THE Happy Turtle

More lessons learned from the littles in my life. I get pointed messages from my nephews and niece all the time. My teachers have gotten smaller. When I lived in Maui, I had a kumu- teacher- named Uncle Sonny, who was about 70-ish and took me under his wing. So, that one's obvious, but teachers came in all sorts of ways. They were often strangers. People at the bar stool next to me while I was waiting for my friend to get off work. Some lady next to me waiting in line. Some random person I interviewed for the paper. A hoity toity at the gallery says something that she doesn't even know is profound. Sometimes, now, it is in the form of nature, a billboard, or the radio... It's so funny who your teachers are, if you only listen, remain open, and have the ability for introspection. 

We were at Joshie's skating/hockey practice a few weeks back. He just turned 6yrs old. He was in his poofy winter down jacket, with the sewing making horizontal lines across his body, and a bike helmet as the protective shell. He was smiling and just so happy out there on the ice. He reminded me of a cartoon character, or the main character of a children's book. "He looks like a happy turtle," I told my sister. "He does!" She confirmed. Later, when they were trying to skate backwards, all the older kids were flying past him, he was barely moving. He did not care one bit and kept on smiling, excited as all get out, concentrating and laughing in intervals.

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

Fast forward a few weeks. I'd been having a rough time. Projecting into the future for my business, how the field was changing, I was contemplating going in a different direction with it. I called an old mentor whom I admire and received an extremely negativite outlook instead of hope for this field that I have chosen. 

Not only that, but that deep dark spiral had already set in. When I go down this road of trying to get a clear path in my head, I tend to analyze every area of my life, and at that moment it was not shaping up as I imagined it would by this point. The day job, personal endeavors, artistic endeavors, goals, aspirations, wanderlust, even relationships (which I always forget about until my extended family asks me. "Oh yeah, I have to put that on the list too"... I am still fighting that battle of yearning for freedom, adventures, my own dreams and ambitions, and the other side- intimacy, comfort, and family. This struggle gets dusted off, then sits on the shelf again, then drops in my face again, in a viscious distorted cycle. Most people know for sure one way or the other. I just wish I had about twenty more years on this bastard of a clock). It was just one of those times. They happen. I can look back on how far I have come, what I have accomplished, the crazy, amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful people in all the chapters of my life, even old passions that I've pursued in the past that I don't currently that made me ME... Even though I can see all of this and be truly grateful, and proud, still, those days, the dark spriral, they will still happen. I know this. Sneaky bastards.

After that phone call, I leaned my head back and just thought to myself, "Why did I pick this field"? Why am I doing all of this, spending so much energy, and putting so much into all of this? Even things like just writing this blog... Images of my high school counselors warning me to go for something else popped in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the shimmering leaves above my head in my backyard, with the prettiest golden sunset backlighting them. And I thought, "because I see the beauty in the world. I see things that others don't. And I want to share that. That is all." I smiled. 

The Happy Turtle came to mind just then. Why can't I be The Happy Turtle? Who cares how slowly I'm going? At least I'm doing it. All the things. I'm still doing them... I complained to my mother once that having too many passions is a curse and I have a hard time seeing it as a blessing. There's never enough time to actually DO all of the things. You can't really excel or find "success" at any one of them when you are so spread out. What if I never get anywhere "REAL" with any of these things? "When you’re doing them, do they make you happy?" "Yeah." Point taken. Why can't that be enough? It should be enough, right?

Once you hit a goal, there will always be more. Always more striving. Where I am now in my own business- I longed for this a few years back. Mark Manson says the striving is where happiness lies. I can see that. The process is the thing, not the result. The motivation, the inspiration, the expression, the action. I also love his words on "mediocrity". Creatives put so much damn pressure on ourselves. Meaning, purpose, worldy change!, leaving your mark, helping others, making a difference...  It's all so fucking heavy. Having this conversation with a friend who is left-brained, an engineer, I asked her if she does this to herself. "No. I work to pay bills. I do that to love up on my kids and enjoy the lake on the weekends." Period. Wow. I was so jealous for that simplicity. I am a different breed, and it's inevitable to feel low when you have more and more goals than you could possibly ever achieve. (And on another level, when you have kids, BAM! You automatically have purpose, meaning; you are making a difference. So, that definitely is part of the psychological onion for me.) But Manson made me think when he talked about the idea that most people in the world are "mediocre," by our crazy ass standards, when you think about it. He asks if that means that for MOST of the people who have ever lived-- that their lives didn't matter? Huh. Is Mark Manson giving me permission to calm the fuck down? I'll take that.   

So, this post is automatically scheduled to come out on my birthday. I never work on my birthday. I will be at the beach before any evening plans take way. On my birthday, every year, I immerse myself in nature. Water, green luscious scenery, and I get lost in just being a human, grateful for the beauty. "Just be". For a short amount of time, I am no one’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, coworker, boss lady... I’m just me. Feeling the wind, smelling the smells, taking in the wonder and awe of it all. I don't give a shit about accomplishments or how productive I'm being. I try to turn the creative brain off. It's tough. (Even when I take vacations, I am now thinking about how I could turn it into a travel article, with photos.. So, how is that time off, really?)

I used to do this so easily in Maui. I mean, how could you not? The simplicity of happiness. I was so relieved to find folks who also did not agree with "You are what you do". No one buys that shit there. They don't even buy that you are a "mother", "wife", "girlfriend", whatever, as your identity. Such a different, wonderful, peaceful mindset over there. I told myself that I would keep this mindset when I moved back. "Across the Universe," by The Beatles, was playing as I made this vow. "Nothing's gonna change my world"... Being back in the midwest, I can't help but feel that while my heart fully resonates with "You are NOT what you do", my ambitions are contradictory and will take on society's logic- that I don't even agree with! But, then again, I actually WANT to do all of the things. I loaded my plate because I want them all. I am the crazy hoarder at the buffet, where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, because I am a mere human. I cannot have it all. I have to choose. The Choosing, I would say, is my nemesis.

So many articles tell us to schedule time to do nothing. We get a few hours a week (if you're lucky)? We wait for vacations and are happy with a couple weeks a year? Even two days, out of seven, a week (which we have personal chores and domestic duties)..? That's some bullshit. Who made these shitty ass rules? That is just not humane. That's not going to be good enough for me this year. I don't want to have to REMIND myself to JUST BE. I don't need permission. I will not feel guilty. I give myself full permission to JUST BE, for a fair amount, every day. I already go radio silent for days at a time. No social media. No more consuming. No more information. No more classes on this, that, and the other. No more podcasts or self-improvement. Take a mental break. I started meditating on my lunch break, which to me, at the beginning stage, means shutting everything down in my brain and listening to the birds, feeling the grass, the wind...

A while back, I heard an older man talking about his walks around his neighborhood in the fall, how beautiful it was and how much he loved it. He was pondering about how many more autumns he thinks he has left. He decided it had to be around seven. Holy shit, that gave me some perspective.

I will make more time to just enjoy. That's a damn good purpose too. Not everyone can do it, either. What if that is The Meaning? And by example, you show others how to do the same? That is the difference that you can make. 

This Happy Turtle is loving life.

Keep It Simple,

Lisa
 

"I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!" What I Learned From a 5yr old

One weekend I was back home, hanging out with my sister, bro-in-law, and the kiddos, reveling in some cozy at-home time. The kids must've been razzing my nephew, Joshie, 5yrs old, because all of a sudden he yelled, "I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!!!"  "What's happening?" asked the adults. "She's saying that I don't like yellow and I do!" fumed Joshie. He was TICKED. The anger amplified by the minute. We adults snickered at the ridiculousness of this. They said something parental, which I don't remember, and Joshie moved on.

I thought to myself, wow, how often do I do that too? I'm probably doing it right now. Holding onto things that don't matter at all, really? My situations don't ever FEEL ridiculous, of course, because adults deal with heavier issues, but it still is the same thing when you get down to it. 

"I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!"  Very much like the key phrases:

  • "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
  • "How important is it?"
  • "How cheaply am I willing to sell my serenity?"

These quotes help when I find myself over-analyzing or obsessing over a situation out of my control and not giving my energy to the present moment, or what really matters. My thoughts can drift to past conversations, situations as unfair as all get out (narcissists are everywhere here in adulthood! You deal with one and ten more come out of the woodwork!), the woulda coulda shouldas...  Resentments, memories that barge in uninvited, caring about what other people think-in any way, other people's words or behavior, a misunderstanding, a complete misconception of me- or my work, or a flat out untruth, etc. How often am I bellowing out “I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!”, deep down, subconsciously, instead of letting go?

At that time, I noticed the correlation with Joshie's anger and some floating feelings of mine, stemming from my boss, company politics, which then expands into a downward black spiral of national politics, and maybe some intrusive unnerving memories of an ex-headcase that comes with random instigators once in a while, trying to get an uprise of mental anguish from me. In such a case, I feel like God is the adult and I am the child, and He’s telling me, “It doesn’t matter. The point is that you are out of that situation. Focus on what’s important- what’s in front of you.”

This correlation is also pertinent to interactions with family members and friends. And again,  politics- any situation out of our control. When you feel like people just don't "get it", or, in Joshie’s case, don’t “get you"-- even if it's your circle, your tribe, the ones who should above all others "get you"--- and you have to defend yourself... You really don't. Ever.

I have a wise old friend that always reminds me, "You know the truth. God knows the truth. That's all that is necessary."  I never thought that I needed those words as much as I do. I've always considered myself one that doesn't care what people think. But that emerges for all of us in a deeper sense everyday. There will always be cases where we have to practice this logic. Detach. There are people we come into contact with daily that will just never "get it".  Their behavior and words could really get me seething... Or I can detach from it completely and cut that string. It doesn’t have to affect me. 

We expect our families to truly know us. But, do you know of anyone who actually feels this way? Me neither. We are human. It can feel comfortless and isolating, but that's all a part of it. It's why we need God so much (or whatever you deem your Higher Power to be), and why it's imperative to strengthen that spiritual relationship continuously.
 
Because I am a sucker for quotes, I will also lay down these well-known gems:

  • "Never waste time on people who are committed to misunderstanding you."
  • "Be a good person, but don't waste time proving it."

Now, when I find myself upset or holding onto something that I need to let go of, when I have this awareness, I hear Joshie screaming "I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!!!"  And I am aware that I am being silly, and I move on.

Silly Monday to you,
Lisa

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Christmas Snow

There are times when laziness and procrastination really pay off.

I have been in my house for about two years. My basement is my nemesis. Nothing has been unpacked and it's all boxes. So, I made the first effort last year to at least BUY the shelves, put them together, and get ready to unpack sometime in the next two years... Ha! I'm slowly working through the upstairs still. 

So, my nephews and niece were over at that time. One corner of styrofoam. That's all it took. My sister and I turned our attention away for two minutes. The two year old created a Michigan winter in my basement. I was laughing at first. At first. It was stuck in her hair, all over everything, and hitch-hiked its way upstairs, so it really was everywhere. 

Those little fly-aways are tough to catch, dammit.

I tried vacuums, dry-vacs, tape, etc. Of course my family gives me the ghetto dry-vac held together by duct tape and missing parts, making a frustrating clean up even more frustrating. At one point I had three dry-vacs in my basement and none of them worked. I finally just got a new one- with a cord as long as your arm. I did what I could and called it a day. There are too many boxes. You can't even walk through half of the basement.

So, that was last fall. Now it looks like planned Christmas decor. 

Good work.

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Have a Silly Monday,

Lisa