Monday, April 23, 2012


Just came back from the Eureka Springs, Springtime in the Ozarks conference.  The weather was lovely and the speakers were entertaining and very helpful.  I laughed and laughed at the speaker on Saturday night.  He said that meditation was not "extra credit" in working the program - it's in the steps so we're supposed to do it.  He said meditation had taught him that he was not his thoughts.  He said that people sometimes believed that their thoughts were enemies since acting on their thoughts often got them in trouble.  No, he said, it's not that our thoughts are enemies - they're trying to help us but they're just stupid is all.  Boy has that ever been true for me.

This was the first time I'd been to the conference since the wreck.  For several years I didn't want to go because I thought going would trigger grief.  Ron and I were married there in 1986 and went to the conference every year but one after that until his death.  We thought Eureka was our town - just made for us and we went there a whole lot in between conferences.  We shopped, ate and walked.  My whole house is decorated with stuff we got in Eureka Springs.  I got my beloved bubble machine there.  This year when I thought about going to the conference I didn't have the feeling that I would grieve there and I didn't.  It was like coming home to a place that has always been filled with joy for me. 

Thanks to my friend and roommate for making the drive and helping me get around and thanks to one of Ron's friends who gave me a ride on his motorcycle up the hill from the conference.  I know my truma surgeon would have a fit, but it also felt good to be back on a bike!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Precious Gift of Serenity

Two weeks before the end of February I had my two week detox from the prison of the to do list I've lived in all my life.  I didn't kick it out of my life forever; I just quit making one for two weeks.  That eliminated the anxiety of trying to figure out what to do first and thinking that I had to do everything on it all at once or I was a failure.  Of course, I didn't rationally believe any of that, but some part of me kept on trying to make me believe it.  It was a weird two weeks.  I was just trying to get in touch with my intuition so as to be able to use that as my guide rather than my ego.  I was more peaceful but certainly more discombobulated.

Then I immediately went into the inner ear mess where I was completely disfunctional for over a month.  Boy oh boy did things ever get piled up.  So now I'm digging out.  Had to get an extension on my taxes.  My bookkeeping was two months behind.  Plus I hadn't written a word in I don't know when.  I had started on a major cleanout of closets, cabinets and drawers and was right in the beginning stages of that.  Without the detox from the to do list I would have been in a quandry at this point.  But I'm not.  I just do two or three things a day and then rest.  If I feel like more I do more.  If I don't, I don't.

Several months ago I started re-reading The Artist's Way as a way of breaking out of the writing slump I was in.  One of the major things it recommends is something called "morning pages" which is three pages written every morning in long hand just as quickly as possible.  The idea is to empty out all the thoughts that are in the way of the right brain which is the creative side of the brain.  I started the writing back at the end of December and have been fairly diligent since.  I've missed some days but the majority of the time I write.  I have been amazed at the crap that spills out of my head.  The longer I do the writing, the more quickly I get to the right side of my brain that's the part that tells me what I really want to do with the precious moments of each day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Karly is singing to the theme of Two and a Half Men.  (Visiting dogs)
Kooper is playing with his toy.
Caryn did my spring pedicure!!!!
Judy did my spring haircut.
A birdfeeder the squirrels can't figure out.
A very weird tree.
The wildflower garden is growing!  Thank you, Aaron and Tammy (Tammy made a fence for it so the dogs wouldn't dig it up.).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Addiction to Being Right

It's election time again which means the media is going crazy looking for stuff to report on that makes somebody look stupid and wrong - either side will do.  I don't blame the media because it the way politics works these days which in turn in a reflection of how the whole culture functions.

I talk to enough people on a daily basis that are trying hard to correct their thinking so that they can have some peace of mind and peace with other people to notice how pervasively we all seem to work at "being right."  Most of the stuff they talk about is how somebody else is wrong and how pissed off they are about it.  I'm almost always completely amazed by how ridiculous their stories are.  They guess at what other people's motives are and get mad at what they guessed.  The behavior they report is usually neutral unless the motive for it is part of it.  Plus they are not actually impacted by the behavior at all.  They're just mad because the person is "wrong."  Totally goofy.  The whole thing deserved no attention whatever. 

I'm just guessing, but it seems likely to me that when we're feeling bad about ourselves, we look around for someone who's "wrong" and that makes us feel better - eventually leading to a deep seated addiction to taking offense at things that are completely unimportant because it makes us feel "right."

What I'm doing about my own tendency to do this is to use the 10th Step to root out anything I'm kicking myself for and doing what I can to correct it with the help of God.  Then I try to turn my attention to enjoyable and wonderful things.  Right now I am reading a poem every day and reading about poetry.  I used to write poetry all the time and I'm going to start writing in a few days.  This is a lot more entertaining than wondering if I should get mad at somebody for something.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


In order to have an enjoyable life, the author of FLOW believes (based on research), we need to discipline our minds to focus on the present and on the activities we've chosen.  The author says that left to itself, our mind will just wander around and eventually focus on thoughts that carry the biggest charge of energy - which in almost all cases is whatever randomly shows up that's negative.  Our minds have evolved to protect us from danger so naturally run to the negative.  Unfortunately since we are not living with saber toothed tigers, this negative thinking is mostly not helpful - in fact, it's very UNhelpful.

According to the author, most of our addictive type activities:  drugs, alcohol, work, tv watching, etc. are designed to stop our minds from running to the negative.  Of course, there are big downsides to these efforts.  A much better way is to systematically train ourselves to think about - for the lack of a better word - our goals.  The author isn't very happy with the word,  "goal" because it's associated with the extrinsic rather than intrinsic.  He means activities and goals we have chosen strictly for ourselves rather than the objectives the culture determines for us.  The structure of goals we chose for ourselves decides what our lives will be about and how much we will enjoy our lives.  The research shows that when people are focused on the activities that will move them toward the goals they have for their lives, they are happy.  In the beginning, of course, these goals will usually be focused on the material as we establish ourselves as adults in the world, then many people will focus on the larger framework of the community and finally, the happiest people will work toward developing their talents.

The author is really unhappy about the direction our culture has taken in downgrading "amateur" hobbies.  He says that it's a shame that one's "hobby" is not considered important unless one makes money from it (which entitles one to be called, professional).  It's his contention that it used to be more common than it is now, that people sang in "amateur" choirs and choruses, played musical instruments in local bands and orchestras, painted, sculpted, wrote poetry, studied history for their own interest, etc.  Now, he says, people look down on those who do so.  In his opinion, if you have talents, you should develop them.  If you have interests, you should study.  What matters is that by developing yourself as a human being, you will have optimal experiences, which even if those experiences give joy only to you, the world will still have one more joyful person in it.

Monday, April 09, 2012


After reading the books on shame, I started reading a book called, "FLOW:  The Psychology of Optimal Experience."  It seems to me that it's about how to be happy.  No airy, fairy philosophy stuff - evidence-based (research) on what makes people happy. 

One of the ways they researched was, they had all kinds of people carry pagers around, and the researchers paged them at random times.  Then the folks filled out forms on what they were doing and how they were feeling.  From that information they extrapolated what seemed to be consistently useful in making people happy.  It turned out that pleasure and leisure were not the answer to happiness.  What was the answer is a lot more complicated and harder to describe.

The psychology consistently showed that people start out in life working on getting their basic needs met - food, shelter, health, relationships, work, etc.  Lots and lots of people stay in the framework for their whole lives and lots of those folks are quite happy there.  Others are not satisfied in that framework and move on to a larger framework - that of religion or some other spiritual practice that guides their decisions and their lives or some other framework that connects them to a larger community such as community service, politics, etc.  Last but not least, there are some people who move on to a much larger framework - that of self-actualization - meaning that they develop their talents and capabilities.  The happiest of all the folks studied were those that were living in all three frameworks simultaneously.  There was almost no "leisure" or "pleasure" type activities in those folks lives because their joy came from their spiritual and creative activities. 

Interesting.  More on this later.  Haven't finished the book yet.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


I just finished reading a couple of books on shame - what it is, what causes it, and how it affects us.  It's a subject I used to give a good deal of thought but haven't in a long time.  But it occurs to me after reading these books that shame is a plague on our individual lives, our culture, our country and our world.  Secrets become our middle names.  We are terrified that someone will find out about all the ways we are not perfect and perfection is defined totally arbitrarily by our culture - what we weigh, what we wear, what we do all day, how we look, how our children behave, how much money we have, what we think about. 

Women are ashamed because their husbands cheat (how is that possible since she's not the one that's cheating.  I guess it's because if she were better, he wouldn't want someone else.  The thing is all those gorgeous, perfect movie star women are being cheated on all the time.)  People are ashamed because they are getting older.  We're ashamed because we don't know how to do some stuff.  We're ashamed that our houses and cars aren't fancy enough.  We're ashamed because our parents aren't the way we think they should be.  Our kids needs to be beautiful, smart and successful and never make mistakes or we are ashamed.  People are especially ashamed if they have someone in their family with addiction.  (People don't really believe addiction is a disease because addicts behave so badly.  Then people believe the disease idea is an excuse.)

We are especially ashamed if we make mistakes of any kind; big or small - which, of course, we do every single day.  So we are ashamed all the time.  The only way to make us feel better is for us to shame someone else.  Which we do a lot.  Good grief!  I don't believe in this crap any more.  Being ashamed is not helpful.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Flower shopping with Aaron
Flower shopping with Aaron
P.F. Chang's
Kristin at P.F. Chang's

Full moon.

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