Today was lovely, and it was yellow. Vibrant, soft, electrifying, warm, and worn. The color yellow grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. Taking pictures is a balm for my soul and is one of my favorite stress management techniques.
I love dogs. They are living examples of mindfulness, honesty, loyalty and true compassion. So on National Puppy Day, here are a few dogs that have touched my life.
I feel overwhelming shame about my relationship with money. It is one of my big three stressors. Just thinking about it causes me incredible anxiety. I feel incredibly stupid when I’m seeking help from others, and they say things like, “all you have to do…” Talk about stress!
But this video posted on the Be Like Water blog helped me understand why controlling my spending is such a challenge and how I can overcome it. It suggests using cash as my go-to method of payment, stop eating out, and eliminating purchases with no long-term benefit (Starbucks tea, pad thai, Ohh….what is that shiny new thing!!)
Digit is a pretty simple savings app. It take a couple of dollars out of my account randomly throughout the month and puts it into a separate account. I love the regular text alerts as well as the option to save more or less. I can get it back if I need it of course, and they guarantee that they will not overdraft my account. It actually made me pretty excited about saving.
Acorns, an investment tool, is a little different. For each purchase I make, it takes the change and rounds it to the next dollar, and when it reaches five dollars, it pulls the money from my account and invests it. Now, this app really helped me see how much money I was spending! It seemed like every time I turned around; it was taking money out! But like Digit, you can withdraw money from it as well.
My goal, of course, is not to make any withdrawals. Instead, I want to change my spending habits. I AM changing my spending habits.
I stumbled across this list this morning while I was inspecting the internet for leaks. His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers some pretty awesome guidelines for living a fruitful life. What a remarkable man. The more I learn about him, the more I admire him.
So, I’m struggling. I had certain expectations about a couple of professional opportunities that turned up and my hopes were dashed. Like I just knew things were going to work out like I wanted them and, of course, that didn’t happen. So now I sit here licking my wounds, anxious about how to proceed; feeling insecure about my own talents and abilities. This has been tremendously stressful and frankly, a blow to my self-esteem.
Intellectually, I know it is because I am not living in the present moment. I am lamenting the past and worrying about the future. But emotionally, I just want to lie in bed with the covers over my head!
So for my meditation this morning, I used a practice Thich Nhat Hanh mentioned in his book, Living Buddha, Living Christ. It is one of the mindfulness meditations he learned as a novice monk to focus the mind on the beauty of the present moment.
Breathe in – calming
Breathe out – smiling
Breathe in – present moment
Breathe out – wonderful moment
It really helped me clear my mind of negative thoughts and focus on listening to the wisdom of the universe.
I am trusting that things will work out for my highest good. (Hey, that’s one of my favorite affirmations!)
Everyone knows what stress is right? Stress is that thing..that hideous monster..that keeps things from being…well, perfect.
Ah, stress! You suck.
But what about getting married, getting a promotion or adopting a puppy? Yes, these wonderful, happy events are also stress-provoking. Weird right? I know.
Stress has always been difficult to describe, but like pornography – you know it when you see it..or feel it I guess.
In fact, Dr. Hans Selye, who pioneered stress research during the 1930’s, described it as, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” So there you have it.
I know. it’s a really simple equation given the havoc stress causes in our lives. It can’t be this basic, but it is. Acute stress is simply our response to change. This can be a physical, mental or emotional change. It can be positive or negative, actual or perceived. But it is still simply a change.
Now, I’m not a mathematician, but this really is the easiest way to illustrate the power we have over stress in our lives.
Change is given. It is going to happen, and as long as we are alive, we are going to experience change. But we can manage our response to change.
So, is this where the journey to peace begins? Let’s see!
Note: I wrote this in Nov. 2015
So, I drove to Jackson, Miss. yesterday to get fingerprinted for work. It was a three-hour drive to the facility, and the fog was thick along the way. When I arrived, knitting in hand, I was surprised that the entire process took less than 10 minutes—not a single purl. Three hours of driving for a 10-minute appointment. Yep.
Not looking forward to spending three more hours in the car, I stopped at Eudora Welty’s House for a quick tour.
Standing before Eudora’s books, on Eudora’s sleeping porch, in Eudora’s house I saw the truth of my life.
It was so fascinating to be in the house of one of the writers who inspired me back in my college and grad school days. I wrote so much back then, but life slowly crept in, marinated in the constant reminder that “I couldn’t make a living as a writer.” Slowly but surely, I put down my pen and started using my computer for watching videos, online dating, and countless revisions to my resume.
But being in Eudora’s house…
I remember standing in Eudora’s living room listening to the docent talk about various pieces in the room and what they meant to a woman who left a mark so deep on my soul, I don’t remember anything I read by her, but I grew considerably while sitting at her knee.
Yet, I was anxious to get to the dining room. Then in the dining room, I couldn’t wait to get to the kitchen. I was disconnected. Removed from what was in front of me and, of course, this is how I live my life. Waiting for this to be over to get to the next thing. The next thing that may bring joy, happiness, or the chance to show society or whoever is watching, that I have value.
There in Eudora’s dining room, I forced myself to be present. I listened to her as she described how Eudora and her guests used the gigantic dictionary in the dining room to unravel dinner debates. I absorbed the beautiful, hand-painted Haviland china and the chest of drawers build for her father without a single nail. Marvelous. And of course, there were books. In the dining room bookcase, on the sideboard, and on the table. Everywhere.
Being in Eudora’s house brought it all back. The excitement and fearlessness that women writers have, which left untapped turns to bitterness. I started to see again. To feel all the beauty of being truly alive. For a moment, I had a taste of what it was like not to fret, to live boldly—excuses and caveats be damned! My fearlessness was still there—not quite suffocated.
Eudora Welty lived on her own terms. She wrote, painted, took pictures, gardened and cooked. She went to parties, gave lectures, and socialized with her famous friends. But at home alone, she sat in a comfy wing back chair next to large airy windows looking out on the street, and she read.
Thousands of books on shelves, on the sofa, in trinities on the floor in just about every room in the house.
There were more than 15,000 books in her house when she died. The historical society moved all the books she acquired after 1985 to the education center next door, yet the house vibrated with literature.
Upstairs, I had the great privilege of seeing a row upon row of her own novels in English, German, Japanese and many other languages. I wanted to weep. I felt thrilled at her accomplishment and ashamed that I had given up on my dreams and goals so easily because they didn’t come with a parade.
I gave it up for what was to be an easier path—consistent income and societal approval—conformity, a broken spirit, and debt. I gave up my dream for a safe path in modern America, and it has nearly killed me.
Standing before Eudora’s books, on Eudora’s sleeping porch, in Eudora’s house, I saw the truth of my life.
I left Eudora’s house with thoughts of writing, books, camellias, and scrubbing away the bitterness. I am to write.
BTW, The Welty House and Gardens are amazing!! I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the house for archival preservation reasons, but please visit if you get a chance. It is so worth it!!