Tag Archives: And this

Lemons

You know that expression, right?

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

Or alternatively:

lemons

Well, it struck me just now that there are basically two camps you can fall into when you hit a bump in the road and fall off your bike. It’s probably obvious and it’s sure to be something I’ve written about before, in another guise, some time ago. And I don’t want to get all verbose about it, since it’s really just the simplest equation in the world.

When life throws you a curveball, you have a choice.

You can add it to one of two lists.

You can add it to your victim story list: “And then, poor me, this happened.” You know the one, right? And you know when you’re on that kick because you’re not focused on what actually happened, or how best to deal with it, or how to fix it, but you’re reciting in your head how best to tell it when you next meet someone who’ll listen. And you know that you’re learning to kick that habit the moment it begins to feel less than comfortable reciting the same tired old lines; when, and I know you know this one, you’re actually beginning to bore yourself.

Or you can add it to your survivor list. You can add to the strings on your bow. You can hold your head up and say (to yourself because, come on, who else needs to hear it anyway? Whose opinion of you is more important than your own? Seriously. Whose? The number one person who needs to love and approve of you is… uh-huh… YOU) “I survived that, and this is what I learned.”

Victim consciousness is a honey-trap. You think you’ll feel better telling someone how unhappy you are and how it’s anyone and anything else’s fault other than your own. But you don’t. You never ever do. It just perpetuates the misery.

But when you take responsibility for your own happiness, it can change in a heartbeat.

Last night, watching a film with some of my family, one of my sons was, frankly, bloody miserable. From an objective perspective, I had grasped the storm in the teacup, I could see how simple it would be to forget it, to get over it, to let it go. But it isn’t something you can do for someone else. They have to do it for themselves. And it isn’t always easy. And unless you’re Buddha, you’ll still have times when you struggle with it.

In a lull, I leaned over to him:

“The only person unhappy in here,” I whispered, “is you. And you don’t have to be. You can choose to let whatever the perceived grievance is… go. Just let it go.”

He guffawed, somewhat sarcastically, but I know how it works with him. Plant the seed, walk away and let him think.

Shortly afterwards, during a particularly heavy and gruelling scene, and as though nothing had happened:

“If you close your eyes and listen to Tom Hanks in this film, it’s like Woody’s swearing. I can’t be the only one to think that, right?”

The rest of us fell about laughing and the entire atmosphere was diffused.

Because he chose to let it go.

Small example, simple principle.

Massive life lesson.

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If this… then…

First of all Happy New Year! I love this time of year. I know, I know, it’s only a calendar date, it has nothing to do with the seasons, the equinoxes, it’s all made up… But still, somehow… It’s New, isn’t it? And there’s something almost irrepressibly optimistic about something New.

I disappeared for a while. That’s kind of symbolic, I think. Various technical complications meant that this site was unreachable for a spell, then reappeared in some bizarre form, and today I have found it again. Funnily enough, I rather feel like I’ve found me again recently, too.

Last year, the year behind me, became rather unfocused towards the end. Or perhaps mono-focused is a better way of putting it. Too much was overlooked and fell by the wayside. I say this without guilt or rancour because it was very positive, if exhausting, and because I don’t believe in regrets, but in lessons learned. This Christmas season has brought a fabulous refocusing.

The mot du jour is balance. And it is I this I shall endeavour to hold onto into 2014.

There we have it – my rather over-worded Resolution. Because, you know, I don’t think it does any of us any harm at all to refocus on a fairly regular basis. Stop, take stock, whittle away what doesn’t make your soul sing, nourish what does…

I was listening to Jack Kornfield today. Again, somewhat by accident, I appear to have managed to sign up for Google Play and I haven’t the faintest idea how to unsubscribe, so I’m making the most of it 😉 And I was very pleasantly surprised to find one of my gurus there.

And the part that stopped me mid-mushroom chopping was breathtakingly simple.

It always is, isn’t it?

And then, when you try to explain it to somebody, you’re in danger of being considered a simpleton yourself.

I’ll give it a shot anyway.

He said this:

If this…. then that.

If not this… then not that.

And, he said, that’s life.

It is a simple string of actions and consequences.

But the problems (and I’m no longer paraphrasing Mr Kornfield here) begin the moment we start to personalise those actions – your actions, my actions, his actions – we get into hot water. Forget all that, it mires you in anguish, anger, guilt, the desire for vengeance. And the only thing any of that will do is keep you locked in that time.

In that past.

In that last year.

Why not try:

If I let it go, then I can move on.

See, I said it was simple. And I’m not convinced I’ve conveyed it the way it makes sense in my head. I mean, I hope it’s obvious that if your actions were detrimental to another, you make amends, you make your peace, you take your lesson and you move on a better person. Or that if you were the person ‘wronged’, you can forgive, whether it is desired by the other person or not, take your lesson and move on a stronger person… Those parts, I hope, don’t need saying.

After all, as wonderful Jack says:

“In the end, just three things matter:

How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go”

 


The root of all evil…

It isn’t money.

Sure, money can ruin a person, just as it can improve their lives – and the lives of those they love – immeasurably. I don’t believe it is the root of all evil.

What I believe is the root of all evil is Victim Consciousness.

I have mentioned this before, having first been switched onto this idea by David Hawkins, and then had it further explained by Lynne Forrest, whose book you will find in my recommended reading (she explains it very well). But until quite recently I hadn’t appreciated just how fundamental Victim Consciousness is in the day-to-day happiness of our lives and interpersonal relationships.

Before I go any further, I want to explain one thing, since it was an enormous stumbling block for me when I first grappled with this subject. There is a chasm of difference between victim and Victim. What I am talking about here is Victim – with a capital V. The Victim that defines us, labels us, becomes our story. There is no denying that most of us fall victim (with a small v) to one event / person / life circumstance or another from time to time, and sometimes many times in the course of our lives and that can create enormous difficulty for us. Usually emotional difficulty, often material or financial difficulty, sometimes psychological difficulty. And if we are fortunate, we have a support network of family or friends there to bolster us, to help us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again (as the song goes), a little wiser for the experience.

But if we are more fortunate, or diligent, or even rigorous in our thinking and our consciousness, we do not allow ourselves to indulge or fall into the trap of Victim Consciousness. And boy! It takes effort sometimes. It is so easy to say “Poor me!”, to start recounting your story in your head, the one you plan to tell someone at the school gates, or call a friend to retell, or save up for the next person you meet… Sound familiar? How often has something irritating, upsetting or hurtful happened to you and you find yourself almost rehearsing the way you’re going to relate it when you get home / to your friend’s house / on the phone?

Why?

For the juice. For the attention, sympathy… the payback. The “Poor you”s…

What has become increasingly obvious to me is how ultimately damaging it is. All our endless retelling of our story (our Victim Consciousness) does, its only real function, is to keep us locked in the cycle of past, hurt and damage. From there we cannot progress at all.

“Progress”? Yes. Progress. Be happy. Move on. Because to be a Victim, we allow something or someone to have power over our lives, over our own happiness. Why in the name of all that is good would we want to do that?? Allowing ourselves to be a victim, we give away our power, we disallow the possibility of living our lives to the fullest extent we can imagine. Following our hearts. Creating our dreams. Creating our realities.

Because that, with your thoughts and your beliefs, is precisely what you do. The story you tell yourself is the reality you create. It is truly that simple. If you tell yourself you are unhappy, you are unhappy. If you tell yourself you are happy… well… you get it! If you look at things from the perspective of negativity, hardship, difficulty, then life is negative, stark, difficult. But if you look at it from the opposing perspective, the sun shines even when it’s raining.

We have so many platitudes that we repeat endlessly without ever having given them much thought at all.

“Count your blessings!” we are told as children. The problem is, we are usually told this when we are steeped in a vat of Victim Consciousness, feeling sorry for ourselves that she got the doll we really wanted for Christmas, and we just got this lousy book; or he gets to stay up late and watch television and we just have to go to bed and listen to the joy downstairs… oh… you know the score! And our elders and betters say to us “Count your blessings!”. Do we then skip up to bed and make a mental list of all the fabulous things we do have in our lives? All the great things we can do? Pah! We scowl and sink further into our pit of self-pity.

See? So the “Count your blessings!” mantra has been transformed into a reprimand to counter our complaints of unfairness.

But the problem is, it’s true.

If you look at any problem in your life, there is always a ‘Way of Acceptance’. Always. Without exception. I am not suggesting for a minute that it is easy to get there. Sometimes it seems an impossible task. But nothing is impossible. (Something else we are told and allow to enter one ear and exit swiftly through the other). But it isn’t.

Nothing is impossible.

You create your reality, regardless of the material circumstances of your life. Each thought, each belief, everything you allow yourself to believe, you have made a choice to believe. And if it isn’t beneficial to your overall well-being, you can make a choice to change it.

Angry? Make a choice to let it go.

Hurt? Make a choice to let it go.

Disappointed? Make a choice to let it go.

Hard done-by? Make a choice to let it go.

If you can accept that you create your reality, why on earth (or anywhere else) would you want to create one that made or kept you miserable?

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. 🙂 Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

With love.


“And this.”

The daily life of a mother is nothing if not Sisyphean. Each day the same routine, the same chores, the same requests and the same demands. But of course within each day and each task and each routine, there are limitless differences, too. The gift lies in finding them.

Today, I was awoken at 6.30 by a tiny finger up my  nose. Teddy was awake and had decided that a peaceful, sleeping mother was just boring. Since I have not managed to persuade myself to force the issue about staying in his cot, next to the bed, it is all too easy for him to remedy that situation. And since I had not managed to get to sleep until just past midnight, and been on my usual brink of wakefulness all night because of his presence, I awoke exhausted. Which is seldom a useful way to wake up.

However, a smiling and giggling little round Ted is one of the very best ways to be awoken. And when his father offered to make me a cup of tea to drink in bed before I embarked upon breakfast for five small people, packed lunches for four and off to playgroup and school, the prospect improved considerably.

Nevertheless, as beset as I am just now by being just over the threshold into my Neptune squares (my astrologer explains a little about this here) my life is in turmoil quite apart from daily life. In fact, daily life is what keeps me going. My children and my astrologer keep me sane and grounded in a world that seems otherwise to be dissolving around my ears. I am not exaggerating.

I dragged weary limbs downstairs.

Life is a struggle.

Or… is it?

Sarah Napthali, in her book Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren says this:

“One Zen practice is to meet each difficulty that arises with the gentle, non-judgemental words ‘And this.’ … Such a reaction constitutes a letting go and an end to any unnecessary suffering in our situation.”

Certainly I have struggled today.

But why have I struggled?

Because life is more difficult today than any other? No, it isn’t. It is much the same as any other, yet I manage perfectly well on other days.

Because I am more tired today than any other? Well… perhaps that’s closer to the truth of it. And yet, tiredness needn’t determine state of mind or mood either.

Because I am struggling with something other. Certainly I am. I am struggling with the loss of my entire family: mother, father, three sisters, brother, two nieces, two nephews. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The end of my marriage and beginning of my new life proved too much for them to take and, after close to three years, I have finally had to accept that I am powerless to affect outcomes, behaviours, attitudes or… anything that doesn’t come from within me, actually.  I have ranted and railed but to no effect. I have withdrawn and kept silent, to no effect. I have pleaded, cajoled, shouted and accused. All to no effect. In fact, the only effect any of this has had is to stunt me in my own life, to keep me tied to the past and afraid of the future.

(“And this.”)

The future.

Today.

Today is important.

Now is all I have.

And this very moment, I am sitting on the lawn with my round and happy baby. My astrologer is gardening beside me, my three older children are happy at school, their younger brother happy at playgroup. The sun is shining, dandelions have scattered their seeds and the air is full of them, the breeze is warm. In twenty minutes I shall collect my four-year old and bring him home, make some lunch and start planning the boys’ supper. Today is Friday and there is no school for two whole days. The weekend stretches before me full of promise. Bike rides are planned, trips to town to spend pocket money, a family movie-watching session scheduled.

Life is good.