Posts Tagged ‘Find peace’

What to give up for Lent? How about complaining

February 16, 2010

It’s Fat Tuesday and I’m thinking about the most difficult things to give up for Lent. I was raised protestant, but my friends were mostly Catholic so I adopted many Catholic practices. (And now I am converted and married to a Catholic – but that’s another story.)

In high school I gave up material things I loved, like chocolate or sweets altogether. One year I attempted to give up swearing. Every time I swore, I would do ten pushups or sit-ups. By the end of Lent I had great abs and arms.

Learning about Catholicism during nine months of required adult education provided a better insight to Lent and what it means to me. Personal changes can be made in any season, regardless of religion. However, Lent prompts me to look at myself honestly and the changes I need most.

I’ve found that as difficult as it might be to give up – gasp – beer, it’s much harder to renounce a negative trait. (And since I quit sugar in January, I have very few drinks anyway.)

Instead, I will continue to attack serious downfalls in my spirit and attitude – the areas in which I do not behave like Christ (or Buddha or any enlightened being). I’ve learned that you’re not supposed to announce your Lenten plans, so I’ll talk about past years instead.

Two years ago, I gave up complaining. Yes, complaining. I can’t say that for 40 days I never thought or voiced a complaint. Who could? But I learned to catch complaints in thought, ask myself what good the complaints served, and then keep most of them to myself.

It’s amazing how many complaints our heads come up with in one day. I get out of bed and complain that my back hurts. Then I complain that the cat puked on the floor. The shower runs out of hot water mid leg shaving and I complain again. Plus, there’s always dishes in the sink, traffic is bad, and on and on.

I caught myself complaining about good things like a messy fridge filled with too much food. Or the sun was too bright. Or there was too much work to do (who would have known I would loose my job). I needed an attitude adjustment and it started with being aware.

Why was I complaining? How could I be grateful instead? How much of this could I just turn over to source and let go?

It turns out that most complaints are not warranted and serve no good purpose. I still complain, but a lot less. Even my husband notices the difference and catches me if I start complaining.

This year, I’m tackling a pretty huge lineup of issues. If I have success, I will find peace and joy in every day. For anyone who wants to keep chocolate and give up something hurtful, this little reflection is from one of our church bulletins last year. I cut it out and it’s still on the fridge.

Give up complaining … focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism … become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments … think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry … trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement … be full of hope.
Give up bitterness … turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred … return good for evil.
Give up negativism … be positive.
Give up anger … be more patient.
Give up gloom … enjoy the beauty that is all around.
Give up jealous … pray for trust.
Give up sin … turn to virtue.
Give up giving up … hang in there.

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How my friend’s suicide opened my heart

December 17, 2009

(This is a seriously hurtful blog. If you are from Montana and knew my friend, I urge you to read this only if you have time and energy to process some pain.)

I promised myself I would read the diary and my police statement about the day my friend killed himself. I promised I would do it by today, the day. I want healing to continue.

It’s been eight years. Although the pain is still fresh, I am mostly recovered. I no longer believe I failed him. I sleep at night without pills, booze or nightmares. I rarely start crying for no reason.

I’ll tell our story as briefly as possible. Brandy had been my friend since 8th grade. He knew me better than most girlfriends. We were reunited at our 10year high school reunion, after years apart. Best friends again, we went kayaking, camping and to concerts.

But my friend was suffering from depression and head trauma from falls at work and climbing. His hands shook and he drank to still them. The drinking got him in trouble. He was more frustrated with life every day.

I did not remember before reading the diary, but he often called in the middle of night seeking comfort, insight and someone to listen. I have been to the black place, so I understood. I told him medication and therapy could help him. I told him depression is like kayaking, sometimes you have to paddle against whitewater.

I had blocked much of our last conversation. I was on lunch, cramming down a baked potato when he called. He was scared; too scared to go outside or leave the couch. He said it was all over. I tried to talk him out of it. He told me the gun was cocked and put it in his mouth.

I had forgotten that I said “I love you no matter what.” I only recalled my last words, which were “If you’re going to talk to me like that, I’m going to hang up.” He hung up and pulled the trigger.

Why would I share such a horrible story? My heart wants me to share how my life changed.

Now I treat every day like my last. I quit waiting to say or do things. I reconnected with my biological father after 24 years. I evaluated my life and realized I wanted out of journalism and out of Wyoming. I set a timeline for leaving (and left!)

With my heart split in two, it was truly open. My relationships became more intimate. I learned to trust. I fell in love. I met angels, personally.

People in distress still befriend me and impart their suffering. I have lost two more friends to suicide since moving to Oregon. I realize God calls me to listen and love without attachment to the outcome. And to tell people that suicide may free you, but it lives in me – and your loved ones – forever.

(Please seek help if you think suicide is an answer. It is a thought you can defeat.)

Dousing stinkin’ attitude with Jedi mind tricks

December 6, 2009

I don’t want to blog today because I’m irritated and don’t want to express this mood. I guess it’s a good day to share my tricks for triggering gratitude and happiness – and put them to use.

Exercise is a biggie and I should probably hit the gym when I finish writing. I prefer a brisk walk in nature, but 38 degrees and 40-mile-an hour winds are not that appealing. Regardless of the exercise venue, I tend to shift thoughts as soon as I sweat.

Often I do yoga while listening to one of my favorite sources of positive information; http://www.healingwiththemasters.com. Jennifer McLean interviews healers, teachers and positive thinkers a couple of times a week and posts replays of the audio. Sign up is free and the lessons are priceless. I hope there is a replay in my inbox today.

I have learned many mind tricks from interviews with people like Jo Dunning, Guy Finley, Marci Shimoff and Neale Donald Walsch. Plus these short talks lead to fantastic books, CDs, coaching and other programs.

Daily affirmations are a necessary way to stay positive and I need one today. When Stuart Smalley of SNL introduced affirmations … “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!” … he was hilarious. Now I know this is a seriously good way to empower myself. Some of my affirmations are simple like “I can handle whatever happens today.” This site, http://bit.ly/uvvPF, gathers people’s affirmations and helps me write my own. From today, I plan to use daily blogging as a reminder to write an affirmation.

Making lists of things I love or am grateful for is another nifty tool. My heart fills with thankfulness when I list all the things I love. On a day like today, I open the journal and recall the reasons life rocks.

Visualizing also lifts my spirits. This is a tool I believe every positive person uses and something I should do more often. If I picture my happiest memory, my favorite place in the mountains or my dream for the future, this minute’s frustration fades. I use photos to stimulate these visions sometimes. I looked at several before typing today.

The last stunt I use on myself is self-inflicted laughter. Whatever it takes to rouse the giggles is fair game: playing with the cat, comedy on YouTube, a favorite movie, or the never-fail stare down in the mirror. Laughter is the best reminder that happiness comes from within – and it is always in there if I dig. Thanks to digging, I feel better already.

Stressed? How about a tromp in the woods?

December 2, 2009
Mt. Hamilton Nov. view

Fall brilliance in Columbia Gorge

Scanning the Internet for a mid-week hike, I wonder if some of Portland’s thousand of unemployed are also capitalizing on misfortune by getting outdoors. A tromp through the woods on a Wednesday is a great way to forget about this tough time for a while.

It’s ironic that my happiness depends on communing with nature often. As a teenager, I resented my parents for dragging me to camp in Glacier Park nearly every weekend. I resented the no electronics rule didn’t want to miss happenings in my dinky hometown (population 750). Camping improved when I brought friends, but it still felt forced.

In college I suffered from ongoing discontent that I couldn’t explain. I carried a loneliness that burrowed deeper than missing my family. Beer could not fill this empty pit. Eventually, I realized I was longing for the outdoors. I jumped at the chance to hunt with my brother, learn about fishing bait from dad or drive half the night to rendezvous with the family for a rafting trip.

My first journalism job at a weekly paper in St. Maries, Idaho was a great blessing.

My suspicion was confirmed. The supplement I needed was a strong dose of the mountains. The lonely pang was replaced by exhilaration for adventures in the Idaho panhandle. Plus, the job required covering outdoors topics and catching the area splendor on film. I initiated the habit of traveling with hiking, fishing and swimming gear at all times. My good friend still traverses this glorious heaven water and mountains for photos like this http://skookumfoto.blogspot.com/2009/11/sunset-slough.html.

Oregon’s diverse landscape is an equally magnificent heaven and the allure to many who move here. Yet I let work, getting married, buying a house, etc. hinder my explorations. My misfortune has provided time to climb mountains and renew my spirit. Regardless of your employment status, it is easy to find groups, activities and networks to help you explore safely. I hope these links help you get outdoors – praise the creation, find peace and brainstorm new ideas.

Whether you walk, bike, hike, ski, kayak or push a stroller, there is a Portland Meetup Group for you – http://www.meetup.com.

The Mazamas are locally famous for climbing and their site offers a list of varying groups – http://www.mazamas.org/your/adventure/starts-here/C91/.

REI (www.rei.com) not only sells gear, but teaches you how to use it and offers presentations by people who travel and push the limits.

Lastly, an interesting source of all types of activities for adults and families is the weekly event calendar from Beyond 50s Radio – beyond50@beyond50radio.com. I’m not beyond 50 and I love this weekly email.