You Win

Your life is not a failure. My life is not a failure. We haven’t quit and we haven’t failed. Let me set the scene for what I’m talking about. Years ago, women had big families, not always because they wanted to. Men had to work long hours in the fields or doing jobs wherever they could. Coal mining, deep-sea fishing, fighting wars they didn’t start. This was their lives, how they bent. Like the tree swaying with the wind, they leaned and they bent so they didn’t break. We inherited generations’ worth of genetics and heritage. Maybe you have Granddad’s blue eyes or his height. Remember he was so tall he had to stoop when he came through the door frame? Well my gramps was tall and thin. I remember his jean overalls and his pipe. I also remember how his shoulders had a bit of slump. I also remember my mom telling my brother to sit up straight. A lot.

Most of us try to kick habits and to better ourselves. We encourage our kids to study hard and take the steps for success just as we’ve done for ourselves. So you’ve tried to lose the weight. I know you have. It’s not because you lack willpower. Maybe it’s the technique or maybe it’s not. You want to be healthy. You want to stop smoking. You want to watch your kids grow up. You haven’t failed. Get back up. take another step. If you’ve reached this point there is this one thing you need to know. There are some things in life we learn to live with. That doesn’t mean you’ll never quit that habit. It just means there aren’t any miracle cures.

I know people who have personality disorders. I’m sure you do too. I know those that have diabetes and heart problems that would love a miracle cure. And someday medicine and science may find that cure. But until that day we have to handle our bodies with their handicaps as if we might have to live with them. I think with all the self-help and positive thinking we forgot something. Genetics and hereditary still play a part in our lives. Take a tall lanky child for instance. It doesn’t matter how many books you stack on his head, or how many mantras or meditations he would do. He’s going to be tall. And with that will possibly come the stooped shoulders. Thanks Granddad.

I’m blessed with my mom’s pot belly. I’ve never had a flat stomach. When I was 20 I weighed 110 pounds and still had a belly. I could do setups on a slant board. One day I did over 50. Flat stomach? Ha! Nope. Will I stop trying to lose weight? probably not. I’m stubborn like that. And like my continual effort to write my thoughts, like my always wanting to push just a little harder, comes the constant tug of war between wanting to have a thin body and the desire for more ice cream. Some things don’t change.

You exist and no one can take that away from you.

This is a daily lifestyle. This is your daily life. How you live each day doesn’t decide if you fail or win. You win regardless. You are here. You are alive, so you win. You exist, so you can’t lose. It’s not “if I can buy status symbol car I win” sort of deal. If you have no car, if you have no legs, if you have no job, you still win. You exist and no one can take that away from you. What winning looks like to each person is different. Maybe you need to revamp the image you have in your head of what winning is to you. That’s easy.

There are some things that will not change, so we deal with them. Not in a negative “put up with” way. Every day I get up and eat breakfast and take 15 – 30 minutes to wake up. I need that. Eating is mandatory or my body will get shaky and my head will hurt. These are the things I know about myself. There’s no overcoming necessary. This is me. I deal with me. I accept who I am and take the steps needed to make sure I have a meal and slow wake ups. Caring for myself.

You may never get over your fear of dogs. Or heights. You may not finish that bucket list before you die. Don’t let that stop you from putting impossible dreams on your list. It’s okay if you never see the Eiffel Tower or dive into the deep end of the swimming pool. When I was young I thought I had to be able to do everything. I thought I had to conquer every fear and challenge. Where did this thought come from? I really don’t know, but I’m glad to know it’s not true. I don’t have to EVER climb mount Everest. I NEVER EVER have to skydive. Silly as it may seem, I lived the first 30 years of my life thinking I needed to be able to do these things and not be afraid of them. How unrealistic. Somewhere along the way I decided to just stay afraid. Then I learned true freedom.

It’s perfectly alright to live imperfectly.

So forget striving for the top and pushing yourself til you break. The living is not in constant raw edge. The living just is. Right now, regardless if you are on the edge, on the top, or laying somewhere on the bottom after falling over, you are alive. You win.

 

Touchstones and Totems and how we handle life

Cover of "Inception"
Cover of Inception

For some, it’s a ritual, the lighting of a candle, the touching of a bead. For others it’s a prayer or a song that brings them comfort. We all have something. In the middle of chaos what helps you find your home? If you  dropped into a foreign land what would you do every morning or every evening to remember yourself to not forget what matters the most to you?

I am often reminded of scenes in movies. One in particular, is the movie  Inception. In the movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a group of people  (extractors) trained to gather information for the purpose of corporate espionage, with the help of a military engineered machine. The tricky part is not to lose themselves in the other person’s subconscious.

There have been many movies about delving into the subconscious of others and the fear always seems to not to get lost. In Inception, the extractors each carried a personal totem. It had to contain a strong special meaning to the person which held it and only he could control how it would behave. In this case the DiCaprio kept a spinning top which he could spin on a table  to find if he was in his own dreams or in others.

The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again

In our lives, we develop totems or rituals of our own. They keep us from losing our balance when life gets too difficult to handle. We take comfort in them much as a child would with her blankie. It’s a comfort to know that when I get stressed I can take my hot bath. Candles burning in front of me help to calm my fears. I can say a prayer with the candle flame burning and afterwards I feel the relief as if I really had accomplished a task.

rituals
rituals (Photo credit: The hills are alive)



Once, when I was in a particularly stressful time, nothing seemed to help. I felt completely lost as if my world had spun upside down. My entire nervous system had seemed to shut down and I was a messed up girl. I was standing by the window watching the sun set and it struck me not as beautiful but as absolute. It was the one thing that felt the most steady, the most solid and the most predictable. The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again in the east and I could once more see its bright rays fall across the lawn.

I learned to take steps once again

That one simple fact got me through. Afterward my faith strengthened. I felt myself grow a bit stronger. I couldn’t control the loss of my marriage but I could trust in a few things. I learned to take steps once again and hold on to whatever brought me comfort and strength again. 

Life is a process

When you’re swimming in the deepest of emotional turmoil, you need something to grab on to. And the time to prepare is before you are treading water. When you are on the dry land and in your sane mind, prepare. The day will come if it hasn’t already. Find one thing at least that you can look to which will remind you that a better day will come.

Remember a song from your childhood. A funny or a simple little ditty that doesn’t have to have any meaning but reminding you of a memory, a beautiful day. It could be a photo album or a diary you have kept. A prayer altar that you can set up with small items such as a dried flower or a river rock that smoothed and worn over time.

Life is a process, a wheel of time that takes us through the seed-time and the harvest. Through this wheel we have births and deaths, but in between the surety of the many sunrises and sunsets.

It’s not the item itself that has any power

Many cultures throughout history have had totems and rituals and yes I do put those two in the same group. In the time of tragedy a child will grab a doll or a blanket, a preacher may grab his Bible, a musician may grab his violin. It’s not the item itself that has any power. As I heard from the movie Practical Magic, the metal star of a lawman,  is just a small symbol. It has no true protective or comforting power of its own. Only the authority that we as people have given it.
In our culture we honor our dead by burying them in their nicest clothes. We place objects that have meaning only to us and that other person in the coffin with the deceased. This is normal for us and we think nothing of it. But there are other cultures that burn their dead. Some even mix their ashes with water and drink together the ashes of their loved one so that person’s spirit continues inside of each of them. Since I’m not from that culture I think I’d have a difficult time drinking the ashes of my grandmother, but I do understand the adoration and the honor that is given.

There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting

These are totems, these are rituals, these are steps we take together to honor each other, and to keep our civilization intact. We, like the sun that sets in the west and rises in the east remind ourselves with rituals and customs that there is love and there is good and there is comfort. Even though that today is difficult and we are in pain, tomorrow will come. And that day may bring more pain but hopefully that pain will not last forever.

When a person has nothing left to hold  they go into a blackness which they don’t know how to pull themselves out. That is why I am encouraging you to find something to help you balance. I realize that a candle will not replace a lost child. Nothing can ever take their place. But you have to continue on.

Those that we love that have died are gone. They are in our hearts and in our memories and we will miss them dearly, but what reason, what comfort can you find that will help you find your balance? If you need encouragement to make it one more day or if nothing makes any sense to you anymore because someone you believed in betrayed you, what will help you?

It was once said that if you are grieving, comfort someone else and if you have loss, give to someone else. If nothing else in life makes sense, bring your life down to the basics of humanity. There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting. There’s no purer love than giving a cup of water to someone thirsty. It may not take all of your pain away but you have made a choice towards life and the living of it.

And at that moment that is what totems and rituals are all about.

I’m not sticking my belly out

This is from the writer of “Formerly Hot

This is the lighter side of being not so young. I really wish I had her good humor about it. And I do have to check out this book. Looks to be funny!!

Have a wonderful day everyone!