Perspective

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Over the last 6 weeks people have gone through massive shifts, from political conflict to the solar eclipse and natural disasters. Threats come from so many directions: military missiles, ancient disease rising from glacial melt, environmental toxicity, the list of things to fear is endless. Our news sources are unreliable leaving people open to speculation that fans the flame of fear even more.

We all have the capacity for fear. We all view our situation or circumstances from our own unique perspectives. People who stand in fear find only the negative, worst-case-scenario, what-is-missing perspective. Most of our own fears never come for fruition. But lately, people have been blindsided by events like the recent hurricanes and fires that ravaged Texas, Montana, and Florida.

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Some folks lost everything and others were unscathed. Some of those who walked away with nothing but the clothes on their backs are full of gratitude and hope, putting one foot in front of the other despite all they’ve lost. Others see only the darkness and feel crippled by the thought of the unknown. They feel as if they are swimming upstream exhausted.

I had to learn to reframe my perspective first hand. After facing the loss of “everything,” I had to go forward one hour at a time and not look back. I was lucky to have a couple dear friends in my corner.

Gone is gone. Crying over what has been lost is energy wasted and unnecessarily stressful. You can only put one foot in front of the other and go forward. Revisiting the past for any reason other than objectivity is time and energy better invested in moving down a new path of the unknown.

A recent interview with a woman who lost everything to Irma on St. John’s island was heartbreaking. “I don’t know how to do this,” she said. “There’s no power, no water, no food, no facilities, and nowhere to turn.”  On the flipside, there are folks on the mainland with their electricity restored and their homes in tact lamenting over the potential outcome: rising insurance rates, lack of internet access, and the possibility of the next storm finishing them off. These people are not camping in rubble with the mosquitoes in the oppressive 92-degree heat.

What makes one person miserable and another grateful in the moment? Perspective.

Things we take for granted are now luxuries to one who lost everything. Water to drink and wash with, shelter from the heat, a flushing toilet, and food. The woman in shock in St. John wanders lost. Hopefully, she will find help from FEMA or National Guard. Others are swimming in the ocean with the backdrop of destruction. Their perspective? When life hands you clear water and sunshine, might as well enjoy a moment while waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

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Starting over with nothing sucks, but you don’t need to continue looking through the lens of catastrophe. Seeing through the lens of faith – that things will only get better because it can’t be worse – is the best way forward.

Because if you’ve lost everything, you’ve got nothing left to lose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Safe Spots

My dog has two “safe spots” in the house. A patch of tile and his bed. When he doesn’t want to be bothered, brushed, or bathed, he goes to one of those safe spots. We respect that and wait until he moves away to proceed.

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We humans don’t always have our safe spot nearby. When someone imposes views not aligned with our own, it is considered rude to stop them from speaking further. If only we could travel with some sort of invisible force field that is electrified like a bug zapper, we would be able to see the unwanted words and ideas sizzle and smoke, never reaching our intellect and emotional body.

No matter how much we may empathize or sympathize with another, we do not have the ability to read their minds, walk their path, or feel all that they are feeling from their unique perspective. And no matter how much we may identify with their problems – having “Me, too!” moments – we are not able to fully experience all that they are with identical philosophies or values.

We may desire to help so much that we are blinded by our own intention, unable to see the body language and facial cues that beg, “Please Stop!”

   Trying to help when I’m not sure what I need yet.

   Thinking you know how I feel when you don’t.

   Pressing your views against mine.

   Talking. You’re only making things worse.

The poor person we want to help only wants to jump ship in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.

A person’s “safe spot” should be honored with breathing space and time for contemplation. We can make offerings to tempt the person away from their spot, then step back, allowing them space to choose for themselves which offer they’d like to receive. And if our offering is not the one chosen, accept that choice as being in their best interests.

Some of us are hard-wired helpers who sometimes forget that help is selected by the individual in need, and one size does not fit all.

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(The video of this dog is totally unrelated, but he’s offering dog toys to an infant because he stole her toy. )

http://www.boredpanda.com/dog-apology-baby-toys-laura-charlie/

 

 

Help Is A Two-Way Street

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Woodstock is a bird. Birds love rain! He probably didn’t ask Snoopy for help staying dry.

Help requires permission. A person needs to ask for the help they’d like to receive. A pet needs to allow help to be dispensed. If someone is not of sound mind, they still need to cooperate to receive assistance.

My sister had a recent encounter with a woman who offered her emotional help when she had no idea that there was a need. Basically, this woman projected her own desire to prove herself helpful by suggesting to my sister an unrecognized problem. You can imagine how this went over. Nothing feels better than someone pointing out a problem you didn’t know you had. The woman went on to explain that since she had reached the highest level of spirituality, being a Buddist, she was equipped to help.

To my mind, the highest level of spirituality is death. And I’ve never heard the Dalai Llama tell people how spiritually evolved he was so he that could better insert himself into a problem.

Help requires trust. Trust requires rapport. To build rapport, safety should be offered.

I’ve never easily asked for help. I was raised in a DIY mindset. But I’m learning. And I’m also learning not to shove my way into another’s mess when help was not requested. Sometimes people need to learn how to help themselves, which helps others mind their own business.

I came across this very topic early on my FB feed this morning. How helpful!

“Help is the sunny side of control.” Anne Lamott

If you’d like to listen to her 15 minute Ted Talk, it’s more about life than the writing title suggests.

Profiling? Oh, yeah.

I was keen to attend a lecture by author Raymond Szymanski who’d just written a book called, “Fifty Shades of Greys,” referring to the pesky big-eyed aliens commonly known for abducting humans. He was speaking at the local UFO meeting, so I thought I’d stop by and at least check out his book. Having witnessed UFO’s with my own eyes, this is a topic I find intriguing.

I arrived early and sat in my car checking email for a few minute when I noticed a parade of characters in my rearview mirror – over 60, balding, bearded, in faded plaid, worn tennis shoes, and windbreakers. It occurred to me that subject matter attracted a particular demographic. Perhaps the type that spent their nights wearing headphones connected to parabolic devices,  one eye glued to a high-powered telescope from the roof of their octogenarian mother’s house.

In my lavender pants and pink, green, and white floral bag, I would stick out like a church lady in a biker bar.

When the Uni-bomber dude – black hoodie, black jeans, black shoes and matching backpack passed behind me, I decided that perhaps I was a tad over-dressed for the event. (Did he think the greys couldn’t see black with their huge black eyes?)

And what if I was the only female? What if they wanted an email address for future notifications? What if they wanted to (gulp) engage with me?

Hey, I just wanted to hear the speaker, his findings, and research data. I didn’t want to become FB friends or subscribe to some conspiracy theory newsletter or be interrogated by a bunch of former military guys.

Honestly, I think I’d have felt more comfortable in a room sitting next to this guy instead of Mr. Uni-bomber.

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Was I stereotyping? Profiling? Absolutely. Just like the little grey guys do when they select their specimens for experimentation.

Now, I may well have had a fantastic time, learned some new things, made a couple new friends with a common interest . . .  Then again, if the truth is out there, it can probably be found on Amazon!

Mr. Szymanski, forgive my absence. I don’t always boldly go where I don’t comfortably blend.

Desirable Dark Art

Desirable Dark Art

I know this might be an odd item to post for Easter, but the last thing I expected to get out of a writing program was the discovery of a haunting painter. (Silly, as I ignored the fact that the class was in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC)

Behind the lecturer was this painting entitled The Gathering.

Intense, no? I’ve seen a few graveyards like this, but not in this kind of light.

As great as the lecture was, I found myself studying this painting more than paying attention to the speaker. And I wasn’t alone. A couple of us took photos and one woman had already looked up the artist online at:

http://www.brianmashburnart.com/

barn owl barn swallow

He explores the delicate polarity of life by showcasing nature before a backdrop of mist and manufactured landscapes.

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This Asheville artist has me inspired.

Go to his site and check out more.

Oh, and . . .

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The Invisibility Cloak

Anyone who knows the Harry Potter story remembers his Cloak of Invisibility that turns out to be one of three objects that helps him cheat death.

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Not so fast.

Three years ago, I traded cars. Since the change, I’ve lost count of how many close calls I’ve had. (Although it is a newer model, it is not so new that I drive more cautiously than normal.) I’ve have more near collisions in the last year than I have had in my last four decades of driving. People don’t see me, even when I’m the only other car on the road or right in front of them. I feel as if my car is wearing an invisibility cloak. It’s probably nothing to do with the car itself, but my energy. My field has shrunk so small that I’ve become invisible.

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Many people have been scuttling through their lives under invisibility cloaks. They want to quietly fly under the radar. They’ve retreated to their caves to avoid the new energies stirred up by recent world events. Folks have been keeping close to home, feeling safe in their nests.

I have too. My senior dog is slowing inching his way to his end. The old boy is not ill, but in steady decline. Yet I need to go to work, do errands, or just get out of the nest for a change of energy. Still, I find that I don’t want to leave my comfort zone.

The longer I stay cocooned, the smaller my energy shrinks.  I risk becoming invisible. Right now, I feel as if I would go unseen by a drone in the middle of a salt flat. For now, that is fine. But driving? Short of painting my car a brighter color, I can use thought, movement, and creative visualization to grow my energy. And the horn. I’ve used that more than ever.

Being invisible doesn’t always keep us safe. In today’s climate, we would all like to be seen and heard. When we aren’t, we can shift our own energy to step out into the open, wear colorful clothing, look both ways – more than once – and say a little prayer before crossing the road. You might not be invisible to the unseen.

Get Out of Your Own Way

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The world and its occupants are loaded down with rules, expectations, judgments, accusations, and speculations – all about you. From the moment you take your first breath, someone is telling you how you are, what you should think, feel, and do. As babies, we need someone to show us the basics, but once we develop our own minds, we love to “do it ourselves.” That’s natural.

From the moment you take your first breath, someone is telling you how you are, what you should think, feel, and do. As babies, we need someone to show us the basics, but once we develop our own minds, we love to “do it ourselves.” That’s natural. Just look at nature for confirmation.

People don’t stop imposing their attitudes, beliefs, and opinions on us once we are thinking for ourselves. Humans have grown into complex creatures that feel compelled to articulate the “why” of everything. And we think this makes us intelligent.

Oh, contra ire.

The more you listen to everyone else instead of your own feelings, the farther away from yourself you travel.

No one can fully escape someone telling them “no.”

“No. You can’t do that.”

“No. You shouldn’t think (feel or believe) that.”

“No. You are wrong.”

“No. You are not ___________enough.” Fill in the blank. (smart, talented, skinny, brave, rich, pretty, connected, educated or strong)

You hear any of that often, eventually it soaks into you like an ink stain. Your subconscious mind replays those negative ideas constantly. Even though your conscious mind is telling you not to listen, not to believe, and that you should know better. Because you do!

But whenever you are complimented, you brush it off and reject the positive input. Any skull session that promotes creativity and chasing dreams has you snuffing them out with all the reasons “why not” instead of planning the pathway toward our goals.

We stamp out our dreams like a boot extinguishing a cigarette.

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What can we do?

Wish on a star? A birthday candle? Wait for a hero to rescue us from ourselves?

How can you undo years of mental programming and record new, positive, self-affirming “Yes!” data?

Be aware of your thoughts and re-word them, one thought at a time. Be diligent! Any time you get down on yourself or hear yourself rebuffing a compliment, STOP! Imagine a seeing a stop sign and then mentally talk to yourself as you would someone you love.

Squirming yet? Yes, it is very uncomfortable because you are accustomed to accepting the worst for yourself.  Accepting the best takes practice and reward.

When you treat yourself, you never chose the smallest brownie or just one piece of chocolate. So why do you do that in other areas?

If you feel as if you “don’t deserve” good stuff, you’ve been lied to. Oh, yeah. Again and again, you’ve been fed big, fat, hairy lies by people who had also been raised on a diet of the same or are purposely trying to hold you back and keep you down.

You were born knowing better but changed when the rest of the world got a hold of you.

Instead of asking yourself what you think about it, ask: How do I feel about it? Use your heart center instead of your intellect.

How do you feel about it?

You know when you feel good and bad. Any time you get down on yourself with all the reasons why not, stop. Remind yourself that all those reasons came from others. Then ask yourself: How do I feel about it?

Use your heart instead of your head. How does it feel? It’s smarter than you think.