What do We Deserve?

“Entitlement gets us nothing but heartache. It blinds us to what’s possible […] most of all, it lets us off the hook, pushing us away from taking responsibility (and action) and toward apportioning blame and anger instead.” -Seth Godin

Advertising would have us believe that whatever it is they are selling promising the fulfillment of our desires is not only something we need, but also deserve. You’ve come a long way baby, you deserve that cigarette. Virginia Slims made a lot of money in the 70’s persuading women to smoke based on the psychology of entitlement. Loreal continues to do something similar with the tag line “you’re worth it.” But we need to be careful with the idea that we deserve anything. Why? Because it’s counter productive to proceed in life with an orientation which concerns itself primarily with “what’s in it for me?”

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Stoking Our Fire

We give a lot of lip service to the idea of self-care, but I think in reality we fail to take the need for it as seriously as we take our obligations to work, work and, well … more work.

I have been in my life, among other things, a massage therapist and so I am familiar with the results of the failure to take good care of ourselves – tight muscles, lack of flexibility, moodiness, the inability to think well, perform well and general malaise. This can be avoided, but it means we need to alter our mindset around the deification of work and what it mean to live a good life.

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Beginnings and Endings

It’s that time of year again where we assess life as was, and look forward to what will be. Old disappointments lie dormant, buried, the detritus out of which hopes for the future inevitably sprout taking us we know not where.

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Taking Up the Fullness of Our Humanity

“The interesting person isn’t someone to whom obviously and outwardly interesting things have happened, someone who has travelled the world, met important dignitaries or been present at large geo-political events. Nor is it someone who speaks in learned terms about the weighty themes of culture, history or science. They are someone who has grown into an attentive, self-aware listener and a reliable honest correspondent of the tremors of their own mind and heart, and who can thereby give us faithful accounts of the pathos, drama and strangeness of being alive.” –Alain de Boton

We live in strange, mind-bending and, yes, even wondrous times. It’s especially important to remember the last one as frustration, despair and fear can all too easily hijack our senses, warping and distorting our perceptions of life such that we lose sight of its inherent beauty.

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Loving Without Labels

The temptation to name something before it has had time to ripen sufficiently and reveal a little of its complex flavours is nearly overwhelming. We LOVE the idea of being in control more than being out of control in the domain of daily uncertainty, but loving and being loved is a gentle art requiring some sleight of hand, some watching, some waiting and a good deal of receptivity to what blossoms between us, especially when it doesn’t seem to match the dictates of our narrow desires or the strict categories of social messaging.

Loving ultimately seems to require some adeptness at simply being love. Far too often we get caught up in the self-imposed games of grasping and aversion and, of course, this sort of approach can only render loving and being loved an inherently unstable entity. Thus, disappointment. Thus, the edict to be love.

Be the love you wish to see in the world.

 

 

Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

The US post-election results are sobering (for some of us) with the news that Donald J. Trump is now (whaaat!!) president-elect. I’m not one to spend a lot of time bemoaning facts, tempting as that is, best just get on with the mental and emotional business of adjusting to this new reality in preparation for whatever is in store. We are, of course, all hoping that he will not turn out to be the disastrous leader he seems in many ways to promise to be, that his decisions will reflect more than his personal views, preferences, values and biases.

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Claiming Ownership of Our Lives

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
―Toni Morrison, Beloved

I love this quote. And it makes me wonder – why is it that it always seems to feel safer to spend time in angry complaint about a situation than to choose to do something about it and be left with the much harder work of taking real ownership, of facing ourselves and all the dirty work of that which is our particular constellation of burdens to bear? Maybe as long as we stay mired down in a situation doing nothing but the busywork of putting out various ‘fires’, we at least feel reassured to have the appearance of one who is taking responsibility. But real responsibility requires more than resigning ourselves to a life of indentured servitude to situations that clearly come at the expense of our peace, vitality and well being.

Claiming freedom from situations that may have grown toxic over time (or were toxic to begin with) is never simple, pleasant or easy. No one may clap when you have made and executed on the decision you know in your bones you needed to make. The reward is intrinsic in nature; it’s called self-respect. It’s also called being true to yourself which involves following through on the ancient dictum to know thyself.

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