Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Which Way Should I Turn?

Many things occur to me while I am out walking. Here's another one. This morning I noticed that the leaves were falling off the trees as I walked by. The song "Turn,Turn,Turn," sung by the Byrds, popped into my head. It brought to mind that everything changes. Nothing stays the same. The seasons always change and so do we. Change does not have to be a negative thing.

I have been feeling very anxious and afraid lately because I am doing many new things. It came to me that there is nothing wrong with this. Change is bound to happen and it is OK to be afraid. It just isn't OK to stop moving forward. I also decided if I just put one foot in front of the other and don't look too far ahead, I stop feeling so overwhelmed and I am better able to take action.

After writing the above portion, I started to feel better. Want to know why? It was because I received  encouragement and support from friends of mine in my Tribe. (Email me if you want to know more about a Tribe.) It was great. I no longer felt alone in this process of learning new things. So the lesson I learned today is that if you are afraid or worried, tell someone and get some help. This is a simple idea but one that I think many people are resistant to. We don't want to feel weak or appear stupid. Too bad! If I appear stupid at least I am doing it for a good cause. I am trying to improve my life and in doing so I may make some mistakes. But, it is better to try and fail then never to try at all. Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." I guess I am working on my first thousand ways that don't work. Hopefully, by asking questions and getting help, I won't have to go through 10,00 ways that don't work. I hope the same for you.

In case you want to be inspired by Thomas Edison you could read The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World.

Or maybe you would prefer to listen to some vintage tunes.
Essential Byrds CD

Monday, November 1, 2010

What, Me Worry?

The funniest thing happened in church about a month ago. It was my daughter's birthday and the tradition is that the congregation sings Happy Birthday to the birthday person if their birthday falls on that exact Sunday. Well, I was really looking forward to this. It doesn't happen very often. I made sure she was in the church Sanctuary at just the right time. I even left the choir loft to go find her. So I am sure you can guess what happened. The pastor did not have the congregation sing. I was sitting in the choir loft wondering if I should somehow signal the pastor. Or maybe I could get my husband to remind the pastor. (My husband is the choir director at our church.) I was so busy trying to figure out how to make this happen that I could barely pay attention to the songs, prayers and sermon.

Does this ever happen to you? Do  you worry and worry and try to control things to get them to turn out exactly as you want? I do, much too often.

This is not a recipe for good mental health. I often tell people that we have to relinquish attachment to the outcome. This is a Buddhist philosophy, I believe. The idea is to do the best you can at your task and then let the rest go. I am not in charge of all that happens. This is both a relief and a disappointment, but in the long run, I think it's more of a relief. I can let go of the weight of always being in charge. What a good idea! I think we should all try it.

One thing I use to help me relax is meditation.  If you are new to this idea and would like to try a breath meditation, just click on my store and you can download an audio breath meditation for free. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sing For Your Sanity: What Do Politics and Love Have In Common?

Sing For Your Sanity: What Do Politics and Love Have In Common?: "It is the political time of year! There are ads that tell you how wonderful one candidate is and how terrible their opponent is. Everything ..."

What Do Politics and Love Have In Common?

It is the political time of year! There are ads that tell you how wonderful one candidate is and how terrible their opponent is. Everything is drawn in very black and white terms. I suppose this is all right if you are trying to get people to vote for you. But let me tell you, in family, love and friendship, all or nothing thinking is not very helpful.

The problem is this. If I think I am right, and you think you are right, then we are just going to argue. Neither one of us is going to compromise or be flexible. In this point of view, we have decided that there is only one right way. This is simply not true. There are many right ways to do things, not just one. I work with couples all the time to help them improve their communication. You wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how many couples or families fight over how to put the dishes in the dishwasher! Is there just one way to do this? Of course not. I say to these couples, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?" Unfortunately, some people just want to be right.

In the musical "Of Thee I Sing,"  presidential candidate John Wintergreen is running on the platform of love. He makes a promise to marry the winner of a beauty pageant. Unfortunately, he falls for someone else and marries her instead. She makes really good corn muffins. He still wins the Presidency because who can vote against love? Well, chaos ensues. The beauty pageant winner whom he jilted sues him for breach of promise. The Senate votes to impeach him. The Supreme Court decides in his favor because corn muffins are more important than justice. Seriously. Luckily, President Wintergreen is good at compromise. It turns out that when the President can't perform his duties, they fall to the Vice-President. The jilted beauty pageant winner marries the VP and all is well.

In California, we have been having a terrible time getting politicians to agree or compromise. Our state budget is a mess. Like I said, that's how politics goes. But personal relationships are different. They have to be. If you want to have healthy relationships, work on finding the middle ground. You and your loved ones will be happier.

By the way, "Of Thee I Sing" was written by George and Ira Gershwin and, in 1932, was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's a great satire about politics.

Of Thee I Sing (1952 Revival Cast) CD

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Let A Monkey Take Over Your Mind

I went for my morning walk and chanced to come upon a garage sale. There were some bookcases there for a good price so I asked the seller to hold them for me until I finished my walk. As soon as I walked away to continue my exercise I started worrying that she would sell them before I got back. Maybe I wasn't clear enough that I really wanted them. I wasn't sure what to do. It was a little early to call my husband because I didn't want the phone to wake my daughter. I worried and worried and then finally decided to call  my husband so he could go over and pay for them. On the way back from my walk I could see a strange man looking at the bookcases. I started to worry that someone else was buying them before I could. I hurried to get back to the garage sale.

Here's the weird thing. I didn't even know I wanted these  bookcases until just that morning. I had been perfectly happy walking along looking at the ducks and rabbits and Joshua trees. All of a sudden I got in a tizzy. My mind started going round and round and worrying over something that wasn't even that important.

I like to call this Monkey Mind. This is not an original name. I understand that it is a Buddhist concept. In her book "The Energy of Money," Maria Nemeth describes Monkey Mind as "a criticizing aspect of our mind that swings us from doubt, to worry, and back to doubt." So Monkey Mind made me think that these bookcases were absolutley crucial to my happiness. I was going to be very upset if we didn't get them. This is crazy. I was making myself upset over something that wasn't really even that important.

I imagine that I'm not the only one who does this. In fact, I'm sure of this. Way back somewhere between AD 55 and AD 135 the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "People are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them." This means then, that what affects your mind and emotions is not what happens to you, but how you interpret what happens to you. I started to think I was going to be deprived of the bookcases. I interpreted this to be a very bad thing and so I became upset and worried.

The funny thing is that the man who I saw looking at the bookcases was actually part of the garage sale. He was helping my husband load the bookcases into the car. I guess I will have to talk about making assumptions sometime.

I have included this rendition of "Monkey In The Mango Tree" sung by Ricardo Montalban because it is funny and a little twist on Monkey Mind. The monkeys decide they are insulted by being compared to humans and at the end say, "Don't identify yourself with me." This song is from the musical "Jamaica."

The Monkey In the Mango Tree

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sing For The Health Of Our World: We All Need Water

Let's take a time out from singing for our sanity and instead, sing for the health and safety of our world.

Ocotber 15 is Blog Action Day and the topic of interest is water. Here are some facts that highlight the importance of clean and accessible drinking water for everyone around the world.

Health and Sanitation

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.

Women and Children.

In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely to make them sick.

Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families.

Along their long walk, they're subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. Hauling cans of water for long distances takes a toll on the spine and many women experience back pain early in life.

I remember hearing that in the Sudan, women risk getting raped in order to get water.

With safe water nearby, women are free to pursue new opportunities and improve their families’ lives. Kids can earn their education and build the future of their communities.

Go to www.charitywater.org and learn how you can help. You can watch this video for more information.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Of course, I have to add a song as well. This is a great message to remember. We ARE the world.

We Are The World: U.S.A For Africa Audio CD
We Are the World - The Story Behind the Song (20th Anniversary Special Edition) DVD

Monday, October 11, 2010

You Can Make Yourself Feel Better, Or Not

I went to the Post Office last Friday to pick up my mail. At least, I thought I was going to pick up my mail. The worker was very nice, but they couldn't find any mail for me or my office mates. This mail was very important because I was waiting for two paychecks. I had been waiting for these checks from an insurance company for 8 months. There was a major problem getting payment and finally I had it solved. I even received one check last week. I was looking forward to more, since I had been told the checks were in the mail (ha, ha).

We had a problem receiving our mail last week, on the very days I expected these checks. This is why I ended up at the Post Office.

When I left the Post Office without any mail, I was very irritated. I drove back to my office muttering unkind thoughts under my breath. I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier. I decided to turn on the radio. Since I tell everyone that songs can affect your mood, I thought I would try it for myself.

Here's the song that was playing. It was "Put A Little Love In Your Heart!" Wasn't that amazing? It made me smile, and lo and behold, I felt less aggravated. This was a personal example of what I try to teach others everyday. I guess I have to practice what I preach.

Listen and see if it makes  your day a little brighter. I hope it does.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart CD by Jackie Deshannon
Essential 70's 4 CDs