Saturday, June 23, 2018

Making peace with fences?

In the last couple weeks, I have had the opportunity to watch two kinds of people build fences around their respective homes. On doing so, I made a couple observations that I'd like to share with you. Now, let me be clear, I'm not passing judgment here. And indeed, my own fence building would likely reveal my own “shortcomings” as it were. Although, in my opinion, shortcomings are more of an indication of one's location in their journey, than they are a fault. But that's a story for another time.

So... The most obvious and first observation I made of the two fences, was the way they were facing. The owners of house one, faced their fence with the “good” side toward themselves. While the owners of house two, faced the “good” side toward their neighbors. I found this very revealing of where their sympathies rest and how they view the world.

By facing the good side toward themselves, the first homeowners made it clear that they place themselves first. Especially since the building code states that the “good” side should face their neighbors. They were in such a hurry to put up a barrier from their neighbors that they didn't even bother to check the rules.

Now, I have to be fair, they needed the fence so that their dogs would not jump over the existing chain link fence into their neighbor's yard.

Remember that last bit. You'll see why later.

And.... back to the fence building details. It's also much easier, for construction purpose to face the good side in your own yard. So, this is revealing too. Clearly, doing things the “right” way was an inconvenience for them. Clearly, their time frame was more important to them than being polite. This was also reflected in the fact that they didn't even have the courtesy to wait for the old homeowners to move out before barging in on them to construct their fence. As you may have guessed, I was one of the old homeowners. That's how I know this.

They were in a huge hurry to make the house their own, which frankly, I completely understood. Because while they were putting up their fence, we were patiently and courteously waiting for the former owners of our new house to move on so that we might begin making our new house ours, just as they were making our old home theirs.

Now, the very fact that I highly resented their intrusion, because I was simultaneously being respectful by not intruding on the former owners of our new home is a bit revealing of my own character flaws. In other words, I'm not perfect either.

As you may have noticed, I enjoy studying human behavior, even my own.

Anyway, eventually we left the impatient new homeowners behind and moved on to our new home, where, by coincidence, our new neighbors (previously mentioned as the owners of house two) are also building a fence, also for the purpose of keeping their dog from jumping the existing chain link fence.

But our new neighbors are building their fence very differently.

As I mentioned, first of all, they were facing the good side toward us and their other neighbors. Which, even if it wasn't the law, was very respectful. After all, how likely do you think it is that in a small town with less than 1000 residents, anyone is going to check the fence to see that it faces the right way?

Well. I can tell you that in this particular town, the zoning laws are very loose and there are many, many people who have ignored them for decades anyway. And ironically to my delight, they will likely continue to do so for many years to come. In fact, people here are pretty much free to do things their way as long as no harm comes to others. Hence, the overall charm of this town for me.

Our new neighbors chose to be considerate in their fence construction. They didn't have to. They also didn't have to take the time to tell us that their dogs jump the chain link fence and that's why they're building a fence between us. They especially didn't have to do this on the very first day we moved in, but they did. They also could have banged up their fence rapidly, without care and never spoken to us again, but that's not what they did.

They faced the good side in their neighbor's direction. They took their time building that fence well. And instead of just befriending the one neighbor who took the time to reach out to and assist them, as the first homeowners did, they spoke to all their neighbors before anyone even had time to inquire about what they were doing. The fact that they made the first move combined with the fact that they did the right thing by all their neighbors is impressive in comparison to the other folks, don't you think?

And the thing is, our new neighbors still aren't done with their fence. So when we go outside, we wave at each other. We laugh over the dogs, who still jump the fence occasionally to play with my grand-daughter's dog. And while we're watching them build their fence the right way, the careful way, the courteous way, they're also watching us bring our yard back to life in a similar manner.

It all feels very small town and we're loving it. It's such a contrast to the rush and hurry of city life that we left behind, you know? And there you have the biggest difference in character between the two sets of homeowners. Two very different philosophies in play. First there was the “get it done now, no matter what it takes or who gets in the way and has to be run over” philosophy. Then there is the “take your time, do it right and do it with a smile” philosophy.

Ya, I'm going to like it here. It's my kind of peaceful place.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Peace by force? Not exactly

When we move to the country to find our peaceful place, we'll be getting more peace than we originally bargained for. That's fine by us. In fact, we're looking forward to it. The small town we're moving to isn't as remote as some. There's even internet. Gasp! It's just not the awesome reception we're used to. But, guess what? We've decided that we can live without it anyway.

Sort of.

We'll still have WIFI hot-spots on our phones. So, it's not a total disconnect. And we do have a choice. We could pay for internet there, even though it's not quite what we're used to, here in the city. But why bother when we know we're better off without it? 

And hey, the whole idea of moving to a less populated area is to live a slower, more “old school” life. Without internet, we'll have more time for important things.

So, what exactly will we do, without internet?

We'll sit out on our deck and stargaze because light pollution isn't a thing where we're going. Or we can do that at the astrological society dark site that's just a mile from our house. We might volunteer at the peaceful prairie sanctuary. We'll definitely be gardening. Maybe we'll even take a bike ride on the prairie. You know. Country stuff.

And of course, once a week or so we can “go to town” as they say. Or not. Because we don't really need to. There are plenty of amenities close by. Besides, we'll be busy hanging out with friends and family, playing cards or board games and enjoying our new above ground pool. We have room for a pool table in the basement. Maybe we'll find one for free on Craigslist. It's certainly not unusual.

And yes, maybe all of that sounds a little old fashioned. That's OK. So are we. And let's face it. Who hasn't thought of turning back the clock to simpler times occasionally? Aren't we lucky to actually be able to do it?

But, basically, we'll be more present, to use the current word for it.

Ya, we'll be OK without awesome internet. Meh. Who needs it when we have each other?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Peace Path Revelation - Your life really is other people's business

When you realize there is truth in the title of this post, it's a bit of a tough revelation to swallow. Why is it anyone else's business how you live your life? The answer is both simple and complex. So, to begin with, let's start with a fact we are all familiar with.

We are all connected through our actions and reactions.

No argument there, right? Most of us know that everything we do or say impacts others. Even our beliefs influence our behavior. They prompt us to speak, act and react in a certain way. Therefore, our beliefs also impact other people, especially those closest to us.

Are we in agreement so far?

Good, because here's where it gets interesting.

Because of our connection to everyone and everything in the universe, while we appear to be individuals, our true value and purpose lies in being a functioning part of a greater whole. This revelation can be both liberating and scary.

Relinquishing yourself to the cog in the wheel theory, well, it pretty much goes against everything we've ever been conditioned to believe, doesn't it? I mean, we're all about being who we are, celebrating our individuality, etc. etc.

And yet, gazing at the big picture reveals that every little piece of the natural world, ourselves included, is just another cog in the great wheel of life. We are both insignificant and valuable. Our value lies in the fact that how we live our lives impacts everyone's “success” and not just our own. It has both nothing and everything to do with our independent actions.

Complicated, yes?

Your decisions, thoughts and actions have a huge impact on everyone around you. If you're not pulling the weight of the chain that your particular cog is responsible for pulling, chances are, someone else has to take up the slack in order for the wheel to turn.

On the other hand, if your cog is functioning properly, the wheel turns more smoothly in response. No one else has to pull your weight. 

To take it a step further, if your cog is functioning above and beyond what it takes to turn the wheel, you not only carry your own weight, you ease the burden of others. That is, for people who are not, for whatever reason, performing their own duties.

This group would, of course, include the sick, the elderly and such.

Unfortunately, it also includes people who, for whatever reason, have decided that their life is none of your business, people who, even though they are perfectly capable individuals, refuse to hoist their burden, which forces you to take up the slack, yes?

Feels a little different on the heavy end of the chain, right?

Do you see why everything you say and do is the business of someone else? At the very least, you have to admit that it is the business of the cog closest to you, that is forced to take on your duties. However, in actuality, your life is the business of everyone who is influenced by your thoughts and resultant actions.

Which is literally, everyone!

So, yes, although it's a tough pill to swallow, it really is everyone else's business how you live your life. It's still your prerogative to live life as you choose, of course. Sort of. Just keep in mind that doing so without considering your impact on others will sometimes limit their ability to function properly.

And that's just not very nice, is it?

But there's another silver lining to taking up your own slack. Because guess what? If you're not burdening those other cogs with your duties, they'll likely be able to focus on their own responsibilities instead of worrying about yours. And that means, no one will have to pick up their slack either.

See how that works? We're all in this life together. That makes what everyone does, everyone else's business. We might not like that but it doesn't make it any less true.

So, go ahead, follow your dreams. Just make sure you're not holding others back from doing the same.

Yank your own chain, little cog. That way, no one else has to yank it for you.

#BeLove #BeKind #BeConsiderate

Monday, April 23, 2018

Peaceful, easy country feeling

So many thoughts swirling through my head this morning. All of them, very peaceful. Relocating to a tiny, somewhat antiquated western town on the plains of Colorado next month has a lot to do with it. Very much looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere there. Still, we can all create a zone of peace, no matter where we live.

This morning I'm listening to “my” favorite yard bird, accompanied by the crows of the neighborhood rooster and wondering how much my connection with the universe and the sense of peace I've been experiencing of late have to do with me focusing on moving to the country.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that I'm particularly special. We're all connected to the universe. Every last one of us, along with every other living being or blade of grass or tree on the planet. We're all a part of nature. We are nature.

Now, let me back-track for a minute to fill you in.

My bird is a black capped chickadee with a unique, two whistle chirp. There was one in my country yard, growing up. There's one in my city yard now. I wonder if there will be one in my new yard, out on the plains. Wouldn't that be awesome?

And yes, we are moving. City home sold. Country home purchased. And while I still love the Denver metro area with all my heart, life out on the plains suits us much better. Truly looking forward to living in a place that lacks tall buildings, light/sound pollution and looking forward to the slow life. Besides, we won't be too far away. It's a commutable distance.

But Oooh and Ahhh to:

Star gazing from our backyard deck. Tilling and planting our own healthy country soil. Being a contributing member of a small community. Long, leisurely bike rides to nowhere in particular with a packed picnic lunch in the bike basket. Sitting by the wood-stove on cold winter nights. Room for extended family and guests on holidays and special occasions. Room to create. Room to breathe. Room to relax.

It's going to be spectacular! But then again, life always is, with the right state of mind. And now, back to today:

I'm sitting in my chair, listening to these two, decidedly different birds serenade me and planning a peaceful country life. How will I fill my rooms and my days? What do I still need to pack? Because I want to be ready to roll when the day comes. Ready to start a new life again. Ready for positive and even negative changes.

Because life is about change, isn't it? Learning new things. Growing. Stretching. Spreading wings to take on fluctuating currents, soft breezes and even an occasional tumultuous, temperamental tornado or two.

I woke up this morning to a new day and a new life, just like I do every day. Trudging the peace path and loving every minute of it. But somehow, today seems more peaceful, knowing a dramatically new beginning is just around the corner. Can't wait!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Picking at bones for peace (pardon the expression)

Sometimes, in order to feel at peace, I have to write about the bones I'm picking. This morning, what's bugging me is certain other people who want everyone to behave just as they do.

Recently, I heard, through a very trusted source that someone thinks I'm a user, due to the fact that I'm ill and can't work and my husband pays the bills. And to make matters worse, I have realized that it's because they don't take me seriously as his wife.

And ya, I get it. I'm much older than my husband. And he is my common-law husband, not my “real” husband whatever that means. Maybe on the surface, I don't appear to be a mother's dearest wish for her son. But I spend most of every single day doing things for my husband that he does not have the time or energy to do. Our relationship is a huge part of why he is monetarily and otherwise successful.

Our relationship is very positive. It strengthens us both. Neither of us takes advantage of the other. We both contribute a lot to the relationship. We're both extremely happy. My husband has no problem supporting me financially because he knows very well that what I do for him more than justifies it.

And we both know that in the event, and this event is coming, believe me, in the event that I can no longer do what I do for him, we will still be together as long as we are both breathing. Why? Because we love and care about each other.

Our relationship is not based on who owes who or who does more for who. We're just not those people. Arghhhh! Has this person never heard the portion of the wedding vows that refers to staying together in sickness or in health? For richer or poorer? For better or worse?

Do they not realize that if the situation were reversed, I would do exactly the same for him? I mean, for heavens sake, we've been together 11 years. This is not a fly by night thing. This is permanent!

My husband and I may have never recited vows in front of our family and friends, but we live them daily. In fact, I would venture to say that when compared to many people we know who are “really” married, our relationship stacks up pretty favorably.

Oh, and another picked bone: If one more person gossips about how we are enabling the people we love by being nice to them, helping them, guiding them through their their struggles, etc.. I think that, as peaceful as I am, I'm going to punch them straight in the face. Hows that for keeping the peace?

This is our choice. Sure, it can be frustrating at times. But family is about love. It's about working together. It's about forgiveness. It's about lending a hand and being kind and patient. Certainly, no one wants to be taken advantage of. But turning away someone you love who is in need (or suggesting someone else turn away someone they love) says a whole hell of a lot more about the kind of person you are than it does about how much someone else is taking advantage or being taking advantage of.

I'm a good person, dammit. I'm going to keep being kind to people. And my husband is going to keep being kind to people, me included. We're going to keep being kind to each other. We're going to smother each other and everyone around us with kindness, generosity and love whether you like it or not. It's our life, not yours. #DontJudge #BeNice

Ahhhh …...peace at last.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Focusing on my focus

As we all know, 99.9% of having a happy, peaceful life is attitude. So, lately I've been focusing on what my focus is. If I think I should be miserable, chances are, I will be. So, I'm trying to retrain my brain to shine a spotlight on the good things in my life.

Thoughts and circumstances are fleeting. No point in dwelling on those that bring me down. What's more? Why not also stretch the duration of things that lift me up? When I allow happy moments to grow joy in my heart and soul, they literally expand to block out pain, sorrow and regret.

Aggravation fades into the background when love and understanding take center stage.

And yes, I am human. I can't help but feel frustration and anger. But when they surface, I try to control how big a role they play in my life by switching my focus to positive outcomes, rather than negative circumstances. Or, at the very least, I try to see the humor in the situation.

I've never subscribed to the notion that one must be giddily positive at all times. Shit happens, as they say and sometimes, that shit becomes a literal shit-storm. That's when it teaches. That's how we learn and grow and move forward. Negativity is inspirational in a way that positivism can never be. It moves us to do better.

However, as I struggle with my hard earned lessons and spread that all important awareness, I am increasingly careful to keep my inner eye trained on the good things in life. Because the brighter they shine, the brighter my path becomes. And who wants to walk in darkness all the time? Not me!

Life Goals - Don't Be a Nobody

That's right, I said it. There are a lot of nobodies in the world and while I love some of them to pieces, I'm not that fond of their behavior and I wouldn't want to be one. So what's my idea of a nobody?

Well, nobodies are those people who make all the messes for the somebodies to clean up. Who used the last of the toilet paper without replacing the roll? Well, nobody, of course. And nobody spilled the food on the floor and left it either. Nobody let the trash overflow. It was nowhere near full last time nobody checked.

Nobody noticed the laundry piling up. Nobody cleaned up the doggy poo in the back yard. Nobody saw the faucet dripping in the kitchen. Nobody washed the dishes when it was time to do them. Nobody touched the mirrors and got their fingerprints all over them. Nobody weeded or watered the yard and garden, planted the flowers and veggies, trimmed the bushes, raked the lawn or even thought about it.

Apparently, nobody knew that when it snows, the walk needs shoveling because nobody ever takes care of that. Did you know it was important to conserve energy in winter months when the heating bill goes through the roof? Well, don't feel bad, nobody else seems aware of it either.

Nobody knows that when they eat, they get crumbs on the floor and table that need to be cleaned up. Nobody notices that there are no clean towels in the bathroom. Maybe that's because nobody showers daily. Eeew! Or maybe nobody saw the pile in the laundry room waiting to be folded and put away.

Nobody saw that someone spilled soda pop all over the floor. And if they did, and somehow, miraculously attempt to clean it up, well, nobody told them to use a wet mop. I mean, a dry dish towel is so much better. That way, you can get the dish towel so dirty that it can't be used as a dish towel again, plus, you get to leave a nice sticky residue on the floor.

Nobody saw the tracks they left when coming in from outside. Nobody knew that dirty hands equals dirty walls and germ covered surfaces. Nobody. Nobody took the time to pick up their dishes and bring them to the kitchen. Nobody bothered to retrieve their other belongings from common areas and put them away, either. Maybe nobody ever heard that saying about there being a place for everything and keeping everything in its place.

But guess what? Luckily, there are somebodies in this world. Because somehow, even though nobody noticed it, all of this happened and got taken care of by somebody, right?

Folks, I have a long way to go on the peace path. And being resentful of the nobodies is certainly a part of that. Likely because I'm exhausted from picking up after them. But at least, I can be at peace with the fact that I've never been and never will be a nobody.

I am a somebody and proud of it. How about you?