quote to note

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him”

James D. Miles

How true this is. In a world filled with ego driven individuals looking for notoriety it is refreshing to see someone doing good just to do good. 


It’s Ok To Blend

  

One of our biggest mistake as humans is assuming that people know how we feel, figuring that others can read our minds, or expecting someone to understand us completely. 

We all do it. We are surprised and dispirited when someone doesn’t react to a situation in a way that we expected them to. We feel a little disappointed in those who don’t share in the same opinions as ourselves, or we get upset when the other person can’t see our sadness or our joy as intensely as we feel it.  

I, as of lately, have been very guilty of this and so I think it’s a good time for me to write about it, get it out of my system, and be done with this nasty habit. 

I have found myself in the past few days getting a little more frustrated with a certain someone because their behavior has not in some instances mirrored my expectations. Which, after a little necessary reflection, I have realized is completely unfair. 

My goal with this individual or anyone in my life is not to make myself appear right or make them think they are wrong in any way, yet I can see how this type of behavior can be viewed as if it was. All I truly want is to be genuinely understood and respected. It is for this reason that I must also show the same considerations unto them. I figure that the only way that I can do this is to adapt to their internal habitat the best I can. 

So how I see it, in order to achieve this higher level of consciousness it’s almost as if we must become a chameleon of sorts when dealing with people; blending into their mental environment, so to speak. It’s important that whoever we are interacting with that we regard them as the individual that they are and remember that their thought process is not a reflection of our own.

Allowing them to express how they perceive things is giving you an insight into their psyche. You can now know that this person doesn’t take offense to criticism, and this person feels overjoyed for others accomplishments, while this person doesn’t appreciate when people go out of their way to help him. 

Everyone has their way about them and little idiosyncrasies. We should try to understand that their life is diverse and abundant with their own things going on and remember that everyone’s personality is what makes them react or not react in different ways to certain things. 

By recognizing and accepting everyone as an individual as well as connecting with them on their level you are not changing who you are but becoming a better and more compassionate friend, husband, sister, coworker, etc. You are flexible, understanding and non judgmental. You open the relationship up to better communication. You are allowing this person to be who they truly are without inadvertently trying to manipulate their disposition. 

Let’s face it, when someone feels that they have to behave in a certain way around you, that doesn’t coincide with what they really stand for, they are more than likely and unwillingly disregarding their natural character. Who the heck wants that!?

~Say you are upset with your best friend for not returning your phone call earlier in the week when you desperately needed her advice. It is reasonable to ask her if something might have come up, if she was too busy with work, or if there is something bothering her in regards to you. Yet it is not ok to express your agitation with accusations and assumptions making her feel like she is being attacked just because you feel hurt. She may not have even realized just how important the conversation you wanted to have really was. She quite possibly didn’t hear the urgency in your voicemail~

It’s simple things like the above example that can really eliminate a lot of unnecessary conflict while being productive, and rational at the same time. 

Practicing patience with people’s differences is like practicing patience with anything else. Hard! Yet, doing this one little thing can truly better your valued relationships. 


Disclosure:

In the process of appreciating the diversities and convictions of others don’t ever lose your own authenticity. This type of practice should be a mutual thing. Knowing and respecting who someone is and what they are all about is one thing, but allowing their true behavior to continuously be a direct disregard for who you are as a person is a whole different story. If you find yourself walking on egg shells every time you have an encounter with someone, stop walking and start running. 

Allowing people to be themselves around you and be comfortable doing it is serving two purposes. Firstly, you are showing that you are a caring and compassionate human being and secondly, they are either showing you the same or they are not (if they are not, refer to #10 in my Brain Train blog)



Let Go To Live 

  
In order to live a free and happy life (the happiness of your choosing that is….not of someone else’s) you must learn the art of non attachment. 

When you are attached to something, for instance a pair of diamond earrings (this is a personal triumph of mine so I will use it as an example) you tend to be overly protective of them to the point where you won’t even take them out of the jewelry box for fear of losing them. You hold these earrings hostage and they never get to sparkle in the sunlight, catch an admiring eye, or make you feel special donning them on your precious earlobes. Their price has actually become more important to you than their value and thus they are wasted as they sit tucked away between tiny rows of felt. 

About 7 months ago I decided that I was no longer going to hide these beauties and start wearing them every day. I had realized my attachment to their price tag was ridiculous and if I lost them then at least they got some good use. When I went into the last place I put them I realized they were missing. I didn’t panic. I just became a little confused. 
I checked the jewelry box a few times over and then searched the house from top to bottom (talk about a needle in a haystack) Nothing. 

They were gone and I was ok. Completely and 100% ok. Sure I would have liked to have found them but stressing about the fact that they were gone didn’t seem necessary nor was it going to make them reappear. If they were in my house I would have found them. I did the best I could. So I just accepted that they were gone and that they may or may not turn up. This appeared to be a more favorable reaction…….to which (surprisingly) came naturally to me. (I must be getting better at this disattachment thing)

Learning to not cling too tightly to materials, places or people is not always an easy thing to do. When we genuinely care about something or someone our natural instinct is to hold on tighter. Yet, when we do this we can sometimes overlook the bigger picture in life by consuming ourselves with just keeping that thing even if it no longer serves a purpose to us, or better yet has become a source of negativity. 

In relationships attachment is one of the most detrimental characteristics that one can display. While you’re so busy trying to hold captive your other half you’re blindly missing out on the wants and needs of your partner and yourself. When you feel threatened that he or she may leave, you focus all of your attention on keeping them there with you that you don’t stop to think of the reasoning behind their change of heart. You center in on what you perceive as the problem instead of focusing on what they would prefer….the solution. 

This is a selfish act and shows your partner (if only on a subliminal level) that your concern is not with him or her, nor is it with his or her feelings, but with you and only your feelings. 

Sometimes things just run their course and we have to accept that a situation is no longer suiting for us. When you grow out of your favorite pair of shoes you don’t keep trying to squish your feet into them. You go out and buy a pair that fits. (Unless you want to severely disfigure your toes 😉)

It’s as simple as that yet really hard at the same time. 


Imagine yourself on a vessel floating in the ocean on a clear sunny day, approaching a tiny island that looks glorious from a distance. As you get closer you see that it has trees filled with colorful fruits of all kinds and you’ve been starving for so long. 


You dock your boat and come ashore to feast. You lay in the golden sands with a belly full of sweetness and a satisfactory grin across your face; proud of your new discovery. You fall asleep in the warm rays of the sun and dream peacefully and then awake under a star filled sky to the sound of your boat rocking
against the gentle current and decide to stay a while on this island. You feel complete and content and see no reason to rush off back into the open sea not knowing again when you will find sustenance. 


Days go by, as do weeks and then a month or two has passed. The small island has become a comfortable place for you but the nourishment that it has so generously been offering is no longer replenishing and you realize the trees have grown bare. 


You truly cherished every minute that you spent walking or lounging about, the salt water breezes that blew gently through your hair as you dozed off during mid morning naps. The beautiful palms that stood majestically alongside others that leaned right down almost as if offering their goods like a welcoming host. The little berry filled bushes that huddled together like children in a playground telling secrets. It was a magical place and one that you couldn’t bare the thought of leaving. Yet, as the days wore on and your stomach grew loud you knew that as much as you loved this place that it could no longer serve you. For if you stayed you would surely perish. 
So, with an aching heart and a nostalgic last glance you float back out to sea unsure of your next finding but confident in your decision to leave your last. 


You may hit choppy waters or you may sail smooth seas. The fish might be biting one day but not the next. The point is that you have to keep moving when you realize that your growth depends upon it. Even if you’re moving out into uncharted territory. 

This is the discipline of non-attachment…….knowing when to let go for the greater good of yourself. 

Wax on….Wax off

I’d like to think of all my experiences in life as having a greater, truer meaning than just the most visible one at the time.
That no matter what crossroads I’m at, what roadblock I’ve hit or what door closes in my face, the real lesson is hidden somewhere in there and will eventually reveal itself in its own due time. Almost as if I  am under the tutelage of my own invisible Mr. Myagi. (This waxing on and waxing off stuff is becoming monotonous………but soon I shall see why it is so important)

Knowing or at least having faith that every person, place or thing has its reason for being in your life is a very comforting feeling. Whether you can see the good in a breakup, the strength gained in a breakdown, or having the patience to wait for the rainbow after the storm can be the difference of giving up or keeping on.

So many of our life situations seem at the time to be something so significant that they are going to literally make or break us. One of my favorite sayings that I have heard over time is:

“Will this really matter 5 years from now?”

When you have the chance to look at things with this perspective it allots you the opportunity to go back in time (say 5 years…….or maybe more) and remember things that you thought were sure to be the demise of you. Things that you couldn’t see being able to pull through…….but you did! Ahhhhh,  what an amazingly accomplished feeling that it is to be able to view in hindsight how your own blinders deceived you but your heart and mind pulled through that situation despite self doubt and you even learned a valuable life lesson as a bonus!

One of the major hiccups thus far in my life was my divorce. They say that divorce is one of the most painful and despairing occurrences in someone’s life. I would absolutely have to agree. Yet, somehow, through struggle, learned strength, self love and appreciation, time alone and failure not being presented as an option, I was able to pull out of the depths of my darkness and not only see the light at the end of the tunnel but be my own guiding light through that tunnel.

The toughest part about it was that I did it without the support of anyone. Most people have friends and family to coddle them, kidnap them and whisk them off to places of happiness to forget the pain when it’s at it’s worst, or just lay down next to them and cry. * This really wasn’t the case for me, and for that reason I believe I am a stronger individual because of it.

This application of changing your perspective and repeating that quote from above can help you in so many aspects of your life. You can even alter it a bit in order to suit your situation. Instead of say “Will this really matter 5 yrs from now?” you can say “How will this affect my life’s progress 5 yrs from now?” From drug/alcohol addictions, relationship choices, financial decisions, all the way down to how you raise your children. (To which is a point I think worthy of making note of.)

Teach your children this same quote. Teens especially make not so great decisions that they just can’t seem to grasp will eventually hurt them. If this tiny quote can run through their minds before they get into a car with a drunken friend, are tempted by the peer pressure of having sex or using drugs/alcohol, or even a simple decision as to who they choose as their friends, then it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

However, despite our best efforts to keep the negative at bay, we all experience things at certain times and have people meet up with us on our life path that can bring us great joy or great sorrow. It’s these situations that we must truly learn from, appreciate and use as our guide to continue on our road to progression; sculpting a new and improved you, filled with knowledge and experience (no matter how bleak that moment might seem)

Remember, every person and everything has its place in your life if it is there, be it short or long term. Welcome it’s lessons and never forget them because those annoying brush strokes up and down your teachers wooden fence might soon be the defensive blocking techniques that you need for a later life situation……metaphorically speaking of course.

*It is important for me to pay homage to an unassuming individual that proved herself to be a solid and faithful friend despite her busy and hectic schedule. To this day she continues to be one of the very few people in this world who continuously surprises me with her loyalty, love and commitment to our friendship. To her I am thankful and cannot express the gratitude in my heart for the few moments when I needed her and she stopped at nothing to be there. You know who you are.

Brain Train

   

  
So you think you’re in good shape?

You take care of your body and workout everyday (or most days). You do your cardio for the health of your heart. You lift weights to strengthen, tone and build your muscles. You may even do yoga to increase your flexibility. Eating clean is how you nourish yourself and keep the fat at bay. Good for you!

With all of this it might appear to the average onlooker that you really take good care of yourself. But do you? 

Is it possible that you could be neglecting one of the most important parts of your body? Well, if your mental health is not on your list of priorities then you most definitely are. 

Your brain is the power source of your entire body. The absolute motherboard of it all. Yet, so many of us neglect to train and keep this precious organ healthy. 

Putting effort into making your body operate at its optimal level is a wonderful and commendable thing to do, but what about from the neck up? Think about how much of an impact your mental health plays on your day to day life. Without getting too technical, your brain is responsible for the motivation you need to get out of bed in the morning. It’s responsible for the ability of all movements of your body parts, your emotions, your memory, digestion and ummmmm……your breathing! 

Need I speak more to the importance of maintenance to this priceless machine? I didn’t think so. 

So, we now know that we’ve been neglecting a very significant portion of our being in our quest for overall health, but how can we start to take care of it so that it too, is as fit as the rest of the body?Below are a few ways that you can train your brain to be at its best. 

1.) Mental breaks– Don’t ignore the signs of mental exhaustion. Your brain needs a rest every now and again too. If you are unable to jet set around the world and lounge on white sands, or relax in a hot spring in Iceland, don’t fret. Taking a simple day off from your normal routine (i.e. utilizing that personal day at work, taking your Saturday to do nothing at all, or even sitting still a while without worrying about the laundry, the bills or the roof caving in) can really give your mind an amazing and much needed reboost. 

2.) Sleep– I know it seems like such a simple thing to do but most of us get way less sleep time than our brains require to properly function. So put down your cell phones and laptops, shut off your t.v. (matter-of-fact, get it out of your bedroom altogether) and get the most of those zzz’s. 

3.) Speak to a professional– Address anxiety, depression, and any other mental disorders you believe you have with your doctor. Don’t just power through them. Know that it is normal to feel down at times, anxious at others and irritable too, but if the negatives outweigh the positives then it’s time to reach out for help. 

4.) Challenge yourself– Learn something new everyday. Just because you’re a sports fanatic doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in the fine arts. If you love rock music try listening to some Bach or Beethoven every now and again. Turning off your usual Friday night viewing of Law & Order to see what the history channel has to offer might prove to be an interesting leap. 

Keep your mind open to new things and old things alike. Break free from the monotony of your life and realize that there is a whole world of knowledge and exciting things that are yours for the taking. 

5.) Read– Delving into a good book can actually provide a mental escape from whatever might be going on in your life at the time that seems like a bit too much to handle. It’s a mental transport to a different environment, one of your own choosing. Make it a good one!

6.) Laugh– Nothing feels better than a painful belly aching laugh. No matter what is going through your mind if you can laugh even a little you are giving your brain a moment of happiness. Talk to your funniest friend, put on your favorite sitcom or watch some good stand up. Smiling releases endorphins in the brain that literally tricks it into happiness. 

7.) Unlearn Multitasking– Research shows that the brain is biologically incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. We just rapidly shift our focus from one thing to the next, making it appear that we are simultaneously concentrating on multiple thoughts when we are actually just dropping one and picking up the next. 

Learning to complete each physical or mental task and focus entirely on it while doing so will be more beneficial to the outcome of whatever that task is. This in turn will also allow for our brain to have a little break from the incessant juggling. Remember, “a jack of all trades is a master of none”. One thing at a time!

8.) Acquire new info- Learn a new intstrument, pick up an old one, or discover a talent you never knew you had. Developing new abilities and learning new things literally changes brain functioning, rewires neurons, and improves memory. 

9.) Find beauty in everything– Lets face it, everything is not entirely beautiful, but there is beauty in everything. Just the other night I was walking through a darkened littered tunnel over train tracks heading to my car after work. Coming out of the tunnel on either side of me was city junk. The subway cars covered in graffiti, trains and tracks, empty beer cans, rubbish everywhere and a typical dirty water filled channel underneath the bridge below my feet where the homeless find refuge along its rocky and debris filled shore. As I looked over into the murkiness below I saw two ducks side by side floating happily together as if they were basking in the sun while floating on a crystal clear lake up in the mountains instead of under a darkened night sky drifting along with pollution of every kind. They were at peace in their own beautiful way despite their surroundings. Their serenity reflected on to me, if only for a moment. This was a diamond in the rough kind of moment. 

10.) Eliminate toxicity– Just as you would eliminate cheeseburgers and pizza from your diet, you should also eliminate any toxic relationships that you have for the sake of your mental well being. You don’t have to think too long or too hard to figure out who in your life leaves you feeling more depleted than fulfilled after even a simple conversation. Friends, foes, or family alike, everyone is human and all are subject to the traits that can make them toxic. Identify these people and distance yourself for your own sake.

11.) Replace the “C” in medication with     a “T”– Of all the mentioned brain training activities on the list, this one is by far the most effective. 

In medical science medication has its place and has helped numerous people with all types of disorders. Yet, it appears that more and more doctors these days would just assume dismiss you with a prescription (I like to think of this as “bandaiding” the bullet wound) instead of getting to the root of the problem and working on it from the inside out, healing the ailment. 

This is where meditation comes into play. During meditation you are learning to calm your mind, sit with your thoughts, except things for what they are, releasing all expectations, and just being present in the moment. You learn to deal with internal and external conflicts with a more productive and rational approach. 

Upon starting the practice it is very hard to silence the mind from the persistent thinking that it is so used to, but there are many helpful aids that you can use to assist you. The Internet is filled with all sorts of videos and audios of relaxing music and guided meditations. 

12.) “Progress not perfection”– This last one I dedicate to someone I love very dearly. This amazing individual often replies to my possibly annoying and frequent reminders of behavioral change with the phrase “progress not perfection”. 

In hearing this I am always reminded that perfection is unattainable and that as long as we know this we won’t get caught up in taxing and sometimes impossible expectations, relieving our minds of unnecessary stress. This a good way to remind your brain that you appreciate it and all that it does to keep your entire self whole and sustained. 

Things My Mother Taught Me After She Was Gone

  
 There is no secret about it. I was raised by a single father. It was just my brother, sister and myself growing up with my dad doing the very best he could with what he had. My sister Alyssa, the eldest, was always a good student and a respectfully obedient child. My brother John was “the baby” for as long as I can remember and incapable of doing anything wrong (In his defense he actually never did). He just played with his Hot Wheels and kept to himself. I on the other hand, well, let’s just say that I was the “middle” child and came with all the implications that this title usually holds. For the sake of unnecessary over sharing and self incrimination I will just leave it at that.

 My mom left when we were all very young so our childhood was missing some very significant aspects that only a mother can provide. However, the three of us adapted accordingly and grew in our own ways into adulthood. My sister took the high road; excelling in high school, going to college and moving out. My brother,”the baby”, took what I guess could be considered the middle road and did what he had to in order to get by. Yours truly took all of the OTHER roads.

 I learned what I needed to know to be a functioning adult. I always had a job and was able to pay my bills. Yet I lacked direction and a better understanding of who I was as an individual. I lacked appreciation for things I never knew to be grateful for.

 Heading out of my twenties I discovered Buddhism after reading a book that lightly touched upon it. I started studying more and more into this religion as I found its basic principles and application intriguing. Throughout my research (along with many other things of course) I realized that living in the moment, having gratitude, finding the good in everyone and accepting that the steering wheel is not always in our hands were really important lessons to learn and remember in life. 

These four things were revisited and took on a whole new meaning in June 2015.

1. Being with my mother in the hospital for the 2 weeks before she passed, and directly following her passing, forced me to be centered and in the moment. As I sat there watching her barely able to talk I could only “just be”. In the practice of mindfulness this is usually the goal. However, it took my mother’s position in that bed to truly make me present. Present in the way where everything around me had its own recognizable scent, sight and sound separately and all at once. 

2. My mother’s passing made me realize the significance of my sister. I am absolutely sure that I have never in my life appreciated my sisters existence as I did at that time. It was as if we were one; in the sense that both our emotions mirrored one another exactly. I truly felt that I was not alone, but completely sharing this experience in every way possible with her. I was so grateful that my mother gave her to me, or me to her for that matter.

3. During the writing of my mother’s eulogy I found it hard to dig up the normal memories that most children have of their mothers. After all, I had a very unorthodox childhood and my mother was absent for a better portion of it.

I searched deeply for a way to honor this woman the best I could and realized something that I never noticed before. Despite any of her shortcomings, my mother was a free spirit. She lived for every day and did exactly what made her happy no matter what people thought. It is especially difficult to do this since most of us always restrict ourselves out of fear of some consequences or what people might think if we do these things we want. So not only is this a unique quality it’s a brave one as well, and one that I deeply admire.

4. There was absolutely nothing I could do for my mother at this point. The liver damage was too great and this was it. All I could do was just sit there and allow things to flow in the direction in which they were going; resistance was futile. Passenger seat taken.

Andrea Brown 6/9/59-6/23/15

Please Pardon My Appearance While Under Construction

image

Do you ever wonder when you are going to be enough? Enough as in the complete, finished and perfect you. When your body is going to be at its peak performance and optimal physical appearance. Your bank account has multiple zeros in it preceded by a few other digits (without a negative sign before it!). Your house is in order, swept, polished and clean. The bills aren’t past due and the car is paid off. Do you envision a time when you’re caught up with everything at work, your looking good and feeling even better?

We often tell ourselves that by next month I’ll have all my ducks in order. As soon as summer hits my beach body will be living proof of all my hard work at the gym. Once I get that raise I will be caught up with all my debts. I’ll be at my best when I find the perfect partner. I’ll be happier when I’ve reached all of my goals.

Well if you do then I have some news for you. You will never be perfect! All the stars will not align in such a manner that your entire life list of personal and professional accomplishments will be reached in absolute harmony.

A little pessimistic you say? How about realistic! This is not a negative thing people. What it means is that we are always growing. We are always learning. Our needs change, as do our perspectives and ambitions. If they didn’t we would still be little kids in the school yard running around with the hopes that we would grow up to be fairies and superheroes.

As human beings we are constantly under construction. Sometimes we have setbacks that force us to have to start from scratch in one area of our life or another. We have epiphanies that make us reevaluate our lives. We even meet new people, some so special that they have the ability to change our view of the world as we have always seen it. These are the things that make living so interesting, so amazing and so exciting.

We graduate high school with what we think is an idea of where we are headed. We either go to college to study a specific field, decide to take a break and find our passion while traveling abroad, or maybe we work in the family business. Then some years go by and we realize that we just don’t feel fulfilled. We decide that we need to make a change so we go back to school to learn a new trade, we convert to a new religion because the one we were raised with doesn’t seem to make sense anymore, or we marry and start a family realizing that being a stay at home mom is way more gratifying than sitting in a cubicle working for an ungrateful boss while being underpaid.

Life is ever changing and with that knowledge we need to accept that we are never going to be perfectly finished, just that there is always room for improvement. So take the pressure off yourself and realize that what you once thought you needed to achieve to be happy and feel complete has changed or most likely will change. Embrace the fact that who you are right now is just a person under construction and the project doesn’t have a completion date.