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People at bicycling event

People at bicycling event

“All of our lives we compete… and call it “success.”… But it is not so much the striving that is the problem as it is the sacrifice of all the other dimensions of life in order to achieve it. We sacrifice our own opinions, our own desires, our own interests, our own personal goals to meet the needs of people around us, and in the end, we sacrifice the burgeoning of the self for the brass rings of the social system… “ ~ Joan Chittister, “The Gift of Years”

I am reading The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister, a book about “becoming” after retirement. Much of what I’ve read so far is about the freedom that comes from being outside the corporate world, where image matters so much. But I’m still in that world, and I know how much that makes me feel like I have to censor myself, although I’m not sure I do all that great of a job at it. Imagine how I would be if the censor was completely shut off…

One small example of this is how I’ve kept the link to my blog out of my LinkedIn profile because my blog self doesn’t fit the image of a woman anyone would want to hire for what I do. Nowadays, anyone doing hiring does web searches on a prospect and they would find my Twitter and Facebook and Website accounts, but I don’t want to make it too easy. Let’s call that denial…

There’s nothing wrong with this kind of work life/personal life separation. It’s often necessary to compartmentalize our lives for own safety and well being. But still, this has always felt false to me. The older I get, the more it bugs me.

It’s not like I’m being looked at for promotions or as someone to grow into an executive position, but I do need to keep my job. And yet I balk at hiding so many of the things that are important to me. Do I really want to protect a job or the chance for a future job that wouldn’t accept human mistakes, flaws, opinions, and general shit-happens kind of stuff?

“The purpose of a job is to make a living, not to make a life. Making a life is something we’re meant to do beyond the role. This is the part of life in which we work at succeeding at all the other dimensions of what it means to be alive.” ~ Joan Chittister, “The Gift of Years”

The meaning of success changes throughout a life. Often we follow society’s definition. If we’re lucky (or smart) we define it ourselves. I don’t want to wait until retirement to begin living in a deeper, more meaningful way. I want that now.

As some of us gather together today to give thanks, I hope we will open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, who have had shit happen — people we may be uncertain of, look down on or even be afraid of. What you are thankful for today will depend on your situation:

  • Whether you are in the thick of it but thankful for a friend or partner or child in your life or the food on the table.
  • Or whether you are living comfortably and are thankful because you have come through a difficult time and are feeling well deserved peace.
  • And if you can’t find anything to be thankful for, it’s likely you are depressed and I hope you find help because that’s a hell of a place to be.

I’m thinking about all of you today, whatever your situation, and hoping you also won’t have to wait until retirement to find the “other dimensions of what it means to be alive.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

dog sitting on step

dog running

dog running

A body in motion
will remain in motion
until it is no longer in motion
at which point
it will stop

dog

A dream
will remain a dream
until enough actions
accumulate
to make it solid

dog running

At which point
a new dream
is pulled out of the clouds
down to earth
where it once again puts

dog running

A body in motion
that will remain in motion
until it is no longer in motion
at which point
it will stop

dog

Java, Latte, Steve and I wish you a Happy ‘Come On In 2015!’ New Year celebration and small daily “yahoos” ever after.

horse eating hay

horse eating hay

(I don’t have any photos of reindeer, so pictures of Luke will have to do…)

As I sat getting my hair trimmed at the salon and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” boomed through the sound system, I thought of poor Rudolph and how no one let him join in any reindeer games. Until one foggy Christmas Day, Rudolph saved Christmas by lighting the way.

“Then all the reindeer loved him.”

Seriously!? What the heck!? So the only way anyone appreciates someone’s differences is if it suddenly becomes useful? Shouldn’t Rudoph’s nose have been seen as a unique, endearing feature of his being?

But then, that is the point of the story, isn’t it? Both Rudolph and the little elf who wanted to be a dentist instead of a toy maker, but who I think is actually selling Keebler cookies now, had to go on a journey and face great danger and difficulty, to discover for themselves their strength and worth.

horse eating hay

But even if Rudolph hadn’t saved the day, say he had a bright nose but couldn’t fly worth a darn, wouldn’t Christmas still have happened without Santa dropping off toys to all the boys and girls of the world? If we really believe in the spirit of Christmas and giving and waiting in darkness for light to arrive, and not just in black Friday and cyber Monday, then the presence or absence of Santa wouldn’t make any difference at all.

Magic is magic. Holy is holy. Whatever your beliefs.

Enjoy whatever time you have with friends and family rather than looking at it as a chore. (I’m saying this as much for for me as anyone else.)

And if your an extrovert, run off to the next party and have yourself a ball.

And if you are an introvert like me, end the day by relaxing in a comfy chair with a good book and a cup of cocoa (perhaps with a shot of Baileys) and listen to the silence of winter.

And whatever and wherever you are, I hope you carry thoughts of peace on earth, goodwill towards all.

Have a very, merry Christmas, Hanukkha, Winter Solstice, etc., etc., etc.

horse eating hay

 

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