinions and thoughts, discerning if they were valid. My self-worth would not be victimized and traumatized by new information. I would not need agreement from others to feel ok.

Many philosophies talk about the “I don’t know” mind. Even if you are well-versed in a subject, instead of assuming you know what is right or what is going to be said/done, be open to the reality of the moment. You may have predicted it correctly. You may not have. But holding on to arrogance that you know exactly how things will be, or how they should be, causes stress. Give yourself a reality check. How much of what you knew five years ago is still the hard-core truth of today? Things change and shift. Nothing is set in stone. Be open to receive and discern new information.

Live with Equality

The ego also takes us out of happiness by telling us we are better than, or less than, others. My husband and I listened to a great podcast the other night that showed how a sense of entitlement seems to be invading our society. Humble your ego. Level the playing field. You are not above – or below – anyone else. Stop judging others by self-created differences. Stop putting others down to raise yourself up. Everyone is equal. Nothing raises us above another – not age, race, gender, education, finances, celebrity. We are all one.

To release your ego and find true peace, live in the moment without the taint of previous experience, act with humility and an “I don’t know” mind, and accept everyone, including yourself as equal.