Shadow People

“There could be shadow galaxies, shadow stars, and even shadow people.”  Stephen Hawking

Halloween provides permission to play with dress up, and participate in ghoulish activities. People put coffins in their yards and spread cobwebs over their bushes. Makeup is used to create an appearance of goblins, vampires and zombies. Pleasure seems to be derived from making people afraid.

Perhaps there is a need to explore the ‘other life’ that is beyond our understanding. Ask three people on the street what the ‘other life’ is like and you may very well receive three different responses. More so as the acceptance of the traditional teaching of heaven and hell has declined.  (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey showed only 59% of Americans in 2008 believed in hell while in 2001 71% believed in hell)

I applaud the exploration. While I, myself, do not like the ghoulish part of Halloween, I do enjoy the imagination of life outside of my own. So dress up, explore and wonder!

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”  Stephen Hawking

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ghoulish

 

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Behavioral impact is countless

“Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!” Robert Burns

Countless. Our blog challenge for the day. Countless is often defined as being too numerous to count.

Very few things would be countless by my thoughts. If there is an item to count, given the patience and time, those items could be counted. Even the number of a human’s breath. At the time of their death, the breaths could be counted as there was a first breath and a last breath. My thoughts could be counted; again, because I would have a first thought and a last thought.

But the impact of our actions, could indeed be countless. People who have been affected by behavior could pass the resulted impact of that behavior on for generations. From continent to continent. Behaviors vary from cruelty to kindness. From selfishness to sacrifice.

Memorial day is a day to remember those who have passed from us. While those we loved may be gone, we feel their presence by the influence and impact they had on us. Many have lost loved ones to war. Some from hate crimes. Others from illness.

Some of us are who we are today because of some kindness which touched our lives. A person who touches another with an act of kindness may never realize the impact of that one act. There may be a beginning, but as the affect of that action continues, there may not be an end. Therefore, it is countless.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/countless/

It used to Be Easier

Memories are funny things. “Reflection, often repeated, becomes reality” my own personal quote.

I remember events in some ‘perfected’ way. As though these events did not include challenges:

I long for the days when my children were preschool age and life was simple.

I long for the days when I could do gardening and my joints didn’t hurt.

I long for the days when I wore size 6 and I had energy to spare.

Really?

If I think beyond those fleeting wishes, I recall:

Long days of exhaustion trying to keep up with two active preschoolers. While I adored my children, I was eager for just one long hot bubbly private bath! Life was not simple-I had to learn about neurology and what surgeries meant and how to navigate the complicated medical systems.

I cannot exactly remember ever working in the garden and my joints not hurting.

Imagine the delicious foods, and dinner with friends, I would have missed if I stayed a size 6. And the energy to spare, was a myth then, and remains a myth today.

Truth is, each day has it’s own pleasures and it’s own pain. Pain lets us grow, Pleasures help us endure the growth.

“We all pine for a time in life when things were simpler. Even when they weren’t necessarily simpler, hindsight makes them look a lot simpler.”  Ben Gibbard

Perhaps that is the beauty of memories. We can choose, selectively, what we record for daily reflection.

Memories, Pictures and Art Galleries

“Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us.” Oscar Wilde

Memory is a funny thing. How, why, and what gets tucked into the recesses of our mind is so subjective. I have seen families plan big expensive vacations-to assist in making a memory for their children-only to ask them later if they remembered the times in such and such. Blank expressions look back. Heads shake of no….then eyes might light up and a recollection of the trip to the store they took when they were getting suitcases. “yea”, they say. “Remember that little white poodle on the escalator?” and the grown up kids laugh around the table. The parents look at each other with zero recollection of that shopping trip and wonder why they hell did they spend that 10 grand to make those great memories at the Florida Keys.

Memories fade, some stay vivid. Some can be recalled, some seem gone forever. I have recently re-connected with old friends. I have memories of times shared, laughter enjoyed and encouragement given. I wonder what memories they have.

I remember the days when pictures were taken with cameras that produced those little square slides that you would put into a projector to see on the screen you set up in the living room. Or perhaps you just moved a chair aside and showed them on a white wall. Mom made popcorn, or her famed chip dip, and we had our weekly allotment of soda. We gathered as a family to see the slide show. Perhaps that is what helped with maintaining memories. I might not really remember the trip, but I remember the slide that showed us on the trip.

Today we take digital pictures. We have to gather around someone’s computer screen to see them. Or if we have the capability to show them on the TV from our camera, we get a larger view. Some put them into little picture frames and let the pictures rotate through. To see them all, one has to stay in one spot for the duration of the rotating pictures. Some print pictures and put them into scrape books with cute captions.

My grandparents put them into a box. Later in their lives, they could not recall who was in the pictures. Even if the picture was of themselves as young adults.

So I have also wondered about pictures. I love to take them. I use my IPad. I use a digital camera. Some of my pictures are on the camera, in a frame that rotates, in my laptop, and in my IPad. I share some on Facebook.

I rather miss the days when the family got together with their favorite snack and watched the pictures of their trips, family events, reunions, and day to day fun. Not only did the pictures get reviewed, but the memories were re-shared.

One day long ago as I stood at Santa Monica beach and stared at the ocean crashing in, I realized nothing will adequately capture this. So I stood and watched and painted a portrait of it in my mind. I have a whole art gallery in my mind. I stroll through there from time to time and smile at the memories, feelings, and beautiful encouragements those ‘paintings’ bring me.

When my memory begins to fail, as it might, there are not enough pictures in a box to bring it back. My art gallery may go unvisited. That is one fallacy of the value of my art gallery. It is difficult to pass on. But a box of pictures….those can last a very long time.

Perhaps what is important, is not so much the specific memory, but in how that person, or that event, made you feel.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” Lionel Hampton

Spirits Soar

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.”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/sounds-right/

Patience with Imperfection

“Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself”  Saint Francis de Sales

Patience is a funny concept. Margaret Thatcher is quoted as saying “I’m extraordinarily patient provided I get my own way in the end.”  Is that patience or persistence? I tend to think of that as persistent. Not giving up on what you want.

I think patience is different. As Saint Francis de Sales indicated; patience includes being patient with yourself. The first time I really thought about this concept was when I went through my divorce. I was at the end of my forties. I was facing being fifty. I had been married for 31 years. I had not dated anyone else for 33 years. In many ways I was terrified. I wondered ‘what if I make mistakes?’

My married life was wrapped up in a very conservative church. While the church taught that we were all sinners saved by grace, it behaved as though everyone had to be perfect. My husband was on staff at those churches. We were trained to be very perfect. When you are on the staff of these churches you live in a fish bowl. Everyone sees what you do and they all have an opinion. You may have heard the saying; three baptists-four opinions. You wear yourself out trying to please so many people. In fact, I often lost sight as to what I really thought or believed as I was so busy trying to pass the constant inspection. I had witnessed how the church responded to people who ‘made mistakes’–they were criticized, judged, and condemned.

I remember wondering why the church had the expectation that people would be perfect. They of course won’t say that. They will readily say, oh no, people are not perfect, they are sinners. Only God is perfect. You would think that with that mindset, the church membership would not be shocked every time someone ‘sinned’. They would expect it. Love them, help them and comfort them. That was not what I witnessed. So, people were afraid to make a mistake. In practice we all walked around trying to be perfect.

Then one day I told myself that I would make mistakes. Not that I might, but that I would. I was human. I was not God. I am not all knowing, all seeing and all present. I would make decisions the best that I could, but that I would make some mistakes along the way. I told myself that it was okay. It was okay to make a mistake. I was human.

I cannot tell you the relief that I experienced that day. The pressure to be perfect was lifted. I might mention that by the time I gave myself this freedom, I was out of the fishbowl. The divorce was final. The church rejected me-divorce you know. They count that as an unexpected sin. You drop right off the perfect pedestal.

Now I was able to think, and consider who I was, what I wanted, and how I wanted to live. I knew it would take time. I didn’t expect myself to heal over night. I knew it might take time to discover truths about myself.

Patience is defined as “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay”. So I remind myself not to be annoyed or restless as I take time to become who I am. Or to recognize who that is. We are rehabbing an old house. We constantly make decisions what to keep, what to discard, and what to alter. Life is like that. And it all takes time. If I am inpatient, I will miss the pleasure of the journey.

 

 

 

 

Enough good

“There is enough good in the worst of us, and enough bad in the best of us, that it behooves all of us not to speak ill of the rest of us”

at least that is how I remembered the quote that Edward Wallis Hoch is recorded as saying. His actually said, “there is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us”

I guess I changed it to memorize his quote the way I saw it. I don’t think I agreed with the concept ‘so much’ good and ‘so much’ bad. There may not be ‘so much’.  There may be very little. There may be precious very little. But I think somewhere some good, and some bad can be found.

There was a preacher my husband worked for who is one of only 4-5 people that I place on my ‘evil’ list. Over time the preacher would treat my husband as I treated the preacher. If I kept my distance-as was my desire-he was micro-managing and critical of my husband. If I was ‘nice’ to the preacher, he pretty much let my husband do his job. It was a very unpleasant experience. This reason is not why I thought the man was evil. I thought he was evil because he had affairs, misrepresented himself and his ministry, lied, mocked people with disabilities, took money under false pretenses, and sat up at night thinking how he could ‘get people’; as in hurt their lives. He was injurious to people physically, mentally and spiritually.

At any rate, I had to think how to deal with this man. Eventually he was confronted and had to leave the ministry or be publicly exposed. In the meantime I had to cope. This is the next thing that I didn’t agree with in Edwards quote- ‘to talk about the rest of us’. I had to talk. I talked a lot. Not to the public at large but to my trusted friends. Talking helped me sort out how I felt, how to handle things and how to react to this preacher. (in the southern baptist church you cannot speak critically of the preacher. he is like a mini-god. I tried to talk to the deacons on several occasions and they had mute ears. see religionrecovery.wordpress.com for more stories on this preacher.)

So I considered what might be good about this person. He dressed well. Very sharp dresser. He spoke well. If I wanted someone to represent me, he could be the person. He spoke like a lawyer. hmm….what else?…..hmmm….

that was about all I could come up with. Then I could finish the quote my way…’not to speak ill of the rest of us’. I learned several things from this experience with the preacher:

1. I do not answer for other people. I answer for myself.

2. I cannot control other people, I can only control myself, my actions, and my reactions

3. My perspective was everything-how I framed things affected how I felt about them

4. Inform ‘authorities’ of behavior that you feel needs to be reported-then let them do their job

While I did the above, I was deeply affected by the whole experience. What we experience does change us. I no longer let a person stand in a pulpit and tell me how to live, how to think and what to do.

I think for myself. And one of the things I think is that it is important to find positive things to think about. That is why I try to live by Edward’s altered quote–look for good in people, and try not to speak negatively about them. If they are people that I cannot find good things to say about them, than I walk away from them. I don’t let them into my life. Being around people who cause me to use precious energy to try and manage a relationship with them is not worth it. It is like having a toxic drip that causes a hole in my bucket of energy; the energy just keeps going right out of that hole. I am left wondering why I am so exhausted.  Ending the relationship takes the toxic drip away and the hole in the energy bucket can heal, and you can feel so much better.

So I guess, dealing with people is multi-faceted. How we see them, what we allow into our lives, and when to discern when a relationship should be severed.

“You must not under any pretense allow your mind to dwell on any thought that is not positive, constructive, optimistic and Kind.” Emmet Fox

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours” Wayne Dyer