Pete Holmes and the Joy Quotient

​If you get a chance, watch Pete Holmes HBO stand up Faces and Sounds.Takeaways:“joy quotient” and love yourself “for what you are doing, not what you could be doing.” 

Sometimes There’s a Reason

“Illness often forces us to relax, let go of all our busyness…and drop into a deep, quiet level…where we can receive the …energy we need.” ~ Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization.

So the blog dropped off. School got busy. I struggled with acceptance, to keep positive, as a new year began.

And then, for the first time in a decade, my thyroid went out of whack. I’ve been diagnosed with, and on medication for, hypothyroidism since 2003 (and suspect I had it for long before). It goes undiagnosed in a lot of people for a long time. I – in my non-medical, and non-expert opinion,  – recommend you request a thyroid test at your next physical if any of the symptoms below sound familiar.

Basic symptoms include exhaustion, not just tired at the end of the day, but exhausted. Back in my 20’s, before diagnosis, I fell asleep at concerts. Seriously. Who falls asleep at an REM show? Me. And at Harry Connick, Jr.? Me. It was no fault of those artists whom I adore, but an undiagnosed hypothyroid.

Mood is also affected. Along with the sluggishness, there are feelings of depression or irritability. I’ve been there and guess what? Usually chalked it up to job stress. There’s also difficulty losing weight which I think many women, too many women, feel is a problem, and a host of other symptoms that you can read about here.

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So back to the doctor I went, to see what caused this blip. My blood test showed a change in the TSH numbers, so the daily medication was increased. I took it easy, lessened my workout routine, allowed a few days of rest.Within a few days, I felt better. Mostly, I felt awake.

The other thing that changed in a matter of days was my mood. And – I’m not kidding – I did not hate my job. I did not dread going to work. I have, for the past month, been enjoying what I do. I’m having fun. I have liked teaching.

Most days. Now it’s the end of the quarter so there’s a lot of work piling on…but that’s temporary. There are times when I am tired, and when that happens, I rest. I go home and read a book. I don’t push it. But I’m tired…not fatigued. There’s  a huge difference.

A year ago, I never would have said that. Even a few months ago, I never would have said that. It’s been a weird few weeks to observe this turn around. I’ve got a few more appointment’s scheduled to keep on top of things. What if all this negativity I’ve had for years was a result of hypothyroid and a medication mismatch?

 

 

 

 

Hen Love, Acceptance, and Stillness

Love is a state of Being. Your love is not outside: it is deep within you…In the stillness of your presence…you can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature…this is the realization of oneness. This is love.

~ Eckhart Tolle, Enlightened Relationships in The Power of Now.

These two. They exemplified Stillness. They portrayed Love. It’s so important for us to remember Stillness in times of stress, to remember Stillness when our thoughts run rampant with fear.

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The hens had a scare last week. These two black Australorp hens are Mean Girl #1 and Mean Girl #2. They were raised together and when we got them, #1 was much more dominant than #2 (hence, the names). Mean Girl #1 is second in the pecking order, and is temporarily first when the dominant hen goes broody. Mean Girl #2 is one of the last in the pecking order. She’s a little slow, has to be shown to her food, won’t go after food on her own.

So what scared the Mean Girls? A black snake had gotten into their coop at night, after the hens had gone to bed. Just a little background – the black snake, non-poisonous good snake -is a regular summertime visitor. He’s on the hunt for a few free eggs, and, for his work in keeping our house mouse-free, we keep him around. If we see him around the coop, usually in the day time, we sweep him away with a broom and he slithers back to his home under the porch.

Last week, though, I heard the chickens squawking, clucking, making all sorts of noise late at night. I heard them from another room, over the sound of the television. That never happens. Chickens are generally catatonic when they sleep. Which is why if they are free-roaming or don’t have a secure coop, they are easy prey for fox, raccoon, and bear. They’re not going wake up until its too late (analogy for many of us in our life lessons?)

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I ran outside (seeing no furry mammal as the problem) and opened the coop to find Mr. Black Snake snuggling awful close with Mean Girl #2 and Brown Chick. It was hen chaos. The rest of the hens literally “flew the coop”** but the two sort of trapped by the snake had some panicked moments. I opened the side panel and, finally, they were able to get out.

Well, Mr. Black Snake was eventually swept out the door and slithered on home. All the hens were spooked and wandered around, refusing to go back in. I left them alone (light on and careful watch out the window) and eventually all but the two Mean Girls went back inside and settled on their roost.

The smaller hen, Mean Girl #2,  was still terrified. She shook. Her tail feathers shook. She burrowed into Mean Girl #1’s side, trying to get under her bigger companion’s wing.** I’ve never been particularly moved by the chickens or been sentimental about them. But these two hens, refusing to leave each others sides was amazing. Mean Girl #1 sat down with her on the edge of the porch. She stayed with her, and let the smaller hen nestle against her. Love. Acceptance. And in the rain, in the darkness, they sat. They stayed together in Stillness.

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**Cliches come alive…”flew the coop” and “under [her] wing”…it really does happen.

 

Read This

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Read this book by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.” ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Read this article by Roxane Gay: On Making Black Lives Matter http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/features/a21423/roxane-gay-philando-castile-alton-sterling/

“Speak up when you hear people making racist jokes. Speak up when you see injustice in action. Inform yourself about your local law enforcement and how they treat people of color. Vote. Take a stand instead of waiting for absolution from people of color. We don’t have that kind of time…” ~Roxane Gay

Disarm: Anthology as Action

Any action is often better than no action. ~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

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What happens when you’ve contacted your representatives, signed petitions, argued with people you haven’t seen since high school on Facebook, unfriended said people you haven’t seen since high school on Facebook, followed and tweeted the #filibuster and #goodtrouble sit-in…and it still doesn’t seem like enough?

Disarm, an anthology in the works from Black Heart Magazine, is looking for submissions, including poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction. For now, this is the action I will take.

I cannot watch another mass shooting go by and do nothing.

I cannot worry whether a reader, a student, a colleague, a student is going to disagree with me. They might. And, in my neck of the literal woods, they probably will.

I cannot return to teaching in August and practice shelter-in-place drills with my students as if it were normal, to listen to the security presentation about how a piece of paper over the window will prevent a tragedy. Children practice each school year how not to get shot…this should not be the norm. This should not be accepted.

I cannot read the Second Amendment again, and wonder how half a nation and half a Supreme Court misses the words “militia” and “well-regulated.”

I cannot ignore the correlation to domestic violence. Research is needed here. Reporting domestic violence is needed here.

I cannot watch news reports and wait for another round of thoughts and prayers, and no action.

“If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally…” ~ Eckhart Tolle.

I cannot remove myself because this is my home. I love my family, my community, my friends. Yet I cannot accept the current state of things. I cannot accept mass murder. I cannot accept a personal right to bear arms when innocent people are killed en masse. I cannot accept that, as a society, we are desensitized to it.

Some things are Not. Right. Some things need action.

 

Accepting a New Plan

I needed a plan. I was on board with being Present, but I could not imagine a new future. I drew a blank. There were a lot of blank moments. Anything more complicated than, what am I going to have for dinner, was a blank moment. I just couldn’t see it.

“Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I worked on staying present, accepting things as they were. But it was time for decisions to be made.

I needed to re-think where I was, physically, geographically. I was across the country, two thousand plus miles from my family. Just before the house of cards tumbled down, I had started a new job, primarily based on the idea of having children and working very close to home. That wasn’t going to happen, not anytime soon. And what about the rest?

All of my decisions had been based on a marriage I was no longer in. Did I want to stay where I was? Did I want to move back home? I vacillated. Back and forth. A lot. Much to my supervisor’s…well, I don’t know. Let’s just say I probably tried his patience a few times. Sign the contract? Don’t sign the contract.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up this book: Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.

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It was what I needed a way to practice looking toward the future. Some way to to take my life in a new direction. It was a little hippy-trippy, I admit, a lot of sitting quietly and meditation involved.

“…use your imagination to create a clear image, idea, or feeling…you wish to manifest.” Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization

Easier said than done.  It was back to the blank slate. The blank moment. But as I read through the book, that I did not throw against the wall, I realized I was taking it too seriously.

Says Gawain, “When some people first try to visualize, they feel that nothing is happening. The are…trying to hard…stop worrying, relax, and accept what happens naturally for you.”

Oh, ok. This was supposed to be fun. Use your imagination, have fun with it! Over time, I did. The simple exercise of imagining a beautiful place was the first step for me. Nothing more than that, no grand plans or job places. Just imagine a setting where I would like to be.

And I found, my ideal place was not red rock or high desert. It was green and lush…the image came through repeatedly…green, humid, trees, oaks, maples, poplars…and my first step was decided. It was time to head home.

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Recognize the Good, Accept the Good

Just as we need to recognize when there is a bad situation, we also need to recognize the good – or what we would label as good – even in during difficult times.

“Bad turns to good through the power of nonresistance.” ~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

When we’ve spent the majority of our time in hardships and struggle, it is difficult to believe that things can be good, that we can be happy. Tolle writes about the stories we tell ourselves, the stories our ego is drawn to, our egoic desire toward drama. Our ego is a drama queen. If we can take a moment and observe that occurrence, we realize the situation is as it is, and it is our mind that keeps the drama going.

The first task is to recognize where good exists. Just as we accept difficult challenges with, yes, this sucks, ok get on with it… we need to find those moments of good with an attitude of recognition and acceptance.

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A million years ago, in that past life, when I was moving out of my house, I felt incredibly isolated and alone. My family and close friends were on the other side of the country. I had work colleagues and social acquaintances but few that I felt I could ask for help with moving.  I hesitated for a long time. I was stuck in my own pity party drama. My ego was enjoying feeling sorry for poor, alone, isolated me. Finally, I asked for their help. I didn’t expect much but to my surprise, they did agree to help me move out. One couple brought their trailer. Others carried my boxes (mostly of books). They helped me set up my new rental room and take things to storage.

Of course, this was a difficult day, in the middle of a horrible (such as it was) situation. But there they were. A handful of people who graciously agreed to help me. That was a good thing. I could have chosen to look on that day with negativity. I did, for much of it. But it was time to recognize that these were good people helping me out. And the feeling-sorry-for-myself drama ended. I believe that it was that day that turned acquaintances to friends (well, that and the invention of Facebook) 🙂

Recognize the good. Accept that it is there, somewhere. Many people are willing to help in some way or another. Maybe not all. Maybe not most. But they are there.

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I highly recommend your local Firemen Movers. They helped me on move #2.

Even if you feel like you are alone, call a peace officer. Call a counselor. Call a moving company, if you can afford it.

These are all also people who are willing and able to help.

There is good out there. Even in the midst of struggle and difficulty, recognize that good. In the present moment, accept the good.

 

 

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