Stuck Between Being and Doing

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Bring on the lemonade. Drag out the lawn chairs. Summer has officially begun. ūüôā

The classroom is cleaned, organized and packed up for the summer months. ¬†Reflection mode is in high gear which means time needs to be spent “just being” for awhile. Reading, writing and walking with Sandy (our lab) ¬†have consumed the majority of my past few days. It is glorious.

I am pretty good at doing “downtime”.

Expert Рreally.  I should give lessons.

Savoring this blissful peacefulness throughout my days, my children all grown and having flown out of the nest, I am learning to accept this pace of life as being “enough” right now. The quietness of an empty house is healing. ¬†My company; myself. ¬† It’s taken years to unlearn the multi-tasking, needing to keep busy, making stuff and going places kind of mentality. ¬†I must be honest, I’m not proud of that person. ¬†(But, dang, she got a lot done.)

Yet. . . (I used yet, instead of but, because there is always a but, but yet feels like but here.)

. . . when my husband comes home from his long day at work,  there is this unsettled feeling that I should be able to tell him all I had accomplished during these past 8, sometimes 10, even 12 hours (yes, he works too much). I mean, the windows need cleaning, my hostas are begging to have the taunting weeds pulled out and Sandy is now afraid of the dust bunnies (I need to buy a vacuum).  This is obvious stuff I should do.

Yes, the residue of this old narrative telling me “I should. . .”

All I can somedays tell my tired husband is that I got some writing done (in my notebook), some reading. . . and I took Sandy for a walk.

He is always happy for me that I got to go on a walk, especially on beautiful days.  So, we talk about Sandy and how she loves to run and play in the water filled ditches.  And, that she smells from this.

I am grateful my husband never complains about the things I don’t do. ¬†He is careful here, as he knows what door he is opening if he goes there. But, my own soul, and mostly my mind, need to feel some sense of accomplishment.

This place in the “Being-Knowing-Doing” gap is a destination I tend to reside in more than I’d like to admit, even though I’ve worked hard to get here. ¬†I’m not sure how long one should stay here. ¬†Because if I stay too long, I can’t seem to come out.

I remain stuck.

In the crux between being and doing.

Carrying an angst that I can not name.

Perhaps it does not have a name.

I need guidance.

I reach for a book that calls to me right now,¬†Do The Work, by Austin Krien. ¬†I can not seem to find it, my writing room in disarray. ¬†So, I grab the next one in line; ¬†Let’s All Be Brave,¬†by Annie F. Downs. ¬†It practically jumps into my hands.

There are underlined words ~

“Courage involves action – like you are going somewhere. ¬†Maps. ¬†Movement.”

“Your life, start to finish, is a map. . . I don’t know where you’ve been and I don’t know where your map will take you. ¬†I only know there will be moments when you feel like the map has turned or changed and moments when you realize you’ve read this map wrong all along. ¬†You will crumple it up and throw it down, only to return to it for direction, once your finish your cryfest. ¬†I get it. ¬†I know. ¬†But it’s your map. ¬†Not my map. ¬†Or my cousin’s map. ¬†Or your spouse’s map. ¬†It’s yours.”

Oh my.

I have to go back to my map. ¬†Where’s my map? ¬†Am I lost at sea?

Fear will set in again.  I know that.

I am not a risk taker – never have been. ¬†The only risky thing I ever do is ride my motorcycle – that’s it. ¬†The males in my family make up for what I lack in risk-taking. ¬†I should not say that. ¬†My daughters are more brave than I can ever be. ¬†They take risks.

But, I need to be braver, I think.

I should be writing. My writing dreams seem to be all stored up in notebooks and there is big fear here:

~of choosing the wrong one to dive into as a project.

~what if I tire of it?

~what if I don’t have time to finish?

~how will I ever stay focused?

~what if no one likes it. . . or even reads it?

~for sure, nothing will get done around here if I commit to writing.

Yes, this must be my problem, I tell myself. ¬†It’s fear.

I glance at my writing desk and see chaos.  Just like my mind.

And, my house right now.

The real answer hits me hard and I really try to ignore it because I really do want to write. But, I must take care of what really needs to be done first. ¬†I scan my shelves for a the third book of today’s writing session: ¬†The Life-Changing Magic of ¬†Tidying Up.

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It’s cleaning. ¬†Creating order. ¬†De-cluttering. ¬†Wash the windows. ¬†Pull the weeds.

Go buy the damn vacuum.

This work is not pleasant.

I text my mother and tell her I can’t stop eating.

“Go outside and pull weeds, there’s no food out there, ” she replied.

Ugh.  How did she know?

Maybe, just maybe, today – I’m supposed to accomplish something. ¬†Just something small though. ¬†I don’t want to set the bar too high. And, I’m afraid of falling off the “just being” wagon.

I’ll tidy up my writing room and go pull a few weeds.

Maybe, make some chocolate chip bars.

That should be enough “doing” for one summer day.

For now.

Until I find my map.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing To Quiet The Voice

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While readying myself to pen this post, I couldn’t get Bernice’s voice out of my head. ¬†Bernice is my critic, my fear, my alter-ego and she likes to taunt me whenever I try to share some writing with the world.

Today, I actually heard these words come out of her nagging mouth, “You can’t call yourself a writer. ¬†You have not blogged for months, your book proposals have been rejected, your e-book ideas sit in your notebooks and seriously, you are just plain too afraid of me showing up in your writing. ¬†Give it up, Girly.”

I hadn’t heard these words in a while. ¬†A long while. ¬†When I do put my writing out there for the world on a regular basis, Bernice quiets down. ¬†If I have a severe lapse, she shows up, louder and louder. ¬†Funny that. ¬†I’ve given her space to balk.

So, to show her she’s wrong, I came to one of my blogs today (my other is theliteratemind – just as neglected) to actually get back on track to feel more writerly today. I’ve been here so many times, I could write a book on that. ¬†I’d call it¬†Fear of the Keyboard. ¬†I also need to remind myself that I AM A WRITER because I do put my pen to paper every single day. ¬†Like breathing or brushing my teeth. My purpose for writing, however, on a daily basis is not to always share with the world, it’s to find my way in the world.

So, to inspire myself, I vowed to join along the writing journey of 800+ teachers in Kate Messenger’s Teachers Write Summer Camp. ¬†Today’s lesson was on character sketches by Melonie Crowder, author of several books,¬†Parched, Audacity¬†and¬†A Nearer Moon. I’m anxious to read these books after hearing Melonie’s voice in her writing lesson.

I enjoy creating character sketches. ¬†My favorite ones are of my husband and children because I know them so well and they are interesting to observe and write about when they don’t know you are writing about them. ¬†But, I’ve written a few character sketches sitting in airports and on airplanes that bring me back to that moment in a second when I reread them. ¬†I decided to rummage through the notebooks. Here is one I found from a trip to Ohio a few years past.

When I travel alone, the one thing I’ve started to become apprehensive about is the unknowingness of who has purchased the airplane seat next to me. Before boarding the plane, I scan the waiting room for loners wondering which human it might be. ¬†Once on the plane, I sit with my eyes attentive to the entry, eyeing passengers as they look for their seats. ¬†I wait. ¬†On this particular flight, I sat in my window seat for quite some time, beginning to think I was going to be lucky enough to have both seats to myself. ¬†Just imagining it was bliss.

And then he appeared.

A large man, late 30ish, maybe 40’s, wearing a tattered and tight Harley jacket, carrying an Arby’s bag, began his stagger up the aisle. ¬†“Please. ¬†No,” I heard my insides quiver. ¬†I scolded myself, “Shari, that’s terrible. ¬†Be nice. ¬†He might be a very kind man who could be here to teach you something.” ¬†Ok. ¬†Breathe. Look out the window.

The closer he got to my row, the more anxiety I had.  Sure enough, after looking at the seat row signs, he scrunched himself into the seat right next to me. I hugged the window a little tighter.

“Hi,” I greeted him.

“Hey,” he replied.

After settling in, he fumbled with his Arby’s bag and jumbo pop trying to adjust his seat bucket to accommodate him. ¬†Waves of smells came along with him – tractor grease, a faint smell of farts, (can’t think of a better word here – sorry). I began to wonder if maybe gas of this sort just leaks out of some people all day when you eat the kind of stuff that’s in that Arby’s bag.

Then, he opened the bag.  Good Gloria Lord in Heaven.

This was not your average hamburger and fries kind of stench.  I was gyro-like with strange sauces.  That combined with the tractor grease and farts was enough to make my eyes water.  I turned my head to window wishing I could open it for a whiff of fresh air or of hopes of a lady behind me with strong flowery perfume I could inhale.  Sadly, behind me was another fairly large man with a bad breath issue.  Yes, I could smell it.

I wished for a sedative.

Shut your eyes.  Breathe, Shar, meditate.  Imagine yourself laying in a field of wild flowers or fresh cut hay.  Deep breaths, one Рtwo in, one Рtwo out. Relax.

The Arby’s bag began to rattle. ¬†He’s going in. ¬†My meditation cracks. ¬†I decide not to open my eyes.

Breathe.The stench increases three fold. ¬†Oh my heavens – WHAT is that?????? ¬†I’m suffocating. ¬†I should go to the biffy. ¬†No. ¬†He will have to move, too.

Stick it out. Breathe.  Sleep.  Breathe.I drift off. . .

I stopped writing after that.  Too traumatic.  But, I think this guy would be a wonderful character in a story about how we learn something from each person we meet. I could have had a conversation happen in real life.  But, I slept.  Wasted an opportunity.  At least there is still an chance to make it happen in my story.

Thank you, Melonie, for having me revisit this character and memory.

But, more than that. . . for helping me safely put my writing out there today.

Shari ūüôā

 

How To Release the Brokenness We Carry in Our Hearts

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It’s interesting how a single event can shoot the gates up around our hearts instantaneously and the choice to play the old records in our minds shifts into automatic. ¬†Entire albums even. ¬†Over and over again. ¬†Stuck on repeat.

We sometimes work really hard to throw out those old records, narratives, stories. . . convincing ourselves of their untruths and we attempt to rewrite new, more compassionate songs, in hopes to slowly allow the gates to be drawn in order to feel again.  To love again.  And, to live in peace.  To open our hearts.

However, when an event occurs that cause us to revert back to what we thought we released, we know there is more to unearth, more to learn about ourselves and who we are.  More to grow and transform.  We are never finished releasing.

We all carry deep pain in our hearts and souls. ¬†All of us. ¬†It’s an “Open Secret“, Rumi calls it. ¬†The human behaviors we display (and probably are not very fond of) are a result of that pain. ¬†The workaholic overworks because his father told him he’d never amount to anything. ¬†The alcoholic drinks to numb the pain carried from a high school coach who instilled the belief that he was just not good enough. ¬†A teenage girl exercises obsessively to block the pain of the words of a boyfriend ¬†that said she was gaining weight. ¬†An angry boss yells because in his childhood, he was expected to do things right and if not, punishment followed. ¬†Whatever the undesirable behavior is that we unconsciously display, it’s rooted from pain. ¬†We even tend to live out this story. ¬†These lies.

The wonderful gift that we humans have been given that no other animal species has, is to be able to go back to that pain, feel it,  acknowledge it, release it and then find a new truth.  This is how we rewrite our stories.  We can reopen our heart to others this way and change our behavior, rather than to live with a blocked heart, a stuck flow of energy.

Michael A. Singer, in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, writes that energy that comes into us HAS to keep moving.  He tells us:

Long term, the energy patterns that cannot make it through you are pushed out of the forefront of the mind and held until you are prepared to release them. ¬†These energy patterns, which hold tremendous detail about the events associated with them, are real. They don’t just disappear. ¬†When you are unable to allow life’s events to pass through you, they stay inside and become a problem. ¬†These patterns may be held within you for a very long time. We are either trying to push the energy away because it bothers us or we are trying to cling to it because we like it.

When you resist that release, the energy gets packed up and forced into deep storage within the heart.  In the yogic tradition, this is called a Samskara.

These Samskaras end up running your life.

If they build up sufficiently, you will find yourself in a state of depression.  Eventually, everything appears negative because the world of the senses must pass through this depressed energy before it gets to your consciousness. Even if we are not prone to depression, it builds up over time and gets blocked.  This affects how we live.

Singer shares, in his book, the process for releasing these blocks, or Samskaras. ¬†It’s quite amazing.

Imagine these blocks in your heart as thorns.  Visualize them penetrating your heart and protruding all the way to the outside of your body.  They stick out.  Whenever someone, something, or an event brushes up against a particular thorn, it hurts.  That Samskara is being disturbed.  You have a few choices when this happens.  Well, first, you can prevent it from happening by avoiding any situation that might disturb the thorn. If we do this though, we are not living to the fullest.  We are living in fear.

What Singer suggests we do is to just be centered, conscious enough recognize when a thorn has been disturbed and  just watch the stuff come up.  Be aware of it.  Accept it.   And, then let it go.

This sounds easier said than done.

He tells us:

Just relax your heart, forgive, laugh, shift to gratefulness, do anything you want. Just don’t push it back down. ¬†It’s gonna ¬†probably hurt, but hopefully not for too long. ¬†And then, it’s over. ¬†You’ve let it pass through you.

This process happens over and over all the time.  The result is a constant open heart that allows the energy of love to flow .  You live in love, and it feeds and strengthens you.  This purification is a wonderful thing.

How do we start?

It starts the moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given. ¬†Acceptance. ¬†Not resistance to them. ¬†It starts when we shift to gratitude rather than to dwell on the wrongness of a situation. ¬†There is a secret treasure that lies waiting for us at the bottom of our most difficult times. ¬†It starts when we recognize that everything that happens is not happening TO US. ¬†It’s just happening. ¬†It starts when we let go of the expectations of what we think our lives and others’ lives should go like. ¬†It’s a journey of a lifetime.

Every shift in our life comes courtesy of the friendly forces; every catastrophe can hand us exactly what we need to awaken into who we really are. ¬†It’s a lot easier to blame someone else, to rail against fate, or to shut down to the hopeful messages carried on the winds of change. ¬†Please forgive me when I say that everything that happens to us in life is a blessing – whether it comes as a gift wrapped in happy times or as a heart break, a loss, or a tragedy. ¬†It is true: ¬†There is meaning hidden in the small changes of everyday life, and wisdom to found in the shards of your most broken moments. ¬†At the end of a dark night of the soul is the beginning of a new life. ¬†~ Elizabeth Lesser

What are your Samskaras?  Can you let them go?

Or, are you going to hang on to them for dear life.

 

 

 

Let Go of Trying to Be Noticed

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Today, I’m reblogging a reblog from a blog I love.

Can I do that?  Are there rules?

Well, I am. ¬†It’s just too good to not share with as many people as I can. It’s a topic of concern with my own self and I’m hearing nudges from other like-minded souls that it’s theirs, too. ¬†I will write more on it later, but for now, savor the words of Heather and Mark Nepo.

From Heather at soberboots.com:

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, ‚ÄúThis is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.‚ÄĚ

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.¬†‚ÄďMark Nepo,¬†The Book of Awakening.¬†

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher. He’s not a Christian, nor is he in recovery that I’m aware of. But God speaks to me a lot through his writings.

BAM:  When we feel the need to BE noticed, turn it around and instead, BE the NOTICER.

Please God,

Show more of yourself, so there will be Less of Me.

Let that marinate.

Shari ūüôā

 

Being Reminded of Bad Decisions Hurts Our Brains


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“You need to clear. ¬†Now. ¬†Today.”

 I keep hearing it.  Seeing it.  And, feeling it.

I take this knowingness to my notebook and try to write out EXACTLY what needs to be cleared.

“What? ¬†What needs to be cleared?” ¬†I question, “Is it energy clearing? ¬†I feel okay. ¬†I don’t need that today. ¬†Is it subconscious blocks that I need to let go of? ¬†Fear? ¬†Obsessions? ¬†Old stuff? ¬†What? ¬†Tell me, so I can take care of it!”

A smell lingers up into my writing room. ¬†My candle can’t even mask the smell. ¬†Being one of those highly sensitive nose type people, smells really trip me up.

“What IS that?” ¬†I croak.

Ugh. ¬†I can’t even focus on my thoughts to write with this intrusion. ¬†I shut my computer and investigate. ¬†I know this smell. ¬†It’s a moldy, old garbage, combined with wet dog, chicken coop and baby kitties born on the couch kinda smell (that happened when I was a young girl and I still remember the smell). ¬†I really don’t even want to know what it is. ¬†There have been whiffs of this odor over the last week and I’ve tried to ignore it. ¬†But, I can’t any longer. ¬†It’s become overbearing. ¬†The thought of what it could be is giving me the willies. ¬†Moving might become necessary.

I scan the garage.  My skin shivers at how visually toxic to my well-being this room is.  The school year is done and summer is here and I know I NEED to clean this.

Forget the garage. . . it’s not even my junk.

But, then, I know the answer to my knowingness.

“Oh, you mean REAL clearing! ¬†ACTUAL PHYSICAL REAL CLUTTER!” ¬†I shake my head because I really do not want to tackle this. I’ve been avoiding it altogether. ¬†I have other things to do! ¬†Stuff I actually WANT to do! ¬†It’s summer!! ¬†The sun outside wants me to sit in it and just read!

The message is affirmed in everywhere I go.  The yard, the shed, the playhouse.  There is not a space in my house that does not need some TLC:

A Total-Lot-of-Cleaning.

¬†Yes, I’ve neglected it. ¬†It’s time.

“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That‚Äôs exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people‚Äôs task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.” ¬† ¬† ~nourishment3.com

Well, I knew I was having a focusing issue, but I didn’t know it was because of my clutter. ¬†And my stuff.

I announce to my husband that I’m on a de-cluttering mission. ¬†His eyes begin to squint like the sun’s hurting him and his entire face scrunches up. ¬†He knows he is going to either have to get involved or risk losing some stuff. ¬†He also knows he has more stuff to de-clutter than I do. ¬†The two boys find other stuff to do.

The bathroom is first, as it’s the room that bothers me the most. ¬†Items from the shelves are purged, used once or twice and never to be noticed again, covered in dust and gunk. ¬†Old vitamins, prescriptions, bath salts and lotions. ¬†Yuck. ¬†Then. . . way in the back, I discover some old boxes of Frownies I purchased a few years ago.

Oh dang.  The memory comes flooding back.

These stick on patches were going to be the ticket for those wrinkles on my forehead. ¬†The internet said. ¬†So, I bought 2 packages, not just one. ¬†On my first day’s trial of stretching my forehead before applying the sticky patches to my skin, and then sleeping with it on, I awoke ¬†to an even more dented forehead than my original one. ¬†Apparently, I had not flattened my skin smooth enough before I stuck that baby on. ¬†Instead of smoothing my forehead, I made NEW wrinkles. ¬†They lasted all day. ¬†I should have sent the Frownies back for a refund, but I attributed the problem to operator error and vowed to give it another shot. ¬†I never did. ¬†A reminder of another bad decision and money wasted for vanity.

Why is it so painful to get rid of this stuff?

Apparently, there is research that gives us the answer to this question.  (I found it on the internet.)

We tell ourselves we are hanging onto this stuff for a number of reasons:

1.  We are saving it for just the right occasion.

2.  We spent a lot of money on it and we might use it one day.

3.  We have sentimental value.

But,  the biggest reason we hang on to stuff is because we probably made a mistake buying it and it literally hurts our brain to come to terms with that fact.

Yup, there is. ¬†The truth. ¬†It’s painful to admit that we screwed up. ¬† Bad decisions. ¬†Money wasted.

As in the case of my Frownies.

Tossing them in the trash really DOES hurt. ¬†But really, I know I won’t try them again. ¬†Even sticking all those patches to my face now and going to bed that way seems absurd. ¬†And, I run the risk of that scene be the topic of conversation and my husband’s office the next day.

I could see if my sister wants to try them. ¬†That would feel better than junking them. ¬†But, then, I’d have to hold on to them longer until I see them. Should I walk them over to my neighbor? ¬†I could tell her that if she doesn’t want to try them, she could just toss them and I wouldn’t have to know about it. ¬†Maybe that’s the ticket. ¬†Yeah. ¬†That’s what I’ll do.

Then, I won’t have to feel the pain quite so much.

Unless, the next time I see her, she has more wrinkles.

Now, moving on to the kitchen. . .

What is painful for your brain to let go of?

To Push Through The Pain? Or Not

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It’s 2:20 am and the biffy is calling my name. ¬†Sadly. . . I can’t get out of bed. Every muscle in my body hurts; abs, thighs, arms, neck, you name it. ¬†I was not in a serious car accident, no. ¬†I did not run a triathlon. ¬†Nor, did I do hard physical labor all day.

I worked out this week. . . not once, but TWICE!

About every other month, I decide I need to get in better shape, ummmm. . . I mean, in shape.  I usually only walk a few of times a week during the school year otherwise, so when these urgent calls from my body tell me to pay attention and strengthen up, I tend to jump right in and try to fix it.  Too much, too soon, too much pain.  Then, what do you think finishes off the cycle?  Yep, I rest and kinda quit.  And, the cycle continues.  Been goin on fer years now.

I wasn’t always this way. ¬†Throughout my first 40 some years of life, I was obsessed with exercise, my eating, weight, and perfection. ¬†Then, ¬†a surgery that put me down. ¬†I softened. ¬†In a good way. ¬†And, I started liking who I was becoming.

So, now, almost 50, I’m listening more to my body and she’s telling me I have zero core strength, I’m pretty weak and my flexibility is nadda. ¬†But, keep up the walking – daily, Lady. ¬†Oh and by the way, your arms are starting to look pasty and, well. . . whatever, you are almost 50.

Well, that kind of talk gets me riled. ¬†I become driven to fight back, so I pop in those DVD’s and do everything that perky young thing tells me to do. ¬†Push-ups? Sure. ¬†Squats? ¬†You got it.

Here’s the rub. ¬†Now, my body is cuuuuu-rying! ¬†First, she wants it, then she doesn’t. ¬†She says to push through it and then she says to rest, it’s too much.

My daughter Lauren, who is 25 and a wellness coach, scolds me, “No pain, no gain, Mom. Push through it. ¬†You gotta keep it up or you won’t see any results.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I tell her. ¬†I’m her worst client. ¬†But, I can be that way to her. ¬†I’m her mother. ¬†She rolls her eyes. ¬†I’m sure I frustrate her. She says these words with love, but it’s my own voice that I hear in the background. Yes, that’s her in the photo above.

My friend who is my age consoles me, “Shar, we aren’t 25. ¬†We’ve been down that road. ¬†Accept who you are. ¬†We are ok.”

I love my friend because she understands me and where I’ve been, and my daughter IS only 25. ¬†I should rest.

But, the whole world screams, “NO EXCUSES! YOU ARE ONLY AS OLD AS YOU FEEL.”

It bothers me that I even spend time thinking about this when I could be doing something constructive, like writing or reading.  It all seems so ego-driven.

Bernice. (said like Seinfield says Newman)

I’ve grown wiser with age and have learned to not strive for the perfect anything anymore. ¬†I just want to feel good; mind, body, heart and soul. ¬†If any of these “friends” is left out, the others suffer. ¬†It’s a constant state of mindfulness I need to be in, always checking in with each. ¬†Wait, I hear a small voice of reason. . .

“Just move your body, Shar. ¬†It doesn’t matter what you do. ¬†Move.”

Aw, somebody with sense.  Heart and Soul are speaking up for Joy, my body.

I think I’ll just go for a walk today and do a little yoga. ūüôā

Who do you listen to?  Do you push through and work through the pain?  Or, do you rest Рand forget what you started?

(And, this doesn’t just pertain to exercise, you know. . . )

Shari ūüôā

Loving a Good Disagreement

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My teacher-friend bursts into the room with her laptop.

“Hey there, friend! Ya gotta minute? ¬†I have to show you this ¬†on the computer!”

“What is it?” I ask, excitedly, as I get up from my desk and meet her at the table, anxious about what we are going to see.

“It’s this new app that is out there. ¬†It’s called Spritz. They are claiming we’ll be able to speed up our reading and finish a novel in 90 minutes!”, she beams.

“Oh my gosh! ¬†I saw that earlier! ¬†That’s HORRIBLE!!!! I could never read that way!” I tell her.

“Are you kidding? I WISH I would have had this app when I had to read all those boring psychology books in college!” she argues.

“Well, you wouldn’t be able to remember any of it with all of these words speeding by,” I blurt back.

“I have to disagree with ya there. ¬†Your mind isn’t being taxed because you don’t even have to move your eyes. You don’t have to think about visual tracking, going left to right or anything. ¬†Only thinking.”

“I think I’d be nauseous.” I tell her.

“Why? You don’t even have to move your eyes?”

“I don’t know – it freaks me out. ¬†You would lose the savoring of the book. ¬†Rereading to hear a beautiful phrase over, or to capture some words to use for your own writing because you love them.”

“Do you read all your books that way?”

“Well, most of them. ¬†I’m a little whacked like that.”

“Well, I think of all the college reading that I just had to get read. ¬†There was nothing to savor there. ¬†This would’ve saved me boatloads of time,” she tries to convince me.

“How would you use your reading processes? ¬†You wouldn’t be able to try to figure words out based upon them looking right, sounding right or making sense in the text because you are only given one word at a time? ¬†What about fluency? ¬†Without being able to see what’s coming up, you are not sure how to read with your voice?”

“All I know is that I would have loved this in college and I think it is perfect for when you have a ton to read and you have to get it done. ¬†It’s a good option.”

“Maybe, but I’m not convinced,” I try to agree, but my gut is telling me, “I don’t think so.”

After thinking about it, maybe it would be a good app to use in some situations. ¬†My friend’s ideas about it made me think outside of myself and into a new plane of thinking.

I love to be able to have an intellectual conversation with colleagues, disagreeing on some topic in an attempt to make sense out of something new.  There are only a few people I am able to do this with and I am blessed to have them in my life because they push my thinking and force me to reflect on my beliefs and theories of which I rest my entire teaching philosophy on. Emotions do not come into play because we know that there may not be a right answer, but that our own backgrounds and experiences can help us both to synthesize new ideas at a much greater depth than if we were to try to understand it on our own.

My thought to ponder on is, how can we nurture an environment where all groups of teachers are able to do this? ¬†Certainly, it’s possible. But, what makes it possible? ¬†We’ve all been in settings where it’s happened and you’ve left the group feeling like you’ve been to another planet and back. ¬†We’ve been in other settings where it doesn’t happen and you leave feeling frustrated and stuck.

Einstein said, “We have to think with everything we have. ¬†We have to think with our muscles. ¬†We have to think with feelings in our muscles. Think with everything. ¬†And so it is a flowing process which also goes outward and inward and makes communication possible.”

So, do we just have to all be thinking hard?

It’s more than that.

Joseph Jaworski writes in¬†Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, “When people come together and go beyond their habitual way of being as a group, even more possibilities open up. ¬†But somehow a kind of block prevents those extraordinary experiences from happening.” ¬†He goes on to quote Bohm, “You’ve GOT to give attention to those blocks. ¬†You’ve got to find out where it comes from both in yourself and in anybody.” ¬† If you can achieve this, the individuals in the group would be able to operate as if with one mind.

Personally, I thrive on trips to that other planet.  I know I have to be conscious of my own blocks that I bring to a group.  The key is to help all in a group to clear these blocks as well, to allow for the intellectual ideas flow through us.

“When most oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race, as to the feel of the boat, all eight oars in the water together, the synchronization almost perfect. ¬†In moments like these, the boat seemed to lift right out of the water. ¬†Oarsmen called that the moment of swing.”

~ David Halberstam

I think that you, pretty much, have to trust the other men in the boat.

Hmmmm. . . . a thought to ponder. . .

My Angel of Love

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Life Book 2014 Lesson for Week 9 arrived in my email inbox this week. ¬†I stared at it and already knew that I was not going to be able to complete this lesson this week. ¬†Just like I didn’t complete Week 8, or Week 7, or Week 6.

I joined¬†Life Book 2014 this year because I love to art journal, but I don’t make time for it, allowing “real life” to take over most of my time. ¬†The bliss I feel when actually creating in my art journals is pure heaven. ¬†The world disappears and my soul is nourished. ¬†Early on, a disciplined student was I, Weeks 1-3 were completed. Now, the lessons sit idle, waiting for me.

Writing is different. ¬†I write every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. ¬†My hang up is making it public. ¬†Fear of putting too much out there, looking like I’m self-promoting or needing attention, or being judged are issues I wrestle with on a daily basis. ¬†This is why I joined the Slice of Life Challenge for March ~ and hope to “put something out there” every day this month, so that it feels natural to do so.

I fear not being able to keep up with it every day, just like my Life Book class.  Who can have something worthwhile to share with the world every single day for an entire month?

A fellow facebook writer friend today told me that I have things worthwhile to say.  Her words were savored by me ~ she probably had no idea how much I needed them right then and there.

How many times have we felt that our words didn’t matter? ¬†That our voice would not be heard even if we spoke up? ¬†Well, it’s not true. ¬†Our words make a difference. ¬†Even, if it’s for only one person. ¬†That one person who needs those words at that one time, so that’s why we write.

I’m sharing my art journal page from my first Life Book 2014 lesson this year. ¬†She is my Angel of Love. ¬†She is a symbol for my WOTY, which is Love. ¬†Gazing at her, she reminds me, to love my work, love my art, love to share my message and that it matters.

What the Internet is Doing To My Productivity

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What the Internet Has Done To My Productivity

There are currently 11 tabs open on my mac. ¬†Before 10:00 am. ¬†(Yes, this is a fragment. ¬†I know. ¬†I’m making a statement.)

It’s Saturday morning, 6:45 am.  A rediculous -26 degrees below zero in frigid northern MN.  I’m thinking that I am going to get a boatload of tasks checked of my to-do list today because I’m not stepping foot out into that danger zone outside.  Cleaning, writing, school work, decorate the tree and maybe even begin some Christmas baking.  I’ve got English Toffee on my mind.

Because of the mouse that I BELIEVE ran across my face this morning as I was pulling out my REMs at 6:30am, I first go to my facebook page and post this trauma to my status.  Childhood friends console me.  Teaching colleagues and relatives were as mortified as I was.  Former students from my first year teaching appear to reminisce.  Community friends offer solutions:  peppermint oil or cats.  My daughter scolds me in that I need to wash my bedding.

Knowing I should NOT log onto facebook before noon on a Saturday, yet realizing I’ve already broken my cardinal rule, I continue to peruse facebook status’, commenting and clicking on intriguing links that grab my now distracted mind.

A fb friend posts Steven Pressfield’s Writing Wednesday post on  Managing Your Time.  Whoa.  That is the Universe speaking to ME right now, so I’d better surf over there and find out how to best do that!

Pressfield relives a narrative that makes me chuckle because I live the same one, but these are the words that I write down to remember from his post:

“You have to run your day. You can’t let your day run you.

 You must roll out of bed each morning with an unshakeable focus and intention. Your novel, your start-up, your movie. That’s your day. That’s why you’re here.

 You can’t yield to distractions and temptations. You must be like the Blues Brothers.

 You’re on a mission from God.

¬†Who is in charge of your day? You are!‚ÄĚ

Ok.  He is right.  As soon as I get off here, I’m going to start some writing.  But first, I’m going to tweet this blog post on Twitter.  It’s too good to lose and others will benefit from his wise words.  Pressfield wrote the War on  Art. The man speaks volumes. He knows a thing or two about productivity and resistance.

Once on Twitter, I come upon a tweet that has caught my attention.¬†¬†Cathy Mere¬†tweets that everyone should take time to read the tweets on¬†#nerdlutions.¬† ‚ÄúHmmm. . . what is this?¬† I‚Äôd better check this out as it must be too good to miss.‚ÄĚ I click my way over there.

I believe ‚Äú#nerdlutions‚ÄĚ was started by¬†Christopher Lehman, but perhaps the term was derived by¬†Colby Sharp, but I’m not 100 percent sure, needing to give credit to where credit is due. ¬†It seems “#nerdlutions” is defined as committing to doing something or some things for 50 days.¬† There are no rules.¬† Just make sure it makes you happy.

Of course, I’m a sucker for these things.  I’m in.  Being a part of this amazing  Twitter community is the draw.

I commit to 30 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of ‚Äúmoving my body in some form of exercise‚ÄĚ every day.

 I’d better retweet this and I’ll pin it to my Pinterest wall as one of my blog posts to read over and over so I don’t forget about it.

Whoa, stop the trains ‚Äď once at¬†Pinterest, ¬†after pinning this blog post, of course other pinners who have pinned this to their wall as well, pop up.¬† My mind tells me that these are ‚Äúlike-minded‚ÄĚ souls, so I need to check out their walls.

I click on a pin that pulls me in.  It leads me to Brainpickings, a site that I have become lost in before.  Uh-oh.  Don’t know if I should be here this morning, but I’m already astray.  The post I’m called to is by Maria Popova and titled,

‚ÄúThe Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the ‚ÄúOK Plateau‚ÄĚ of Performance & Personal Growth‚ÄĚ,

 which leads me to a book, Maximize Your Potential, by Joshua Foer.  These words from the blog post resinate in my mind for awhile and a rereading in necessary:

‚ÄúIn the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the ‚Äúcognitive phase,‚ÄĚ during which we‚Äôre intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We‚Äôre consciously focusing on what we‚Äôre doing. Then we enter the ‚Äúassociative stage,‚ÄĚ when we‚Äôre making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the ‚Äúautonomous stage,‚ÄĚ when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.‚ÄĚ

The problem most of us have is staying stuck in ‚Äúautopilot‚ÄĚ.¬† By staying in our comfort zone, we tend to ‚Äėcease to care about improving‚Äô.¬† Our mind tells us, ‚ÄúAh, this is good enough.‚ÄĚ I begin to think about the areas in my life I am on autopilot on and which areas need some improvement.

After savoring this post, I navigate over to Amazon to toss the book into my cart.

I don’t think I have to tell you what happens once I get there.

After losing two hours, I shut my laptop, I begin to wonder if I am crazy.  Am I alone in this world of distraction?  Are there others out there that are not able to accomplish their daily to-do list because of our online communities and getting lost in the internet playground.  I know I can’t be alone.  I ponder that if this is a struggle for me, an educated adult, what are our children going through?

I glance over to my bookshelves next to my desk.  A book seems to pop out at me.

The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.    I don’t even remember buying this book.  I pull it off the shelf and realize I need to read this today.

After I post this to my blog today, an ‚Äúunplugging‚ÄĚ for the remainder of the weekend is in order.¬† I have things to do.¬† My mind needs a rest. ¬†My husband will be home soon as ask me how my day was and what I did. ¬†I’d better get something done, fast.

I might sleep with a sleeping bag on the dining room table tonight.  I don’t think mice can climb table legs.  You might say they can’t climb bed legs either, but when you blankets creep off to the floor, this creates a nice ladder for the little varmints to climb.

Did I mention I ran out of my decaf beans and perhaps ground caffeinated ones instead?  They were displayed in an unmarked glass jar.

Explains a lot.