“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
Life can be lonely. Life can be challenging. There are so many people that are eager to criticize and re-direct you. People clamor for parts of you. You have to constantly multi-task.
Then you come home. A little fluff ball is running to greet you. He/she is absolutely delighted that you are home. With a big smile and happy eyes your puppy curls up to you. Getting up? Ok. He gets up with you. Sitting down? Ok. She sits down with you. Walking into another room? Ok. He walks at your heals. Cooking dinner? Ok. She sits at the corner of the kitchen and watches you cook.
It doesn’t matter what you do, or what you say, your loving pet is there for you. JJ and Tara were such companions. A Silky Terrier and a Maltese. Then one day, they both got very ill. So ill, they looked at us to help them. Final loving action was to assist them in their final rest. Wrapped up in our arms, their journey with us was completed.
I would wish that one day, should I fall so very ill that I cannot live my life, that there will be such a loving process to assist me in my final journey.
We are grateful for the comfort that JJ and Tara provided us.
“Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.” Groucho Marx
First and foremost my philosophy is to celebrate whenever, and where ever a person can. So if I woke up and discovered I was ten years older, I would be celebrating my retirement! I would be writing, working on the restoration of our historic home and traveling with my delightful husband.
The prompt today-to imagine life in 10 years-reminded me of a personal challenge that I received in my 20’s. I had two young children and was a stay at home mom. I attempted to make extra revenue by conducting skin care classes and selling their products. My director from that company continually asked me that question-where did I see myself in 10 years? I am certain she thought it was a motivating challenge to pursue greater heights in the cosmetic company.
But it didn’t work out like that. I was haunted by the question. I kept wondering what did I want to be doing in 10 years time. Then, I had a frightening experience with my then husband. I feared he had a brain tumor. I was up all night one night and wondered, ‘if he died, how in the world would I care for myself, my son, and my young daughter; who had a crippling birth defect?’ I was terrified. Not only could I lose my husband, I would not be able to provide for my family.
I decided that at the first opportunity, I would enroll in college classes. I had taken college prep classes in high school, but fell in love and got married-so college went on some far away back burner. When my children enrolled in school-so did I.
It took me 9 years, but I eventually got my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I saw myself helping others who might find themselves in the hospital. I have never regretted that decision. Attending college not only changed my potential for employment, but it changed me as well.
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins
“All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want.” Noreena Hertz
It is hard for me to trust my judgement when I have a personal bias that clouds my vision. Even harder is to recognize what bias I possess. I like the way I think, and the consequent judgements I make. Who wouldn’t like having things their own way?
However, when my decisions affect others, I must be aware of my personal biases. I don’t have many, but I have to admit I have a few. Mine are not race or gender related, but they are biases that I picked up from my experiences. I have a great bias against religious authority figures. I have seen them hurt people. I have been harmed by them myself. So when I have to make a decision, for instance, about hiring a person from a strong religious background, or an unbeliever, I might choose to select the unbeliever. I may need to review the qualifications with someone else to be sure that my bias did not pervade my decision. The unbeliever may still be the better candidate for the job, but after confirming with another who does not share my bias, I will have more confidence that I have made a fair judgement call on whom to hire.
“I think perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not.” Michael Pollan
Life throws “lemons” at us from time to time. We resent the sour presence. We wouldn’t have chosen that particular fruit for our basket of life. But they inevitably appear. The lemons in my basket have ranged between having a child born with a crippling birth defect to moving and consequently inheriting an hour commute to work. Troubles in our life range from life changing to a bothersome annoyance.
Both can cause resentment or bitterness. When I am served with a lemon, it becomes my choice what I will do with it. I can wallow in my misery and disappointment-which will lead to what I refer to as ‘stinkin thinking’. In those cases I paint myself into a corner where I sit alone immobilized by my refusal to embrace what has entered my life.
The lemon, left to its own devices, is sour. However, once we add other ingredients, the lemon takes on a new flavor. It can become lemonade, or it can become Allie’s Summer Breeze. Either way, I had to actively engage with the lemon and add other ingredients to manage the lemon’s sour affect. So it is with life. My response to the challenging events that barge into my peaceful domain are managed by my decision on how to handle the lemon. If I am skillful enough with my bartender skills, I move from an isolated corner to a room having a party.
“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” Ron White
“Smile at a stranger. See what happens.” Patti LuPone
I pass many people everyday. Some at work, some in town, some at the grocery. There are countless people that I did not interact with. I wonder if I missed anything.
I view life as a large picture puzzle. Many pieces make up the image. Some are put together, but many are scattered. I have often wished that I could see the picture more clearly. I remind myself that the scene may not be too clear until it is finished.
Some pieces don’t seem to fit into my puzzle. They are of a different color, shape or thickness. I cannot place them anywhere in my puzzle, so I put them in my pocket. I believe others are doing the same thing.
When I interact with someone, I often discover that we may exchange puzzle pieces. I take a puzzle piece out of my pocket-and low and behold-it fits into their puzzle! They now have a little better image of their scene. They may have one of mine in their pocket. When they interact with me, I get one of my puzzle pieces returned to me and I can see my life scene a little clearer.
I enjoy meeting strangers. They may provide me with a little piece of my life that was missing.
“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” Deepak Chopra
Spirituality. That is a word that is often equated with Religion. If a person is comfortable talking about such things, he or she may ask you “where do you attend church?” Once the reply is given, the querent will make a determination as to your spiritual condition; most likely if they think you are ‘saved’ or not. At least the Baptist will make such a determination.
I think culture has set that stage. The community culture where you live will set the stage for the importance, or not, of church attendance. Many cultures equate religion and church attendance to spirituality. I lived many years inside that culture.
I do not think spirituality has anything to do with religion. Religion is a group of people who rally together because they believe the same things. Their activities support their beliefs. Their friends continue to fuel the mindset.
I think spirituality is within yourself. It is being at peace with your soul. It is communicating in harmony with the energy of life.
I would agree with Steve Earle when he said, “Religion is an agreement between a group of people about what God is. Spirituality is a one-on-one relationship.”
“I arrived at being me.” Jack Nicholson,as the wealthy New York music mogul in “Something’s Gotta Give.” said as he finished his self evaluation tour.
Harry Sanborn (Jack) realized at the end of the movie who he really was. I would like to see the sequel so we can follow what Harry did with that realization. We got one scene at the end where he and Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) were married, sitting at a restaurant with their new grand baby. Everyone looked happy.
The sequel would be 23 years later when the grandson grew up…to be just like his grandpa. Now how does Harry respond to this mirror in life?
I love movies, theater, and productions. Seeing and laughing at life can be cleansing. Sometimes we see ourselves, who we are, or who we would like to be.
It takes courage to examine ourselves and to ask if who others see, is really who we are. Or is it only who we let them see? Sometimes living up to the standards set for us by external expectations can cripple our own growth.
Josh Groban sings “someone I am is waiting for courage, the one I want, the one I will become with catch me” in his beautiful “Let Me Fall” song.
We are all becoming as we journey this life path. It takes honesty and courage to learn who we are and then to remain true to ourselves.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi