Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Running on Empty



After four months of job hunting, I am finding it difficult to be enthusiastic. The words from my heart seem frozen. I have become grumpy and sulky.

As I sat meditating today, it occurred to me that part of my funk was caused by the lack of response I have gotten from the various positions to which I have applied.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I do remember when every applicant received a notice, regardless of whether they were interviewed or not. I know because I used to sent those type of letters out once upon a time.  This is, however, no longer the case, which is extremely disheartening.

Let's look at this critically.  Back before email and online applications, people had to apply on paper.  Administrative assistants typed letters of rejection one by one.  It was time consuming, yet, it was a common practice to let people know that they were no longer in the pool of applicants.

Today, we have the benefits of the World Wide Web, email, and online applications. Communications happen in split seconds.  An administrative assistant can type one letter, cut/paste it into the email, sending it to whomever in the blink of an eye.  Does this happen?  No!

In the past four months, I have applied to as many as 20 or 30 positions.  From all of those, I have had two acknowledge receipt of my application and one send a note saying, "Thanks, but we hired someone else."

It may seem silly, but that note made my day!  Someone was actually acknowledging that I existed.  The fact that it was a rejection didn't matter, someone cared enough to write a note to me.


As I said, I came to realize this morning that my funk was due to not hearing anything from anyone in a long time.  Fortunately, I am good at rallying my spirits.  After a long walk and a sit out in the garden, I am ready to face another day of job searches.  Someone out there needs my talents and skills.  We just have to find each other!

Namaste!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My New Year



Most of us take the opportunity to assess life during what we have come to call, the New Year, which is observed on and around January 1.  I, however, rebel that I am, take time to reflect each year on my birthday.

This year, as I sat in meditation, I was overwhelmed by my blessings.  My life is so rich.  Here are but a few examples in the litany of gifts in my life.

  • My spiritual journey
  • My beloved
  • My daughters, each a rare and unique gem
  • My grandchildren...five at the last count!
  • My family and friends, which encompass the entire globe
  • My ability to write
  • My garden
Am I looking at things through rose-colored glasses?  Perhaps.


It is not that I don't live in reality.  I definitely understand the pain, the suffering, the heartache of life.  The choices I make are to find the good, to see the silver lining.  It is a choice.

Recently, a friend wrote a blog post on how negative people can bring your energy down.  She discussed the need to distance oneself from such influences.  I completely agree.  

In my life, I learned the necessity of consciously deciding who to include into my circle as well as what situations best nurture my soul.  This is not egocentric, as some have noted.  It is survival.

Negative people are like vampires.  They suck the life out of everyone and everything they encounter, even when they  are given opportunities to be lifted up.  

For instance, I had a relative who simply could not find joy in anything.  For years, I tried to bring her happiness. Small gifts, special outings, affirmations all went by the wayside.  She reveled in her misery.  Finally, enlightened by a spiritual advisor, I confronted her, pointing out the fact that no matter what anyone did, she found a way to be negative.  Telling her that she was responsible for her own happiness was a wakeup call for me, too.  I no longer needed to try to "make" anyone happy.  My responsibility was only to myself.

Since that day, my life has been a series of blessings.  Long before Oprah made the gratitude journal famous, I was tracking my blessings, words from the heart,  in my journal.  It didn't take long for me to see the pattern in my life, a pattern that has replayed repeatedly.  




So, rose-colored glasses may be part of my look, but I am the one deciding to wear them.  Life is truly glorious when viewed from their filter.

Namaste!
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Banned!


I remember as a girl hearing the adults talking about a Fellini movie that was "Banned in Boston!" When I asked my mother what it means to be "Banned in Boston," she explained that the Boston diocese of the Catholic Church had forbidden people from seeing the movie.  She went on to explain that this upset her because it took away her freedom to decide for herself if something was appropriate or good or worth her time.

Momma was a very progressive thinker for her day  She was a civil right activist long before the term was in daily life.  

In the recent issue of the AARP Bulletin, there is a full-page listing of books that are banned in schools and libraries across the country.  To me, this seems unbelievable, especially when I read the list of books.  I can understand not allowing porn into a school library, but The Diary of Anne Frank or Fahrenheit 451?

I read Anne Frank as a young girl in Junior High.  It opened my eyes to how someone could face adversity, yet continue to have a positive outlook.  It also taught me about how humans have a penchant for creating "others," regardless of whether the other is within the group we are part of or outside it.

Fahrenheit 451 is about exactly what is being done to it...banning of books, banning of knowledge.   

Knowledge is neither good nor bad.  It is what we do with it that can cause problems.  Banning knowledge in any form - books, art, film - is done out of fear.  Fear cripples the mind and spirit.  Fear keeps us from learning, thinking, discovering, healing and loving. Knowledge promote growth in all forms.

Momma taught me to question life.  This philosophy was affirmed by several educators that blessed by life over the years.  Asking who, what, when, where, why and how about any given situation has always helped me make solid decisions about what to do, what to say, how to act, what to believe.  The only time I have had regrets is when I didn't ask questions.  Having knowledge has not caused me problems.  It has been the lack of knowledge that has caused issues. Never assume is the lesson I have learned the hard way.

The American Library Association will be observing Banned Book Week from September 25 through October 2.  Why not join the rest of us rebels and pick up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath or The Color Purple or any number of hundreds of other books that have been banned or challenged. (Click here for the 2010 list.)



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Monday, September 6, 2010

Noisy Contemplation



In the book, Listening for the Soul by Jean Stairs, she has a section on "noisy contemplation" (pg. 51), which I found very interesting.  She describes how in the midst of our daily lives we can practice noisy contemplation by simply being mindful that, in spite of the "noise" that surrounds our lives, there are moments where we can stop to connect to Spirit.

I found this fascinating on several levels.  First, it is something I have practiced for many years without having a name for what I was doing.  Second, she pointed out that this act of mindfulness is the embodiment of the word, Namaste.

Namaste is Sanskrit, meaning, "I bow to thee."  By using this word, which has become popularized through yoga, what we are saying to another is, "I recognize the Divine in you."  Noisy contemplation is recognizing the Divine in another or in a situation without being sucked into the vortex of noise and confusion.
For example, imagine you are walking down a crowded street, filled with people who are scurrying off to their various jobs.  You notice an older woman shuffling towards you.  She is bundled up in old coats, a hat and scarf even though the temperature is near 80 degrees.  She looks to be carrying shopping bags, but on closer inspection you realize these bags hold all her worldly possessions.  As she comes to the intersection across from you, you see that she is hesitant to venture into the traffic.  She looks up and your eyes meet.  For one brief moment, you see the beauty of this woman.  You smile as you walk towards her, offering your hand.  You guide her across the street, leaving her to continue her journey. Namaste!

Another example of this form of mindfulness - The bills need to be paid. There is no money in the bank. The kids are fighting in the background over a whose turn it is to pick a TV show.  The dog next door has been barking for over an hour. You just got a call from your aging parents lamenting over the fact that you had yet to visit them, when you were just by to see them two days ago.  Suddenly, in the middle of all this chaos, your gaze focuses on the most gorgeous flower growing just outside the window.  

You look at the intricacy of its blossom.  You notice how the bees seem to love diving into its center, rich with nectar.  Your heart sings as you remember how much you love gardening.  You offer a little prayer of thanksgiving for all things green, turning to the children to suggest that the TV be shut off and they go play outside.  As they begrudgingly head out the door, you notice how much they have grown and how fleeting their childhood is.  Namaste!




Noisy contemplation is meditation that goes anywhere.  I have practiced, as I said, for years, calling it simply - talking with God.  I have done this form of contemplative mindfulness during family gatherings, at meetings, while on my early morning walks, in the midst of a crisis and even as my I held my grandchild for the first time.  Noisy contemplation doesn't have any set form or mantra.  It is what you make it. At times, I have repeated a brief prayer, "Thank you, God." Other times, I simply step out of the moment, picturing the situation at a distance.  This is especially helpful when faced with a difficult person or situation.

Mindfulness, whether done intentionally while sitting in a meditation posture, or during moments of noisy contemplation, helps us to stay centered, grounded and able to see the Divine in all situations and people.

May these words from the heart enrich, enlighten and encourage each of you.  Namaste! 
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