February 12, 2014
“I bought a wooden whistle and it woodn’ whistle.
So I bought a steel whistle, and it steel woodn’ whistle!
So I bought a tin whistle. Now I tin whistle.”
That’s from a very good scene in the four-time award-winning wonderful movie, Sweet Land. http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Land-Story-Elizabeth-Reaser/dp/B000P5FH26/
The movie is billed as a love story, but it’s not a simple chick-flick. It’s more about life, work, prejudice, respect, and choosing to love.
I have a favorite line from the movie, but if you haven’t seen it yet, I don’t want to tell you the line because it’s best heard in the movie’s timing. I will warn you though, that you have to listen close to this movie or you’ll miss a lot of value. This is a movie which while slow at times, takes all of your attention—and maybe a second watching.
I hope you get to see the film if you haven’t already, but in any case, you can make people smile and chuckle with the above rhyme 🙂
January 27, 2013
Life is a beautiful forest, and I see that most of the time. But when I’ve bumped my nose on a tree trunk, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about “that stupid tree that’s always in my way.”
It goes like this:
Angry. Short of patience even though I don’t want to be. Frustrated. Tired. Very tired of the same things over and over. “Why does life have to be so hard!?!?” I think.
I know why life is hard in general: so we’ll learn—learn patience, self-control, love, endurance, humility, cooperation (with each other and with God), appreciation for better times, etc.
But why SO hard? Why so hard that I can’t seem to manage what I think I ought to be accomplishing?
Still the wrong question.
Would I really be content with life as it is if I had any clearer understanding of WHY life is as it is? No!
If life is hard so that we learn and grow, then we aren’t even supposed to be content exactly as is—we’re supposed to be growing and moving on, changing our thinking and our approach and our outcome to something better than what comes naturally.
Looking backwards at how we got to the state we are in is helpful, to see consequences of actions so we can make better choices as we go on. Looking backwards can also be helpful in seeing what all we’ve forgotten that we should be thankful for, so we realize that life isn’t as bad as it might seem when only focused on a small part.
But when one is angry and frustrated, then asking “why” life is as it is, is actually mostly looking to blame. Why did God put me in this lousy life? Why don’t other people make my life easier? Why am I so stupid I don’t do something completely different?
Blame breads bitterness, loneliness, and depression. When vented, angry blame only make a problem bigger.
Life is what it is—so far as the present moment. The future depends on our choices.
The right question is “What am I going to do to make things BETTER?”
As long as there’s a plan or an idea to move forward positively, there’s hope for goodness. And where there’s hope and action, there’s joy, and love, and progress toward all good things.
When positivity is radiated, improvement can grow and multiply.
So what are you going to do to make things better?
NOT “What are you going to do for revenge?” NOT “What are you going to do to get free of miserable responsibilities?”
What are YOU going to do to make things TRULY BETTER?
That is the right question. And the answer will make you joyful.
(Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, dan, & Stuart Miles, at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ )
December 7, 2012
Holiday gatherings, and the month of dread which comes beforehand, are some of the most frustrating and depressing times for many people. These are supposed to be celebrations and reunions, but one of the biggest contributing factors which makes these events problems, is that so many people are measuring themselves and others with the wrong measuring sticks.
Tradition is to compare and judge others’ lives against one’s own life, based primarily and superficially on physical accomplishments, because these are the easiest things to put into words and are most similar across humanity in western cultural terms.
Examples: awards and educational degrees earned; prestige or money from jobs and number of promotions; home size, toys, and cars; money spent on gifts; kids and their growth, involvements or accomplishments; fun activities and places visited; number or class of friends; club memberships; books read or written; childhood dreams realized; etc.
But you can HAPPILY look like a failure by all of those standards, IF you have gained (or know you are gaining) understanding of humanity and of God, your reason for existing, and what will outlast the fleeting years at hand. For if understanding a good chunk of those things is what you pour your time and resources into, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an honest benefit to fellow humans and to the entire universe.
Communicating a meaningful measurement of your life is often hard, because there’s so much value in the fleeting moments which are like little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and just as hard to remember or explain their context.
Examples: the times you made someone smile, were kind to a clerk, gave a hug, answered someone’s nagging question, realized the answer to your own questions, forgave someone, lovingly sacrificed your own desires for someone else’s good. The times God’s Spirit embodied you and shined through to lighten and enlighten the world with love.
So gather with grace, confidence, compassion and love for everyone, wherever they measure up at the moment–or think they measure up–on any yardstick. Hope for meaningful progress.
November 10, 2012
Do you tend to grumble because you have a spouse, sibling, coworker or friend who can never seem to manage to do their fair share of whatever it is in which you are both involved?
Somewhere in the world there are some really lazy, selfish, or stubbornly incapable people whom you might want to avoid, in order to keep your sanity and not be prevented from accomplishing an important goal or your life’s purpose.
But, I propose quite often the problem with one person’s unhappiness in an “unfair” relationship (working or familial), has more to do with one’s own perception and intrenched assumptions, than with the other person’s shortcomings. Let me explain.
Imagine you have twelve hours to drive to some place unfamiliar. You have this other person on the trip with you, but he can’t drive. He falls asleep in the passenger seat.
Eight hours into the trip you’re feeling tired and wishing he would do his share of the driving, to let you do some of the happy dreaming over there in the other seat. But no, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license because he’s always been afraid to try, even though you think his poor vision isn’t all that bad; after all, he doesn’t have trouble doing anything that else he really wants to do.
You come to a fork in the road which isn’t on the map, and you’re not sure which way to go. You pull over, wake your friend, and see what he thinks. You take his advice because it makes sense, and forty minutes later you see a sign which lets you know you are on the right track—your friend had been right about which way to turn.
Suddenly he wakes up again, and just before a freeway exit he asks if you know you are just about out of gas. You would have passed the exit and run out of gas because you were too tired to think of checking your gas gauge. Thanks to your friend, again, you are on your way with a full gas tank and no time lost.
When you arrive at your destination, you are so happy to be on time that you are no longer angry about having to do all the driving; you’re not even tired because you’re psyched about getting on with the purpose of your arrival.
Now of course by normal thinking, it certainly sounds like the work of the trip was unfairly divided. But consider your assumptions.
- You assume that your friend was happily dreaming for 12 hours. But what about the fact that your friend often wishes he could drive himself about, without having to depend on others? What about the headache he had all the next day because he slept uncomfortably in that car seat, instead of home in a bed, where he could have been if he hadn’t wanted to be along with you? What about the nightmare he had about you falling asleep while driving?
- You assume that you did all the work of driving. What about your friend’s two major contributions, without which you might have been several hours late? Don’t you think knowing which way to turn and when to get gas is just as important as controlling the car, as far as arriving at the correct place and time?
- You assume that your friend could actually drive just fine, if he weren’t too lazy to take responsibility. Maybe that’s true; maybe not. But even if that were true, it’s actually his loss, not yours. If he won’t learn and use a skill, he’s that much less capable and less experienced. But if you can manage to do more where he does less, than you are that much MORE capable and MORE experienced. You might even thank him for affording you the opportunity to stretch yourself.
So the truth is, you did what you could do, your friend did what he could do, and together the trip was a success. Remind yourself what matters.
If life were meant to always be “fair” as defined when we are acting like children who complain, “That’s not fair! I did it last time; it’s his turn now!” then we would all be identical in every way.
While sometimes we feel afraid of standing out from the crowd for fear we’ll make a mistake and be ridiculed, or for fear of being a bit lonely, truly everyone wants to be unique, special, better, needed, appreciated. We’d be so bored if somehow everyone’s life could be just like everyone else’s, so why ridicule or resent someone for not having the same skills or personality traits we possess?
An important key to finding happiness in any relationship, is to look for the virtues and utilities of the other person. Whether they are greater or lessor as compared to yourself or anyone else, does not mean they are not valuable. Appreciate the valuable, and it will appreciate in value.
Now reconsider that person in your life who can’t or won’t do his or her “fair share,” and see what there is about him or her for which you can be thankful and happy. What is his or her valuable contribution, whether great or small? Appreciate it. Build on it.
(This information is not doctor-confirmed—it’s just my personal experience and opinion. Use your own judgement for your own health.)
Many websites list iron-deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, which I never really noticed. Yet it is my belief I was iron deficient.
I had a severe problem: I couldn’t move–not even roll over in bed–without feeling like my brain was spinning; and along with causing head discomfort, this kept me on the verge of nausea. This was extreme dizziness!
My doctor was on vacation. I don’t remember what prompted me to try iron supplements (I think it was an educated person’s suggestion), but a few hundred percent of the “recommended daily allowance” of iron, a few times per day, cured me gradually over I think about a day or two.
This does make sense, because iron is needed for red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body; and what happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen? Dizziness of course!
Here is a nice clear page about iron http://health.learninginfo.org/what-does-iron-do.htm But if you read that page, and many others around the web, you’ll see that tiredness is the symptom most often mentioned.
So why didn’t I feel tired or lacking in energy? Because I was a person who habitually did what I judged needed to be done, regardless of my energy level. In other words, I had long before forgotten what rested and energized felt like, living on adrenaline, willpower, and love for others. I was deaf to my body’s subtle signals.
I repeated the on-off “test” process a few times: I stopped taking iron for a while or maybe only a couple of times per month, had the dizziness come back; took more iron and felt fine. I repeated this cycle more than twice, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t coincidence. Iron really was what I needed. (BE WARNED: Too much iron can damage organs, so be careful and consider having your blood iron level tested.)
Then I had “another” problem: taking an iron supplement daily for a long time wasn’t enough. I cooked in iron skillets; took 100% US RDA of iron daily; I included in my diet lots of fresh broccoli and swiss chard, canned spinach, eggs, beans, prunes and raisins, and occasionally red meat (all iron-rich foods, but most are calcium too). Still I could feel the dizziness coming back (thankfully I’d learned to notice it before it got severe). Without blood tests I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was worried.
I did another internet search to learn what interferes with iron absorption. I realized that I was usually consuming my iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods and whole grains (both of which block iron absorption), and I was always taking my iron pill with my multi-vitamin-mineral pill which also contained calcium. These were not helpful habits.
See these pages for detail on what interferes with iron absorption, and how to increase absorption:
I also read in the book “the Four Hour Body” that the author, Timothy Ferris, did have his blood tested before and after adding orange juice to his somewhat strict diet. His test proved what one of those webpages says: citrus juice increases blood iron content (because, it is thought, of the Vitamin C content in the juice). This didn’t make Mr. Ferris happy (because, he says, men don’t lose blood monthly and so have no way to rid themselves of too much iron); but it’s some good news for anyone already low in iron. Orange Juice can help. ……….By the way, I’ve only read a part of his book, but found it has a lot of good information in it. Here’s a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Body-Uncommon-Incredible-Superhuman/dp/030746363X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342717373&sr=1-1&keywords=the+four+hour+body
So, I started taking my near-daily iron pill with vitamin C (which helps with iron absorption), AND when other nutrients can not interfere: in the middle of at least a 4-hour stretch between meals, or two hours after dinner if I won’t be having a late-night snack.
Before I figured out how to absorb enough iron, I had already committed to taking better care of myself, including getting enough hours of sleep. I noticed that even 8-9 or more hours didn’t feel like enough, and I blamed this on my dreams. I was always busy in my dreams trying to get things done, just like in my waking hours. I learned to turn off my mind when going to sleep, telling myself that everything can wait because now was the time to rest. This helped considerably with waking up energized. But after correcting my iron intake, I was surprised at how much better I felt! I still get 8-9 hours of sleep occasionally, but often only seven, and I have real energy—I don’t have to push myself like I did for years. (I still sometimes have to push myself to work on the right chores when I’d rather work on different ones, but that’s another issue.)
- Iron deficiency can cause tiredness; BUT, if you don’t notice that, it can go on to cause severe dizziness.
- It’s serious when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen flowing—not something to cure with will-power.
- To make sure more of the iron you consume is absorbed: A) try to eat some iron-rich foods at separate times from tea, coffee, bread, cereal, dairy, beans, tofu, etc., B) try to take any iron supplements on an empty stomach if you can, or with foods that don’t interfere.
- Take citrus juice or vitamin C with your iron foods or iron pills. (NOTE: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C too, if not over-processed.)
- Listen to your body and find out what it needs, so you can last longer to do more for others (and for yourself).
Now I feel great, and have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. Real energy.