Category Archives: individuality

How to know what kind of a person anyone is

 

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Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro…look at those eyes!

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, which was focused on Donald Trump. Let’s leave poitics for a minute and think about a broader application—how to know what kind of a person anyone is. The method is the same: look into their eyes and you’ll see their soul.

You know how sometimes you meet a person and immediately you feel uncomfortable? You might say to yourself, “Oh, I’m just being silly.” But stop and take a good look right into their orbs and you’ll realize you can trust what you see. A person with a good, gentle soul will have a kind look, or a sparkle in their eyes, or even something that you can’t name, but you feel it. You feel it with someone who has a dark soul as well.

Unfortunately, many people never give this a thought. Nevertheless, sometimes they’ll say, “Ooooh, what beautiful eyes she/he has!” They might not necessarily make the connection between what they’re seeing in this person’s eyes and their character, but there definitely is a connection.

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No thing but innocence in those eyes!

The same goes for that uncomfortable feeling when somebody seems to have a “nasty look.” Don’t brush it off. Sometimes it can save you from a lot of grief, if you were thinking of getting involved with that person in some way, whether business or personal. People who have that look in their eyes are out of touch with who they were meant to be and are blind to who they really are.

Trust your intuition! It’s the greatest thing you own, and you can cultivate it. Words, reasoning, conjectures, opinions are not nearly as powerful or accurate.

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Being an introvert has become a “thing”

 

1797When I was a kid growing up in the 40s and 50s, it was not considered a good thing to be “shy.” The word “introvert” didn’t exist, as far as I know. In any case, I was a shy kid, a loner, and my mother worried about it.

“Why don’t you go outside and play?” She would say, as I sat at the piano practicing for hours during summer vacation. Not that going outside would put me in touch with other kids—there weren’t any, except my sister Bertie. We lived in the country, and there were very few neighbors, none of them close by. I usually liked playing with Bertie, but my favorite thing was to spend the day in the woods by myself, with some stale bread and a bottle of water, pretending I was a lost explorer.

As I grew older, even though I wasn’t fully aware of it, I still preferred being alone. I had a few friends at school, but I certainly wasn’t considered popular, and the friends I did have were thought of as somewhat “weird.”

As the years went by, I didn’t spend much time thinking about whether I might be an introvert, because the people I knew didn’t talk about things like that. It seemed to me that I was normally sociable, but looking back I can see that wasn’t quite true. I still used to sneak away early from parties, and I didn’t like hanging out in large groups of people. I preferred sitting with a close friend and talking about “life.”

Fast forward: For the past couple of decades I’ve felt an increasing need to be alone—not all the time, of course, but quite a bit of it. I think it’s partly because I’m a writer and composer, but also because it’s just my nature. It doesn’t feel odd to me. I’m comfortable being a loner.

Lately I’ve been noticing—mostly from articles and memes on Facebook—that introverts are “in.” The memes say things like, “Whew, that was close, I almost had to socialize,” “That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings,” “Come, they said, it’ll be fun, they said,” “The Introvert Revolution,” and so on. It seems as though introverts have found their niche, but…

Somehow I don’t feel like waving an introvert flag. Why should I label myself? Why should anyone? We’re all different after all, sometimes in subtle ways, but we’re certainly not as classifiable as these memes and some articles I’ve read on the subject would have us believe.

I say, enjoy who you are. Explore who you are. Most of us are too busy to spend time with ourselves, but we need to make time. We’re here for a reason, and the more time we spend finding out about what it is that we’re here to do and why we are the way we are (and this is NOT selfish, I might add), the better off we’ll be. Then others can benefit from our gifts, too.

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Teachers who are life-changers

 

Learning-FeaturedMost of us have had at least one teacher in our lives who has left a lasting impression. I’m going to devote my next six blog posts to the teachers I feel really changed my life in a significant way.

Sometimes we encounter a teacher we love while we’re still in grammar school, but we can also meet up with a life-changer in our adult lives. I met most of my favorite teachers when I was already grown up, married, and a mother.

World Teachers’ Day isn’t until October 5, but I like to strike while the iron is hot…I started thinking about my beloved teachers yesterday, and so let the commemoration begin!

I have six favorite teachers in my life. I’m not sure how fast I’ll be able to get them posted, but stay tuned…

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Do I have to jog when I’m 80?

pa-170301055sFor quite some time I’ve been seeing posts and videos on Facebook celebrating old age—advanced old age, from 80 and up to 100 and beyond—and most of them seem to follow the same pattern:

The elderly person in question (usually a woman) is either a body-builder, runs races, does yoga, or engages in some other supposedly health-giving physical activities that would be daunting even to many of the young. Then Facebookers react with a “wow” or “love” emoticon.

As someone in her seventh decade, I’m pretty sure that at least some of us “old folks” are thinking: “Gee, that’s amazing! I wish I could do that. I could never do that. How does she do that?!”

I for one, however, don’t have that knee-jerk reaction.

117864220I’ve never been athletic, despised gym class when I was in school, and would much rather read a book in a comfy arm chair than jog around the block. I do enjoy swimming, though, and tai chi, but never think of either as a sport (hey, I’m not training for the Olympics).

There seems to be an all-pervasive belief, especially in the US, that the human body should be kept in constant movement. A couple of guys I know even said this to me recently (of course they’re both athletes). Now I ask you: How could any human being stay in constant motion? It’s impossible.

The other biggie is that we live sedentary lives and that it’s unnatural. I especially love that one. Somehow the people who constantly bang that particular drum seem to forget (or maybe don’t know) that even in prehistoric times, people had “sedentary jobs”—food preparation, making tools, scraping animals hides, etc. Cro-Magnon man even invented the needle to sew skins together to make clothing.

I often think of my mother-in-law, who led a completely sedentary life, in addition to chain-smoking and eating lots of fried foods and chocolates—and who lived to be 100 years old. Friends have said, “Well, your mother-in-law must have had good genes.” Personally, I think this is nonsense, especially given what we now know about epigenetics, and how the mind controls the body. I like to think that it was the goodness of her heart, her unselfishness and interest in everyone and everything around her, that gave my mother-in-law her longevity.

In any case, I’d like to see some videos or read some articles about people who lived long, healthy, happy lives for reasons other than the fact that they spent every day at the gym lifting weights or preparing for the marathon. It’s not just about standing on your head at age 98 or running around the neighborhood into your 80s. Kudos to those (mostly) ladies for their efforts, but some of us just weren’t cut out for that!

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Thanks to Rhonda Key Youngblood for this photo!

 

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Filed under Aging, individuality, social media, tai chi, Uncategorized

The ongoing search…

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Anyone who has read my book will identify me as a spiritual seeker and, more specifically, as a student of Christian Science for over 40 years. The book was published in 2012 and it’s now 2015…a lot of water has gone under the bridge, and many things were washed away, including Christian Science. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, though. There are still some thoughts and ideas from that teaching that I find valid, but in my case it was simply time to move on.

In Christian Science we were taught that anything bad or evil is illusion, and should be denied and replaced with Truth (spiritual perfection, or God) in our thought, hopefully with enough understanding and inspiration to heal physical diseases as well as any other type of problem. I’ve known people who have had success with this approach, but have also known many who are puzzled and dumbfounded as to why they never seem to achieve physical healing through these means. I am one of the latter.

When I stopped studying “CS,” as we call it, I felt a sudden surge of freedom—I thought, wow, now I can read anything I want, study anything I want! Not that I wasn’t free before, I had just locked myself into that one teaching, believing that it was “it.” But when I realized that there is no “it” that can be boxed into one teaching or path, I started looking into lots of things. I love investigating thoughts about life, what we’re here for, what it all means, and so on.

One of the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) rules of CS was that you don’t talk about your illnesses, because that would make a “reality” of them. Consequently, many of us kept our sufferings to ourselves, or we would confide them to a Christian Science practitioner, who would pray for us. Imagine my surprise, then, when I started reading different teachings that encouraged us to “embrace” negative things and situations, and suggested that this is the way transformation takes place. Instead of resisting, trying to fix or get rid of, or trying to “unknow” our problems and illnesses, we simply (well, maybe not so simply) stop all of those stressful mental gymnastics and just “dwell” with what’s going on—welcome it, love it, let it do its thing. Most of the teachings I’ve been reading suggest that negative occurrences are actually catalysts to wake us up to recognize what’s really going on, i.e., harmony and goodness. Unlike in CS, “evil” things are considered part of the ALL…the reasoning being that how can ALL be ALL if it doesn’t include everything? CS says that evil is an illusion, but an illusion is still something—it’s still a thought, a part of consciousness.

At first I was afraid to stop resisting and trying to fix my various disabilities and just live—do things that brought me joy. I thought if I did that, the disabilities would just get worse and worse. I should mention that these new teachings I was reading didn’t preach against seeking medical solutions, but there are times when the medical faculty has no solutions to our problems, and so we must search elsewhere. And even if we do find a fix through medicine or surgery, there’s no guarantee that the problem won’t return or that we won’t have another problem. I’ve always, from a very early age, felt a desire to get to the root of things and not merely deal with them on a surface level, so the idea that I could just relax and the answers would come was very appealing to me, albeit a bit disconcerting. I thought, after all, I’ve been resisting my difficulties for over 40 years with little results—what did I have to lose?

I no longer feel that I have all the answers, or that one teaching or system has them. I’m looking to my intuition most of the time, and am doing my best to face up to myself and be honest. As a result, I sometimes feel that my life is being turned upside down, but to tell you the truth, I kind of like it.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that are my thoughts and ponderings. They may not be yours, and you may disagree with some of them, and that’s as it should be. 🙂

For the curious, some of the writers/thinkers/teachers I’ve been checking out (and I’m certain there will be more) are Margaret Laird, Betty Albee, Bentinho Massaro, Jeff Foster, Anita Moorjani, Abraham/Hicks, Matt Kahn, Anthony de Mello, and Steven Pressfield.

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Darcy

At the ripe old age of 73, I have finally discovered what’s wrong with me.

Or rather what’s right with me that I always thought was wrong. I’m an HSP, otherwise known as Highly Sensitive Person, or Sensitive/Empath. This means I’m part of around 20% of the population that is more sensitive than most people to, among other things, loud noises, bright or fluorescent lights, and strong smells. HSPs are also highly intuitive and sensitive to other people’s thoughts and feelings. These traits often make it harder for people to navigate their way through life, especially if they’re not even aware that they’re a HSP—like me.South-Atlantic Transitional Dairy Cow Blend

HSP children can have all kinds of fears that other kids don’t seem to have, and are often shy. I was that kind of kid, and I certainly didn’t get any support or sympathy from my family, but there was one person—a childhood friend—who kept me from completely losing myself in fear and isolation: Darcy Halstead.

Darcy and I grew up in Newtown, CT, in the country, and we were driven to school by Mr. Violet in his station wagon—there weren’t enough kids in our neighborhood for a real school bus. Darcy was my age and in the same class, and because we rode to school together, we got to be friends, even though we had practically nothing in common.

Darcy was a scrawny blonde kid with buck teeth who, it seemed to me, was afraid of nothing. I was in wonder at the way she stood up to her mother, who was constantly slapping her around. When she got spanked, she would just laugh—to me this was incomprehensible! My mother’s spankings left me with scars that I endure to this day, so I guess I hoped some of Darcy’s bravery and nonchalance would rub off on me.

Darcy

Darcy

Well, I didn’t become as feisty as Darcy, but being around her did make me try new things and take chances that I otherwise never would have taken. I enjoyed her company so much that when I was only around nine years old I used to walk the two miles to her house just so we could play together. Once she took me to play in a cow pasture. I’d never been near a cow in my life, and I was terrified, but Darcy kept egging me on, and when I stepped in a “cow pie” and she roared with laughter, I couldn’t help laughing, too. I even gingerly touched one of the cows!

Darcy also brought out the “naughty” in me, which was a quality I rarely dared exhibit at home. There was a little cemetery right next door to her house, and one of our favorite pastimes was to knock over the headstones. Bad, I know, but it did me good.

Darcy lived with her mom Edna, her older sister Mickey, and her grandma and grandpa. Edna was always wired, and it seemed to me that she lived on coffee and cigarettes—maybe that’s why she was so jumpy and always smacking Darcy. I was afraid of her grandpa. He was in a wheelchair and couldn’t speak and his face looked funny. Darcy would say to me, “Don’t be scared! You can talk to him. He can hear you and he likes it!” But I was too petrified to open my mouth.glenwood

So I wasn’t able to overcome all my HSP tendencies by being Darcy’s friend, but she did help me come out of my shell, and I’m grateful for that. In any case, there’s no way for a HSP to turn into a not-HSP, and that’s all right. I’m gradually learning to live with and enjoy the positive qualities of my HSP-ism. The big breakthrough for me was finally discovering the truth about myself, instead of wondering what was wrong with me! That’s a biggie.

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PURSUING OR ALLOWING?

downloadIn her book Dying To Be Me Anita Moorjani (of the famous NDE and healing of cancer) talks a lot about pursuing vs. allowing. She says that after her NDE experience, she no longer felt that she had to pursue goals, that it was more a question of allowing things to come to her…to happen naturally.

There’s a lot of wisdom in that thought. In my own life, I’ve found that even when we get the thing we think we want, often there’s no lasting satisfaction. I see people on Facebook (and I do this myself as well) busily promoting themselves, whether it’s their art, their music, their book…whatever, usually with little results. But some people do seem to make it “work”—I’ve seen several friends hold successful Kickstarter campaigns, meaning that they got the money they were asking for.

It seems that it’s a question of how we think and where were are in life that makes us either pursue or allow. I can’t sit in judgment and say one is better than the other. I believe that we do what is right for us at any given moment. It may not be right for someone else, and it may not even be right for us after some time has passed. From my own experience I’ve found that the “pushing, pulling, wishing, and wanting” approach has eventually led to frustration and limitation for me.

Last night I watched a video on YouTube by jazz pianist/educator Dave Frank entitled “How Artists and Content Creators Can Survive in the era of Free Content,” where he discussed the current trend of people downloading music for free on the internet. In his view, this new trend is more about people sharing than it is about money, so, as he said in the video, “…there is an expectation that you’ll share some stuff for free, to be part of the global conversation that’s going on.” Then he said that each one, individually, then decides how to get some payback…but…he himself simply decided to give it all away, to share it as much as possible. He said that the spiritual principle he based his choice on is: “If you serve, you will be served,” and that this principle works just like mathematics. “So what that means,” he said, “is that you put your heart and soul out there to people and try to share something that will be of benefit to them, and then what you need will come back to you.” And he wasn’t just “whistlin’ Dixie,” as they say, because he eventually began to receive compensation for his offerings.

I like his approach. To me there’s something very freeing about it. It follows Anita Moorjani’s prescription of allowing instead of pursuing, and I honestly do believe that there is a law as accurate as mathematics that governs these things.

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