Archives for the month of: October, 2013

A few years ago, I learned a valuable virtue from my dog.
Yes, I’ve heard of all the wonderful praises dogs receive from their owners, etc. We can learn patience from them simply because they’re patient with us. Dogs don’t criticize, nor do they judge us. Probably the best quality they have is the ability to love us just the way we are, despite how we see ourselves. Many jokes are shared across the Internet describing this very sentiment:
Don’t you wish you were as great as your dog thinks you are? – Honestly, you are probably pretty great, but you may not accept yourself for who you are. Self-help books aim to help us accept the way we look or behave so we can improve. They may also help to accept the reality of certain situations, especially those which are negative or undesirable. In the process of doing so we find a healthier outlook and hopefully happiness rather than trying to resist or change things.

The common definition for acceptance would be to receive that which has been given to us.

We can look at it as accepting a gift from another: a common event, yes. And very simple. But if poor vision, the loss of a loved one, giftedness, or riches prevail in your life, you must accept that reality, good or not good. And, of course, pleasant things are the easiest to accept.

To be truly accepting is to accept another’s personality traits as you would your own.

With all the different temperaments people possess, it’s often difficult to get along with those we find abrasive.

This is precisely where my metaphor comes in handy to help us realize people have their own bents and habits just like we do.

One day while playing catch with my dog, she stopped to do what dogs sometimes do. She had been running around off the leash somewhere in the acres of land in the back property. Usually she picked up on the scent of something dead and rolled in it, probably so she’d go undetected while she hunted unsuspecting prey. Other times she’d eat the dead, partially eaten animals left in the field by coyotes. At least three times that I can remember, she was skunked because she just couldn’t leave those fluffy waddling skunks alone. She also would run through the house with muddy paws if I wasn’t fast enough to catch her first.
This particular day, to my dismay, she began to cough and throw up some slimy, disgusting particles she obviously could not digest. The worst part is when she proceeds to lick it back up.
If I weren’t there to stop her, she would do just as she pleased like any other time I wasn’t present. Who am I to change her nature?

Now, while this is graphic to an extent, it’s important to understand my metaphor for what it is. I’m not saying people are this disgusting in their behaviors. Not at all. But the next time your spouse doesn’t put the seat down, forgets to put the toothpaste cap back on, or something else despite how often a request has been made, think of this:

I was so grossed out by my dog’s behavior, I caught myself telling her to stop doing what she does. Basically, I yelled at her for being a dog.
What? Yes. I did. Ha ha. Like that would stop her. She was a dog after all.

You see, I cannot stop her for being what she is as much as you can’t stop people for being who they are by nature. Acceptance is a virtue because it allows us to see people as they are and receive any oddities they possess as favorable and thus approve of those oddities. Just because others do things we would not do, doesn’t mean we need to change them. The only person you can change is you. Practice approving others. You may find a core trait that at first seemed odd, but in fact is the trait that makes that person unique.

As far as my pooch goes, now that she’s gone, among other awesome things I miss about her, I also miss the muddy paw prints she’d leave on the carpeting: a sign of life and vibrance.

Joy,
Cheryl

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Last time, I mentioned the unexamined life and looking within ourselves to find what we can eliminate or add in order to live optimally. After all, philosophy aims to answer the question, “how shall we live?”
Years ago, when I began to look within myself, I found much chatter going on in my head. My condition, one that most people suffer, is often called “the monkey mind”. It can be scattered and aimless despite its complexity. Some writers use the monkey mind for stream of conscious writing. It allows the chatter to become physical on paper. This type of writing is useful for brain-storming ideas. It’s also a tool that writers call freewriting, coined by Peter Elbow, which allows us to extract the brain without judgement in order to discover the gold nuggets our brains produce, especially when writer’s block occurs. The act of freewriting does have a side benefit. It can aid us to become less scattered and fragmented. Like journaling, once the thought is on paper, the less disrupting that thought is. It loses power. Thus, we can see that the mind would rather not be as unfocused as we allow.
Some of us use meditation to calm the brain down. Repeating Mantras or paying attention to our breath helps us to clear the mind of the chatter. Mastering our own minds becomes a sought out achievement.

Think of a time when something didn’t go as you had expected. Or, think of the days when there is so much going on around you, it’s difficult to think at all. These are the times we can center ourselves.

When I think of the chaos that goes on around me at work, commuting, or just my own thoughts, I realize I need to come back to myself. The real me in the midst of the crap.
I like to think of Thor. He’s a really cool dog who likes to play catch. He’s the type who while huddled in a closet in the midst of the raging storm outside still has a ball in his mouth wanting to play. More on dogs later… I know he’s just a dog. And dogs’ minds don’t work like ours. Thor couldn’t care less about the hurricane or the loss of a job or bill collectors for that matter. But wouldn’t that sense of calm be nice to have on demand?
Ok. Maybe the dog can’t help us achieve the calm in the eye of the storms of our lives. Let me provide another image. Lord Cutler Beckett in the second Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The manipulative mastermind of The East India Trading Company. Here’s a photo taken from wiki if you can’t recall this character:

Lord Beckett

In one of the final scenes of the film, Beckett calmly walks down the stairs of a ship that explodes with each step he takes after muttering famous last words, “It’s just good business.” Debris whirls around his face, but there is no sound save for background music.
You see, even though there’s a load of misery or shrapnel in our lives, a master of the mind, our minds, can breeze through it all. The next time your little ship on the ocean of life explodes, think of Thor 😉 ha, think of Lord Beckett and center in your self. Cut the sound of chatter in your brain off. Play some music. Allow the junk to fly. It’s no matter. You’re still alive. Master your monkey mind and become the calm within.

Joy,
Cheryl

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“The unexamined life is not worth living” ~ Socrates

Clearly, this quote has brought great reflection along with frustration. It’s been a motto of mine for years. I can state this sentiment in a modern way.

Check yourself at the door.

Before leaving the house in the morning, we all check how we look in the mirror. We make sure our clothes are neat in appearance as to make good impressions. But how often are we looking within? Do we sense that our motives are genuine? Will we offer our seat to an elderly person, or offer ourselves to anyone in need? Do we acknowledge anything we have said or done to another that needs rectifying? Did we sleep well the night before? And if not, did we awake in the middle of the night with a nagging feeling that something has to change?

You see, what happens at 2 or 3am is our conscience waking us up. This is our true self; ignore if you must, but eventually, you’ll come to realize that whatever it is that wakes you, (ie. I didn’t call my mother; my relationship is toxic, for example) will provide a truer, more accurate sense of the things in life that matter to you. Pay attention to you. This is your life. Make it true to you.

I recently found myself compelled to start this blog. I hope this is the start to helping others find inner peace and some wisdom as well.

Joy!
Cheryl