Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monsters Under the Bed

Photo of the month:
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
The Wizard of Oz

Quotes of the month:
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
- The Wizard of Oz

Do not anticipate trouble or worry 
about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
- Benjamin Franklin

Think back to when you were a child. Did you ever watch a scary movie before going to bed? For me two movies come to mind... Alfred Hitchcock's, "The Birds" and one particular snake scene from the James Bond movie, "Live and Let Die."

After the movie, when it was time to go to sleep, were you so frightened that you didn't want to be alone in your bed? Of course your parents, knowing everything was fine, sent you to bed anyway. As you lay in your bed, frozen with fear.... you were absolutely certain.... that there must be.... that there had to be.... monsters under the bed!!!!!!!!

You summon up the courage to get out of your bed and look...  It turns out that there really were not any monsters under there after all. Confident, you climb back in bed, pull the covers up... and then realize your mistake.... of course they aren't under the bed... that's because.... they are in the closet!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that we are grown ups.... we can go to bed confident that there are not any made up monsters under our bed... or can we?

Let me paint a scenario.... you are at work and walk by a co-workers cubicle. Inside, two co-workers are not working at all, but sitting, talking and laughing. As you walk by, you hear the laughing get even louder. What is your first thought?

Here are a few possibilities....

  • What are they saying? They must be laughing at me. I can't believe they would be talking about me behind my back like that!
  • Look at them, goofing off again. I'll probably have to do more work to make up for their slacking.
  • Why am I being excluded from their conversation? I always get left out!

Maybe you could add a few of your own. Please feel free to do that in the comments!

Let's try another one.....
You call a friend to ask them to go to dinner. Your friend is very short with you and tells you they can't have dinner tonight.

What monsters come to mind?
  • I can't believe they would treat me like that. I am always the one who has to reach out and look where it gets me. Alone again!
  • I wonder what I did wrong.... why don't they like me anymore?
  • Forget them.... I've had it with them!!!

Do you have any to add?

As always, I try to keep the examples Simple and clear. Obviously in the first example, you have no idea what they are actually laughing about. They may have just read a funny e-mail joke or maybe one of them did something embarrassing and told the other one the story. You are no where to be found in either of these possibilities. In the second scenario, you may not realize that your friend just got very bad news about a family member and isn't thinking clearly. What your friend really needed was a friend to reach a little further.... but instead we get angry.  Both of these involve our reactions to other people, but it could also be that you are worried about something that has not happened yet or are feeling guilty about something from the past.  According to Wayne Dyer, the two most useless emotions are worry and guilt, but more on that another day.  He is in good company with the Benjamin Franklin quote above.

These are the made up "monsters" of the adult world. The things that push our buttons, upset us, or make us scared or angry before we really fully know the facts, but really are not real at all. This month, the Simple suggestion I am making is to take a close look at your own life and see where you may be making up a monster or a story about something that is going on in your life.

In a memorable scene from the classic film "The Wizard of Oz," the "great and powerful Oz" appears larger than life to Dorothy and her crew. Frightened, they inch forward towards the booming, fire spewing image they believe to be the real Oz. Toto comes to the rescue!  Running over to a curtain and pulling it back, he reveals that a man is pushing buttons and pulling levers. They realized that the larger than life image is, in fact, not real, but being created by "the man behind the curtain." At this point, he utters that famous line in the quote above, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." But it is too late. He is found out.

Our mind, our ego or on this blog, I have also used the words "voice" or "tapes" that play in our head are similar to this movie scene. Whichever word you choose to use doesn't matter. The voice is trying to convince us that something is real when in reality it is just fiction or imagination made up by the man behind the curtain. It is creating a monster under the bed. Just as in "The Wizard of Oz," in reality, it has no real power over us.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from Adyashanti. He says, "One of the good indications of truth is does it exist when you're not thinking about it?" Going back to the first scenario in the office, the only place you are being left out is in your own mind. Stop thinking about it and that disappears! In the second scenario about dinner, the only place you are being treated badly is also in your own mind. The solution is the same. Stop! At the very least, choose a different story. Tell yourself that they are intimidated by your good looks and don't want to have to be seen in public with you! : ) In reality, this is just another "monster" of a different type. It's Simply an example of how we create all different types of things in our minds.

This holiday month, if you want to make up a story, let's believe the best about each other instead of the worst. Better yet, pull open the curtain or climb under the bed and reveal that there are in fact no monsters there at all!!!

If you would like to watch a short clip of this scene from "The Wizard of Oz," scroll down to the next post and enjoy!

Until next month...
Happy Holidays and keep it Simple!

The Wizard of Oz

Enjoy a brief scene from this classic movie....
If you have trouble viewing it on this blog, click here to view on You Tube.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Something New....


This month, I am starting something new.  As many of you know, my husband passed away suddenly and very unexpectedly in January of 2012.  My world, and that of our two boys, was abruptly turned upside down without warning and we are still on a journey of healing.  This month, in honor of his birthday, I am starting a new blog.  

A friend of mine who has traveled to Liberia, Africa, shared with me that when a woman is widowed in Liberia, an older widow is sent to stay with the younger widow... to help the younger widow through the difficult adjustment. In the last nine months I've met a number of other widows.  I wanted to provide a space for widows to share with each other, the things that have helped them on their own journey as well as a place to ask questions that remain unresolved in their lives.

My intention is to keep Simply Spirituality as it is, but I have created a new site called Widows Helping Widows.  The web address is a little bit different than that of Simply Spirituality.  It does not include "blogspot" in the address.  I have the domain name and the address is as follows:

My hope is that you will never need the new site.  If you, or someone you know, could benefit from the site, there will be a link to it on Simply Spirituality to find it quickly and Simply!  On the RIGHT side of this page, you can either click the photo of the dove or the link below it. If the new site can make the journey easier, better, simpler.....  for someone else, then it will have served its purpose.

I am not a lawyer, a financial planner, a doctor or a psychologist, so I would advise you to consult with the authorities where necessary.  I am simply a mother, was a wife, and now a widow who has been through (and is going through) this.  My intention is to attempt to take what has been a negative in my life and try to make something positive come from it.  My goal is to address different aspects of widow-widower hood.  Not simply the grief aspect, but also the every day logistics of dealing with a death and adapting to life as a single person.  This is the "virtual"  version of the women in Liberia who are there to comfort and assist each other as I mention above.  By sharing our experiences and our strategies - in a positive manner - we can create a similar "virtual" community where we help and support each other.

The new site is for both men and women.  It is also for those who are supportive of someone going through a death.  There may be things that apply to loss in general as well.
I live in the United States, so much of what I say will be of my experience - for example - going to Social Security Administration.  Living in this virtual global "village" as we do today, I welcome comments and suggestions from around the world.

Click here .... Widows helping Widows to visit the new site!

Please leave comments, suggestions or questions in the "comments" section of any post.
One day at a time,


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday! NOW.... Get Back on your Mat

Photo of the month:

4 Years Old! 

Quote of the month:
Get back on your mat!
 - KB

This month marks four years of Simply Spirituality. I say this every year, but it is still hard for me to believe another year has passed. When I began, there were about 5 or 6 posts floating around in my mind and now, some 50 posts later, it still feels as though I've barely scratched the surface.

This past year has been one of the most successful years of the blog with many new people signing up and/or following by other means - Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thank you to all of you, both those that have supported the blog since the beginning and those that have joined us on this journey along the way! 

Many of you know that this last year has been one of the most challenging of my life.  There is a further explanation in the January 2012 post, but briefly, our family suffered a very significant loss this year. This has challenged me in every way imaginable - emotionally, mentally, financially, as a parent, even physically at times and also spiritually.   I even considered if I had it in me to continue the blog when so much of the rest of my life felt chaotic. I am happy to report that I plan to continue posting as long as the Universe continues to send me the words!

A recent visit with a dear friend of mine gave me the quote of the month above, "Get back on your mat." (As in yoga mat.) This Simple phrase that she shared with me has been my mantra for the last several weeks and has especially helped during this trying time in my life.  
In May 2011, the post titled, Life as a Marathon was written.  In this post I talked about the many steps involved in a long distance move and compared it to the many physical steps taken in running a marathon. My suggestion was to focus on the one step one is taking at the moment. 

This is exactly the essence of "get back on your mat."  When doing yoga, one generally uses a mat.......
Get back on your mat!

BUT - - ones mind often is anywhere but the mat. It may be on what you are cooking for dinner, the stop you need to make at the grocery store on the way home from yoga class, the call you forgot to make before leaving work or on your neighbor, on their mat, who seems to be doing a better downward dog than you judge yourself to be doing. NONE OF THESE are your own mat. To do yoga successfully - ones mind must be where the body is and that is on the mat! : ) This simple practice can be applied to nearly anything else in life. Being mindful of where one is and focusing attention on what one is doing rather than the one hundred or one thousand other things floating through ones mind at any given time will help accomplish the one step someone is taking at that moment.

After yoga class, when one stops at the grocery store on the way home, is your mind with you in the store as you choose your apple (for more on "choosing apples,"  see the June 2009 post on Intuition) or is the mind back in the yoga class rehashing what you did incorrectly on your downward dog pose..... or is it STILL thinking about the call you forgot to make earlier?  Another related post was in August 2009, called "The Voice" that talks about the incessant voice in our head that constantly draws us off our mat.  

When I was little, I was taught that someone could only do one thing at a time and do it well. Today we are encouraged to seek multi-tasking as a goal. My personal experience is that less may actually be accomplished by multi-tasking. Mistakes are made or attention not given to detail.... I never tell anyone what they "should" do on this blog, but simply share what has worked for me. "Get back on your mat" reminds me to focus on what I am doing, where I am, and what is in front of me at this particular moment.  

This Simple phrase has helped me get back on my own "writing" mat!  In this birthday month of the blog.... I will especially remind myself of this and invite you to do the same!

Until next month....
Keep it simple!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Storyteller

Photo of the Month:
Photo provided by:  Alaska Vintage's Shop

Quote of the month:
Humans spend a lot of time not in the purity 
of the direct experience, 
but most of their time in thinking.... 
until it becomes so habitual that we actually think that 
the thoughts about things are more real than the things themselves.
- Adyashanti

It is great fun to lose ourselves in a good story.  A well written story can transport us to another world where we can experience things we might not otherwise be able to.  The little girl in the image above looks as though she may be imagining a land far far away as her father reads to her. These are not stories I am talking about today.    

The photo above is from my cousin's web site, Alaska Vintage where she has hundreds of authentic original vintage photos like the one above or her other site, where you can find more vintage and other interesting items as well as books and clothing.  I'd appreciate it if you would take a look at her sites! 

What I am writing about today is the "stories" that take us down the path that takes us further from ourselves.... our true selves.  This exercise is borrowed from a spiritual teacher named Adyashanti.  You can visit his web site at .  I have written in the past about The Voice and The Observer.  This exercise helps us to recognize the voice that as the "storyteller" and move us towards the observer position.  My suggestion is to try to do what the post describes as you go along...... enjoy!  

As we go through our day, we are always taking in the world around us through our senses. You can notice, as we sit here, reading this, that these sense are automatically functioning.  Your ears hear what is around you. Your eyes are taking in the images on your computer screen. Your sense of touch can feel you sitting in a chair or your feet on the floor.  This happens without any effort on your part or without you directing them to do so.  

We learned the senses as little children in school.....

Eyes - seeing
Ears - hearing 
Nose - smelling - there may not be much to smell at the moment, but the sense of smell is still present.
Tongue - tasting may also not be very active right now, but if you were to put something in your mouth, you would taste it without any additional effort on your part.
Skin - touching

When you put your attention on any one of your senses, you discover that they are extraordinarily neutral.  Hearing and our ears simply take sound in.  

It doesn't decide if it is good or bad or right or wrong.  There isn't any judgement or interpretation. There is no preference or commentary.

Just notice it for a moment.... it is a very pure thing.... hearing.... listening.

Notice how it is totally and absolutely effortless. There is a simplicity to it.

You could look at any of your senses in this way. They are always functioning in this way as open receptors.  It is a way to experience this moment in a very direct, pure, and Simple way.

It is NOT until you allow the mind, and thinking, to enter into it at we then assign interpretation, value or judgement to what we are experiencing.   Thinking, however, is very indirect.  It is not taking anything in the way the senses do. It is actually a commentary on what comes in through the senses.... it is like a Storyteller.....  weaving together what comes in through the senses. The mind is telling us if it is good or bad or right or wrong.

Let's experiment with this....
Focus on hearing for just a moment. What do you hear?  I can hear birds outside.  Any sound will do - the sound of the fan on your computer, some music in the back ground, maybe you can hear some yard work going on outside or maybe you can hear the birds like I can.  

Notice how your ears (hearing) take in the sound absolutely purely.  Your ears do not make any judgement of the sound.  

When you bring your mind into it.... your mind adds what you think about the sound of the birds.

First the mind may say "bird" providing a label.

Notice ears don't provide label they just take in the sound.

The mind is the function of thought.... the interpreter.... commentator.... or storyteller. The mind is removed from the direct experience. In reality, the mind only experiences its thoughts about things.

AS the quote above says, "Humans spend a lot of time not in the purity of the direct experience, but most of their time in thinking.... until it becomes so habitual that we actually think that the thoughts about things are more real than the things themselves."  Adyashanti says that we become mesmerized by the storyteller.

Going back to our example of the sound of the bird, one person's experience of the sound of the bird may be quite pleasant while another's may be call it an annoyance - this depends on the story ones mind is telling them.  How you interpret the sound of a bird really is not all that important in the scheme of things, but try applying the ideas in this post to other areas of your life... attempt to step out of the mind, the voice or the storyteller and become the observer as often as possible.  Try to observe what your mind is telling you about what is going on.

As I previously wrote in the Observer post, by making the shift and setting aside the judgments of the voice, it can help to stop creating negativity, suffering or unwanted consequences in your life.  At the very least it can help you live a more pleasant and full experience of life.  

YOU are the observer of the voice.  YOU can choose, if you want, to believe what it is telling your OR consider that it might be making up a story.... or even a purple elephant!  You'll have to read the Observer post to find out what that is all about!  : )   

One last suggestion.... you could just observe the mind and your thoughts without any judgment at all!

As always, you can comment at the link below!  
Until next month, 
Keep it Simple,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WHO Cares?!

Old building, Key West

Quotes of the month:
(Couldn't choose just one 
quote this month... 
so there are 4!)

When I accept me 
no one can reject me.
- Iyanla Vanzant

External power is
looking outside yourself for power and 
trying to manipulate and control 
the external world
so that one feels more powerful 
or more comfortable.
- Gary Zukav

Well I know it wasn't you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free
So often times it happens 
that we live our lives in chains and 
we never even know we have the key.
- Eagles from "Already Gone"

People are far too involved in their own lives
to devote a lot of time thinking about what’s going on in yours.
- John Holland

I hate to be the one to tell you this.... but I want you to ask yourself WHO is it - - REALLY - - that cares!!!!  All of those things we spend so much time and energy on worrying about.... that all important question....

What will they think of me?

if I don't wear the right clothes,
drive the right car,
have the right job,
look the right way,
hang out with the right people,
date an attractive person,
cook a good meal,
have influential friends,
have smart kids,
know enough,
have enough,
am smart enough,
am enough,
have paint chipping off my building (as in the photo above....)
this list is really endless....... there are as many possibilities as there are people!

Yes, thankfully, there are those people who are benevolent, kind, caring, .......... sympathetic, empathetic, charitable.... etc. There are some people who care in a nice way. I am not talking about them today!

Think about it for a minute. How much time do YOU really spend thinking about the car, house, clothes, etc.... of other people?

Here is the thing that I would like you take away from this month's post. Yes, this is a bit of an over-generalization, but for the most part.....

People are not all that concerned with you! 

According to the John Holland quote above, people are too involved with their own lives.... their own issues, egos and problems.... to spend a lot of time being concerned with yours! 

Here is an exercise to try....
Think of the last time you may have bought something with the idea of impressing others or had concern over what other people thought about you.  Go through each of the following groups with this experience in mind.  

Group 1  Your close friends and family. These are the people that actually do care about you... but not really about your car or your clothes. For the most part they are happy when you are happy. They are sad when you are sad. That is another over generalization, but the point is that usually these people want to know how you are.... FOR REAL.... and think of what you must be feeling in a situation. These people want the best for you and love you just the way you are! 

So, you don't have to prove anything to Group 1.

Group 2  There is huge group of people you know but are not close to. Acquaintances. Maybe people from work or school. People that you see occasionally and chat to. Think... that list of 400 friends on Facebook.  Think of someone in this group...... think about what car they drive? Do you know what kind of car they drive?  Do you think more or less of them because of the car? 

NO! You don't care, right?  Aren't you too busy with work, family, your to-do list  ....and thinking about your own "stuff" to really care about their car? (If you find yourself saying that you do think about, judge and/or care... continue on, I'll address that below.)

So the point is that their car = whatever you are worried about (whatever you chose for this exercise.) They are too busy thinking about their car, job, significant other or whatever their issue happens to be to be that concerned about your dinner party, your house or your education level.

So, you don't have to prove anything to Group 2.

Group 3  Next is the rest of the world that you don't know.... the man selling produce on the street in Cambodia sure doesn't care if drive a nice car ... and you don't really care how many cabbages or bananas he sells, right? (yes, in an ideal world we do care, but no one person has the time or energy to have concern for every other person, individually, in the world.)

The point is that you don't have to prove anything to him or anyone else in Group 3.

So.......  I have a question for you.....

WHO is left?

If it is not your close friends and family.. and not your acquaintances... and not the rest of the people in the world... then who is left?

Who is the person that you need to prove it to?
Who is it that you are really concerned about?
Who is it that cares if you have the right job or education?
Who is left?

Who did you come up with? 

If you find that you do think about other people and their houses and cars, etc.... here is the key.  You think about it inside of your head, how does that affect them? (We are not talking about groups that form around hate, bigotry and violence here... just average people.) How does a (judgmental) thought inside of your head have any affect on someone outside of your head? I'll go so far as to say it negatively affects you more that it does them! (For additional reading see the post titled Judgments, Tiger Woods... and Anthony Weiner... and Rep. David Wu.... and You!)

So... the other way around..... if they think about you inside of their head.... how can it really affect you? The only way a thought in someone else's head can affect you is if you also buy into that thought and believe it too. In reality if you don't hold that thought in your own head, then you won't care what they think (For additional reading on this topic see the post titled Is the Sky Blue?)  ... so, IN REALITY ... it takes us back to the same place..... 

The only thought that really does matter is the one in YOUR head!

And what about tabloids and entertainment "news" shows? People do seem to have an obsession with stars and the gossip surrounding their lives. I believe that the general rule still applies. Maybe they live vicariously through the shows, like to see that others are worse off or see others get into more trouble than themselves (think Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan) or like to judge others (refer back to the paragraph above or post on judgment.) All of these are basically rooted in how the person feels and thinks about themselves.

What is the common factor in all of the above examples?


All that matters is what YOU think about yourself!!!!!!!!

So if you are feeling not smart enough, not attractive enough, like you are not driving the right car, clothes or home..... the only important thought is the one inside of your head! You are the only one that needs to care!

If you are looking to the world to make yourself feel better about some aspect of your life you are looking for what Gary Zukav refers to in the quote above as external power. When one's sense of self comes from what they do for a living, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the neighborhood they live in..... that is external power. It is looking outside yourself for power and trying to manipulate and control the external world so that one feels more powerful or more comfortable.

External power can go away - you can lose a job, crash a car or lose your appearance through aging. So if your sense of who you are is tied to that job, that car, or how you look - - - when you lose the job, crash the car or start to get old - - - you won't know who you are. It is also ok to be beautiful, rich, drive a nice car or live in a nice house, the key component is tying your sense of self to those external things... or letting them define who you are.

From an interview with Star Jones, she says that at her heaviest, she tried to disguise her weight by increasing the size of her persona. "The hair, the lashes, the nails," she says. "This is the first time since I've been doing television that I've worn my natural nails, because I'm confident enough to not need big long acrylics." This is a subtle example of external power. Defining who she was and hiding behind hair and nails.

When your sense of who you are comes from inside yourself, that is Authentic Power, according to Gary Zukav. It cannot be lost like a set of keys. Zukav says the creation of authentic power is a process. Once you create it, it can never be taken away from you. Or to put it a different way, in the words of the Eagles above, we are the ones who hold the key!

As always, please leave your comments below by clicking the link below.

Until next month,
Keep it simple!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Whole and Complete

Photo of the Month:
Cherry Blossoms, Maryland, March 2012

Quotes of the month:
Never be ashamed 
of the scars that life has left you with.  
A scar means that the hurt is over,
the wound is closed and you endured!
- unknown

Whole and Complete
Just the way you are!
- Billy Joel, (with a little editorial license...)

I recently went to see the cherry blossoms in the photo above.  These are not the well-known blossoms on the Tidal Basin in downtown Washington, DC but further out in Maryland.  A neighborhood planted the same type of trees at the same time (100 years ago!)  The trees on the Tidal Basin are beautiful, but have been replaced over the years.  The trunks of the cherry trees become gnarled and "ugly" over time.  The ones downtown are kept "beautiful" for the public to "oooohhh" and "aaawwww" over.  

I couldn't help thinking that these trees were even MORE beautiful than the trees on the display for the public downtown.  Sure, the trunks were old and "gnarled" but the trees themselves had an even deeper beauty!  The limbs reached over the street and met each other at the top....  Even the trunks reflect what is talked about in the quote above... a beauty that comes with life experience.  A beauty that says you are whole and complete... here and now... just as you are!  For those of you that have been with me for a while, you may recognize this as a re-post from year #2.  I will start back with new posts soon.  There are so many of you that have joined us more recently!  To ALL of you, please enjoy....

Look around you right now - what do you see? I see stacks of laundry that 1) need to be washed, 2) need to be folded or 3) need to be put away, 4) floors that need to swept and  5) dishes that need to be washed!   I could go on, but I am sure you can see your own “to-do” list in front of you. The things on this “to do” list will get done….

Come in a little closer. Put your awareness closer in to where you are. What do you feel? I feel heat coming in through the vent. What this Florida girl is doing in Minnesota (and now Maryland) is still a mystery to me (paraphrasing a line from another singer, Jimmy Buffet!) Anyway, maybe you feel something different - a fan blowing, a dog laying at your feet, the chair under you, the mouse or keyboard under your hands…..

Come in a little bit closer. What do you sense? Feel what your body is telling you. Are you hungry? Cold? Hot? Comfortable?

Can you come in any closer? Is there really ANYTHING you need in this moment? Right here, right now….

Right about now, I can hear a few of you saying, “Sure I need one thousand dollars…. Or one hundred thousand dollars…. Or one million dollars….. Right now!”

Really? Do you really need it right here and right now? How would that change or add to WHO you are in this very moment? The very first thing it would do, is add 3 or 4 things to your “to-do” list!

Maybe you are saying, “I need a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a husband or wife.”
Really? Right here? Right now? (I can tell you FOR SURE, that will add to your “to-do” list!) : )

It might be a “want,” to share your life with someone special, and that is fine, but in this moment, right here, right now, you do not NEED another person to complete you, add to who you are, change or improve you in any way.

Maybe you need to exercise, eat or shower. These are all fine things to do to care for your body, but in this particular moment RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, even that you do not need to do.

Maybe you have scars like the cherry tree trunks above... allow that to be a symbol for you of Who you have become and what you have OVER come!  

Maybe your health is not what you would like it to be. Let’s all take one full deep breath - can you feel your lungs expand? Can you feel your chest and stomach rise and fall? Can you find your pulse somewhere on your body and feel the blood flow through your veins as your heart beats? Just feel it for a moment as you take another breath. Can you feel that you are alive?   

Right here, right now.

Truly is there anything missing from THIS moment? Right here, right now?

If you have read this far, my suggestion would be to take a few additional minutes to sit in this stillness we have created together. Your mind, your ego, your internal voice, will start up soon enough... and tell you to get back to that "to-do list."  Even if you only glimpse it from reading this post, if you can sense the stillness, the peace, the sacred internal space, or consciousness, allow yourself a moment or two to memorize this place. Carry this peace and stillness into the world with you as much as possible and return to the memory when you need to…. Or to this post to re-energize!

I will leave you with one last thought from the writing of Iyanla Vanzant.  She says, "Profound inner Peace does not come from fixing yourself.... it is the result of discovering that you are already whole."

Until next month….
Keep it simple!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking Stock/Mindfulness 2012

Photo of the month:
This one step.... Florida, May 2001

Quote of the Month:
Your entire life journey ultimately consists

of the step you are taking at this moment.
There is always only this one step,
and so you give it your fullest attention.
-Eckhart Tolle

It is hard for me to believe this blog is in its 4th year! When I began, I thought there would be 6 or 7 posts....  and now several years later, there are more than 50.  I still feel as though I've scarcely scratched the surface.

Some of you may recognize this post from the first year, though so many new people have joined us on this journey since then.  Given my recent abrupt life change, my writing has taken a back seat for a (short) while.  I thought it might be fun and appropriate to re-run a few popular/meaningful posts.  This one is on mindfulness.

Mindfulness simply means that we are paying attention. Paying attention to what we are doing, what we are feeling and everything that happens around us in the present moment. Often we go through life on autopilot. We act or react unconsciously or out of habit. This does not allow us to choose our response to a given situation. With practice we can begin to take more control and switch off the autopilot, learning to be fully aware of our sensations, thoughts, emotions and responses.

Do not set a goal to be mindful ALL the time, just to be there as often as you remember to. NO ONE [except possibly those who live in the mountains at a monastery] can be mindful ALL of the time.  I even doubt that they are mindful ALL of the time!  Most of us are doing well, if we remember to be mindful for a few seconds, 2 or 3 times a day! Sometimes, I go whole days without remembering... so the idea here is to challenge yourself to do it as often as possible while at the same time being gentle with yourself!

One can think of mindfulness in the example of a tightrope walker. When walking on a high wire, one's attention can be no where else. The walker's full attention is on the step they are taking at that moment, the placement of the foot and where the weight is placed in the foot. I had a similar experience one winter walking down steep snow covered steps. It was of utmost importance to be aware of each step and where I placed my foot, so that I would not fall. Walking these steps daily for a number of weeks that winter helped raise my own mindfulness which has carried over into every day life.

There are a number of simple ways one can practice mindfulness in daily life. A posting on Oprah's web site listed a number of suggestions for increasing mindfulness. A few of those are listed below....

Breath - When you wake up in the morning before getting out of bed, notice your breathing. Take a few deep, comfortable breaths.  This can also be practiced at any time of the day!

Motions - Be aware of how your body feels as you move from lying down to sitting up, standing and walking.

Eating - Pay attention as you eat. Chew slowly and completely, and notice the textures and flavors of your food.  This is one that many of us can improve on!  I have taught my younger son to "savor" his food, especially dessert, which makes it enjoyable for a longer time!

Listen - When talking to another person, take a moment just to listen, appreciating the person's experience of the world, though it may be different from your own. Try not to begin formulating your own response until they have finished speaking.

Walking - Practice mindful walking, consciously placing your attention on each foot as it connects with and leaves the ground. (As I did on the snowy steps!)

Standing - When standing in line or waiting, use the time to feel your feet on the ground and notice how you are holding yourself.

I'll add - Completing Chores - doing repetitive chores with awareness rather than rushing through them to get finished. I have a friend who loves to wash dishes and another that folds laundry more peacefully than anyone I've every seen!

Once, while cleaning green beans [with my laundry folding friend] we seemed especially in the moment and enjoyed the actual process of cleaning the green beans together. This reminds me of how families came together in the past and prepared food together. This is something our fast-paced society misses out on in the drive through world today.  My simple suggestion this month is to do as Eckhart Tolle suggests in the quote above and give your full attention to the step you are taking at this moment, no matter what that step is.

Feel free to comment at the link below!

You may also enjoy the post titled...... "Are you Breathing?"
To read last month's post, simply scroll down or click here.... What's "Write" with the World? 

Until next month....
Keep your spirituality simple!

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's "Write" with the World?

For those of you who do not know me personally, it seems important to tell you here... this post was written on January 2nd, 2012.  On the following morning, January 3rd, 2012 things did not seem "write" with my world. My 47 year old husband passed away suddenly and very unexpectedly. The cause has yet to be determined, but appears to be heart related. I debated about taking this post down, but intuition has guided me to "walk my talk," and keep it posted, just the way it is.  My life suddenly felt "upside down" but within that, there are still many things "write" with the world. Choosing to place energy and attention on these things has been one of the things that has assisted me and my family in dealing with those things that may not otherwise seem right, right now. I suspect there may be future posts dealing with some of the other things we have gone through and learned.... but for this month, I will Simply dedicate this post to Julio. 


Photo of the Month
Field of Sunflowers, MD, September 2011

Quote of the month:
Your attitude about who you are and 
what you have is a very little thing that makes
a very big 
-Theodore Roosevelt

Happy 2012!

I'll start by saying that, yes! I know that I used the wrong "write" (right) in the title! I did this on purpose! If it bothers you, my suggestion is to review October's post on Perfection!  : )  After making the annual Christmas trip to Florida and being with my Spanish speaking in-law's family.... along with my broken Spanish... the conclusion is, if understanding has taken place it can be considered successful communication, regardless of how it happened! Gesturing and pointing counts! 

What prompted this post is that it seems recently, I've heard or been involved in a number of negative conversations. I am not putting my head in the sand, saying that everything is wonderful or even donning rose-colored glasses. The economy and politics rank high on the list of things people seem to be complaining about.  Knees and big toes were on the list with my college friends.  (This seems exceptionally unfair given that we frequently toasted to them in college! "To love, health, happiness, big toes, knee caps and friends!")

My Simple suggestion this month is to give Teddy Roosevelt's quote above a try and give AT LEAST equal time to what is right in the world. Maybe even try giving it a little MORE time and attention than given to what is "wrong." 

I can hear the chorus of nay-sayers out there..... like what? Nothing's right!!!! If you will bear with me for a moment I will attempt to prove the chorus wrong!

Just for this moment .....let's start with the fact that the sun came up on January 1st, 2012 (1)... and it came out again this morning, January 2nd (2)!  Even if it is raining, cloudy or even snowing where you are, the sun is still up there!

Next, you are breathing (3)! And if you are reading this, I will assume that you at least have access to a computer (4) and the Internet (5).... maybe even a cell phone (6).... and let's add functioning electricity (7). That already puts you amongst the most fortunate of the world's inhabitants. I am going to add spell check (8) to my list of positive things as I've used it half a dozen times already in this post! (If I missed one along the way, I'll again refer you to the October post on perfection!)

There are many things that we take for granted every day.... our hearts (9) beat and our lungs (10) breathe without us having to think about it (11). What if we had to remember to beat our hearts? How many of us would get sidetracked on irrelevant details? No one! Or they would not last long! Let's throw in hearing (12), eyesight (13), touch (14), taste (15) and smell (16)!  How amazing is that? If one of these is not functioning or not as well as it used to be, you still have the other senses to assist you. Most of you can probably walk (17) or have some means of mobility (18). Do you have a vehicle (19) or access to public transportation (20)?  Don't even get me started on how useful hands (21) and fingers (22) are! 

Most of you probably have a roof over your head (23) and a bed to sleep in (24).... or at least somewhere to go where someone will take you in (25). Do you have comfortable sheets (26) and pillows (27) on your bed (28)? Is there adequate food (29) in your kitchen (30)?  Do you have warm (31), running (32), clean (33) water (34) in your shower or bath (35)?

Most of us have access to shopping (36) where we can purchase nourishing (37) food (38) and household "necessities" (39) such as paper towels (40) and Playstation 3's (41)!  Next time you are in the grocery store, just take a moment and look at the abundance (42) of items available!  I especially like to do this in the produce area (43)!  There are generally several varieties (44) of apples (45), tomatoes (46) and lettuces (47) just to name a few! What about that snack aisle (48)!?

You may say that these are very basic things.... so basic that you expect them to be there in the morning when you wake up, along with the sun and your breath! What if one of them was not there one day?  What if your home suddenly did not have a bathroom one morning? What would your life be like? Would you appreciate it then?  

Next time you find yourself complaining about something... anything.... I've given you a list of 48 things you can refer to.  Why 48?  That is Simply the number I got to writing this post.  I'll give you one more... a beautiful field of sunflowers in the photo above (49)!  

If you are reading this, I am willing to bet that you can easily be grateful for well over half of the things listed in this post! Try focusing even a minimal amount of attention on any one of them!  See how it can change your perspective!  See if you can also see what is "Write" with your world!  Let me know what you find!  Feel free to comment at the link below!

Keep it Simple!