Material girl.

Dear friends,

I tripped across this quote while reading yesterday and couldn’t help sharing it with you today.

A bit of Friday inspiration, perhaps?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in recent years contemplating attachments — and how to rid myself of them. I haven’t been all that successful, honestly. I’m attached to so many material things — food, clothes, trinkets. (Isn’t it ironic how material things are really so immaterial?) Mostly, though, I’m attached to outcomes.

As if.

As if I control anything — but still, I attach myself to my notions of how everything in my orbit should turn.

I’m learning. Really I am.

And gems like the one above help me. Help me to remember that I’m trying to steer my boat by love and attachment is the opposite direction.

So I must run. Gotta turn my boat around.

With gratitude {for universal reminders sprinkled throughout the universe},

Joan, who invites you to read the full article at tricycle

Sunrise.

Dear friends,

Source: Say it Sweet

I had a dispiriting day yesterday.

The reason isn’t important because we all experience them, don’t we? Sometimes it’s a work issue. Other times it’s a family problem. Or the dishwasher stops working. Or the dog gets sick. Whatever the reason, we sometimes have days that disappoint us, make us lose confidence, cause us to question what we believe about ourselves and our abilities.

Lately, when I have that kind of day, I go looking for words of inspiration and encouragement. Sometimes I find them as posters on Pinterest. Etsy is another good place. And my favorite Buddhist books and websites usually give me a lift, too. I’ve even been known to Google my particular disappointment and see what pops up — and like an encouragement lottery, I sometimes find a winning ticket or at least an interesting path to follow.

Yesterday, I tripped across the canvas above on an Etsy shop.  God bless Victor Hugo, because I really needed the reminder that sometimes, you just need to let the sun go down on your disappointment.

You’ve likely figured out by now I have a tendency to over-analyze. I mean, who else but a hopelessly introspective individual would publish a gratitude journal for all to see? And like most traits, my tendency toward self-analysis can be both a strength and a frailty, depending on the day.

Self-reflection has at times given me more empathy, more humility, more patience. And it has also driven those closest to me to distraction with my tendency to “talk it all out.” Really, you can’t just argue with me. Because then you have to dissect the argument. Discuss the motivations of the participants. Reflect on the outcome and opportunities for improvement. Have a meta-argument. (Did I mention my graduate degree is in Psychology? Top that with an interest in self-help techniques and an endless curiosity about spiritual beliefs of all faith traditions and . . . yeah, I’m one of those people. I suspect some folks wish I would just curse at them and storm out of the room. It’s certainly more efficient.)

Anyway, I spent the better part of yesterday obsessing about this particular setback until I decided some time around 8:00 pm that I was done with it. I turned my attention elsewhere and let the sun go down on it.

I’m not fooling myself. The matter is messy and unresolved and I have to pick it back up again at another time or it will continue to fester. But on Wednesday night, I bid it bon nuit and released myself from the responsibility of absorbing it any longer.

And Thursday morning . . . well, the sunrise looks a little brighter today.

With gratitude {for words of wisdom sprinkled throughout the universe},

Joan, who once took an aptitude test and was told she should be a writer or a psychologist and can’t figure out how in the world she ended up as neither

Says who?

Dear Friends,

Source: Best Made, available here

A couple of nights ago Mr. Mom and I were watching the local news.

This was, in itself, newsworthy. We never watch the local news for reasons that could fill another post but will become clear in just a moment.

For the weather lead-in, the female anchor said “It’s a rainy and miserable night out there, folks.”

To which Mr. Mom shouted “Says who?”

I looked at the man talking to my television, but he was clearly not done yet. “Really!” he continued. “By whose definition is it miserable?”

I wasn’t sure what surprised me most — a broadcaster declaring my evening “miserable” or Mr. Mom arguing with the broadcaster. (He’s really not the quarrelsome type, not to mention he generally avoids televised knotheads.)

Mr. Mom left the room, then, but I contemplated the point for a good 24 hours, reflecting on what makes people think they’re miserable.

Surely not a little mid-winter rain, do you think?

I could go on and on about the power of words, about the self-fulfilling prophecy of negative thinking, about the necessity of gratitude to positively shape one’s life, but instead of launching into what would probably be a very dry lecture, I think I’ll share this little gem instead, from Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine:

Whatever your difficulties . . . you can always remember that you are free in every moment to set the compass of your heart to your highest intentions. In fact, the two things that you are always free to do—despite your circumstances—are to be present and to be willing to love.

Oh, how those words sent joy pulsing through me. Just think, your heart has a compass and you are free — in every moment — to set it to your highest intention.

Have you ever heard anything so revolutionary? So empowering? So potentially potent?

And if it’s true, if we may chart our course by the nobility of our hearts, then there is really only one relevant question in our lives:

Why don’t we do it . . .

Every.

Single.

Day?

With gratitude {for the power of words to awaken and enlighten us},

Joan, who has always thought cock-eyed optimism is peculiarly underrated

Just breathe.

Dear Friends,

I tripped across these words of wisdom yesterday on – of all places – Facebook:

One way to handle the impulses that bind us to suffering is through cognitive intervention. If we’re behind the wheel and another driver cuts us off, leans on his horn, or otherwise drives provocatively, we can construct a narrative to explain his aggressiveness: “He’s late for something, and probably not for the first time. He’s desperate to get there, and you know yourself what that’s like!” The same line of creative speculation works in the face of any form of hostility: “She may have just lost her job,” or “He just had a fight with his wife.” These kinds of stories, even if fanciful, offer us some breathing room, interrupting the reaction chain that binds us to suffering.   — Bodhin Kjolhede, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

There are two thoughts from this passage that really resonate with me. The first is: breathing room. In today’s fast-paced, uber-connected, over-indulgent world, it seems like we have such precious little space or encouragement to breathe. To reflect. To consider for one moment something other than our own immediate need or impulse.

Take Facebook, for example, which seems to offer as its chief attraction a fascinating and addicting milieu of low-brow instincts, mundane chatter and pseudo-aspirational bromides. I consider the site a virtual testament to a world increasingly devoid of impulse control and thoughtful reflection, though its entertainment value and instant gratification keep me coming back even as it depletes my world of oxygen.

The second is: impulses that bind us to suffering. I dare say you aren’t human if you claim you’ve never allowed aggression or insolence to beget your own rude response. The notion that my own thoughtless impulses bind me to suffering really stopped me in my tracks and begged the question – am I willing and able to interrupt the reaction chain?

I wish I had an answer for you but I don’t. I do have the impulse to give it a try . . . to search for more breathing room in my world and, in doing so, to create space for grace and kindness and joy for others in my orbit.

With gratitude {for wisdom that transcends my own},

Joan, who endeavors to breathe deeply every day

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