Date Archives January 2014

What else can go right? My trick for not wallowing in despair

Pollyanna Grows Up
Pollyanna Grows Up, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Complaining can be an art form, doncha think? I really appreciate a well-worded kvetch. But it can also be dangerous if you act like it’s your second job.

Hippie Trish wants to tell you to KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF.

I was thinking that this morning, as I read yet another excellent post from Ralph Marston, The Daily Motivator. (Like him on Facebook to get a nice bit o’ wisdom and insight every morning — the man blows me away.)

Today’s post was titled “Whatever you think.” It was about how if you think the world is against you, you will find evidence to back that up all day long. The idea is that you have the power to CHOOSE what to think about anything.

This has been the key to everything good in my life. I’m one of the happiest people I know of. It’s true. And not even because I’m all glowy with new love at the moment … even when I was poor, even when I was wallowing in misery after a sad breakup, I still had an overall sense that my life was pretty good. I could never quite surrender to the idea that all was irretrievably lost.
Why is that? Maybe I’m just prone to happiness. Or maybe it’s because I’ve conditioned my brain to look for the good.

Now, Hippie Trish has all sort of metaphysical and cosmic reasons that you need to get a handle on your thoughts, because thoughts have energy and energy interacts with your surroundings and … you probably don’t want to hear all this, do you?

But even if you don’t subscribe to all the hippie hocus pocus, consider this: Your brain works for you. Finding a way to frame things in a positive way is going to put your noodle on notice that it’s time to look for novel solutions.

If you were stuck in a well and you assumed you were going to die, you ‘d probably just get down on your hands and knees and start feeling  for a dry spot where you could curl up comfortably while starvation and hypothermia did their slow work.

But if you changed your focus — if you pointed your head UP instead of down — you might notice just a bit of sky. Your pupils might adjust a little bit. You might see some things you didn’t notice before. You might see that there’s a way to climb up, or even an old rope, or even that there are people up top that you can yell to.

The point is, you’re not going to find your way out unless you look for it.

Point your head up. No one is going to bestow happiness upon you. It doesn’t get delivered to your front door. You have to get off your duff and go find it. Sure, there will always be frustrations in life. You can accept that those things are just part of the price of admission of being alive, or you can let the fact that someone cut you off in traffic be the trigger for having a totally craptastic day.

You have to make an effort. And the very, very first thing you have to do is stop being so darn eager to be doomed all the time. Think of it this way: Has all that wallowing in negativity been working out for you? Has it brought good things to your life so far? I know it hasn’t.
So I have one little idea to share. I do this one a lot.

The idea is that not only are thoughts energetic and powerful, but that they have momentum. We’ve all had the days where we ask ourselves “What ELSE can go wrong today?” And then, certainly, the universe flips us the bird all day long. So for just one day, try reversing that sentiment and ask yourself this: What else can go RIGHT today?

My coffee is warm and good. What else can go right? My kids have food for breakfast. We were all warm in our beds last night. What else can go right? I’m going to earn some money today. What else can go right? My car started … and there’s a good song on the radio. What else can go right?

I promise you, this will change your day. Do it often enough, and you might just find that your whole outlook changes. (Let me just add, though, that if you find this small step to be impossible, you may be suffering from something that requires professional intervention. Depression is a real thing and there’s no shame at all in getting some help. Don’t be afraid to reach out admit that you don’t know how to pull yourself out of a rut.)

If you don’t want to do this for yourself, do it for the people around you because I can promise you this: They are probably so tired of hearing you bitch all the time. Everyone has problems, sure, and everyone needs to vent sometimes, but you don’t need to make a second career out of complaining.

And now you all know the truth: The pottymouthed smartass is, in fact, an insufferable Pollyanna.

 

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Seasons of love … and writing

Birds and flowers of the four seasons
Birds and flowers of the four seasons, part of the paintings on room partitions in the abbot’s quarters (hōjō) of Jukō-in of Daitoku-ji, Kyoto, Japan. Ink on paper. This picture shows four of 16 panels on fusuma (sliding doors) in the in the ritual room. The paintings have been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings. 16th century. By Kanō Eitoku and his father Kanō Shōei [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Do y’all know the musical Rent? Do yourselves a favor and go listen to “Seasons of Love.” It’s one of my favorite songs. (Dear family and friends: I would like to formally request that this song be played at my funeral. Please, one of you handle that, mmmkay?) (Original Broadway cast recording, please, not the movie soundtrack.)

Sidenote on Rent before we dive in to this post: The stupefyingly talented Idina Menzel — who is the voice of Elsa in Frozen — was one of the original cast members of Rent and helped create the role of Maureen. She’s so badass.

Now let’s begin for real, shall we?

Hi blogmuffins! I know, I know. It’s been … forever. I’ve barely touched the bloggity for months.

I can give you lots of reasons for why I haven’t been blogging, but I think the biggest one is that I just didn’t feel like it. I loooove writing and blogging, but the break gave me a chance to just live for a few months instead of trying to stick words to everything as it was happening … which is what my brain naturally wants to do. It was nice to power down for a bit.

Another really great upside neglecting the bloggity is that I had the opportunity to stare dreamily off into space for so, so many hours and think about … love. Yeah. That. And since I write about my life here, well, I guess I need to let y’all know that there has been a person of the dudely persuasion taking up a lotta my time for the past few months. I won’t go into tons of details about how smart and funny and sexy and adorable he is because then he gets all blushy and embarrassed (and then, yes, the blushiness makes him even more adorabley adorable). But I’ll just say this: I am so farking happy it’s ridiculous.

Ridiculous. In the best way.

 

Reluctantly sharing my idol

In other news, I saw my favorite writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak at the Philadelphia Free Library back in October. I got to ask her a question, which I was super excited and nervous to do … some people lose their shit over rock stars, I apparently lose mine over writers. Anyway, I asked her if she wrote all the time or if she devoted some time purely for research. She told me (and the rest of the people in the audience who insisted on showing up and intruding upon Liz and my special alone time) something veddy interesting. She said that she writes in seasons. She said there are seasons for research and seasons for writing. And when it’s writing season, she keeps “farmer hours.” That is, she goes to bed early so she can get up before the sun rises to start her work.

I like the idea of writing seasons. My writer head seems to need seasons for input and seasons for output. There are seasons to gather, to reflect, to let ideas marinate … and then seasons to arrange my life around my quiet, solitary work. I believe there are also seasons to throw open the windows and the doors and invite people in.

 

A time to wallow

Seasons of love seem like a pretty good thing, too. When love shows up in its rare and mystifying glory, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to let the laundry pile up, to run out of milk, and to stop doing any activities that aren’t directly related to personal grooming or seeing your new lover. Love doesn’t come along often. Might as well savor it while it’s new and startlingly delicious … life will demand your attention again soon enough.

Happy new year, peeps. Hope to see you around here again soon.

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