It’s National Inperfection Day!

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to the best day of the year, the day we all wait for!  It’s National Imperfection day!  Yes- important to celebrate this by spelling a few words wrong on purpose. Go crazy!  It’s your day!  Anything goes!

What?  This day isn’t already on your calendar?  Is your calendar defective? Yes!  But also perhaps it’s cause I just invented this special holiday just for us.

We spend waaaaaayyyyy to much time and energy hiding our flaws, trying to be better.  Not today!  Today is your day to let it all hang out, baby.  Skip the makeup. Let your hair be dirty. Smell a little bit and spend the day in yesterdays’ underwear.  This day will actually make you a better person.

Why is that?  We focus too much on what’s wrong and when we do that, we miss everything thats going right.  We can ruin a whole day on a flat tire – when instead we can appreciate that we didn’t get fired when we made it in to work late.  There are always so many more things going right in our lives, but when we fixate on whats wrong, we miss living.  We miss all the good stuff obsessing about the bad stuff.  The only way to change this is to have a day where you celebrate everything imperfect.

What a great drinking game for friends!  You can hang out tonight (everyone must be planning to sleep over or Uber or Lyft or taxi) and each one of you can take turns celebrating everything that went wrong and was imperfect.  If you don’t drink, the same game can be played satisfactorily with ice cream or oreos or both. For each bad or imperfect thing, you get to have a spoon or bowl or both!  Because it’s truly great for us when things go wrong because it makes us much more aware of when they don’t happen. And if we never had bad things happen we would walk around oblivious to all the miracles happening around us every day.  Discomfort gets our attention.  We need it. Or we miss too much of what is happening around us and walk around like robots on autopilot.  Not what we want.

You know that imperfect, sloppy, smelly animal obnoxious  boss, co-worker, cousin, or friend you have around you.  It’s because of them that you appreciate everyone who doesn’t have those traits.  So isn’t it wonderful that they exist in your life?  You know all those imperfect, sloppy, smelly and obnoxious traits you have?  Isn’t it amazing that people love you? Isn’t that absolutely fantastic to realize all these people care about you in spite of these thing?  That’s something to celebrate!    Is it possible to cut yourself some slack today and celebrate your imperfections because today you absolutely must because it’s the rule of what you must do on “National Inperfection Day”.  Dig it!

It’s National Inperfection Day!

“Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach About Living, by Frank Ostaseski http://www.dailygood.org/story/1657/five-invitations-what-d . . .

I had to share this with you.  Really remarkable ideas here: RF

“What have I learned from companioning 1000 people on the precipice of death?

Death is not primarily a medical event. Believing the most we can hope for is to make the best of a bad situation lacks imagination. Too many people die in distress, guilt, and fear. We can and should do something to encourage another possibility.

Many people, ordinary people, develop profound insights and engage in a powerful process of transformation near the end of their lives. One through which they emerge as someone larger, more expansive, more essential and real than the small, separate selves they had previously taken themselves to be. This is not a fairy-tale happy ending that contradicts the suffering that came before, but rather a recognition that transformation is possible even in tragedy. The discovery of this capacity regularly occurs for many people in the final months, days, or sometimes even minutes of life.

“Too late,” you might say. And I might agree. However, the value is not in how long they enjoyed the experience, but in the possibility that such transformation exists.

If that possibility exists at the time of dying, it exists here and now.

Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most. And the good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to realize the wisdom that death has to offer.

To imagine that at the time of our dying we will have the physical strength, emotional stability, and mental clarity to do the work of a lifetime is a ridiculous gamble.  And so, I want to extend an invitation—five invitations, actually—to sit down with death now, to have a cup of tea with her, to let her guide you toward living a more meaningful and loving life.

Over the past thirty years, as the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, people who were dying generously invited me into their most vulnerable moments. They made it possible for me to get up close and personal with death.  In the process, they taught me how to live. I distilled their wisdom into five heart lessons for living fully and without regret.

1. Don’t Wait.

When people are dying, it is easy for them to recognize that every minute, every breath counts. But the truth is, death is always with us. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent.

This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness.  We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, “I love you” more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.

2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing

In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality.

A friend of mine was once invited for dinner at the home of a renowned psychiatrist named Sidney. Sidney was a man of unusual intelligence, insight, and grace. However, in the few years prior to this dinner, his Alzheimer’s disease had taken a toll on his short-term memory and ability to recognize faces.

When my friend arrived, she rang the doorbell, and Sidney opened the door. At first, he had a look of confusion. He quickly recovered and said, “I’m sorry. I have trouble remembering faces these days. But I do know that our home always has been a place where guests are welcome. If you are here on my doorstep, then it is my job to welcome you. Please come in.”

At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.

3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience

We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance.

Yet more than once I have found an “undesirable” aspect of myself—one about which I previously had felt ashamed—to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity. It is not only our expertise, but exploration of our own suffering that enables us to build an empathetic bridge and be of real assistance to others.

To be whole, we need to include and connect all parts of ourselves. Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.

4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things

We often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: At the end of the day, when we take a bath; once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.

There is a Zen story about a monk who is vigorously sweeping the temple grounds. Another monk walks by and snips, “Too busy.”

The first monk replies, “You should know there is one who is not too busy.”

The moral of the story is that while the sweeping monk may have outwardly appeared to the casual observer as “too busy,” actively performing his daily monastic duties, inwardly he was not busy. He could recognize the quietness of his state of mind, the part of himself that was at rest in the middle of things.

5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

This describes a mind that’s open and receptive. It is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations. It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge – it’s always there in the background should we need it – but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control.

The night before my open-heart surgery, my 26-year-old son Gabe and I had a tender conversation. Our sharing was filled with reminiscing, kindness, and laughter.

At one point, Gabe became quite serious and asked, “Dad, are you going to live through this surgery?”

Now I love my son beyond words, and like any father, I wanted to reassure him that I would be just fine. I felt into my experience before answering. Then I heard myself say, “I’m not taking sides.”

My answer surprised us both. What I meant was that I wasn’t taking sides with life or death. Either way, I trusted that everything would be okay. I don’t know where the words came from; they spilled from me without censorship. I wasn’t trying to appear sage or to be a good Buddhist. Yet we both were reassured by my response. I think it was because we knew we were in the presence of the truth spoken with love.

I view these lessons as five mutually supportive principals, permeated with love. Five bottomless practices that can be continually explored and deepened.  They have served me as reliable guides for coping with death. And, as it turns out, they are equally relevant guides to living with integrity. To be understood, they need to be lived into and realized through action. They are five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.

***

For more inspiration join this Saturday’s Awakin Call with Frank Ostaseski. RSVP and more information here. 


The above article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine and is excerpted here with permission. S&H was founded in 1998 for people seeking holistic health in body, mind, and spirit. It aspires to help guide the journey to self-knowledge, authenticity, and integration. Its articles draw from the wisdom of many traditions and cultures, with an emphasis on sharing spiritual practices, and look to science to help provide a context for the spiritual quest. Read more from Spirituality & Health here.   “

“Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach About Living, by Frank Ostaseski http://www.dailygood.org/story/1657/five-invitations-what-d . . .

Good Stress? Eustress!

We talk about stress all the time like it’s a bad thing, but it’s also a bad thing to have too little stress. Bernie Clark, a yoga instructor and author, talks about the good kinds of stress we actually need.  Need stress?  Why?

If you’ve ever had the experience of breaking a bone or tearing a muscle, the initial solution is immobilization and rest.  Then what happens once the cast, brace or rest is over?  The joint or appendage is moved for the first time in awhile, and how does that feel?  It hurts!  And it’s really weak as well.  The worst thing we can do to seniors is to put them into hospitals for extended rest.  What used to result in a week or more of bedrest, from open heart surgery to childbirth,is now a wham bam and get on your feet and get moving as soon as  possible!  Sure, this is  influenced by how much this all costs, but it’s also better for your recovery to move and stay moving as much as possible.

This is another reason physical therapy instead of surgery is often a preferred way to proceed now.  Often surgery can be almost indefinitely postponed with the right exercise prescribed by a knowledgeable provider.  Or water therapy.  Or yoga.  You work on strengthening and supporting opposing muscles which reduced the pressure and pain on the affected area.  I just spent a few months having therapy and trigger point injections for chronic tension between my shoulders.  I thought I would give it a try.  But the yoga I’ve done forever was just as helpful for keeping the discomfort manageable, and for now I will save my money.

My girlfriend had a bad labrum tear which is a tear in the hip area, and very painful.  She was recommended to have surgery from more than one provider.  She never did it, and now can walk much better again and put off the surgery and has for over a year.  There are many good kinds of stress. Stress is not bad, it’s just telling you something.  Maybe it’s telling you to leave.  Maybe it’s telling you to rest.  Maybe it’s telling you to try something different from what you’re doing.  Stress can be a helpful thing.  Figure out what it’s telling you.

Many of the people who can have excessive stress are people who’ve never been exposed to it growing up or who have had too much growing up.  I worry alot about the parents who are taking their kids out of school to reduce their exposure to the world.  They are protecting their children, that’s true.  But they are also producing adults who may never be able to survive in the world as well.  Balancing the right amount of stress that is managable is the challenge.  The world is a hard place, and growing up is hard.  You have to have exposure to develop mastery.

The next time you feel “stressed” try to remember and differentiate between the good and the bad stress.  Often it is the “bad” stress that makes us stronger, and if we never have exposure to it. we never figure out how to survive it.  We need to work these mental muscles to figure out how to do just that.   Afterwards, you can feel a sense of accomplish as well as relief.  You’ve just made those mental muscles stronger and that will serve you in your future.

 

Good Stress? Eustress!

Tidbits towards Happiness- Taglines

We can never go back to change what happened but we always have a choice to be more present today and practice some new choices and behaviors today that can make our tomorrows better.    We all of us humans with feelings have low and challenging moments in our life. Talking with Jill earlier this week, she talked about having a personal “tagline” .  I know I’ve mentioned before in earlier writings that selecting a theme song can be an excellent way to think yourself into situations you find challenging. From the show Allie McBeal, each character had a theme song that would play in their heads in situations that were challenging.  I like this notion. Playing a song in your head like the Rocky theme song can help you feel brave in situations that are challenging.  Having a “tagline” can also be helpful. It’s a saying that props you up and makes you feel a certain way.  The shorter ones are easier to use, and maybe you have some of your own that you want to share (please do, in comments)   It’s a fun google search to look for “uplifting quotes” and try to find one that fits your life or challenging situation you’re facing. In the meantime, here’s a few you might want to try on:  (and in the meantime, don’t stop fighting bitches!)

“Just keep breathing”                                                                                                                  “Because you’re worth it”          (L’oreal)                                                                                      “Put on your big girl panties”                                                                                                     “What if I can do it?”                                                                                                                       “Just put one foot in front of the other”                                                                                     “Self confidence is the best outfit”                                                                                                  “If you want to change your life, the first thing that has to change is you”  (R. Fried) “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen”                                                   “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius  “Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.” – Souza   Nobody can hurt me without my permission. – Mahatma Gandhi                                 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. “- Obama                       When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion. – Abraham Lincoln                                                                                                                                         Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill                                        “All that we are is the result of what we have thought”  Gandi

#yoga #yogainspiration

Remember these sentences for the rest of your life.

Tidbits towards Happiness- Taglines

When fireflies in your bedroom start becoming your new pets…..

When I was little and away at overnight camp and already dealing with depression and loneliness, as at home when I felt that way I would hide out alone somewhere, so I retreated to my top bunk in an empty cabin to cocoon.  In the corner of the window near my bed was a spider and a web.  I think I named her Sarah, and it gave me some comfort to watch her and feel less alone.  Now, you might be shivering- ewwww- and I would have to be honest and tell you I really hate insects and spiders like most people, but Sarah felt like a friend and was interesting to watch.  I imagined her coming out and watching me, and I think I tried to feed her, but most of the time she didn’t take what I offered.  She certainly knew she didn’t need to be afraid when I was there.   She never hid.

So being without a dog for me is pretty unusual. I usually like to have two dogs, but I knew Addie would love being the center of attention and she certainly did.  But she’s gone and I find myself without a pet for the first time in many years.  Enter the firefly that suddenly started lighting up in my bedroom when I turn out the lights.  Now most of us aren’t afraid of fireflies at all, and they’re pretty beautiful at night.  This one is flying around the room and I’m finding myself looking forward to seeing her at night.  And I watch for her.  She’s been in my room for a whole week now, and Tuesday  night I woke up my husband to ask if he’s noticed her, and he had, and he’s been enjoying the light show too. Then on Wednesday night there were two fireflies in our bedroom.  I enjoyed imagining they were Mocha and Addie coming to check on me and give me some comfort.  Then last night again just one firefly.

So I’m taking these beautiful visitors to be visits from my sweeties, and them telling me I’m happy with a pet and it’s time to start that rescue search again.  Before I start talking to the spiders again…..and no one will come to my house anymore….ya think?

 

When fireflies in your bedroom start becoming your new pets…..

Random Meanderings of my ADD Brain

I haven’t written for a bit because I was mourning my Addie, my beautiful flatcoated lab rescue, and I was too depressed, like too depressed to work or want to be with anybody, which I totally understand cause that’s not new. But I was so depressed that of this led to thoughts of needing to get a divorce or go on disability and where was I going to live? And then what kind of surprised me was that I had a ton of fantasies about wanting to stab myself or cut. I had total control, but that seemed so weird, like I hadn’t really had thoughts like that in many years. And I really gave it quite a bit of thought. And that’s why Depression is alway the gift that keeps on giving!  It always comes up with new craziness to surprise you even when you think your brain has already been as weird as it could possibly be, Surprise! Gotcha again! Haha!

So last week I had my 45th High School Reunion. I had decided to go. For one, I’m inspired by Shonda Rhimes and her “Year of Saying Yes” even though I never read the book. And two, I made a friends at the last reunion that became close and one was a lovely friendhip that lasted 24 beautiful years before it got too painful and I had to end it. I went to my 20th Reunion because I was divorcing and wanted to make some new friends. I decided to go to this one, because with that best friendship ending, I thought , who knows? I could use some new friends. Another of my very close friends died a few years ago. 

So again the gift that keeps on giving, I had mini panic attacks all week long in anticipation. I hadn’t had panic attacks since I dated in my late 20s where I would shiver through the whole date and pretend I was cold. Yep- no second dates, you’re right.  So on the way to the Cubs game with 3 other people I’m joyfully thinking “please don’t throw up in front of everyone” and “please don’t pass out in front of everyone ” and “please don’t drink so much in front of everyone that you make a drunken idiot out of yourself ” because I couldn’t get any of the 20th reunion friends to go with. And yay, i went and had fun and reconnected with a few wonderful people I had forgotten about but honestly met new people I never knew in High School at all, because the secret of Reunions is that everyone feels awkward and nervous and will be incredibly nice to everyone they would have never talked to in High School so I highly recommend getting yourself to those if you need to make more friends. 

And then after that I had to see a bunch of family and was still fighting panic attacks and couldn’t wait to leave, and then today I wake up and I’m normal again. I feel proud for doing so many things that terrified me and I struggled through them. I feel happy about new connections I’ve made. I am grateful I got to spend real quality time with my High School crush and realize he is an amazing person and I’m so glad for what I’ve learned.  I feel good again and I feel like I’ve come home again where I’m grateful for yoga, and a day off work but relieved I can actually work tomorrow without pretending I know what I’m doing like I have for the last  two weeks, and I’m so grateful for RF, and SC, and IK and BK.  And so grateful to just be back. And I appreciate and love all your comments and support and knowing you are here in this with me. So thank you! Thank you for being here with me. 

Random Meanderings of my ADD Brain

“87 Year Old Woman Named Rose” a lovely story from Kindspring.org

87 Year Old Woman Named Rose

–by Monsieur, posted Apr 10, 2010

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose.

I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went.

She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet.

I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this

whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with

regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

“87 Year Old Woman Named Rose” a lovely story from Kindspring.org