Living a colorful life ~ Love On Haight, San Francisco California
I love this, because although it would be pretty difficult for us to never think anything negative again, it is so very true that our thoughts are everything when it comes to the life we live and the life we want for ourselves moving forward. They control our actions, our energy, our overall mental well being. And the more positive our thoughts, the more we are able to help those around us (especially if we have children). Moving into the last couple months of the year, I hope to put this into practice a little more every day, every week.
Happy Thursday all, make it a good one!
I have been reading a lot lately about the concept of immersion in relation to creative non-fiction writing. You find a subject of interest and then immerse yourself in that culture/trade/way of life, whatever it may be. In memoir style writing, YOU ARE the subject. You are essentially immersing yourself in your own life. Not in a “head in the sand” type of way (unaware of what’s going on in the world surrounding you, or uninterested, caring only for yourself). Rather, in this refreshing, self-enlightened kind of way, albeit incredibly vulnerable at times. You learn what made you, what moves you…tapping into memories, emotions, hesitations, and ambitions that shape you in one way or another.
When you lose someone close to you suddenly, you begin to think about all of the lingering questions you wish you would have asked them and the stories that were yet to be told. That was, in part, the reason for me to begin writing…the realization that there were many adventures and tales unique to my Father that died with him. Narratives I will never be privy to. I decided I didn’t want the same to be true of myself. And then, as if to cement that way of thinking, I came across the following piece of advice: “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman.
One definition of immersion is “deep mental involvement”. In a world that’s become obsessed with being “involved” in the lives of others (even those they’ve never met), the idea of developing a deep mental involvement in my own life, an awakened consciousness, is a concept I’ve welcomed with open arms. Something I truly hope sticks with me through the remainder of my life, whether that life includes a future in writing or not. It’s something I want my children to observe and to learn because what this world lacks greatly, is compassion. And I believe compassion cannot be shown without understanding, and understanding can’t be achieved without consciousness and recognition. We understand others when we can relate in some way, either with feelings or experiences, aspects of ourselves that we must learn to be in tune with if we wish to tap into them for the better good.
To write about something, actually, to write WELL about something, one must have a level of interest that mirrors passion. I have, through this process, become increasingly passionate about my life…how, where, and with whom I spend it, and most importantly, how I view it. As my immersion deepens, I have found the following state of being to be less and less elusive:
And that is what I wish for anyone that is reading this. Now, and for the coming New Year.
The tranquility of nature….
North Lake Tahoe, October 2015
Sunday & Someday
I’m laying on the grass in my front yard; my body long and placid on the oversized beach towel, soaking up the unusual warmth from this mid November afternoon sun. I started out sitting on the front porch as I often do to drink coffee and read. But as I stared out onto the sunkissed grass, it looked too inviting. At first I felt a bit childish, but not enough to stop myself. Looking up into the same trees I’d seen since I was that 11 year old girl….carefree, unjaded. As I lay there, I close my eyes. Not pretending to be laying by the ocean, exchanging the cool, overgrown grass for some warm sand. In fact, I feel pretty content with where I am, loving that it’s Sunday and I’m home, I’m rested and indulging in this time of quiet. It’s therapy to me.
I open my eyes and fix my gaze on this particular bird, flying higher and higher…observing his technique and at what points in his flight he tucks his long black wings by his side instead of outstretched. Soon enough that single bird becomes two, and then three. Then off they go, disappearing from my sight and me wondering where they are going.
I’m so soothed I contemplate falling asleep out here. Playing out a scenario in my head, one where I fall asleep and wake up to be that 11 year old girl again…laying outside of the new home her parents purchased. A clean slate, a mind full of wonder and pureness. I quickly compile in my mind a list of the most obvious things I would do differently from that point in my life until now. We all have wished we could turn back time on more than a few occasions.
These words came across my feed the other day…their truthfulness both enlightening and chilling. The quote is from Tom Hawking: “It is one of life’s greatest ironies that wisdom comes only with experience, and it reaches it’s apogee just as we are deprived of the chance to use it.” This “irony” is one that never escapes me. Wishing I had known years ago what I know now and that the experience from which that knowledge was derived hadn’t contained so much heartache. Realizing now the things that weren’t worth worrying over and the ones I should have worried more about. The people I wish I’d devoted more of myself to and those I should have never invited into my life to begin with. And especially, all of the time wasted on valueless pursuits.
But living in the past (as most of us are well aware), only robs us of the present. And if there’s one beautiful thing about life, it’s that every day is an opportunity for a fresh start. I may not be able to go back and press the reset button, but I can focus on making better decisions going forward so that twenty years from now, I’m proud of thirty year old me and all of the me in between.
My quote or “thought” for today comes from Allan Lokos, author of one of the most insightful books I’ve ever read: “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living”.
(From the book Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living)
Being honest with ourselves and about ourselves is crucial in our quest to become the best version of “us” that we can be. It may not be easy to address our own faults, but the end result of self awareness, self restraint, and the practice of healthier habits (whether it’s our reaction to trying situations, our dealings with others, or even our dealings with ourselves), is a beautiful one. I truly believe in never becoming complacent with who we are. Rather, always striving to become a more well rounded, compassionate, contributing member of society.
I hope everyone is having a positive week!
I gave in this morning to a moment (or two) of self pity. Yes, I threw myself a little pity party and I was the only sad soul to attend. My reasons having been pretty inconsequential. Comprised of both situations that I had no control over entirely, as well as those I could ultimately control, just not in that very moment. I let it eat at me for a bit. But then, I did something that I’ve become progressively better at (proud moment…drum roll please); I stopped. I turned the anxious negativity off like a faucet and decided that wasn’t the way I was going to spend the rest of this perfectly good day.
Sometimes in order to redirect our thinking, we need a little perspective. As I sat behind the wheel of my car during my trip home from the morning school rounds, a story came to mind. A story I came across last year about a man whose life, whose struggles and subsequent accomplishments left a lasting impression on me. This man’s name is Michael Naranjo.
Michael is a famous Native American sculptor. The unique (and awe-inspiring) thing about this artist, beyond his abundance of talent, is that he is completely blind and has limited use of his right hand. He is known by some as “the artist who sees with his hands”.
This piece is called “Spirits Soaring”
In his early twenties, Michael received notice that his service was needed in the U.S. Army. Mind you, Michael had been raised on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. That assignment essentially meant he would be fighting to protect a country that had “historically treated his people poorly, without honor”. Talk about mixed feelings! However, just six weeks into his time served in Vietnam, this young soldier was hit by a grenade.
During one interview, when recalling his initial hospital stay after sustaining his injuries, he said “he kept reminding himself that he was alive and he was able to think. He felt that as long as his mind was clear he would be okay.” That measure of optimism is something I just can’t fathom. To be able to turn what most would consider an incredibly grim situation into a positive. That mentality still holds true with the artist today. In a more recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Michael says of his career: “Sculpture is what I wanted to do. Somehow it lends itself to touch. So it worked out, even with one hand and no eyes. I’m fortunate that I’m doing what I always wanted to do.”
This story will always serve as inspiration to me and a reminder that our circumstances only affect us as much as we let them. The one valuable thing that we have total control over is our mindset. I hope that you can take the time to view some of this man’s works of art and that you may find some inspiration of your own today. Is there someone in particular whose story has touched you?
(Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from the book Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living by Allan Lokos)
I’m not sure if Thoughtful Thursday is really a thing, but oh well, I’m going with it. Here is my thought (quote) for the day. I have always felt like this is one of the truest quotes I’ve ever read, not to mention one I can relate the most to….
Despite the fact that lack of time can be quite a frustrating feeling, I suppose the beauty in it is that every day is a blessing and a day worth living, even if it’s not all we wanted it to be.
Happy Thursday friends. Make it a good one!
“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – Anonymous
I’m not sure those words could reflect more accurately how I’ve been feeling as I approach my 30th birthday. Time has evaded me. Almost three decades on this intricate planet of ours and I still have an overwhelming amount of self-awareness to achieve. I would file the past three years in particular under “lessons learned” and “harsh realities”. Life changing for both the good and the bad. In that time, I have managed to experience some of the most exhilarating moments of my life; hit rock bottom (or what I certainly hope is my rock bottom), both emotionally and financially; seen some of the ugliest sides of life, as well as people (myself included); rebuilt some relationships and abandoned others completely; and struggled with a mountain of guilt, regret, and loss (not all in that order).
There have been times I didn’t think I could possibly feel more alone…imprisoned in my own whirling thoughts. Times I didn’t think I could feel more alive and enlightened. And times I truly didn’t know how or what to feel, so I sort of just stopped feeling. But that, I’ve come to understand and embrace, is life. The only thing predictable about it is it’s unwavering ability to be unpredictable.
This period of transition I find myself on the brink of is pivotal to my evolution. No, the earth won’t stop turning the day I turn 30; nor will life suddenly change in some sort of drastic or abrupt way. However, the opportunity presents itself to exhale the negative from the past decade of my life (a decade full of self doubt and self scrutiny, more rash decisions than I’d like to recall, and more hard losses than I was able to cope with) and to instead breathe in a new decade. One of potential, one where I focus on self love, personal growth, and strengthening my ability to be more patient and understanding of others, and most importantly, MYSELF.