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 

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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.

Musings of the Mind

The Grand Effect of Altruism

Altruism – 

  • the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
  • The behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.

 

We all do it. At some point, we all fall into that familiar, consistent pattern where every day feels exactly the same. Day in, day out. Wake up with the alarm, shower with coffee in hand, drop the kids off, punch the clock, homework, dinner….you get the idea. Life might start to feel a little mundane, perhaps a bit uninspired. In a sea of perceived tediousness, one could get pretty bored and start feeling as if they are not making any real contribution at all.

But is that truly the reality of things? 

No. It is most gently and reassuredly not.

A tedious routine causes the mind to focus only on its immediate surroundings, leaving our keen observation skills by the wayside. The grand effect that the simplest of kind gestures has, often goes completely unnoticed. Rationally, it is usually because as the ripples of our chosen behaviors expand out across the pond of human interaction, we’re simply not present to see them. We’ve moved on to the next step of our routine.

It is thought, however difficult to measure, that a single act of random kindness at the beginning of any given day will continue to be paid forward and affect the lives of at least 10 individuals before the sun sets. Similar to Newton’s first law of motion which states that an object will remain at rest or move at a constant speed in a straight line unless it is acted on by an unbalanced force, the inertia and energy of a simple kindness will continue to move from one individual to another until it has encountered one who simply does not possess the fortitude, in that moment, to carry it forward. The beauty of this inconspicuous process, is that the final person to receive that flow of energy on that particular day, will most likely be the one who needed it the most. 

Remember that elderly man who you let go in front of you in line for the bus on your way to work this morning? That gentleman took the warm smile that your gesture gave him and shared it with his grand-daughter’s 2nd grade class during a story he told about bravery, courage and pride in doing the right thing. The little boy in the front row remembered that story out on the playground where he extended a helping hand and a smile to a disabled little girl who had fallen when a group of distracted children barreled past her. That little girl, when taking a walk with her mother, found a pair of keys below the curb and handed them with a smile to the distraught young man who was trying desperately to break into his own car because his pregnant wife had called him from the hospital to say that it was time. That newborn child was greeted with the collaborative smile of people it might never get to meet and yet what an introduction to life! How marvelous is that?

Without ever realizing it, our simplest acts affect the world in often the most profound ways making our mundane existences not so mundane after all.

Our reward comes to us from Newton’s third law of motion which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. In this case, that force is kindness. In other words, what goes around comes around. 

It is the way of nature. Its how the universe works, whether we like it or not. So, let’s put some positive energy out there as often as we can and feel free to expect some in return.

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

I’d love to hear about how random acts of kindness have touched you. Tell me your stories in the comments section.