Category Archives: Living our best life

My North Star

Martha Beck always inspires me. Today on my walk she gave me some phrases to watch for in my daily life.*

I am dismayed by how many times I use the self-limiting words, “I have to,” and “I can’t” when I am actually living my own choices. Not even counting the times I say or think, “Yes, but…”?

Like the cartoon she cites of a man holding bars up to his own face with wide-open space behind him, I sometimes create my own prison. I make decisions about how I “should” act and what I “should” do based on old habits, old needs, and fear of change, when actually I have the privilege of living a life of love and freedom without confining myself in an imaginary structure.

I am a wife whose husband encourages me to live my best life. I am a mother and grandmother who has long ago fulfilled all duties but those of love and support. I am a friend of men and women who live their lives thoughtfully and with intention.

If I am led astray from the path to my own North Star it is only by my thinking…thinking…thinking…

The student

*This time I am listening to “Follow Your North Star” on Audible.

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Filed under Living our best life, More Teachers, Self-examination

The Beginning of Growth

P1050093In late November/early December I attended a retreat at Teotihuacan in Mexico. Although I was unfamiliar with the leaders of the retreat, I have studied Toltec Wisdom. And I was committed. My daughter-in-law had invited me to join her and I would never refuse the opportunity to be with her.

I knew that my attitude during the week could influence her enjoyment of the experience.. I must behave in a manner which would be helpful to her in this pursuit and not be an impediment. So when asked to state my intention for the retreat, I said with no hesitation, “To be open and without expectation”.

This shouldn’t have been so horribly difficult…except for my personality.
I am a seven on the enneagram. It is a part of my personality to be courageous and adventurous. At the same time, my self-preservation sub-type compels me to be very careful that my needs are met.  This means that I can take off to a new destination with a reservation for only one night – but must pack my soft pillow. I can live for a month in a house whose bathroom in the back yard and with no running water inside – but I must carry in a full supply of my favorite decaf c9ffee.
I was confident that I could take a deep breath, control any gritchiness, and enjoy the participants and leaders gathered in the B & B. And the people proved to be a delight. I found when I listened without judgment or agenda, I was treated to the very best of everyone.
The hard part was NEVER asking what was coming. I knew that if I could keep from plotting out each move in this retreat, I would have accomplished something momentous.  This may not sound difficult for those of you who don’t plan ahead, but trust me, it was huge for me.
I did not allow myself to ask the minimum of five burning questions each evening. “How long will we be gone tomorrow?” “Is there food available at the pyramids?” “Are we allowed…???” “Can we…?” “What if I…???”
Instead, each day I made the wisest possible decisions for weather and comfort and headed out in silent meditation, approaching the pyramids with my walking partner. Unguarded and open, I found myself savoring the beauty of the surroundings without worrying about my role in the retreat. I could do what was asked of me without concern of “doing it right” since I had not created criteria for what the result should be.
It was a glorious week and a glorious beginning for me. In the months since that retreat I have carried this intention with me in many situations. It is my mantra for being present and aware without being closed off in fear.
We never know from which direction our lessons are coming.
The Student

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Filed under Living our best life, Paths to Progress, Point Seven - The Epicure, World Religions

Happiness = Meaning = Happiness

“… happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself…” Viktor E. Frankl

This sounds like a core value and truth to me. The pursuit of happiness takes me down blind alleys of disappointment.

I have long known myself to be a purpose-driven person. I seek meaningful thought or action every day of my life. This brings me hours of what I would call contentment and mements of joy. That is happiness enough for me.

I can tell myself that my means escapism, numbing, resistance and avoidance are ways of taking me from my real life in an attempt to make myself happy. I know better, even as I am in such states.

And so I go back to my equation: meaning = happiness.

The Student

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Filed under Living our best life, More Teachers, Quotations