Rewards for Perseverance

The last time I read The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel, mom was diagnosed with brain cancer – then two months later a workplace reorganization relieved me of my management responsibilities.  First my heart was broken, then my ego crushed.  A definite low point.

The strength of character Ayla reveals in the Earth’s Children series inspires me.  When I read about her struggles, her flaws, her strength; my convictions are reinforced.  Don’t know how many times I’ve read these books, but I’m drawn in and captivated every time.  Amazing how a fictional character can do that.

Reflections on destiny and free will – on perseverance, grit and its reward fascinate me.  I look for signs, internal and external, indicating I’m on the right path.  Prayer and meditation remind me of my values and motivate me to carry on.

The loss of my mother was devastating; she was a remarkable woman.  Today I’m grateful for the time we did have.  Without her in my life things would’ve been very different.  Loss of my Boss title brought new insights – took me to places I didn’t expect.  The ego can be a brutal taskmaster – learning that humility doesn’t mean humiliation is a tricky thing.  Getting to the other side of pain brings strength.

A melancholy infected me recently.  Not the familiar personal struggle to overcome in private – but a more existential communal misery.  I’m reaching for familiar tools – strong friendships, long talks; helping others, caring for animals; exercise and involvement.

Having a surprisingly hard time with meditation and prayer – guess I’m feeling betrayed by faith.  Once again I picked up Jean Auel’s books, and again I’m encouraged.  Knowing the future is impossible – trusting its outcome is exhausting without faith.  So I’ll plug along – reminded that belief sometimes follows action – so I “Act as if.”

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“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” – Viktor E. Frankl

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Incremental Daily Progress – Drip, Drip, Drip

“… incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track—this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes.” – Seth Godin

Today’s blog post by Seth Godin reveals the key to making change.  It’s not flashy, sexy and provocative … no, it’s ordinary, unadorned tenacity.  The kind of resolve sustained by passion.  A want so deep and strong it pulls me through the misery of tedium.  Thru the monotonous research, analysis, writing, corroboration; re-writing.  The dull study, practice, training and tweaking before more rehearsal.  If it’s worth having it’s worth the trudge.

Four years ago I read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D.  They told me that if I want to be vital and energetic; to maintain the get-up-and-go that gets more elusive each year – I need to stay active (“Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life”).  Oh; and I need to eat right (“Quit eating crap!”).  Two of my favorite things!  HA!  Gotta REALLY want health to make that effort.

The same goes for my education, my writing, my activism.  In his book The Dip, Seth Godin says, “The Dip is the secret to your success.  The people who set out to make it through the Dip—the people who invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the dip—those are the ones who become the best in the world.”

“The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery.”   

“IMPORTANT NOTE:  Successful people don’t just ride out the Dip.  They don’t just buckle down and survive it.  No, they lean into the Dip.  They push harder, changing the rules as they go.”

Not everything is “dip worthy.”  I must ask myself: am I settling for being “average”?  Am I making a difference in this rat race?  Am I living in a “cul-de-sac” AKA dead end”?  Is my job a cul-de-sac?  What are the time wasters showing up in my life (Facebook, TV, solitaire)?

Seth encourages me to “find a Dip to conquer” – to quit the idling cul-de-sacs, quit the stuff I don’t care about; stop doing what I know I’ll only ever be mediocre at.

Life is the little things; and the “drip, drip, drip” of the Dip.

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 “Water is fluid, soft & yielding but water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield … what is soft is strong.” ― Lao Tzu

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Start With Where You Are

026Someone played a YouTube Video about Happy Cows … It got me thinking about the consciousness of all beings; how the animals that live with me have personalities – feel things; maybe cows do too.  So why am I eating them – cows I mean?  And chickens?  And Pigs?  I might need to re-think a few things.

This, of course led to serious fretting about leather coats, shoes, purses.  If I stopped eating meat because of their “consciousness” – then I need to purge everything; because otherwise I’d just be a hypocrite.  But what about proteins?!  Will I get enough?!  STOP!  Just stop.  Start with where you are.  One thing I’m learning from meditation; I can’t do, be, change everything all at once, now, immediately – I just need to start with where I am.

Today I’m feeling the consciousness of cows.

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““If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” ― James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small

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Making Room by Letting Go

KonMari Method (Part 2 – Books): Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-up.

books before     books after    

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“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ― Oscar Wilde

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Letting Go – Getting Tidy

Me 2014Serendipity – that’s what led me to Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-up.  Noshing and shopping with my good buddy Sally, I mentioned the $25 Barnes & Nobel gift card burning a hole in my pocket; time to cash it in.  As we wandered the store poking here and there – I was uninspired; unusual for me in a book store!  Cruised my favorite haunts – Philosophy, Religion, Psych.  Nada.  Wandered over to “Self Help” .. still nothing.  Then it popped into my head.  That book on Tidying – saw it on the AJC’s Best Sellers List last week.

Making physical room in the “stuff” department isn’t new for me.  After my divorce moons ago I sold most everything a house can hold to move into an apartment with two girlfriends.  It was painful seeing my “married” stuff go … but it was for a good cause.  My beautiful friends gave me the best sandwich hug afterwards and a bruising headache vanished.

Marie Kondo is leading me through the letting go process in a different, very positive way.  She’s asking me not to see this activity as getting rid of things I don’t want; rather surrounding myself with things that bring me joy.

Amazingly this point-of-view is very quantum.

“The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves … the fate that links us to the things we own is quite amazing.”

“The destiny that led us to each one of our possessions is just as precious and sacred as the destiny that connected us with the people in our lives. There is a reason why each of your belongings came to you.”   

Kondo says: “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”  When I look around and acknowledge my world as a reflection of who I am, do I see happy?  Do I see happy relationships, right work; do I like how I show up in the world?  Does my physical environment bring me joy?

The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful.  It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past.”

Yes; I JUST bought that blouse – why did I like it so much that day?  Buh-bye.

The KomMari Method has a specific order to tidying: “start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally things with sentimental value.”  It’s HARD to let stuff go – as John Lennon asked many years ago “imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.”

“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

“As you put your house in order … you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life.” … “To put your things in order means to put your past in order too, It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so you can take the next step forward.”

Ms. Kondo recommends we do this all at once – don’t drag it out.  I’ll tackle one major category each weekend (okay – I see komono and its TEN sub-categories requiring several weekends).  One step at a time – consistently and with dedication to a lighter, easier me.

KonMari Part 1 DONE: (Clothes)!

 KonMari 1 BeforeKonMari 1 After 1

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“The more we have the less we own.” ― Meister Eckhart

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