Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Got a Worm for my Birthday

Quote of the month:
Nobody likes me,
everybody hates me,
guess I'll go eat worms....
- unknown, childhood rhyme

How many of us sang that song when we were kids?  The idea behind it is someone is feeling sorry for themselves, making up a story in their heads and feeling so bad that they think they will go eat a worm!  I had just such a day.... read on......

I woke up on my 46th birthday, walked across the carpet and stepped on a worm.  Yes.... a worm.  I do not know how the worm got into my bedroom, but - it was there - and I don't think it was there to wish me a happy birthday!  I also understand that this was a much worse day for the worm.... I apologized to the worm.... but this is a post about MY 46th birthday, so back to our story!  

A little background.... I have long held out 45 as the middle of life - assuming one makes it to around 90-ish or so.  That meant that I am now in the second half of life.  For those of you that might argue, it really should have started the day I turned 45, rather than the day I turned 46, this is my illusion and my story... so I can make it up any way I want to!!!  ; )  

Call it a mini-mid-life crisis or whatever you want to .....  In reality, no one really knows when the "middle" of their life will be, so of course this is just fiction my mind made up to begin with.  In my half awake - half asleep state, my first thought on my birthday was, I just started the second half of my life by stepping on a worm.  Oh, aren't we off to a good start.... on both my birthday AND on the second half of my life (please note sarcasm if it is not apparent in the text!)  So here I am at 46 yrs old, determining, today, what my life will be in another 45 years AND that it is all down hill from here!
I am sure it is obvious to all of you just how ridicules I am being - but it is a good way to illustrate how we do things like this EVERY day and maybe you will see how you do this in your own life too.

Ok, so let's slow this whole process waaaaay dooooown!

What is going on? What is the feeling?
I am feeling down/sad/detected that the entire rest of my life is basically going to be bad! 

Behind every feeling is a thought that came first
It helps to remember that thoughts are inside OUR head, so we have complete control over it.  Sometimes it does not FEEL like we do because our thoughts are so closely connected with our feelings.  It seems like they happen at the same time... but..... (and here is the good news!!!!)  The thought ALWAYS comes first.  The feeling can become a signal to SLOW DOWN and back up a little bit....take a look at the thought that created it.

What was the thought? 
Something along the lines of today is the first day of the rest of my life and since I stepped on a worm, this obviously signifies something very bad about the rest of my life.

Next - I have come to like the term "un-Velcro" to explain the way this process feels for me.  It is like pulling apart the feeling and the thought in one's mind the way one would pull Velcro apart

Put some space between the thought and the feeling.
Take 2 breaths... or 10 breaths if need be.... until you realize that it is 2 separate parts.
So, let's look at the thought - the part that started it all. 

Ask yourself questions like the following:  
(For further reading, it is similar to a process used by Byron Katie Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.)   

Is it true?  Is the thought accurate or is it just a story you are making up?
Actually in this case, we can just stop right here, because the obvious answer is NO, it is not true!

It is true that I stepped on a worm.  It is true that it is my 46th birthday.  Those are the factual parts. (For further reading about "Just the Facts", click here)  It is not true that the worm holds any particular, specific meaning. 

Let's say we answer the first question, "Yes, it is true."  Even if it is accurate, there may be another way to look at it.  Are you seeing the whole elephant?  (For further reading on this subject, click here. )

What else could it mean?
In my case, what if I decided that the worm could signify good luck?  Or does the worm not mean anything at all other than that I have to clean up worm guts from my carpet?  You get the idea!  Usually there is some other way to look at a situation. 

Finally, even if you cannot find another way to look at it, ask:

Is it serving (helping) you to think this thought? 
If the answer is no, then my suggestion is to make the choice to let it go the best you can.  I do know this is not always easy....  If you can't let it go, at least repeat to yourself, "This thought does not serve me, but I am making a choice not to let it go right now."  At least that will help to see it as a choice.

So - now that I've had time to think about that poor little worm that some how ended up in the wrong place this morning....  my choice is to thank the worm for one of the best birthday gifts I ever got..... 

The gift of seeing that things happen, they will continue to happen.... beyond that I can choose how I wish view them or choose to assign them no meaning at all. 

....and I choose to see that as a very excellent start to the second half of my life! 

As always, I would love to hear your feedback or questions. You may submit them by clicking on the "comments" link at the end of the post.

To read last month's post, Are you Breathing?  ..... click here.

Until next month...
Keep it simple!


Colleen Loehr said...

Happy Birthday! You're a spring chicken at 46 (I'm going on 54 and life keeps getting better every year.) I like what you say about slooooowiing waaay doooown...And I like your expression to "un-velcroe" thought and emotion from each other. I also have benefited a lot from Katie's four questions and I'm glad to see you post about this here. There's a wealth of loving wisdom in this post and on this blog...Gratitude to you Penelope!

Penelope said...

Thank you for your very positive and upbeat comment Colleen. Yes - you are right - life keeps getting better and better! Looks like we share a number of common interests and I look forward to checking out your blog further.... and would encourage my readers to do so also!

Penelope said...

A friend of mine said....
Someone once said that as soon as we try giving a creature a first name, our attitude towards them
subtly shifts for the better -- often a whole new perspective.

Let's name the worm "George."

Colleen Loehr said...

Did George survive? I confess I'm curious...

Penelope said...

Thank you to those of you wishing me a happy birthday! It was some time ago, but George's story is true and it DID happen on my birthday!

Yes, I know that is not really a worm in the photograph..... but I try to use either my own or friend's photos and can you believe I did not have a photo of a worm? This Centipede (?) taken in Key West - in 2000 was as close as I could get!

Penelope said...

Colleen -

No - It was not a good day for George... thank you for asking!

But.... I can't help but think that his little worm soul was here on earth as part of a greater purpose! How else could he have ended up so far off course and in my bedroom, under my foot, on precisely the right day?! Now, besides me, he has touched many more people here on the Internet.... pretty far reaching for little George, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I just read this post now, and I loved it. Very good lesson, one I try to practice as much as I can. I also enjoyed the humor you inserted. Keep up the good work.

Penelope said...

Thx Michael!

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Penelope,
According to my "Blogger Dashboard" you put up a new post 5 hours ago today (June 28th) that starts out, "To be fully awake and enlightened simply means..."- yet I don't seem to be able to find the post here? Just checking- now it occurs to me that perhaps you took the post down? Thanks, Colleen

Penelope said...

Hi Colleen -

Yes - I was busy today! But they are all in draft. Sorry about that - I must have posted a couple to see what they looked like before putting them back in draft!

My family is getting ready to move long distance, so I want to have some things in the "almost ready" form for the next couple of months.

I am not sure how much the preview showed you. It is by one of my favorite authors/speakers, Leonard Jacobson. He recently re-located here to the Twin Cities. I'll preview 2 paragraphs below....

To be fully awake and enlightened simply means to be fully present in the moment of now. To be present is the simplest thing. It is your natural state.

Every moment, you have a choice. Will you be present in the truth and reality of this moment or will you allow yourself to be seduced into the world of the mind? All thoughts take you out of the present moment. And then if you believe in those thoughts, which most of us do, you get lost in the world of the mind.

Thanks for following my blog!