Musings of the Mind

Simplicity in a Complex Universe

Happy 2018, everyone!

Typically, people (myself included) often seek new resolutions to adhere to at the beginning of each new year. This year, I struggled to find one that felt right. So many ideas swimming around in my head, that needed sorting out.

A situation arose recently, at work, that caused me to change my perspective a bit when it comes to how I approach the different puzzles that present themselves in life. A software issue, that was approached from the perspective of being so difficult and time-consuming to figure out, ended up being the simplest of things to solve.  All those involved had a good laugh in the end, in spite of ourselves.

But it got me thinking..

It seems, the world we live in has become so complex, that I for one, have found myself subconsciously adapted my thinking, over the years, to address everything that comes up in a much more complex way to meet it. On the surface, this kind of thought-process adaptation might appear to make sense. Yet, when one looks at each individual situation that comes up in one’s daily life…only a handful of them are actually of a complex nature. Most of them turn out to be really quite simple. (Statistically, this theory could be applied to the life of any one individual.)

This general, complex problem-solving behavior seems to have shifted from being a seemingly necessary, environmental adaptation in how we think, to quite frankly…a habit.

Have we, as a society, really lost the ability to discern between a complex puzzle and a simple one?

We are constantly bombarded by puzzles to be solved, on a daily basis. That’s just life. Yet recently, (especially in the last year or so) we have been presented with issues, on a global scale, that truly require immediate sorting out. We are reminded of these issues constantly, very rarely being allowed a break to just breathe and refresh ourselves. General stress and frustration ensues.

For me, I realize that a much more efficient behavioral adaptation is available. The first step is to be self-aware and present in each moment. The second, allow calm and clarity to be my starting points. (Not an entirely easy task, but it is possible with a little effort). From this frame of mind will come simple and rational reactions to each individual puzzle that I happen upon throughout the day. The question will be posed, “In actuality, is this a complex problem or a simple one?” Once determined, I can proceed to work out the puzzle without imposing any unnecessary stress or frustration upon myself.

Once this new “habit” is adopted and utilized for a fair amount of time, I believe that the world will begin to feel far less complex and the puzzles of life will feel far more manageable and solvable than they do now. They will begin to feel lighter and more easily carried.

I have decided that this shall be my New Year’s resolution. I feel good about it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this and if it might be a good resolution for you as well. I’d love to hear from you.

Jen

 

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Musings of the Mind

At Peace

sunrise-sunset-9145I sit here by the window, gazing out upon this quiet, late-summer evening, watching the sun slowly end its daily journey across the sky. A memory reveals itself. A memory of a similar evening, many moons ago…

I lie on my tiny bed, against a soft pillow, in a room far away.  In my arms, I cradle the bundle of belly that will soon become a newborn miracle, within a few weeks time. I remember acknowledging the beauty of the sunset, appreciating it. Yet, feeling a sadness so unexpected, so disappointing.

My life wasn’t a complete disaster. I had a decent roof over my head, I wasn’t homeless. I had adequate food to eat, to nourish my growing bundle and the means to pay for said bundle to enter the world. But, it wasn’t the fairy tale. The one that I had imagined at nine months pregnant. In this story, the monster was the dominant character. It was a desperate moment I harbored, as I watched the sun steadily slip away, begging it to take me with it to where ever it may be going.

But the sun doesn’t really go anywhere, does it? It stays in its eternal place in the sky while the earth turns. Passing the time, as we turn with it. Day after day. Year after year. Oh, how I struggled and scratched to survive each turn on its axis.

Here, now, I find myself gazing upon the same sun settling below a much different horizon, in a country quite foreign to the one I was in on that long ago evening. That bundle full of hope, is now a beautifully grown, young adult. Strong, happy, successful, so proud of that kid. The prince that I knew would one day come, sleeps peacefully downstairs, unburdened by the cool evening air coming through the open window.

Sometimes, the fairy tale doesn’t come when you summon or expect it. It comes at a time when one is able to recognize, appreciate and embrace it.

I feel the air becoming cooler on my skin as the light disappears from the summer sky and I feel at peace. For the first time in my life, I am truly…..at peace.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.  – Dalai Lama 

Musings of the Mind

Birth, School, Work, Death

Being a Generation-X baby, when I was a kid, there was a life Image result for birth school work death songformula that was strongly implied by the society I grew up in. There was even a song written about it entitled “Birth, School, Work, Death” by The Godfathers which debuted in 1988, when I had just graduated from high school and about to begin my adult life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5dcW0P75M

This style of music was a bit out of my league at the time, but the lyrics so eloquently summed up the conflict that I and my generation felt. Should we continue on with the old ways or invent anew by redefining how a life should be lived? Perhaps a more freelance version of the old, casting aside the strict regimen by giving way to an ebb and flow of time that truly speaks to who we are.

In my own life thus far, I have hit three of the old markers. Birth, school and work. Yet, I’ve flourished these markers with radiant highlights such as motherhood, close friendships and just recently, a solid relationship with a wonderful partner and volunteering in quite a fulfilling capacity. I’ve moved to another country, learning more and more everyday about the world at large, outside of the vacuum that I grew up in. Travelling the roads of that beautiful world allows me to see, up close and personal, just how lucky we are to be able to share this wondrous planet we call home, when one just like it has yet to be found in our vast universe.

By choosing not to force ourselves into a regimental box, that no one, unique individual really fits into anyway, we open ourselves up to the opportunity of being shown the true beauty of this world, of this life and of becoming our authentic selves.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

Steve Jobs

 

Musings of the Mind

The Beat of My Own Drum

I turned off the heater earlier because the house got too hot. But, now I think I was just having a hot flash. Our house thermostat read 72F/22C but my frozen hands and aching joints were whispering that that stinkin’ thing was lying to me.  Oh, Spring. You can not arrive too quickly.

As I stood in front of the now whistling air vent in my kitchen, I sipped on a hot cup of tea and felt my mortal shell begin to thaw.  Mmmmm, that’s better. My Nana, a native of Essex County in the south of England, always told me that a well-made cup of tea could cure just about anything. The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that she was right. I cherish the memories of time with her and my mom. Three generations of English ladies all sharing the name of Elizabeth, in one way or another.

My Nana’s accent alone kept my young attention span engaged in our every conversation. She taught me to be proud of my English heritage and I embraced it. Even my father’s second oldest brother, my Uncle, used to call me Lady Jennifer, to the annoyance of my Grandma who was secretly campaigning for me to become a flamenco dancer like she was at my age. Oddly enough, this was the same uncle who constantly reminded me that my young, liberal-leaning views on things were severely misguided and that he couldn’t wait until I ‘grew out of them’. Much to his disappointment, four decades on haven’t altered my perspective much. Perhaps a little more wise and a little less hormonal, but still much the same.

A lonely existence it can be sometimes, when an entire wing of your family (five uncles and a father, in my case) goes out of its way to make you feel like an outcast simply because you tend to think of others before yourself. But there was my Grandma, my closest and dearest ally, peering up at me from her 4’11” stance with those sparkling, dark eyes telling me, “Mijita, remember. You dance to the beat of your own drum for a reason. No matter what anyone ever tells you, never stop listening to it.”

Taking another healing sip of my piping hot tea, I thought, “I don’t intend to Grandma. Not now, not ever.”

The best ally you can have in breaking up a street fight is a grandmother – Joe Bob Briggs

Musings of the Mind

S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Noun – depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light.
 

They say that January in Manitoba is the month with the highest number of suicides and newly documented cases of depression. I can certainly understand why. With stark, skeletal of trees dotting the snow-suffocated lanimg_0560-2dscape for what seems like an eternity, its easy for the brain to lapse into what is medically known as “seasonal affective disorder” or s.a.d. How appropriate.

It has been snowing since the end of November with the temperature outside slowing decreasing with each passing day. With it ranging from 2F/-17C which is actually relatively warm for this time of year, to around -31F/-35C outside, I keep telling myself that as long as you are dressed properly, you can be just as comfortable outside in this weather as you can be on a warm, summer’s day. Which is technically true but the soul doesn’t seem to understand that. Not a single leaf or flower petal in sight. Although there is much Earthly beauty to be found at this time of year, it sort of squelches one’s enthusiasm when there is a risk to life and limb just to go outside to see it!

I make a conscious effort in my life to be as self aware as I can be yet I too have fallen victim to this phenomenoimg_0631_editedn. The odd thing about this disorder is that it seems to creep up on you, as if from behind. First, you find yourself tossing and turning a bit more at night, then the motivation to continue your winter to-do list begins to dwindle, until one day you’re folding laundry and you suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to chuck the whole basket out the window into the frozen abyss!

I honestly don’t know how life-long Manitobans  do it. To survive this draining of the spirit year after year and yet be as resilient as ever. What’s their secret? I’m certainly not used to it, having grown up in Southern California and then moving to the true north just recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have truly found the happiness and contentment that I had always dreamed  of here and the people and landscapes are simply amazing. But geez-louise!  These winters are really something else.

All I know is that Mother Nature’s gotta do what Mother Nature’s gotta do. Who am I to expect her to do anything elsimg_0650_editede?

So what do I do? I write. I write it all down. Every frustration, every annoyance, every sadness. I get it all out. Onto paper and out of my head so I don’t have to carry it around with me.

Then I break out all my gardening catalogs and magazines and expose my brain to images of beautiful gardens in full bloom soaking up brilliant sunshine and I open my garden design software and begin to plan.

Please feel free to share how you get through the darkest months. I’d love to hear from you!

Jen