The Trouble with Grouping

Our human brains are designed to group information.  As children we learn the rules of speech (which is very frustrating to English speaking three year olds who are corrected for saying “I goed potty” or “Dad doed it”)!  We learn what characteristics make a horse different than a dog, etc.  We need to group information to learn without being overwhelmed by ever little detail.  It is important to our functioning.

However, grouping can cause problems.  If you look on the media you see this group at war with that group, and it can seem like everyone hates everyone.  But maybe that’s not actually true.  Maybe a lot of  memes and quips aren’t referring to real human people, but stereotypes. We might not all be in a “Borg vs. everyone else” type battle.

When you talk to your neighbor, you see the humanity of that person, and they see yours. Things aren’t always as they seem. People are pretty amazing. Some conservatives love the poor.  Some liberals care about keeping pre-born babies alive.  Some sensates have insight. Some intuitives have sense. Some media and social media gurus may sometimes frame the way we look at things, and they may like drama.  It doesn’t mean that everything they present is reality.

Generalizing can help us make sense of the world, but it can also cause us to see things as worse than they are and despair.  And in our personal lives as well, it is easy to get into “I ALWAYS make that mistake” or ” No one EVER calls me” or “ALL people are haters,” or “society is COMPLETELY bad…” But these aren’t true.  Sometimes, you do the thing well. Sometimes, someone reaches out. Sometimes, people are lovely. flower in hand

Go outside. See the trees, talk to a neighbor. Yes, there are things in the world that really need to change.  We don’t want to be blind to that, and we need to do what is good and reasonable to do to help. But there is also so much good.  Watch the face of a three year old.  See the art of someone close to you.  Eat delicious vegetables.  Hug someone you love. Read a fascinating book.

And it might help to begin to replace “all or nothing” words with words of moderation. Without as many generalities, life can be much better. They are NEVER true anyway. 😉 (joke)

May your day be beautiful. May God bless your day.

 

 

 

Soothing the Soul

I’ve been getting a little bogged down by too much information lately, and I read some beautiful quotes while in the chapel and then sharing with a friend. Here are some that hopefully will refresh your heart.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — project water 6inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.  St. Faustina

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! … You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. … You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. St. Augustine

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love. St. Julian of Norwichproject ocean

Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come. St. Julian of Norwich

The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love. St. Teresa of Avila

Be who you are called to be and you will set the world ablaze. St. Catherine of Siena

May your day be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Self-Criticism 1

Lately, I have been needing more of a challenge in life. I was talking to a friend about what that could be — what kind of challenge is right for me? There is a lot of mental energy here that needs to go somewhere.

It used to be that I was caught up in self-condemnation. I don’t do that as much anymore, but this energy had a lot to do with it.  It wanted to be used and challenged. Self-condemnation was a way of using it.  It created the drama that my brain needed.

I have noticed something about the people in my life who are hard on themselves. It seems that many of them have a lot of creative energy. Though their other energy may or may not be depleted, there is a huge need to create and analyze.  What happens when creative energy just sits there? Well, it never really does just sit there. It turns inward and people start to create self-criticism and unrealistic expectations of themselves. They begin to over analyze their own behavior.  That energy is going to work anyway no matter how it works. If it isn’t being used for anything constructive, there you are, the only thing it can be used on right now. Yaay.

BUT what if the creative energy were used for … hmmm, let’s see … creating? You might analyze a book, or paint a picture, write a story act, delve into the meaning of something, etc.  You may help a friend problem-solve (without doing it for them. I find much joy in helping children learn math for example). You may learn something new. When creative energy is used outwardly it can really help us stay away from those self condemning voices. Now, good self-reflection is great.  How was the day? Do I need to apologize for anything? What did I do well? Is there anything I need to change? Or doing an examination of conscience is great. But we can easily go overboard. For a well balanced life, it is helpful to do something creative and something that uses your brain, lest it turn in on itself. So, what creative or educational project etc. can you think of to do today? It doesn’t have to be for very long, but it might make your day a little more peaceful and you might be a little kinder to yourself.

May God bless your day.

 

Moving Forward

I recently made an organizational system and posted about it last week. I loved it.  There are so many things I want to or need to be doing, however, that I couldn’t get to them all. I look at my sheet and I see white spaces.  Have I failed?

I also look at my sheet and I see Xes.  I see marked in boxes of things I wasn’t doing before.  And I realize, that though I am not doing as much as I’d like to quite yet, I am moving forward and it is a definite improvement over what was.

I remember trying to give up sugar and not being perfect about it, but eating so much less sugar through the trying, and making steps toward better health.

The way many people approach New Year’s Resolutions is interesting.  Many people will resolve to do something, fail once or a few times, and decide to give up the resolution. People may decide to get healthy, fail once or a few times, and stop trying.  Some people realize they are a slave to certain desires, try to break free, and give up.  Life isn’t about success and failure, it is a journey.  Think of the widow in Luke 18:1-8.  She is rewarded for her persistence.  Maybe sometimes we need help, or a new approach. But some things are vitally important.  And when you keep trying, you are getting somewhere.  However slowly, you are getting somewhere.

People in twelve step recovery groups will remind each other “progress not perfection.” There is an understanding that life is a journey and we humans move forward and learn and heal, become more whole as a part of a larger process. We don’t need to listen to the defeating voices in our heads.  We can rephrase, and look at the good side.  Yes! We are moving forward.  Slowly, we are overcoming that one thing, and conquering that other thing, and moving forward. And that is good.  Progress not perfection. We are doing something; we are getting somewhere.  Two steps back? Who cares. You can do this. 

horse-419741_640

May God bless your day.

 

 

Benefit of the Doubt

Recently, a friend was speaking with a friend about how he wasn’t quite sure if he was an introvert or extrovert. “I’m all over the place,” he said.  “Or,” she replied with a smile, “maybe you are well balanced.”

I was thinking recently about how I try to solve every problem that my friends have. “What kind of horrible overdeveloped sense of responsibility do I have?” I thought. Then, it suddenly dawned on me: “Maybe I just like problem solving.”

I have a friend who, every time I am down on myself, can tell me a reasonable reason why I did that thing I did, and how it makes sense. She gives me a new perspective.

Now, this is not to make excuses for when we really do wrong things as though they weren’t wrong. No. We do have to take responsibility for those actions. What I’m referring to here are those things that seem stupid, or those ways we think of ourselves as bad. What are some ways we can change our language to give ourselves or others the benefit of the doubt? Where can we rephrase to show that so much of who we are really does make sense?  Maybe ask God to show you the next time the opportunity to rephrase comes up, and look for it.

May God bless your day.

 

Using Memory

Sometimes things come together.  I am in charge of events, and I used to worry about being in charge of events. I used to fret and panic. Now I am starting to see that whenever I plan something, the needed volunteers simply show up.  It seems crazy, but it keeps happening. I used to work with a woman who told me that it always would; she had the same experience. “If this is the work of God, God will take care of it, ”  she would say. “For you maybe,” I would think. But it always came together.

When I look at my life, there were times when the only job I could get was in one area that didn’t pay well, but that area led to another related area and opened up doors. Things that seemed as though they’d never work out for me began to come together and to make sense as I look back.

Sometimes life is hard and things don’t seem to work out at all. It is here that we need tor rely on memory. God is faithful. He’s brought you through hard times before, and He will again. You will be alright. It’s easy to forget in the panic of the moment where reason shuts down,  but we can help remember with the use of a gratitude list, or journaling, or a good friend.

Where has your life come together? How will you remember that in the tough times?  Let’s make a plan and have it ready.

May God bless your day.

 

.

Coming Back to Life

The eating plan that works the best for me is low carbohydrate, a lot of vegetables and proteins and healthy fat.   When I have done this, I have felt wonderful emotionally and physically. But when I’ve been eating unhealthy and I’m transitioning back to it I feel hungry, ravenously hungry, exhausted, and nothing satisfies. It isn’t that my belly isn’t full enough. It isn’t that I’m not getting enough calories. It is the transition. And it is a hard one.

When unhealthy relationships end, whether that be the person is gone or the relationship becomes healthy, there has been, in my life, a sadness and emptiness. Now, part of it is simply grieving that someone is gone if they are indeed gone. And some of it is grieving the lost good, because even unhealthy relationships have some good in them; most things aren’t black and white.  But I’ve also missed the unhealthiness. Losing that has also felt like a death to me.

I remember one time I put so much into someone, that when they were gone, I found that there was nothing of me left.

I remember one time that the unhealthy friendship had been so exciting that when that person was gone, I felt as though my life had no meaning. The world had become “technicolor”, and now the natural colors seemed grey.

But there was something of me left, and slowly I came back to life. I kept telling myself, “you had a life before this,” and slowly I came back to life.  There was so much beauty in the natural colors of creation, and eventually I saw them.  There was much more life in a diet without sugar, and eventually I leveled off and felt better than I ever had.

Ten years ago, I felt that if there wasn’t a crisis in my life, mine or someone else’s, I wasn’t really living. I didn’t know that is how I felt, but it seemed to be necessary to be fixing someone’s problem or being fixed in order to feel like I was OK, which isn’t a healthy way to be.  Now I enjoy much more peace and joy in the little things of relationships and life, but sometimes, it feels a little dead.

Coming back to life can feel like that. Eventually we reach balance. If you thought you were getting healthier but feel less so, remember, these feelings don’t always speak truth. Letting go is hard, even if it is letting go of something bad for us. It doesn’t mean life isn’t getting better.

And if you are where you need to let go of something, unhealthy attitudes again, or sugar again, or something else, please remember that it will be OK. You can do this. No matter how it feels, you are coming back to life.

May God bless your day.

woman-570883_640

Like a Child

How many things do you do that you did when you were a child? I have noticed how healing it is to do things I loved back then.  Life can pull and push us every which way, and we can feel stuck with things that need to be done in order to have finances, insurance, cars that aren’t broken, etc. We can also get stuck in trying to live up to expectations.  But what about the real us?

As we grow older, some of who we are unfolds. Wisdom emerges from our minds, we become more who we are in a way that we couldn’t before because we lacked a language and other framework with which to express it. In many ways, our personality has been taking form.

In other ways, we become less ourselves, though I don’t believe that is the way it was intended to be.  Sometimes different factors of life distract us or press in; we simply become too busy. We also let go of childish dreams for other ones, but we might let go of childlike dreams for other ones too.

There is an importance to fun, to projects, to being who we always were from the beginning. Much of who we are we can find when we go back somehow. What did you like to do when you were young? I collected rocks, hopped down creek beds, wrote stories, made up songs, listened to music with my friends, danced around the living room,  lounged around talking about nothing . . . when I do one of those things again, something in me comes alive again and feels peaceful and free.

Is there something that is freeing to you, and feels like you, that you can pick up again?  It might be a little thing, just for today.  Give it a try. I bet it will make you feel a little more you.

May God bless your day.

 

 

To be in Awe 2

kreuzite_crystal
Kreuzite crystals

Think about this. Minerals form crystals.  We know this, sure. But really think about it.  Cooling liquid minerals, liquified from powerful heat from the earth through volcanoes, have atoms, ions, or molecules which arrange themselves  into ordered structures creating geometric formations. Evaporating mineral-filled liquids, such as saltwater, do this too. Ice does this too up in the clouds before coming down as snowflakes. Minerals form crystals.

beryl-muscovite-aquamarine_nagar_balanced_budd-wbd
Muscovite, aquamarine

What incredible order of nature.  And when you find a crystal in mineral shop or elsewhere, how old is it?  How much of history has it seen?

quartz2c_tibet
Quartz crystals

What beauty this is. It wasn’t enough for God to make scenery and flowers and plants and animals. We also have this. Minerals forming geometric patterns and oh! the colors, the luminosity,  the transparency. . .

8212m-elbaite1
Elbaite

Enjoy the pictures here, and enjoy today. There is much to see and rejoice in.

May God bless your day.

To find out more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_structurebismuth_crystal

close_up_view_of_sodium_chloride_crystals
Sodium chloride (salt) crystals