The Green Grass that Does Not Exist

When are we going to realize…

_DSC0318_newwe are all just standing on our own front porches ignoring our own green in exchange for the phantom lawn on the other side of the fence.

As we admire the weeds and pests camouflaged between the green that we tend to in our daydreams, other hearts fill with a vision of caring for the very green, weeds and pests we’ve ignored.

Do you see a wall or the world?

Occasionally there are nuggets shared on Facebook that I can’t help but to re-share here.  This is one of those instances.  True to the instructions it will take just one minute to read and one minute to really think about your perception of the world and life.  As you now look at your life, do you see a blank wall or an opportunity to create a window as your lens for viewing the world?  Also, how can you lend compassion or hope to someone with something as simple as sharing your perception of the world?

Source:  This story is a reprint originally titledIt Will Take Just 1 Minute to Read This and Change Your Thinking” Posted By on June 22, 2014

It will take just 1 minute to read this and change your thinking:

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..hospital window.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.

Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.

The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’ The origin of this letter is unknown.

Source: Truth Seeker Daily via Thinking Humanity 

Are you in awe of you?

“Look at that sexy creature over there.” I looked over my left shoulder catching a glimpse of the individual my friend Nicole was referencing. We were sitting upon a wood bench within a large circle of people. All of us sitting close enough to feel the heat of the fire and have a soft glow bounce off of our faces yet maintain an air of anonymity that we were all here in this secret place. The sexy creature in question was in her own world subtly moving her hips, fluidly waving her arms and seemed to be in her own trance while listening to the live co-mingling of the accordion, banjo, flute, and percussion instruments.  I smiled and turned back to Nicole asking, “Have you ever watched her walk down the street? She always seems to be enjoying herself.” Nicole agreed and also mentioned the positive reaction that she also had to this woman who seemed to just move with a certain awe and enjoyment of herself.

When-you-enjoy-yourselfEarlier that day, Nicole and I talked about relationships and at length about the importance of enjoying oneself. Seeing this woman at the fire brought our earlier conversation full circle but also connected to one of my favorite hobbies—people watching. One of the things I enjoyed most about observing people is catching a glimpse of the individuals who seem to so thoroughly enjoy themselves that they enter their own world and take on an enchanting, trance-like state as they move about in the world. Children have this quality if you ever watch them play, engaging with invisible friends, or creating a world of their own imagining. The concept of looking or seeming ridiculous or even being self-conscious does not seem to enter the minds of children and adults who are able to return to that space of self-enjoyment.

There are some people that were more enjoyable than others to watch move about in their comings and goings. This woman that Nicole and I observed at the fire was one of them. I always liked the way a soft smile played upon her face as she moved about with a certain confidence and swing in her hips. Whenever I saw people like this in the world, it made me wonder about what they were enjoying as I became curious about the private party they had going to in their own heads.

While it is impossible to know the answer to that question I think we all can take the lesson that we learn from observing these anonymous people. They are cloaked teachers and sages who show us rather than tell us about life based upon their own enjoyment and how they move in the world. They also remind us of the importance of enjoying and being in awe of ourselves rather than expecting others to do that for us.

So as you go about your hours, your day, your week, ask yourself, are you enjoying you? Are you in awe of you? Perhaps if you do, you might notice a certain smile play upon your lips and your hips will find their own rhythm with the wind as you inspire others to do the same.

I Know Nothing About Gardening But Scattered Seeds Anyway…

I know nothing about gardening.  In fact, my eyes glazed over a few weekends ago as my hilltop-middle-of-the-woods-quirked-friend laughed at my response to his question, “Do you know how much time gardening takes?” he asked as we sat on the couch in his living room one evening.  I flashed a big smile and said, “Well, you just scatter the seeds, water will come, and things will grow!”  He continued to laugh at my ridiculous answers then he explained the process.  Now it is true that I retained nothing of what he said about the steps involved in gardening.  There was even an incentive at the end of the conversation that I could get a small piece of land to garden.  However, in my mind, it felt more like a dare given my extremely limited knowledge of growing plants or vegetables.

planting-seeds jpg

 

Shortly after that conversation, there was an incident that happened that illuminated the fact that I did start a garden of a different kind scattering the seeds in the same way I thought that real-life gardening worked. I discovered the harvest of this garden while catching up with an old friend during a middle of the night conversation.  At one point she paused and said “You know, getting out o Connecticut was good for us.  And we are doing the things we said we wanted to do.”

I let her words sank in as I mentally wandered back to the many times I would sit on the floor of her apartment on her bamboo floor mats.  During those many nights, we either contemplated going to places where we would not recognize anyone or talk about the creative roads we wanted to take with our lives.  We attempted to partner together on projects but as marriages, graduate school and moving invaded the space of our friendship and collaboration, we peacefully went with the flow never apologizing or coming up with excuses for the break.  Our check-ins over the years were jam packed with laughter, trips down memory lane, and new stories with new characters appearing in our lives.  As I sat aboard the train of silence and nostalgia I realized she was right.  My friend was forging ahead merging the worlds of holistic thinking and health with her law degree.  I was working on many projects and recently reached out to her to appear as one of the profiles for a new website collaboration I was engaged in.

11102664_810880848998688_3779818381376026032_nAfter the short silence I exclaimed in response, “We did.  We planted those seeds, did not force them and it seemed like we abandoned them but look what we’ve grown.”  The conversation and laughter continued for a little bit before we both had to leave each other to return to our lives.  I sat in silence for a few minutes thinking about that imagery of her and I back in Connecticut as two young women walking arm and arm.  As we temporarily shared our path with each other, we scattered seeds daring them to grow while not forcing anything to become beyond what it was going to be.  We never tended to the weeds and figured that everything that was going to survive for a harvest would just do so naturally.

 

Looking for Our Child-Like Selves

 

We-are-all-stillHave you ever looked at a baby photo of someone and realize that there are still parts of that youthful innocence still within that person?  Or perhaps, you gazed into your own eyes as an adult looking back at the younger, more vulnerable and child-like you?

Sometimes I think about what it would be like if my younger self were able to speak to the future.  I recently did a piece as my older, wiser self sending a message into the past, but what about the reverse?  Think about what it might be like to get a message from your younger self,   what would your younger self say to your adult self?  Would you remember to play?  Would you remember to see infinite possibility as opposed to all of the things that just can’t work because of silly things like impracticality?  Maybe it would be a message about keeping the shine in your own eyes reminding yourself to see a certain inextinguishable magic of life?

Child-crowned-with-flowers-on-BridgeOr perhaps it is something more simple.  More or less a reminder to not forget the younger version of you that saw the world as magical and adulthood as a certain sense of simple freedoms.  Perhaps you will want to tell yourself that it is right about now that you wanted to have the ability to take middle of the night walks with peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth as if there were not responsibilities of tomorrow.

Perhaps seeing our younger selves and not forgetting that which is still very much child-like could expand compassion for ourselves and also each other.   We’ve grown in size, but we have not left behind that children we once were.  They still very much live within us.  The question is whether or not we remember them.

The Myth of Closure

“Our teachers are not the sunshine but instead our storms. Why?  Because they teach us how to best swim the rough waters, fashion a safety net, or dance them with grace.” (S)

imagesClosure is something that can not be given but is a ritual we need to create for ourselves by ourselves.  Sure, individuals can participate in being part of a process that is needed to give peace.  At the same time, the individual connecting the puzzle pieces is the main catalyst for such a process while delicately balancing/releasing fantasies tied to outcomes.  In other words, closure is not a gift that can be given yet we mistakenly say that people need to “give” us closure.   For this I will share what happened recently to illustrate my point.

I reached out to a former lover to congratulate him on a move.  Significant time passed between our break-up-not-really-break up (only because it was the relationship that was not supposed to be) and the point I decided to communicate.  More time passed and I decided it was safe to invite him to a party.  This was not just any party, but a regular event we attended in the past as the couple-not-really-a-couple, couple.  During this period of light and somewhat hesitant communication between both of us, we had a couple of phone conversations.  During one of those moments, in the middle our phone conversation, he started talking about our break up.  At this point, we did not say anything about it nor discuss our feelings about what happened.

When I heard the words fall out of his mouth through the phone, I jumped on them like I was hopping a train.  Afterall, he was once someone that I  named Storm because he did not know the depth of the damage he caused after leaving me behind.  Now,  after some time and one difficult three hour conversation later, I realized that he also caused damage to himself.  Yet, I was still unclear about the why of all of this as his words tumbled forward and I caught phrases like “it seemed easy” and “it always seemed easy for the person who decides to leave.”  I let him continue his short story he’d started in response to my blurt out, “I was really hurt by what happened.  Really hurt.”

Silence never had a chance after my words escaped.  He started down a path of telling a story while I paced my kitchen puttering around from the stove, to my table, sitting down in one of my chairs, standing up again, etc.   He ended with, “That is my long winded way of saying I was also hurt.  Very hurt because I lost my friend”  At that point, it was like someone puncturing a water balloon, the tears streamed as I admitted that I was going to cry while throwing a joke filled with playful sarcasm, “Gee, it would’ve been real useful to know that last year.”

Our conversation continued and I fought the urge to use a project or another phone call coming in as an excuse to walk home.  I rode the wave of my sadness letting the tears dry up as our discussion continued to take more spirited twists and turns.  At the end of the three hours, we both had enough of our entertaining ride and hung up to continue our irregularly scheduled lives.  I continued to pace my kitchen before deciding to sit in silence for a bit contemplating what I’d just heard.  He was hurt and he missed me in his life while the question “Why didn’t he tell me?” echoed in my head in response to this confession.

This is where the myth-busting about closure comes in.  Would’ve made any difference, me knowing any of that information in the middle of our break up? I could envision that past that would’ve involved me calling him a liar for that type of admission of “This is hurting me more than it hurts you” sort of thing.  When we parted ways, I made my choice to discontinue any talking or contact with him while making decisions that contributed to me moving on.  Needing or wanting him to participate in that process would’ve taken me down a path of 1) Envisioning his specific role in my closure; 2) Unhealthy connection to all of the ways that I would’ve expected a scripted response to our break up versus our real response.

As I thought about this, I realized that everything (included the time taken separately) happened as it was supposed to.  I focused on my projects and myself, he moved on with doing some things in his life.   At this moment, I could enjoy him detached of needing a role to be fulfilled because I focused on navigating my own closure.  And sometimes, this process helps you realize that it is not about creating a tidy closing but the art of creating peaceful space for the questions that just can’t be answered in regards to why or how things fall apart.

Death and Seduction by Familiarity

“Familiarity is seductive and also begins our journey along a slick road of complacency.” (Shanta)

“I forgot how well I knew this area.  Forgot tiny things like certain streets, the buildings I would pass by but not pay attention to.  I’d been in this area for 12 years and it is not until I moved out of it, I realized that there was a familiarity that I was missing now that I was in a new area.”  (A Piece of a Conversation with a Friend)

That is a quote from my friend within our conversation about the newness of moving and the things you don’t realize until they are out of your immediate or most familiar environment.  His vivid brief description of realizing that he was not in the place of familiarity after 12 years and now in a new geographic location speaks to something that we all forget from time to time.  Familiarity arguably lulls us into a false sense of knowing while providing a certain sense of comfortable intimacy.    While this may be terribly obvious, just ask yourself,

□   How many times did you realize that the abandoned building was something you missed until it was no longer on the street corner of that familiar street either from a natural disaster or for other reasons?

□   Is there something that has shifted in the landscape of your home (like a missing piece of furniture or a broken item that has to be discarded) that you did not notice until the shift happened?

□   Think back to the last time you woke up the next day after your first night of being away from home either due to being on vacation or while staying at a friend’s house.  What did you notice after it became glaringly obvious that what you know as home is not there?

Perhaps there are other things through other senses  (like touch, taste, or smell) that you take for granted until something different is introduced.  I will give you an example.  A few months ago, I was at work, took a restroom break, and washed my hands just before coming back to my desk.    Upon sitting back at my desk,  I started to arrange papers and folders with my hands moving fast with the motion of my arms.  While doing this, I caught a whiff of a scent from the hand soap that seemed to mix with the residue of the lotion on my hands.  I was immediately transported to the busy and crowded streets of Alleppey (in Southern India) as I recalled the route that led to a restaurant that I frequented everyday for two months.  I would go there almost every day around brunch to order sunny side up eggs and toast.   I instantly saw the red walls, the simple menus in clear covers with a black border, and recalled the smell.  During my stay in Alleppey December –early February, I became accustomed to the restaurant, the smell and my regular order of eggs and toast.

During my 5-month stay in India, this restaurant was not the most notable or memorable place on my list.  I had many other fond places none of which included this place tucked along a busy street in Southern India.  Yet, on this particular day while at work, sitting in my office back in America a few years later, a smell reminded me of this non-descript restaurant, the one I’d taken for granted for 2 months!  However, I realized that this restaurant that was once so familiar was now glaringly missing from my daily experience.

Familiarity slips into our mouths when we eat our favorite dish, imprints itself upon our fingertips with a familiar touch, and transports us to what is known yet comforting. At the same time, familiarity causes a certain blindness, subconscious ignoring and nurtures complacency as our bodies and minds get lulled into that moment of remembering or feeling familiar.

To what extent is the act of being so familiar with something (like our jobs, our relationships, intimate environs, etc.) actually our undoing?  In other words, can the familiar be detrimental or toxic for growth?  It is not really a yes or no answer but both depending on the specific set of circumstances.   Sometimes it is impossible to know what has become familiar until we are swimming in an ocean of unfamiliar very similar to the experience my friend spoke about in the earlier quote.

Thus, dwelling in the realm of familiar must be handled with care and balance while introducing things that challenge what we think we know so well.   In other words, stay cozy with your world of the familiar while making sure you introduce doses of that which you don’t know.

To Love and Be Loved….That Isn’t the Question But The Human Imperative

“Here is the deal, life is really all about love.”  Billy Ward

So in addition to many things that I adore, the Ted Talk presentations has been added to that list.  In this particular video, Billy Ward presents something the concept that we are here to  “love and to be loved.”

This statement is simple yet invites complexity.  The challenge or presentation of loving and being loved transports me back to my Senior Year in high school during a moment when we had to memorize the famous soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Even if you did not have such a task, I am sure you can guess which one, the famous “To be, or not to be–that is the question.”    In the case of love and what is presented in this particular video, what is being offered up is not a question but perhaps something that should become something of an imperative for humanity.

So ask yourself, are you loving?  Are you allowing yourself to be loved?  Sometimes the mistake we make in trying to answer these questions is by identifying love with a certain image of what we have envisioned.  In a world surrounded with many unknowns, maybe the one piece of wisdom that we can take away is by allowing ourselves to love and be loved with ease and surrender even when it does not look like we’ve imagined.

Looking at Yourself Versus Looking For Yourself

“In a true mirror you don’t look at yourself you look for yourself”

I have many friends across the ocean and one friend in particular is always full of nuggets of wisdom and things that leave me with a lot to ponder.   During one of our exchanges she referred me to a Tedx Talk in which Caroline McHugh talked about truly being the best YOU that you can be.  During the course of this TedxTalk (see posted above), McHugh, who has spent many years working with organizations and individuals to help them discover their best selves, talked about the true mirror which allows you to see what the world sees when you look at your reflection.  Within the description of the true mirror, McHugh states, “In a true mirror you don’t look at yourself you look for yourself.”  This statement struck me for many reasons and of course has lead to many questions all centering around whether or not we are spending our lives looking at ourselves versus for ourselves.

American society is well immersed in the pool of self-help in which everyone is encouraged in “dig deep” and use introspection to think about ourselves/our thoughts/our actions in relationship to the world and others.  On the surface, our introspection is a form of looking at ourselves.  The world essentially becomes a mirror as we learn various practices of stepping back and viewing ourselves.

Then, there are moments we are looking for ourselves in many places, some of which are dead-ended alleyways.  We look for ourselves in our titles, our roles as mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, friends, lovers;
We look for ourselves in what we see reflected back from others;
Sometimes we think we find ourselves in a compliment or pejorative statement;
Then there are the stories, or better yet, our stories.  Our stories serve as our blanket or quilt of pieces found and pieces gone missing from our attempts to look for ourselves.

As I think about Caroline McHugh’s statement of looking at ourselves versus looking for ourselves, I feel like we are see-sawing between both worlds. Just consider that maybe the next time you are looking at the reflection in the mirror, you may be searching out pieces of yourself while wondering about the blemish, wrinkle, or some other mark of imperfection that has landed upon your physical body.    You, like everyone, may in fact be walking in between the worlds of looking at and looking for yourself.