#292 Looking for lilacs?

For the past several weeks, a phrase from a song has been playing over and over in my head. I was fixin’ to get irritated by it, when I thought to wonder why it was sticking around. I listened to it as though it had a message for me, and it did! Turns out it’s all about appreciation and gratitude. Now when it comes around, which it does quite frequently, I smile and am glad for the reminder.

It’s a phrase from a Joan Baez song. Just this and nothing more, except, of course, the tune: “Why go looking for lilacs, when you’re lying in a bed of roses?” 🌹

#291 Thanks, toaster

I received several encouraging replies to my most recent Tenacity Notes. They helped me be not quite so unbalanced. And being not so unbalanced, I was able to receive the blessing that came in an email from a friend and Tenacity Notes reader. She said:

The other day I noticed that I say thank you to “inanimate” objects.  After the toast pops up, I say thank you, toaster!  And after I take the clothes out of the dryer, I say thanks, clothes dryer!  After I write in my journal, I say thanks pen, thanks paper, thank you light, thank you chair! And much more….
But I never planned it, or even intended it.  And I just noticed that I’ve been doing it every day, and after I noticed it, I realized that it’s really good for me, for my state of mind.  Every night (almost every night) I write gratitudes in my journal, but that’s more formal and is a way to review my day.  But thanking things as I go, well — I was interested and glad to notice myself doing that.

Maybe it’s what some spiritual people mean when they say: “pray constantly.”

Also, I do have a feeling that the things I say “thank you” to receive my thanks.  That’s why I put the word inanimate in quotes.

Yes! I encourage you to try it.

For one thing, it’s impossible to say “thank you” to the toaster and not smile. And smiling invites gladness. Believe me, thanking everything all day long, and feeling glad and smiling all day long, does a lot to restore ones balance.

Which isn’t to say that Trump and the frightening wing of the GOP will magically disappear or that world peace will ensue. But a balanced person who is grounded in gratitude and gladness is more likely to be intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally available for whatever struggles are to come than a person who is unbalanced. At least that holds true for THIS person!

Thank you, computer.

#290 Briars and Brambles

I lost my footing, and I blame the election — the shock and the dread knocked me off balance, and I found myself falling back into some very negative and very old patterns. Being judgmental; noticing everything that’s wrong with a situation and nothing that’s right; complaining — things like that. Then someone pointed it out to me, and I was appalled with myself, but grateful to have been shaken awake.

Then I got a message from someone who said, “I heard a talk about Buddhism, and they focused on ‘right thoughts, right speech, and right actions.’ I’m tying to follow it.”

Then I got a second message from someone else: “I recall a saying from my childhood that I remind myself with once in a while — if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Sometimes people tell me that Tenacity Notes comes to them at exactly the right time, giving exactly the message that they need then. Well, thank you to those who sent me the right messages at exactly the right time. Exactly what I needed!

Now that I am aware that I lost my footing and strayed into the briars and brambles of negativity, I can get back on the path I want to be on, the path of love and gratitude.

I am very grateful to those who caught me straying, and to those who showed me the way back.

#289 Blame

“If you are holding anyone else accountable for your peace and happiness, you’re wasting your time.” Oprah Winfrey

Never blame. “My life would be so much better if my spouse would only get their shit together.”

Never blame. “If my childhood hadn’t been so horrible, I could be happy.”

Never blame. “If sexism wasn’t so rampant in my company, I’d be in a better position.”

Never blame, not even yourself. “I’m so stupid. How could I have made such a mistake?”

Think of it this way: blaming is the coward’s way to deal with life. Be fearless! Eschew blaming!

How might you respond instead of blame?

#288 Mary Oliver Poem

A reader sent this in response to my recent Tenacity Notes: “This Mary Oliver poem is a sacred text to me, and I try to say it sometime every morning/day.”

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety —

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us the warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light —
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

#287 Compassion and Kindness

I don’t know how to be compassionate. I don’t know how to be kind.

Well, I do know — kind of. But my compassion and kindness are selective. It’s the election. It’s brought a lot of ugliness out from under the rocks where it’s been hiding. My own included!

Last time I wrote, I was working on “my presence brings peace.” Now I realize that it’s not only my physical presence I need to concern myself with, but it’s also my verbal presence, and my mental presence. My thoughts. My words.

When I consciously switch from my knee-jerk reaction of disgust and actively seek compassion, I do find it. Eventually.

Our automatic responses always bring opportunities for self-awareness and growth. But our automatic responses are slippery and darn near invisible. They’re hard to catch. Here’s a clue, for me anyway — if my response to a person or situation isn’t grounded in kindness, then I need to step back and reconsider. Step back, take a breath, and reach for kindness.

Okey dokey, then. I’ve got my work cut out for me. I’ll let you know.

#286 My Presence

My campaign to TAKE IT UP A NOTCH has so far mostly failed. But I have learned some things about myself. Well, not learned exactly, because I have always known, and even appreciated, this about myself — I tend to be oppositional and confrontative. And, which I have known and haven’t appreciated about myself, judgmental. Then I received this reply from a reader, telling me the affirmation she uses to foster her awareness of her effort to take it up a notch, and it woke me up.

“My presence creates peace.”

Personally, my presence, tending as it can towards the oppositional and confrontative and judgmental, does not always create peace. So now I have my guideline, a specific way to take my practice of love and gratitude up a notch. My PRESENCE creates peace — just my very presence.

Oh yes, I see the challenge in this, especially concerning certain racist and sexist people in my life. Oh yes, mastering “my presence creates peace” will certainly help me TAKE IT UP A NOTCH.

“My presence creates peace” is not about being passive. It is an active presence, but it is not necessarily action. How will I do it? Wish success for me!