Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda – Once Again

Woulda, shoulda, coulda – Who doesn’t have a regret or a missed opportunity these words imply?

If I would have . . .  Maybe I should have . . . If only I could have . . .  So many ways to live in the past instead of now.  Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m going there.

Being motivated, driven even; I freely acknowledge being a “Type A” personality – for decades!  I owned the labels: competitive, organized; ambitious.  While I didn’t necessarily like being tagged impatient and aggressive, if I’m honest they applied from time to time.

A year-and-a-half ago, I stepped off the corporate treadmill.  Now what?  Naturally I had plans.  Then life happened, and I’m 18 months down a road I didn’t expect.  Stepping away from being tightly scheduled, determined and industrious is enlightening.  And uncomfortable.

If I woulda stayed on plan; I coulda already written a book.  Shoulda kept to a schedule … woulda had more to show for all these months.  What a load of horse manure.  Still uncomfortable.

How easy it is to get sucked into this thinking.  I’m incredibly grateful for my driven race to achieve goals … they brought me to a place where I can practice “Type B” behaviors.  Re-train the brain.  When I move past my discomfort, this new laid back lifestyle feels right and true.  I’m learning that Type B’s aren’t slackers. They enjoy achievement; just don’t get all stressed out about it.  And apparently have fewer heart attacks!

Allowing life to unfold – “living my way into the answer” as my friend Renee says, is an approach worth taking.  Accepting that what I thought to be true may not be … opens my life to new possibilities.  Some folks don’t get the opportunity to make this shift voluntarily.  Re-imagining life, reinventing myself is a gift.  Just maybe not the gift I expected.

Onward; slowly – like a snail or a leisurely summer Sunday.  Achievement will happen; or not, one step – one day at a time.


“Try not to resist the changes that come your way.  Instead let life live through you.  And do not worry that your life is turning upside down.  How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi


You Look Marvelous!

The fresh, young millennial in last week’s yoga class had beautiful legs – with a light brown downy pelt of hair; soft and silky smooth.  It was dazzling, amazing – lovely.  She probably never put a razor to her legs once.  Trying to remember why I spend any time at all on that activity.  As a kid, I WANTED to shave my legs; made me feel all grown up – glamorous.  Decades later that upkeep is frankly a pain in the ass.

The reasons behind shaving, plucking and adorning women’s bodies has changed and morphed throughout history.  Why do women keep on shaving today?  Why do I?  It can’t simply be aesthetics when natural can be so pretty.  Is it because I was brought up to think I must?  To believe in this activity as a condition for beauty?

Going natural – in bits and pieces is my new experiment.  Fingernails, toenails – makeup . . . the non-permanent stuff . . . whose scale of difficulty to go au naturale varies.  That one really ugly toe (ugh) . . . slides the scale toward uncomfortable – but bearable.

Of course there’s THE BIG ONE . . . Hair!  When I left the corporate world I gave myself permission to quit the tedious and expensive ritual of dying my hair.  Chasing the auburn was wearing my ass out – and I suspected I’d be 100% white/gray. Boy-oh-boy was I scared!  What would people think?  Would I look old? – Ugly?  What would they say at Hip-Hop class?  I was extremely nervous, but determined.  Luckily I found a private support group on Facebook that helped me re-frame the questions.  Instead of wondering what other’s thought – I was encouraged to ask “What do I think?”  Instead of worrying about looking old – they wanted to know “How did I like my new look?”

Of course when the movie ticket guy asked my husband “is that one adult and one senior?” – Me being “THE SENIOR” – I was just a tiny bit thrown.  Then I laughed – have to wait a bit longer for that discount.

Society has very clear standards for female appearance – and behavior.  We’re expected to look a certain way, with the right make-up, hair, nails – and yes silky naked legs.  Too often we’re supposed to be quiet, calm and lady-like – all “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

Just not buying that right now.  We – men and women – are messy, complicated and peculiar.  When I’m authentic, I contribute something unique to the world.  It’s easier for me to make physical changes than behavioral adjustments.  This experiment is moving my comfort zone . . . providing the impetus to brave the source of my beliefs behind appearances.

Will there be a silky pelt on my lower appendages in the future?  – Hmmm, jury still out on that one.


“You look marvelous!” – catchphrase of Fernando Lamas. That is who Billy Crystal modeled his character “Fernando” after.


If Truth be Known

From the time I was introduced to Ken Wilbur and “The Spectrum of Consciousness” in his book No Boundary back in ’92 – his ideas fascinated me.  His philosophy has evolved into what he identifies as an Integral worldview.  He connects ideas and perspectives across multiple disciplines rationally and persuasively.  What seems incompatible or contrary, is not – it’s just a different piece of the puzzle.

When he published his eBook Trump and a Post-Truth World after the election, of course I downloaded it.  Took me 9-months before I would sit still and look at it.  When I did, I found an interesting take on what got us to today’s cultural conflicts, and what we might do if we’re not happy about it.

Wilbur’s a bit of a rebel; his theories are bold, original; visionary – and complex.  While they aren’t necessarily written for the masses, they woke me long ago – and continue to bump me out of my mind ruts.

He reminds me that we all travel every phase of growth.  We’re born narcissistic infants … who sooner or later discover how family and community can suffer from our behavior.  As we mature we learn about science and humanity.  We become rational; we discover diversity.  We even begin to see how differences create strength.  We learn there are universal truths.

We move through stages that Wilbur calls “pre-personal,” (magic / mythic) “personal,” (rational) and “trans-personal” (integral).

Depending on the cards we’re dealt, our strength of character – our willingness to examine life; we move through these stages.  But some don’t.  Some get stuck.

Sadly we can’t see beyond our level of development.  Just like parents can’t reason with a toddler – we can’t make people see.  Many remain judgmental and disapproving of things they don’t understand.

Wilbur estimates that ~60% of the U.S. population are in ego or ethno-centric phases of development.  These citizens see little value in a global community, in science; diversity.  What compassion and empathy they have, is generally reserved for their tribe.

Then there are the folks who claim a liberal, progressive outlook.  Wilbur submits that a portion of these progressives took this position to a nihilistic / narcissistic extreme.  Using logic and rational critical thinking, these postmodernists – haughtily and arrogantly disregarded those they felt beneath them.  They forgot that they too once walked related paths.  No wonder the self-proclaimed patriots pushed back.

“Every now and then,” Wilbur says, “evolution itself has to adjust course.”  So we regress to a place where we were once stable – before we can self-correct and move forward again.  That place for us was part of a domination hierarchy.  A hierarchy that existed before we began to believe that hierarchies don’t exist – that all beliefs and opinions are valid; no matter how ridiculous (“flat-earthers” claim the earth is flat – for real).

Hierarchies do exist.  Truth exists.

We embody a wondrous example of a holistic hierarchy.  In No Boundary Wilbur says:

“.. just as, in evolution, a whole quark becomes part of an atom, a whole atom becomes part of a molecule, a whole molecule becomes part of a cell, a whole cell becomes part of an organism, and so on.”

Either we live in a society with a dominating hierarchy, or one with a holistic hierarchy . . . with natural, intrinsic truths.  When we deny any hierarchy at all – that egalatarianism of viewpoints; we get “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories.  When we deny universal truth . . . we deny that there IS a better way.

My preference is to live in a holistic hierarchy.

As I continued to read about the post-truth world, a message sunk in – again; how some of my relationships need a willingness – on both sides, to work toward a middle ground.  Ground that allows authenticity and loving acceptance for the one who holds a contradictory belief.  This can be a hard pill to swallow.

Ken Wilbur says “step one” is for the off-the-rails postmodernists (the “greens”) to reduce their “pervasive hostility and vindictiveness toward all previous stages of development…” – they really can’t see that dimension.

His “step two”— is for “the realization that growth holarchies provide the actual basis of the value judgments that green is already making, and that these growth holarchies also are the only truly effective means to displace the dominator hierarchies…” – we must pursue growth, educate for growth; resist dominance.

Yes; I want a holistic hierarchy – not a dominating one.  The sneering must stop – on both sides.  If truth be known . . . inherent truth, not made up alternative facts – we must bring it to light.  Again and again and again.


“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


It’s All In My Head

Who reads dystopian novels when politics and social norms are going off the rails?  When deadly hurricanes, monsoons, fires and earthquakes consume the planet?  That would be me.  Just finished Margaret Atwood’s hellish trilogy: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAdam.  Her imagination is extraordinary, and in today’s environment sadly believable.

Between my fixation on the political hullabaloo, reading apocalyptic books and Yuval Harari’s Sapiens, History of Humankind, I’ve indulged a serious look at the worst case scenario.

Curiously, I’m more aware than ever that “worst” – “best” – “bad” – “good” are just words.  World events may seem scary, dangerous; even infuriating.  For some they’re deadly.  How I internalize them, how I meet them, is peculiar to my personal beliefs.  This perspective determines whether I’m miserable or content.

A character in MaddAdam was weeding a garden and thought:

“… Weed is simply our name for a plant that annoys us by getting in the way of our Human plans.”

It struck me how easy it is to label things, even people and events as weed-like when they annoy me and intrude on my plans.  They aren’t – that’s all in my head.

As I digest all this the Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

The “wisdom” part – that’s what I need.  Knowing when to chill and when to act is hard AF.


“I have invented the world I see . . .   I have invented this situation as I see it.” ― A Course In Miracles (Lesson 32)


Is it Reality . . . Is it Delusion – Part 3

It’s shockingly difficult to peel away from our cultural and familial upbringing.  Some trauma might cause questions and probing … but candidly, how many of us enjoy thoughtful self-reflection?  Too many people live and die in their prescribed swim lanes.

Yuval Noah Harari outlined a bright spot for me with “The Law of Nature” and Buddhism in his chapters on Religion.  Among other natural-law religions, Buddhism maintains “that the superhuman order governing the world is the product of natural laws rather than of divine wills and whims.”

“.. suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims.  Rather, suffering is caused by the behavior patterns of one’s own mind.”

There is a way out of the “vicious cycles.”  When we understand “things as they are, then there is no suffering.  If you experience sadness without craving that the sadness go away, you continue to feel sadness but you do not suffer from it.”

“But how do you get the mind to accept things as they are, without craving?  To accept sadness as sadness, joy as joy, pain as pain?”  

“. . . train the mind to focus all its attention on the question, ‘What am I experiencing now?’ rather than on ‘What would I rather be experiencing?’”

Suffering is optional.

Easy to say … difficult to achieve.

We don’t just – poof – overcome the programming of a lifetime.  We live in the community of common delusion.  Your traffic jam is my traffic jam.

The world is constantly changing.  The Industrial Revolution brought questions and science, a “mentality of conquest”, capitalism – “greed is good” slogans; and some say the collapse of family and community.  Are we better off?  Are we happier?

Harari says maybe not.

“So our medieval ancestors were happy because they found meaning to life in collective delusions about the afterlife?  Yes.  As long as nobody punctured their fantasies, why shouldn’t they?  As far as we can tell, from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. … Hence any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion.”

“This is quite a depressing conclusion.  Does happiness really depend on self-delusion?”

Is it all in my head?  Does it matter?

Harari brings me back to the Buddhist philosophy; “the key to happiness is to know the truth about yourself – to understand who, or what, you really are.”

And here I am again!  What is real?
Physical – objective facts … things I can see, touch, hear, smell & taste?
Or the imagined – the gods, nations, culture, economics?
Reality will change when I tell a different story.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ― Albert Einstein

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu