Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thinking Patterns

I read a New Age book 35 years ago that changed the way I look at life. In this book "Seth Speaks" by Jane Roberts, Seth said that our thoughts and beliefs change our reality. "Your scientists are finally learning what philosophers have known for centuries -- that mind can influence matter. They still have to discover the fact that mind creates and forms matter."

This was a totally new concept to me, yet in my deepest heart, it rang true.

It wasn't until about 10 years later I discovered that the first verses in the Dhammapada, the Sayings of the Buddha, say the same thing. "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you as your shadow, unshakeable."

In both, we are encouraged to become more aware of our thoughts. It's within our power to see what kinds of thoughts we have, to learn how to change them, to discover how following them can lead to insight and inspiration. Since I have an active mind this kind of stuff appealed to me. 

One of the exercises suggested is to become aware of a thought and then follow it backwards as far as possible, perhaps seeing where it originated, perhaps seeing a pattern.

Here's a recent example: 

Driving home from a nearby town, I was thinking about our local roads, and a little annoyed at the way the municipality has handled them. "I've lived here over 40 years and the only time they plowed this section of road properly in the winter was when one of their plow drivers lived here and needed to get home."

But I caught the rant before it could gain steam. Even justified anger depletes me if I indulge it. So, "What I was thinking about right before the "roads" thoughts?" The feeling of sadness hit at the same time as the memory. I'd been thinking about someone I loved who was in pain. I couldn't make it better. I felt helpless, vulnerable and sad. My crankiness about the roads wasn't really about them at all. It was about suppressing the sad and helpless feelings. 

I may not always have the room/courage/time to process the difficult feelings, but it's useful to know how my mind operates. I came into this world with a busy mind. I may as well use it to my advantage.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Going With the Flow

If I am to trust that the Universe/Life/God is on my side, then I have to learn to see how it's always leading me to smoother waters. 

A few years ago, Tom and I went to buy a lounge chair on sale to replace a stiff, shabby 60 year old poolside lounger. We couldn't find one on the store shelves so we looked for a salesperson. After a long delay, we found someone to help. "The extra stock is out in another building. I'll get someone to find one for you." Another long delay, a repeated attempt to find it, and finally success after an hour or more. All that perseverance paid off!

Except that it didn't. The chair is too heavy to lift/store/move around. The finish on the wheels rubs off on anything they touch - fabric, flesh, everything. And it looks more comfortable than it is. When I want to sit outside, I drag out the old one.

At some point, persistence becomes inflexibility, and my efforts to push through challenge become the opposite of going with the flow. 

When I take a new way through the forest, I ask the trees to show me the best way, even if it feels like whimsy. I have learned from experience to trust this. If I find my way suddenly blocked on the path I thought was best, I can push through, but I'll likely find the path impassable farther along. If I seem to be directed down an unlikely pathway, I have learned that it'll probably open up a bit farther along. 

I get it wrong often. Sometimes I'll be almost stuck in the mud before I admit to myself that my persistence was actually stubbornness, and laugh at the discovery. But I often get it right, too, something I find reassuring.

Going with the flow is flexibility in action. I must be willing to change plans on the fly. Which action seems the most joyful, easiest, warmest? If I can, that's the direction I take. A playful approach helps. I try to be like the kid I used to be. As kids, we know what calls to us, with uncomplicated notions such as, "I like it here," or "I want to move away from here." 

I was all set to drive to town for a few veggies before the forecasted freezing rain arrived. I started the car, got dressed for the weather and saw rain freezing on the steps. Maybe tomorrow. 

I just spent a little while looking for synonyms for a word in the dictionary. It wasn't working. To move with the flow, I rephrased the sentence, and ended up with a better result. (Which you are currently reading.)

Building trust requires practice but the rewards are endless. The more often I stop and do a gut check, the more often I'll hear what life is telling me. The more often I hear and act on the signals life is giving me, the smoother life goes. The smoother life goes, the easier it is to trust that the Universe/Life/God is on my side.

It's a good way to live.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Level Playing Field

It's the time of year when Canada Geese by the dozens rest in the bottom pond for a few weeks before flying south. As I walked by, a few grumbled a warning. I didn't want to disturb them - thought about how it'd be nice to reassure them that I'm not a threat. 

I stopped myself. They may already know I'm not a threat to them but choose caution anyhow. They may see a different threat near me that I don't see. 

They have their own reasons for grumbling (or not) when I come near. I may not be giving them the credit they deserve. 

It's understandable. As kids we were taught that other species were not as smart as humans. It was so ingrained in the culture, we may not have even noticed it. Common phrases like "bird brains" reinforce the lower status we place on other species. Yet we know a lot more about their intelligence than we did in the 50's. And even without scientific proof, we know in our hearts and our personal experience that animals and birds and trees are more than we have been taught. 

So, geese.

I want to approach on a level playing field. I may still quietly tell them I'm not a threat, and still send my attention in a different direction than them, so they can read the lack-of-threat in my intentions. But I want to interact with no assumptions about them.

Maybe a better approach is to be nearby and make no demands. Settle nearby like Jane Goodall when she developed a rapport with Chimps. Let the geese choose for themselves if I'm someone they want to know, and then make myself available to what they may have to say.

There's more to learn. But it's a start.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What Have I Missed?

It wasn't until I was half-way through the walk that I realized I'd been so preoccupied with my latest frustrations, I hadn't noticed anything up until then. Are my worries more important than what's right in front of me? Well, I may think so at the time, but no. 

So I stopped. And I heard something new - a bird call I've never heard before. And I've lived here over 40 years. I moved closer to the source of the sound and carefully took out my camera. Maybe I could get a pic to identify it. I could! How marvellous! A Redstart. A Redstart with a lovely voice.

I'm so glad I stopped. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018


I'm not one of those people who believes that we have to get everything right before we die. We don't have to reconcile friendships or relationships that ended badly. We don't have to mend all the broken fences, understand all the puzzling people in our lives, or forgive when it's just not in us yet. We may not have the time or the opportunity.

Instead, I like to imagine us sitting beside each other on a cloud in heaven. In heaven we have the perspective we need to see the bigger picture. The bad feelings have vanished, and what is left is the love that was always there beneath the turmoil, misunderstanding and broken relationships. As we reflect on the difficulties and trouble in the life we've left, we can turn to each other with love and say, "Boy! That was intense!"

Monday, July 30, 2018


One pic is my mother Audrey showing my niece Mary how to play the organ at Christmastime in 1991. Mary named her daughter Audrey for Mom. The 2nd was taken Friday June 22, 2018 at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Our beloved Mary passed away peacefully on Monday morning holding her husband’s hand. Oddly my mother passed away on the same date, June 25, in 1999.