My 96 year-old inspiration.

The other day I was out running errands on my lunch hour. I had taken extra time that morning to dress a bit nicer than my usual blue jeans, cowboy boots and tee shirt. My ensemble included a long gray fleece skirt, a dusty blue shirt with lace detail yolk, a very long fluffy blue and white scarf with dangles I wound around my neck, a long silver daisy chain necklace, tiny blue lapis earrings, and an older soft jean jacket. Nothing stunning, but for me a nice change. Classy yet comfortable. Sometimes dressing up a bit makes your mood lighter, and you feel more confident.

I was pushing my shopping cart forward in the aisles, thinking the carts were a bit large for the aisle space. Not a big complaint but as a result I was very careful when passing other folks who were getting their shopping done. One such person was a sweet looking lady, very petite. I doubt she tipped the scales at 90 pounds she was so small. Under a black Tam o’ shanter hat a lovely bunch of wavy, black and dark blue hair came spilling out. The blue looked like the color you add on with foam spray. Nice touch. Her features were very fine and set amongst a lifetime of delicate wrinkles. If anything they added to her charm. There is no shame in aging I say. I thought to compliment her on her looks but decided to stop and let her decide which frozen item to get out of the case. I hate to rush folks, especially the elderly, or young mothers with children in tow.

After I moved on a voice behind me said, “My, your skirt perfectly matches your lovely gray hair.” I was astonished to see it was this sweet lady I had just been silently admiring. We struck up a conversation on the topic of gray hair. She lamented, “I haven’t got any gray hair yet and I’m 96!” Well folks, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I knew she was possibly an octogenarian, but to be out shopping and on her own, clearly able to fend for herself at that age really impressed me. To have all your faculties, focus, and beautiful style at almost 100 years old was impressive to say the least. I would also say she is an inspiration. Something for me to shoot for as I gracefully age (ahem).

On the topic of aging gracefully, as little as four years ago I had dark brown hair that I started dying blonde. It was a fun few years and it took years off my looks. But the upkeep and expense of dying long hair was getting to be too much. I’m a person that needs really easy, low maintenance habits. I held my breath and took the plunge and decided to accept my hair and features as nature intended. (I wear little to no makeup.) Still, when I see pictures of myself, especially on today’s video chat, I am wondering, who is that lady with the gray hair? Oh, that’s ME! Kind of makes me laugh. It takes some getting used to but I am really beginning to like exactly who I am. I will continue to be inspired by the sweet little old lady I met in the frozen foods aisle. If I have half her charm and style at 96, I’ll be doing just fine.

What have you seen recently that has inspired you? Comments are welcomed and encouraged. 

Suffering is optional

When you hold your own mind hostage, It’s like being in prison. It’s a lot of self-imposed suffering. I am guilty of this bad habit. It’s a bit like jumping to conclusions but bigger. It takes a while to dump it and change behavior.

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Case in point: A friend of a friend said their friend went to a family gathering thinking the worst; that no one liked them, that they would be shunned, ignored, that they were disliked. Yet the opposite happened and the opposite was true. They were welcomed with open arms. They were able to catch up with a lot of people they had been estranged from and had totally the wrong information for many many years. The person who was responsible for spreading the dark information about them in the past was now out of the picture. How many years did our hero waste in shame and fear, thinking they were unloved by their own family? Way too many! It simply was not true. They were holding themselves hostage and suffering for it.

All the self deprecating thoughts and low self-esteem—it was all in this person’s head. Our hero was making assumptions that the information being sent around was true, and they were too afraid to reach out and find out what the real story was. The cloud has lifted and it took an in-person visit to see the truth. Years and years of bad energy followed this person around like a cloud for no good reason. The truth was easy to uncover. They were holding themselves hostage in their mind.

Following the advice of Byron Katie would help in this instance. I loved her book, Loving What Is. She asks the reader to ask themselves four questions, to free their mind:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Another case in point: I was on Facebook looking at my feed. Usually there are videos and those automatically start playing, or at least they used to. The person posting this video had good intentions. They wanted to find the culprit that tortured a dog which was shown on the video. I had to stop the video from playing after only a few seconds or I would throw up. For days I could not get this image out of my head. Once you see something, you can’t ‘unsee’ it. I kept obsessing over it, because I am an animal lover, and my pets are my family. I could not imagine why anyone would do this, and I also could not imagine why someone would post this for any reason. It shook me to my core.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
—Byron Katie

What I kept telling myself when I felt that nausea well up inside was, this event happened a long time ago, and any suffering for the animal was long over. It took days for me to become normal again and shove this awful thing out of my head. I sent love to all concerned. That’s the best I could do. Send love, send love, send love. Be in the moment. Follow the advice of Byron Katie. Follow the advice of Eckhart Tolle and be in the moment. Smell the air. Watch the birds fly overhead. Be grateful for the moment.

What I did wrong was hold myself hostage by having terrible thoughts about the act, and utter disgust for the perpetrator. These feelings did not help anyone. None of my feelings were for the greater good, nor were they positive energy in any way, shape, or form. In addition, I was angry that I had spent any time spinning in negativity. I had no excuse to dwell on something done long ago, that I was helpless to change. I spent my good energy chasing bad.

The lessons in both cases was not to dwell on things you have no control over, and that are in the past. If needed seek the truth. Send love. Move on. Live in the moment.