Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Year Anniversary

          Two years ago today I created my very first blog post on Antonia’s Senior Moments. I can honestly say it’s been one of the most creatively fun things I’ve ever done.         
          I’ve written some highly appreciated gems and some not so great, boring posts. I’ve taken a few chances to post slightly controversial as well as highly personal information.

          Through it all, I’ve felt the love and support of many people along the way. Without these people Antonia’s Senior Moments would not have been enthusiastically viewed by thousands and thousands of people all over the world.

Edward Viljoen, my mentor and teacher
Kris Oxford, my dear friend and voice of reality

Guest bloggers:  
          Gretchin Rubin
          Chris Michaels
          Jane Beach

          Margaret Stortz
          Carol Fleming
          Ron Donoho

          Suzanne Sackett
          Randall Friesen
          Thank you also to ALL my girlfriends and husband, Rod,  who spoke honestly and loved me in spite of some of my silly choices.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Be Here Now: Cliché or True Wisdom?

          Have you ever spent days ruminating over something you did in the past or on a decision you made that can’t be changed? Have you ever noticed yourself so focused on something in the future that when you get home, you don’t remember driving your car there? The “now” in both of these examples is merely a fleeting concept, yet, for me, being in the now is the richest, most delicious place to hang out – in both challenging and fun times.

          When I’m inside, I wish I was outside and when I’m outside I’m sure there’s something I should be doing inside. Again, experiencing the now is nowhere in sight. It is also challenging to be in the now when I’m worried or in pain or stressed. This is the best time, however, to practice being still and calm and centered on what is right in front of me.

Monkey Mind
          My “monkey mind” – that incessant chatter that rolls around in my head – sometimes keeps me from focusing on being calm. I have struggled with this when I meditate and when I
consciously focus on what’s going on right now. This monkey mind isn’t the enemy, however, but if I treat it as such, it only gets louder. If I treat it more like an insolent child, shushing it with compassion and love, it begins to quiet immediately.

Letting Go
          When my spouse passed away a few years ago, I promised myself one thing and one thing only. I promised to stay in the moment and feel all the feelings of the experience. I let go of doing and saying the appropriate thing. I let go of not taking time for myself when I needed it (I even pulled away from the group later that day to get my nails done, to get human contact and get calm without having to say or do anything.). I let go of comforting others and of eating this and not eating that. I can say today that my grieving process progressed much smoother than it could have – all because I did it my way, and I let the feelings of pain come in and not try to avoid, cover up or postpone them. My feelings and actions didn’t match what others might have expected, however, I was in the now throughout.

          Okay, what’s the advantage of being in the now? Doesn't it help us sort things out if we can take our time at the present to review and debrief the past? Doesn’t it help us prevent future mistakes if we analyze possible future problems now? Yes and no.

           Sure, in order to avoid past mistakes we need to take stock, and it is also prudent to take the time to review and plan for the future. BUT, to make best friends with all that did go or could go wrong is a waste of time. It serves no purpose except to detract from the joy of right now.

Take Stock
           What is in front of you now to enjoy and appreciate? Is there anything from the past or the future that might be clouding that lovely and exciting look at the now?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Judgment Can be a Robber

          I was reminded recently just how bad it feels to be unfairly judged. Let’s just say I did something. It wasn’t a bad thing but it was a choice to do something different than what one of my friends would have done. My choice in no way affected her. And she didn’t have all the pertinent information as to why I decided to do what I did.

          This difference among friends might have been okay except, instead of reaching out to me to share her point of view, she just withdrew and stayed away… for a couple of years!  She pulled away even when I tried to communicate with her, asking if something was wrong and why she hadn't responded to my efforts to contact her.

What's the Take-away?

          All that doesn’t matter. What really matters to me is that I’m thankful this happened. I’m thankful I got a firsthand lesson in exactly how awful it feels to be judged for my actions. It is a huge reminder not to judge what others may say or do, but to remember that there’s much more going on than I will ever know about any decision made by others. When I don't 'get' it all, it's probably better just to stand by and continue to be the good friend that I am ... silently.

          I feel wholeheartedly that judging can be a good thing. We need to judge situations and people to make sure they are not harmful and injurious to our hearts, bodies or souls. Judging, or rather misjudging the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of others, however, is a villain, a robber of the human-ness of people. Unjustified harsh judgments that we might make can steal our grace by the diminishment of unconditional love that we have for others.

          Because we have to incorporate judgments into our everyday life, it’s easy to misjudge. Kind of like the difficulties of dieting because we have to eat some food. (Why do I equate everything with food???) Anyway, one of the traps of judging is that it usually stops there with no further information exchange. If we arrive at a negative judgment we don’t usually pursue the situation or person further to find out if we were correct in our assumptions (which we probably shouldn't have made in the first place).

What I Learned
          So for myself, before making a judgment, in the future I will:

- Listen to what is said with an open mind
- Ask a ton of probing questions
- See if my opinion and attitudes get in the way
          of seeing the clear picture 

Ask myself if it matters...does their behavior
          or decision affect me at all and, finally,

      - Convey my final decision to pull away or be upset in a clear
                and timely manner.

          I miss my friend and I forgive her. I wish we hadn’t wasted these years on a judgment that went off the rails.