Monthly Archives: February 2017

Children are Paparazzi

I am a list-maker.  I’m not as compulsive about it these days as I once was, but I do like my ducks in a row and to knock them off one at a time gives me a great sense of satisfaction!  But I also have lived a few years now, and have learned that there are some things much more important than all those tasks I think I HAVE to complete!

My husband and I raised our granddaughter from the age of 2 to 5 1/2.  While we love her immensely, being in our 60’s at the time, we were a little overwhelmed with the task of raising a young toddler again.  As she became more verbal, words and phrases would come out of her mouth that we often found ourselves wondering where she had heard that!

Then one day, as I was working in the kitchen I heard her sweetly telling her dolls (repeatedly), “I’ll be there in a minute.” I KNEW where she’d heard that one!

Since she had come to live with us, my husband and I both had all we could do to keep up with just trying to stay on top of every-day chores and activities that had to be done. Our energy was not what it had been when we were raising our own children.

But when I heard her say that to her dolls, I knew she was showing me what I had been doing to her. I realized that when we were doing something that is important to me, I repeatedly told her, “we’re in a hurry” or “we don’t have time to play on the stairs right now.” But when I was busy and something else was important to her, it could wait. My priorities had gotten screwed up at times.

We all know we have nothing but this moment. I’ve told many clients that I realized a few years ago that when we get to wherever we go from this life, they will not be waiting for me at the gate with a clipboard holding a list of all the daily tasks I didn’t accomplish.

And I won’t feel sorry for those uncompleted tasks. What I will regret is the time I could have spent enjoying my family and friends, or giving time and energy to a cause I believe in deeply.

That doesn’t mean that every time my granddaughter asks for my time, even today, that I need to jump. We need to keep a balance of giving her loving attention and allowing her to fend for herself at times. I don’t want her to grow up believing the world revolves around her.  But I do want her to grow up knowing I respect her feelings and values, and that she is important enough for me to slow down and be with her.

Children are paparazzi. They take your picture mentally when you don’t want them to, when you don’t look good, and show it back to you in their behavior.

It’s Not About You, Patti

What does it mean to live consciously?  To me it means not running around on auto-pilot, just reacting to external triggers all day, or maintaining the same routine without thinking about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.  It means slowing things down a bit, so I can make conscious choices; being aware and in the moment so I can enjoy life as it comes – the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the ways I do that is to put a reminder on my phone that pops up every morning just about the time my alarm goes off, so it’s the first thing I see to start my day.  I switch it up.  Occasionally, when my life is extremely hectic (when isn’t it?) I put reminders every hour or so to trigger me to stop and meditate for just a moment.  Sometimes it simply says “Love” to remind me that I want all my actions and decisions to come from a loving place.  I’ve also used “Gratitude” and a couple of others.  You get the picture.

One of my favorites, because it’s something I need to be reminded of on a regular basis is:  “It’s not about you Patti!”  That one reminds me to look for the opportunity to learn the lesson, rather than complain about what someone else is or is not doing.

We all need to be reminded that another person’s anger, silence or some other less-than-loving behavior” is about that person’s growth (or lack of), not about those of us witnessing or bearing the brunt of their pain. I know this at a deep enough level that I am usually pretty good at allowing the other person to have their own experience without piggy-backing onto it. To me the spiritual being that I am doesn’t need to look for reasons to be offended or upset. That’s the ego’s job, and she works pretty hard at trying to get me to bite.

But sometimes I find myself indulging my ego. This is my birthday weekend. This is not a big landmark year – I turn 67 on February 20.  I’ve already been on Medicare for a couple of years and started Social Security last year, both of which have been Godsends for us financially, having been self-employed for 20+ years with a husband who only works 2 months a year as Santa.

But as I was looking forward to the weekend, I started thinking about some of the “milestone” birthdays I’ve had. My 21st was spent on a bus full of my husband’s students going to some school function. My 30th was spent working at a phone company that I hated working for. My 40th was spent at Family Day at my daughter’s treatment program. My 60th was spent helping family members move as they pulled their lives back together, and my 65th was spent in a hotel room and court house because of a not-so-much-fun issue with family we love deeply.

So just as I was thinking through all these, guess what popped up on my phone. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, PATTI!

And I pulled myself back to the moment, found my center and remembered why I’m here: to experience it all and to face it with love. I also remembered some of my other birthdays. In 67 years, I’ve had a few, and many of them have been wonderful and full of love and family and friends. Today I am grateful for all those birthdays – the good ones & the not so good ones, and I am enjoying this one, one moment at a time.  On top of that, I remembered what I tell clients nearly every day:

It’s only upsetting if I allow it to be upsetting. I have the choice to make it a crappy birthday or a happy one.  

-Gospel According to Patti

It’s Possible!

I’ve had conversations over time with several clients about how we make changes in our lives. Here’s the Gospel According to Patti 🙂 (which is just the belief I’ve developed based on my subjective observation of clients over the years).  Sustained change can only take place when we change the way we perceive ourselves. When I was working in substance abuse programs, I could usually tell when a resistant client was going to be successful in the program. They began to change their appearance – cut their hair, started to wear business clothes or took more pride in the clothing they chose, and started to carry themselves with a little more confidence.

But another step to change is to be able to imagine what we want – and to begin to believe that it can happen.

Wayne Dyer often shared this part of a quote by Thomas Troward:  The law of flotation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things . . .

The point he was making is that things don’t change if we continually tell ourselves it can’t happen – or “I could never do that”. If you want to be able to have enough money to pay your bills, for instance, you first have to imagine that it’s possible! If you continually tell yourself, “I’ve never had enough money” (or “I can’t get a job that pays enough”) so I have no reason to believe that I ever will,” then you probably won’t.

When I first entered a 12 Step Program, I was constantly struggling to make ends meet.  Then I began to realize that when I really needed it, the money always showed up – not always as much as I thought I needed, but enough to get me through. There have even been a couple of times when I could see how everything had fallen into place in a way I could never have imagined – in fact, it was almost miraculous how well things had worked. (In the program, we call that “a God thing”)

So, when I catch myself doubting if something I want to accomplish will ever happen, I just say two words: “It’s possible!” That puts me on the path of looking back at all the things I have already achieved in my life and a feeling of gratitude for those accomplishments. Then I begin to visualize what I want to do – (and this part is important).  It’s not just the visualization – but actually FEELING how I think it will feel when what I want has arrived! I go to that visualization and feeling state every chance I get for days or weeks . . . which eventually leads me to the belief that I can! That’s a much better feeling place than “I can’t” – and I want to feel good, so I stay there.  Most of the time, there is also some action step I need to take to move me forward as well.  But once I’ve done what I can, I have to come back to that state of feeling as if I were already where I want to be.

Another important part of this process is that what I want needs to be in alignment with my Truth.  If what I want is for someone else to be harmed in some way, or otherwise does not line up with Love, then it’s probably not going to happen – or if it does, it will not feel positive or accomplish my goal in the long-run.  But as long as it aligns with my sense of spirituality, what I’ve found is that, not only do I accomplish or receive what I want; often it is so much more than I could have imagined!

. . . it is absolutely imperative to learn how to assume, in your imagination, the feeling of already having and being what you desire. Assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled.

-Dr. Wayne Dyer

Freedom from Self Imprisonment

Regardless of our ideology, there’s lots of emotion everywhere recently – frustration, anger, and fear – about what might happen in our world.   We’re stuck in a country that is so divided right now, and we can’t seem to escape.  So this week, I’m going to focus on how we might manage it all in order to find our way back to a sense of peace.

I’ve come to understand that, as individuals, we are all seeking freedom.  Yet we are the ones who imprison ourselves by how we view and respond to the world around us.

Remember the old Mayberry show?  Almost weekly, Otis, the drunk, stumbled into the sheriff’s office, into the jail cell and locked it behind himself.  The key was always hanging on the wall, just outside his cell.  He could reach it anytime he wanted, but he always waited until he sobered up.  Then all he had to do was reach outside the cell, grab the key, unlock the cell door and walk out.

What a metaphor for our daily lives!

Some of the ways we imprison ourselves include (but are not limited to):  limiting our beliefs about ourselves and what we can/cannot do, stories we make up in our heads about what others think of us – or about political issues, hanging on to resentments, refusing to hear others’ perspectives, believing our way is the best (and sometimes the only) way, thinking we know all there is to know about a situation or a topic, allowing negative thoughts to gain weight in our minds – about ourselves, our situation and others. . . The list is endless.

Much of our imprisonment revolves around our need for perfection. Perfection is such a limiting word, and It implies that if something is not perfect, it must be imperfect. But perfection is really just an opinion. My concept of what’s perfect might be totally different than what you see as perfect. In reality, perfection comes when we can allow things (and people) to be what they are. So perfection is really just a state of mind that keeps us imprisoned.

But, just like with Otis, THE KEY IS WITHIN REACH!

We think everything we want is on the outside and is unreachable. But it’s already here, right within reach.  We just have to recognize how to “sober up” and do what we need to do to get there.

We stay inside our heads (our jail cell) with obsessions about how to please others so we can belong.  Or we beat ourselves up with rigid, shameful thoughts of things we should or shouldn’t have done.

Letting go of rules, “supposed to’s,” and ideas that limit us and others is one way to free ourselves.

Letting go of expectations of ourselves and others is another way. I’ve written a whole blog on expectations and how we are just setting ourselves up for more pain with them.

Acceptance of what is – and allowing situations and people to be what they are is another. (That’s not to say there aren’t things we can do.  I won’t promise it will always bring what us think we want/need at the time. Many of us exercised our right to vote, and for some that brought the change they wanted. Since then, there have been several examples of how the sheer number of people protesting specific issues have made a difference). But when we’ve done all we can do, we have to come to a place of acceptance that the rest is not up to us.

Another way to say all of the above is FORGIVENESS.  Forgiveness of others – and perhaps more importantly, self forgiveness.  When we can learn to be more compassionate with ourselves, we’ll be so with others.  You may be thinking, “But how can I forgive someone who is possibly putting so many of us in danger?” or “How can I forgive those that are on the other side politically and won’t engage in a rational discussion?”  If that’s where you’re going with this, here’s a tip (and I’m guessing you’ve already heard this).  Forgiveness is NOT about “them.”  It’s about letting go of the emotional attachment that ties you to the pain that imprisons you.

Those earlier suggestions (letting go of “supposed to’s” and expectations, and acceptance); if we really master those, then we probably won’t get to the point of blaming someone in the first place.  The need to forgive implies that we first must have blamed.

Wayne Dyer used to ask his audience what they got when they squeezed an orange.  Of course, they said “orange juice.”  And he would respond with “yes, because that’s what’s inside”.  Then he asked what they got when they “squeezed” (or put pressure on) a person.  Again, it’s what’s inside.  If what’s inside us is anger or rigid expectations, that’s what will come out when we’re under stress or have expectations that limit us to only one outcome.  But if we find compassion, love and forgiveness inside, that’s what will come out when we are put to the test.

I do believe that virtually all protests start off with anger that stems from a sense of being treated unfairly (either myself or someone I care about), but what I’ve been seeing as I’ve watch many of them, is that anger eventually being channeled into love. Then, I think it turns from protesting AGAINST something or someone to protesting FOR something we care about deeply. Will that change things enough? That depends on our expectations.  If we expect things to change overnight because of our actions, we’ll still be in that jail cell.  But if we can continue to do what we feel drawn to do, it will keep the fire burning that I think has already started. I really believe things don’t happen in our time, but divine time. That is perfection.

So once we do what we can to change things, and become more open to viewing our world from other perspectives,we’ll “sober up” as Otis did. Then all we have to do is reach for that key, unlock the cell with loving, forgiving, compassionate thoughts, and walk out – into freedom.