mudding and taping

So, we spent a good part of yesterday taping and mudding our master bedroom. It has been a long road and we are getting close to the fun part of moving in and having more space. In this process it took a considerable amount of effort on my part to not be frustrated and bitter the entire taping and mudding process. I was thinking how could I relate the exercise to life? We put the on tape to hold ourselves together and try and cover up any unevenness in ourselves or our lives. We then cover that tape with mud. In some cases that could be a new car, flashy clothing, a bigger house, job or something else that we feel will make us or our situation more appealing and even. The final process is putting on your primer and paint. Now in the case of the primer I think this could be our openness or willingness toward change. I think the paint color represents how we see ourselves. Maybe we feel we are a hot pink or light blue. In, The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka she speaks to the way our lives can become overwhelming and relates it to the lay out of a house. She is an architect after all and has spent time talking to people about how they want to lay out their own homes. It was interesting to me to look at my life in this unique new way. Her philosophy is less is more as it is for so many people these days. The more clutter and distractions we bring into our lives much of the time is there only to limit us from knowing ourselves better. From knowing the internal peace of God better. This can just perpetuate more chaos and distance from who we really are or want to be. The basement room was a challenge but also led to some discoveries about how I can be more aware by simply appreciating my tiny house and my not so big life. “In the same way that music inspires us to certain feelings, space can do the same thing.”-Sarah Susanka

Mindful times

James Thurber once said, “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear but around in awareness.”. This thought was with me today in the midst of so much unawareness in others. The irony is the unawareness is their awareness. It can be a place where people spend a good portion or all their lives. In that state ignorance can be bliss or misery. I choose bliss and awareness or mindfulness. Mindfulness of what I say, what I listen to from others and from myself. I think people forget that everyone has thoughts and emotions and sometimes these internal thoughts can be very negative even damaging. When we allow ourselves to be led by the external and even the continuous script-like internal we are lost in translation. We are only aware when we see things as they are in the moment not how we feel, think or label them. I have occasionally practiced this at work. I have thrown an object like a marker or a book into the middle of the room, at times to the surprise of the kids, and ask them what it is? Most often someone will say, a book or a marker but then several others will begin to label the object, “a little kid book”, “my favorite colored marker”. This usually spurs some debate over others perspectives and then we begin to talk about describing the object using just the facts verses our opinions. It is an exercise in awareness and mindfulness. How I observe an object could be very different from how someone else does but a marker is a marker, or is it. A physicist may say it is just particles of matter playing a trick on our eyes. I believe that all versions are true and that everyone is experiencing the object with their own awareness. I HOPE that staying in the moment is something that more people can become aware of. It can take the stress out of life so that we can enjoy things a little more. It saves all of that time we would spend on the worry and directs it toward our awareness in the present. What a great way to improve your life and the lives of those around you so simply. I am still working on keeping it simple and being aware. These are tough times yet can be improved by being mindful times.

A gift, the present

I am close to finishing up Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth, and I am feeling much better about breaking free from my own mental prison. I have learned so many great things from this book and have started applying them to my awareness daily. I am continuing to try and live in the present moment because that is all that really matters. I am able to be more of an active listener, a better parent, wife and every other role I play when I am actively trying to stay present. It has been eye opening to see how I insert myself into the collective pain-body of the psych units on a regular basis as my role as counselor. I have questioned my motives for staying in this profession many times over the past 15 years. I think it is the purpose to serve that keeps me there and to guide others on their journey to identifying their own inner thoughts and feelings prison. When you live in the moment the sky is just a little bluer, the leaves a little greener and everything seems to be just as it is. This is such a tough lesson, realizing that everything is just as it is and spiritually speaking I think God has the preview, not us. I think that what we see as good happens for a reason and so does the bad. I was watching Joel Osteen with my friend Mary last night and he spoke about how often we do not recognize the gifts in the negative events in our lives. When things are going well we are grateful and when things are not well we pray they get better and try to be grateful for what we still have. He explained that in life we should be grateful for the negative things to because most of the time those events are working to shape our lives for the better even if we can’t see it. He talked about an older man who was taking his wife for her weekly treatment at the hospital and when he went to cross the street to meet her he was hit by a car. He was rushed into the hospital and they found some internal bleeding and needed to do a CAT scan which led them to discover he had a tumor on his kidney. When they checked it out they found he had a rare and progressive form of cancer that would have probably gone undetected until it was to late to operate had h not needed that CAT scan. They removed the tumor and he made a full recovery. It is stories (small miracles) like these that make it much easier for me to understand God’s promises for us all and how he is working in our lives no matter what form the circumstances may take. I continue to HOPE and love and pray daily not only for the wisdom to be grateful even in times of struggle but to be more accepting of the present, his gift to us all.

Patience

Patience, what a simple little word that requires so much tenacity. We are working on our basement and it is taking lots of time and patience to get it all done. We are trying to finish what will be our master bedroom and then can start to spread out into that space and start to work on the next room. It will also be nice not to be living in the renovation zone anymore. I am grateful that we are making progress but my patience continues to wear. Patience has been something I have been working on getting better at my entire life and will continue to for the rest of my life. It seems that everything in life worth waiting for requires it and even demands it so that we appreciate it even more. I HOPE that our home projects will continue to move along smoothly and that we can get our room moved into before our in-laws come in June. We are really trying to utilize every square inch of our tiny bungalow and intend to maximize space and minimize clutter until we are all feeling more comfortable. We like the idea of a couple more rooms for the kids to get away from each other and even for us to have some time away in. I know the plans will unfold and it will be more than I could have dreamed. I will try to keep working on being patient and open minded until then.

Go with the flow…

Today I was able to practice going with the flow. I was given a golden opportunity to practice one of my favorite things, doing craft groups. It tested my ability to adjust my thinking and preparation quickly. I enjoy the impromptu group process and discovering the energy of a group of people. Psych, never stops being interesting. you can have a relatively mellow group one week only to have an intense and lively group the next. Flow is a term that I think of often and usually attain when I am in a state of complete creativity and calm. According to Wikipedia, “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” This sounds a bit like mindfulness, huh? Well, I think that is exactly what it is and when you reach “the zone” you know because of how it feels. I would love to be able to live in this state for long periods throughout the day and return to life’s other struggles just briefly before going to sleep and waking up to do it all over again. So many things in nature seem to flow as well, a river, streams, wind through the trees, birds through the air, leaves, etc. Maybe we could all use a little more flow in our lives. I HOPE to do better at letting go and really enjoying the flow of life as it comes and goes and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Camping

We went camping for mothers day weekend and it was wonderful. We were only out for a couple of nights but smelling the fresh mountain air and watching the river meander by was a peaceful retreat for the senses. I love that camping is something that our kids get as excited as we do about. Despite all of their electronics and screen time they are still exited to get back out into the wild with their parents and recharge the natural way. There is something special about our trips to the wilderness. They bring us all closer to nature while also bringing us closer together as a family. Maybe it is because our only distractions are natural and unexpected. The beautiful scenery, the smell of the woods, bonfire and buzzing all around. We are extra lucky this year being able to camp so early in the season. We were trying to remember a time that we have camped this early and the earliest we could remember taking the kids was fathers day and we were all still bundled up throughout most of the trip. This year, it already feels like summer weather in May. A great man once described the power the wilderness has over us by saying,”The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir. Just like the Lorax, John Muir spoke for the trees and the rest of the wild places he worked to protect. He is responsible along with many others in preserving the very wildernesses we still visit to recharge today. I am grateful for his investment in preserving our wild spaces. I HOPE more humans will carry on that investment in the years to come. I know that our kids will because of their connection to the outdoors and how many memories we continue to make together in them. The idea of leaving nature better than how you found it should be something we all strive for. This idea can be applied to more than just wild places, urban spaces and even internal spaces could benefitfrom us trying to leave them better than we find them. I will work to do my part to help improve rather than destroy our wild spaces. Camping will be our family tradition until can’t do it anymore.

Dogs

I continue to learn more about life through raising our puppy Max. He is a heeler with such a sweet little spirit but he is a dog and as I have learned through reading Cesar Millan’s books, dog’s are dog first, breed second and pet last. Animals tend to react and act upon energy. It is the this energy work I have had to learn about and practice that has challenged me greatly. We happened to take our boys to see The Jungle Book this weekend and it reinforced this understanding by the energy in the story itself along with hearing the reciting of the wolves code, “the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”, which speaks to the power of unity. We coexist on this planet and our thoughts and lives can become soo chaotic, so quickly. We can work on looking to our own inner calm energy to help us through anything. God is the peace that dwells inside me personally and when I can glimpse that peace inside myself from time to time I am reassured of his promises. I feel that my challenge to be a calm, assertive, dominant pack leader for Max has propelled me to the place I am now in my self awareness and continues to help me grow. I am more content in my life and do not dwell so much in the small stuff that used to become so monsterous in my mind. In fact, just learning that dogs/animals in nature live in the moment has inspired me to try harder to do the same. All of this, from our furry gift, in a package named Max. It is true everything they say about how much animals can touch our lives. We put our family dog Niko down in December just before Christmas. She was 15 years old and touched our lives tremendously and continues to even in death. She will never be replaced in our hearts but Max has sure filled the doggie void in our lives on earth. I believe he was probably paw picked by our Niko angel. I HOPE we will have at least another 15 years if not more with Max and continue to learn from him every day. He is paw-sitively a little treasure.

Will work for …

I am learning that working supplemental is a dream but in living the dream you also must trust in God to provide. Thank you God for helping me to pick-up another couple shifts this week. It has been beautiful outside the last couple days and our dog Max is now on antibiotics to fight a yucky infection he has going on. He has been a little unlike himself for a few days and we finally had him seen today. That dog is such a sweet little pup. I have to admit I was a little worried that I may not find anymore work this week. These feelings of doubt have made me remember to strive for a confident heart. I really need to let go and let Him take care of things. I am a work in progress and happy to be that. I am aware and trying to actively tune into the moment. The doubt made me consider the signs that people hold on the street, “will work for food”. I can imagine/empathise with their doubt and possible desperation. It also makes me think of how our job roles really classify every person with a pricetag of worth. Certainly the man on the street corner holding the sign is equally as worthwhile as I am. Our culture tends to compare just about everyone and to place value on us. When we know that does not matter it makes it much easier to relate to others and to accept everyone equally. We are all worthwhile and deserve to be happy. I HOPE that my children know that the only one who really matters is our maker. He knows how perfect we all are. Max Lucado describes just this in his wonderful story about the wooden wemmicks, “You Are Special” and many others.