Social Media, Silence, Enlightenment

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Stillness

I struggle with social media, as I think is the case for many introverts.

It is hard to balance the idea of connecting to people with the very real exposure that social media forces upon us. I ran into this just the other day when I had someone comment on a post that I “liked.” I did not share this post, but I liked it in passing; an action that was then published on my friends’ newsfeeds, upsetting, I am sure, more than the one person that commented.

Because, as is the case for many, our “friends” list is a mixture of family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, some of which, or many of which, do not share the same ideologies. This is the same in life, but, at least in the Pacific Northwest, rarely do these differences come to a point of contention, because they are not called out on, or addressed.

(an argument for or against that particular tendency can wait for another day)

Social media makes it easy to get offended at these differences.

For me, these flashes of contention make it hard to be on social media and I have, in the past, disabled my facebook account because of the exposure and the intense spotlight that occasionally occurs.

Sometimes it is just good to take a break.

But.

Enter my contemplation on silence.

Social media is the antithesis of silence. It is information and talking and interacting all the time. Even if I am not the one engaged in a conversation or a comment, my interaction is in the way I scroll through the posts and have thoughts on them.

It is not silent.

As such, I have contemplated giving up social media for good. And not only social media, but also severely limiting my online presence in general. I am a news junky. Every morning I read the NY Times and the Washington Post. Every morning. But again, in these times especially, the content is hardly silencing.

I am on word press. Writing. Communicating.

Not silencing.

Yet.

Yet.

There is always a yet, because the purpose of finding silence is to create stillness. The purpose of stillness is to unhook the identity of self in such a way to open up space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness.  The purpose of creating a space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness is to selflessly bring joy to the world.

What better way to bring joy to the world than to use social media?

I am not there.

Studying the concept of bodhicitta, a mind of enlightenment motivated by compassion for sentient beings, encourages me.  It is a brave, beautiful concept that requires a great deal of “rethinking” and adjusting.

What does it mean to be selfishly selfless?

What does it mean to truly have compassion for every sentient being… even those we vehemently disagree with?

And how do we go about making changes that will increase our capacity for compassion?

A first step is understanding that we are responsible for the way we see and interact with the world. I — not my family, friends, or acquaintances — am the reason I am WHO I am, and I am WHERE I am.

I am in control.

Of all of it.

No one else is able to influence me, change me, or manipulate me, unless I allow them to. Including those on social media. In the news. The driver that cuts me off. The family member that seeks to control. The friend who snubs.

How do I react to these things?

How do you react?

That is the secret. The piece of wisdom.

It is all in how we CHOOSE to react.

Pema Chodron says: “we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

Back to social media: it is no different. I follow silence down a path towards stillness in an attempt to find enlightenment so that I may be bring joy/light/compassion to living beings.

I can CHOOSE to use social media as a vehicle for my goal towards bringing joy/light/compassion.

Or I can see it as a hindrance.

But it is up to me.

This line of thought, of course, leads in a wandering way towards the entire concept of life.

What do we choose to interact with and why?

Who do we choose to interact with and why?

And in these decisions, where are the obstacles? The hindrances?

How I view social media and an internet presence, and the distraction that it causes, are all hurdles in this chosen path of mine.

How then, do I address them moving forward?

And you, dear readers, what challenges do you face?And how do you CHOOSE to react to them.

Until next time: may you find joy.

Silence

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A rest – a moment of silence in a musical composition

What is silence?

Is it: A complete lack of sound?

As a human being, this kind of silence is impossible to create and exist in at the same time.

There is always the heartbeat.

There is always the breath.

An absence of machine sounds?

of voices?

As I have done since the birth of this blog, I continue in my attempt to change my perception of things in order to decrease suffering. One tool I’m exploring is silence.

“Be still…”

As a mom of a six-year-old, finding silence is nearly impossible. As a 21st century human being; doubly so.

If finding silence, an age-old tradition of hermits and spiritual seekers, is not possible in my very normal thirty-something world, how then do I rethink the concept of silence so I can find it in my life?

So you can find it in yours.

Silence in a noisy world.

The benefits are numerous and well documented.

The how; not so much.

What are your thoughts, dear readers; and your advice, as I move forward into this new rethink life project?

 

Where to Now?

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The ever-winding road

Like so many in the wake of the presidential election, as an American, a liberal, and a democrat, I am left to wonder what I should do now. I have an almost overwhelming need to do something, but I am not yet certain what that will look like or how it will manifest.

The irony of this situation is that I have been rudderless the last several years. I have poked around and done different things. Many of these pursuits have been passing interests that have sputtered into nothing at all; others have been gigantic shipwrecks that I am still trying to avoid drowning from (and succeeding at for the most part).

To have a direction, a goal, is something I have searched for, and longed for, since becoming a stay at home mom. Though raising a human being is, arguably, one of the most important jobs in the entirety of history and the world, I (most ashamedly on certain days), wanted something a little different, something that I felt had a direct impact on the world, rather than a secondary impact based on how well I raised my child (though that too is important, obviously).

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too… and as most people with similar situations, I never did much about it.

And then the election. Before the election I would have avoided speaking about my political and ideological views. The flagship of my stance was my avoidance in telling people who I supported in the election and why; however, since the election, I have realized that my voice, though limited to those few I know and the few readers I have here, is a powerful one, and by not speaking up, there is a possibility that I had a hand (no matter how small) in our current political (national) situation.

Therefor *deep breath*:

I support Hillary Clinton.

Not only am I #withher, but I am #stillwithher.

I doubt very much that she will ever again be as central in politics as she was these last two years, but what she does and what she has done, continues to inspire me.

She fights.

When the going is incredibly tough and bordering on impossible, she continued(s) to fight. I know the tiredness that stems from being a woman in a male-centric world. A week ago, I would have never talked about the sexism that I have known and seen my whole life… put on a happy face, understand there is progress etc…. but I am done with that way of approaching this world.

I am done with being a people-pleaser.

Because, I AM exhausted.

I am so tired of fighting against social norms and expectations, but, because we as a nation and world are nowhere near where I thought we were in regards to equal rights for women, or African Americans, or Latinos, or *fill in the blank here, you know who you are*… I am going to keep fighting in hopes that one day I can stop being tired.

Because if Hillary can continue fighting, then, damnit, so can I.

The Yellow Brick Road

But what does that look like?

Therein lies that most important question.

Do I start speaking out? Do I start posting things on my twitter? Do I go back to facebook (after a year away) and start engaging with others… including those whose views are, at times, violently opposed to mine?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am beyond scared to stir the pot. I have read the stories of doxing and that shit is terrifying. I have a young son! The  mama instinct in me roars at the thought that my political viewpoints, or social viewpoints, will be expressed at the expense of my son’s safety.

And then I hear what I am saying (or read what I am typing in this case), and I am horrified. Sickened. Disgusted.

Why?

Because the very fact that I am scared to voice an opinion because of the possibility of a negative fallout is the exact opposite of the very ideology that created this country.

In other words: unacceptable.

Because my message is simple: all humans matter and love trumps hate.

That kind of message shouldn’t cause violence or stalking or internet trolls, but it does… as I am sure you all are aware. Of course, deciding to come out of the shadows is not really doing anything… yet, but it is a first step towards something.

Where do I go from here, then?

I have fluttered on and off of the idea of going back to journalism, in a grassroots way at least. I am a news junky, so perhaps I could take what I am reading, analyze it and put it in historical perspectives. I don’t know if that will make any difference in changing people’s minds towards inclusiveness and understanding, but maybe it will?

Of course, I realize that kind of blogging is hardly be popular.

I know, through interacting with online blogs for awhile, that most people want messages of hope… they want to feel good after reading a post.The uplifting stuff gets clicks, ask any blogger out there. The negative is largely ignored.

Unfortunately, sometimes that feel good moment is at the expense of thinking.

(Ouch. That was hard to write… still haven’t gotten rid of the “I don’t want to offend people stigma yet.”)

So, if I was to follow a path of journalism in the way that I am imagining it, likely, I will lose a few of you in the process, but maybe I will gain a few more. I honestly don’t know. I DO know I want to do something to promote critical thinking, thereby leading (as it always has and will), to acceptance and understanding. That is the direction I want to help our country move towards (after being shown we have such a very far way to go).

The next step is figuring out how my contribution will look.

What about you, dear readers? Do you find yourself called to action, and if so, in what way? How are you doing it? What is your reality like now?

And if not a call to action, what is your reaction to this post 11/9 world?

What are your thoughts?

Musings on the Past

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The Whining Winding Road

I once wanted to be a CNN news reporter. I was twelve. I remember standing in the apartment we lived in and watching a female news reporter in some Middle Eastern country. It was the middle of the summer. I was waiting for my brother (a baby) to wake up so I could get him before he woke my mom up from her sleep (she worked graveyard). It was warm already, the sun coming through the drawn blinds, but I did not notice the light or the summer day outside, I was riveted by the woman on the screen and that rush of feeling, of knowing that she was who I wanted to be when I grew up.

I am not a CNN news reporter.

I wanted to be an educational researcher for Sesame Street. I wanted to help craft educational programs and puppets that would introduce children to the wonders of readings, and laughing, and using their imagination. I wanted to help children learn.

I do not work for Sesame Street.

I wanted to be a literature professor. I wanted to introduce individuals to the wonder, complexity, and importance of literature. I wanted to show people that literature is one of our most powerful tools as human beings to understand, comprehend, and communicate with one another.

I am not a literature professor.

There are other careers that I could highlight here, but I think you, my dear readers, get the point.

As I sit here this morning in my bathrobe waiting for my son to wake up so I can get him ready for school, I think about all those dreams that I have had through the years. These dreams have not turned to reality.

There are a lot of different reasons. I was not focused enough. I was not driven enough. I was not willing to make the necessary sacrifices. I take the full blame for these dreams burning into ash and drifting away on that breeze of time.

I do.

But sometimes I wonder what the bloody f*cking hell is wrong with me.

Like this morning.

Why did I stand in my own way? Why did I not make those necessary decisions?

Why did I not just do it!!?

I know a lot of us have similar feelings. Hell, most everyone I know regrets something in their past, but I used to not be like that… the regret thing. Lately though, it has been like a damn monkey on my back. Regret. Regret. Regret. Drilling into my head. There is absolutely nothing I can do about what I did and did not do, but I keep coming back to this idea of history being a teacher for the future.

What can I learn?

Dear readers, what are your thoughts on this?

Do you deal in regret? Do you refuse to deal in regret?

How does regret, disappointment, self-hatred play into how you make decisions in the future?

Let me know.

Healing to you today, lovelies. Though the sun is shining through the blinds this summer morning, the gloom is heavy and secure on my shoulders.

Eeyore you all, Eeyore.

Rain clouds, indeed.

download

 

Perception

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Morning. Or evening.

Shifting perception. Not in the way of a camera focusing and then going out of focus; rather in the way of shifting your gaze minutely to the left or right.

Try it.

Stare at a point of something in front of you then shift your sight just slightly to the right.

The perception changes, if only a small amount.

I have taken this into consideration recently in how to work through my husband’s disappointment in my real estate pursuit. I really, really dislike real estate. A lot. A great deal. And as I do not have to do real estate, I have decided pretty much unequivocally that it is not for me. Even if I did have to do something like real estate, I would forego the “flexibility” of this hellish career for something a lot less flexible… like stocking shelves at the grocery store.

Anyway, off on a tangent: my point is that my husband is very disappointed and discouraged in my “quitter attitude.” I think he wanted me to be part of the real estate world because this kind of sales profession is his world. I believe, in a way, he felt a comradeship with me that does not exist otherwise. I mean, we have other connections and similar likes, but as sales is so much part of his life, my being in sales felt warm and fuzzy to him.

I feel bad about this, of course, because I hate the sales world he thrives in. He is very good at sales, and in many ways really enjoys the world.

I, on the other hand, pretty much tucked my tail between my legs and ran whimpering the other way. I should have known, of course… but as all things and every thing, hindsight is 20/20.

And now he is disappointed. And upset. And irritated.

At first, I took his reactions on as my own. I became defensive. I felt guilty. Bad. Like I had FAILED (again for the millionth time in my life), and I was down deep and dark in that old familiar way of the world sinking down on me. Thankfully, over the last four months I have regained a level of yoga practice and meditation that at least slowed the downward spiral. As such, I was able to create space and time to move through the experiences and the emotions, allowing an epiphany moment in the shower:

I must shift my perception of the situation.

As I remind my son on a pretty daily basis: we are only in charge of ourselves. We are not responsible for others and their actions. Ever.

Apparently, I need to be reminded of this daily as well, because I forgot. I forgot that my husband’s emotions of disappointment and irritation about me leaving real estate are HIS emotions. These are HIS reactions.

I am not responsible for them.

I think so many of us forget to follow our path, our instincts, emotions, body, and heart because we perceive what others think as a guidepost. But what others think is never a guidepost.

Of course, there are consequences to our actions; however, what other people think is not on you… ever. Can your actions cause rifts in a friendship, or family? Of course, and how YOU react to those things is entirely your responsibility, but never how THEY act or react.

Shifting perception.

Group think is a real and honest to goodness thing. It is an evolutionary pattern that has existed for centuries to create safety… safety in numbers, right? However, as we slowly emerge from the era of hunter and gatherer (and if you don’t think we are still in this evolution pattern, take a look around), trusting our own Truth, and our own Path is becoming something of more importance.

Now, I know my thoughts on this are very much dictated by a belief that we all have a reason for existence… a special and individualized purpose for our lives.

I also think, though, that our individualized purpose is for the greater good. As such, it is incredibly important to trust ourselves; to be able to root down, to move through life with that connection to something Bigger… despite, or perhaps even because of, how other people react.

So. Perception. Shifting the gaze just a little bit to the right.

A little bit to the left.

To see something new in something familiar.

What If…

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Waves… out and then in. Or. A different ocean altogether.

Sometimes you have to start from the beginning, though you’ve been to the beginning so many times you have lost count. Or maybe, that’s what you tell yourself and you have never truly stripped everything down to the very beginning, to the bare bones.

Maybe you’ve only pretended to return to step one, but never actually allowed yourself a new start; and perhaps everything has changed so much, that you are not lost or blocked, but adhering to a kind-type that no longer exists.

What if you are using the operating system of your 18-year-old self?

Have I grown and adapted; or have I changed so completely that I am truly no longer the person I was (and have been believing I am) but someone entirely different?

Wouldn’t that kind of change (not transformation, not growth, but Different) be something that requires a complete restart? Not even an overhaul, rather a complete and final wipe… a factory reset?

What would that look like?

Showing and Telling

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A Summer Prelude

More than likely, every single one of you reading this is a writer or has been a writer at some point. As such, it is likely that every single one of you has heard the advice: “show don’t tell.”

But here is my thought for today… showing is a photograph. Showing is a painting or a movie or another visual art form.

Writing, though, is for getting into the brain. In no other median can an idea or thought be represented so clearly, so absolutely. Sure, there are language barriers… the very idea of loss of meaning between writer and reader… but there is a pureness that is allowed in this form of communication that is not quite has well represented in the visual forms.

I have always loved taking photographs. There is a way that I can capture sunlight colored through a sprinkler’s rain that I cannot quite catch merely with words.

But I can tell you with my words what I was thinking when I took the photograph. I can tell you of the feeling of joy, a kind of heated pressure in my chest to see the sprinkler in the sun. I can tell you how I felt an anticipation for summer mixed with a little bit of wonder as my five-year-old ran through that freezing cold water.

I am able to describe how my contentment felt like a warm blanket of sunshine on my shoulders; and how during those moments I knelt on the wet grass, moisture seeping through the knees of my jeans, lightness permeated the air and happy floated by.

That is power, my friends.

That is beauty.

The Whole Package

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Just a Cool Picture

Find your purpose, finding the reason for your existence… a noble pursuit, right?

Or is it just generational bullshit?

I have always chased after the idea of “purpose” and “being whole” and “finding myself.” I’m not sure where the initial thought came from; whether it was handed down to me by a family member, or too much Oprah when I was a teenager. Either way, the idea of “purpose” as being a driving force has always dogged my step. What is my purpose? What was I put on this Earth to do? What is that thing that I would do no matter the “shit sandwich” that came along with it?

I have spent a third of my entire life (saying 30 years) wondering about these questions, and the irony of it all is that I am starting to wonder if the pursuit of purpose is a pipe dream; a generational motivator that those of my age group, and even more those of the millennium age group, have succumbed to and believed in despite evidence to the contrary.

What I Am Talking About

As always, social media is a golden nugget of wisdom, and I particularly like the “Confucius” quote about finding a job that you love and then never having to work a day in your life.

(Confucius, really?)

This is one of many such messages that are prevalent about Purpose and Vocation; messages that seep into your brain until searching for that job you love IS what you do…

…But never finding that Job, just searching and searching and searching until you realize that you will never find Purpose in a job, and neither will most people. A job is a job. It pays the bills. The end.

Okay. I know. There are people that are doing jobs they love. You’ve read about them, I’m sure, those individuals who have a “vocation” and not a “career” (do you like how I am using quotes constantly?); however, I wonder even about the portrayal of these individuals and their vocations.

I wonder about how they are idolized in the media or by Oprah etc.; how they are portrayed; and how the focus is not on the entire picture of what they do and how they do it, but only on the zeal in which they perform their individual acts of work.

Zeal.

That seems to be a defining factor for these purpose-driven people. Zeal in what they are doing. To be straight up, I don’t have much zeal for anything. Seriously. Nada. Nothing. I like things. I enjoy things. I do not have some kind of force that transcends my very being into acting.

Nope.

So I started thinking about being whole, and about healing.

The Next Chapter

I don’t have much of a belief system about purpose and vocation, but I do have a belief system when it comes to healing and becoming a whole being, and yes I AM going to share it with you 😛 :

In order to become a whole being, I truly think that each aspect of the person — the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental — have to be in harmony WITH EACH OTHER.

Just to get off topic real quick, there are a ton of messages coming my way about the physical body, specifically a woman’s physical body. From FB friends trying to lose weight and being very much “Beach Body, OMG, hashtag hashtag hashtag,” to individuals like Whitney Thorn and her no Body Shame campaign, it seems recently that a woman and her body is the subject of intense scrutiny and conversation (okay, pretty much the norm through much of human history).

Currently, the centralized theme of these conversations is women trying to find peace with their body. Some women are all about losing weight to find peace. Some women are about finding peace with the body they currently have. Now, no judgement on either side, from me at least, I only mention this because I want to point out the fact that there is an intense focus recently on finding peace with the physical body.

The thing is, that is just one aspect of the whole.

I was talking this through the other day, and my thoughts coalesced along the lines that if your physical self is being taken care of AT THE EXPENSE of your emotional, mental or spiritual self, then you are not in fact making progress towards happiness (or contentment or wholeness or whatever).

It is a marrying of every aspect of your Self. It is a belief of mine that to find this mythical wholeness, all aspects of self must be in harmony because they are interconnected. You may deny yourself that Dairy Queen frosty because it fulfills some sort of physical goal, but there is a chance that the denial is doing damage to another aspect of your Self.

Wholeness.

Purpose.

Going Back

There is a link there… I can feel it buzzing in my brain just out of reach, some kind of link that makes wholeness as the purpose. What if those individuals who have found their vocation and have undertaken their “life work” just somehow managed to stumble upon something that fulfills all aspects of their natural self?

What if their vocations marries their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual selves?

And this makes me wonder if we  have been having the wrong conversation, or reading the wrong map, or following the wrong signs. What if the question is not what our purpose is, but what brings our entire selves into a harmonized pact?

What if the question is not what makes us lose track of time (apparently THE SIGN of what is our purpose and passion… or so I have read), but rather how we move through life as a whole being? Not searching for that Purpose, or that Vocation, but living a life that fulfills every single aspect of ourselves. Now. Not tomorrow or down the road, but right now as you are sitting there reading this.

Finding wholeness. Not an easy task, my friends, not at all, but I am starting to wonder if it is the most important task of them all.

Thursday

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by Shitao

Tao Te Ching

#48

In the pursuit of knowledge,

every day something is added.

In the practice of the Tao,

every day something is dropped.

Less and less do you need to force things,

until finally you arrive at non-action.

When nothing is done,

nothing is left undone.

 

True mastery can be gained

by letting things go their own way.

It can’t be gained by interfering.