Seek Silence


Just yesterday I heard that our brains need silence for at least two hours a day.  Apparently, silence enhances memory, stimulates brain growth, relieves stress, helps us sleep, and makes us more sensitive to things around us.

Right now I am in a quiet place.  The only sounds are the air conditioner running, a fan, and the gentle click of my keyboard.  Full disclosure, I rarely seek out silence.    I turn the TV on early in the morning, and often have it on all day.  In the car I listen to the radio.   When I walk my dogs, I am constantly talking, to urge them along, to praise their good manners, to give a little reprimand.

No, silence isn’t something I seek often.  I know all the noise keeps me from hearing what I think, and keeps me from fully feeling my emotions.   Far too often, the distraction of noise is what I want, even need.  The noisy distraction keeps me from feeling alone and vulnerable.  Noisy distraction keeps me from noticing the empty places in my life.

Yet sometimes, I do seek the silence.  The silence I seek isn’t just an absence of sound, but the absence of any distraction. I unplug from the TV, phone and other devices.  I can read in silence, but that fills my mind.  No, the silence I seek makes no demands upon my attention, and leaves my mind free to explore its own thoughts.

This is the silence that helps me puzzle out my problems, and find solutions.  The quiet that brings thoughts of those I love.  The silence that reveals my hopes and dreams.  The silence that brings peace, where my own thoughts are revealed and creativity is born.

A thought occurs to me.  What if I awake in the middle of the night to just have a little silence to think, find peace and creativity?

May you also find rest, peace, and creativity in silence.

Now is Sanctuary

It has been a week!  A wonderful, noisy, busy, wild week.  Grandchildren were here.   We sewed, cooked, and played.  Nobody slept enough.  We were just working things out and establishing a routine when the week ended.  Each of the three children had their own sanctuary from separation and homesickness.  My grandson found sanctuary in his electronic devices.  Little sister found sanctuary in drawing and coloring.  Older sister found sanctuary doing the hair of her Americn Girl doll (practice for her own hair).

Oma (me) found sanctuary in being surrounded by people I  love.  Instead of dwelling on the frustrations of life, I focused only on them.  I focused on each moment present with them.

Live fully in the present moment, appreciate the feel of fabrics and surfaces, focus on the people and emotions of the present.  In my experience, living in the present moment is the best way to release stress and anxiety.    Maybe some examples would help illustrate.

Going into a job interview?  Put on your best smile, it’s show time.  Instead of borrowing trouble over how you will be judged wanting, spend your time really focusing on your surroundings and the interviewer.  You say you aren’t prepared. That is the past.  Focus on making that connection when you meet.  Focus on the interviewer.  Listen to each comment and question.  Save your analysis for later.

Confronted with a phobia?  Spiders?  Notice the spider’s color, its pattern, how it weaves its web, what may have been snared.  You may become so fascinated that you forget your fear.

The present moment can be your sanctuary, if you banish the mistakes and hurts of the past, and refuse to fret over the future.

(Picture  of the grandchildren playing Fantasia on Xbox.   Included with permission of Mom.)

Spinning Plates

Just when you think you have everything in life going smoothly, everything goes sideways.  Things still look normal to anyone outside, but the internal turmoil obliterates peace and focus.  You keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You do all the normal things, not as well, but you struggle to keep going forward.  Everything becomes hard.

Without focus, intention becomes mist and goals become far away dreams.  Operating in the dreamy mist things are dropped, misplaced, forgotten, broken, and daily life becomes a nightmarish prison.   You may call it the blues, being out of sorts, anxiety, or  depression.  Others may call it being negative, or wrong thinking, while you call it being realistic, and seeing things as they are.

How it starts can be mysterious.   One day you feel okay, and you are keeping all of your plates spinning.  Then an unkind word, a thoughtless gesture, a demand that requires immediate attention and external pressures cause distractions, and the plates start to wobble.   For awhile it looks like you will get all your plates spinning again, but there is always another plate to get started, and always another plate starts to wobble.  Until finally, you either stop the plates one by one, or the plates come crashing down.

Fortunately, all things come to an end, and rest goes a long way to setting things right again.  Yes it is cliché, because it is so true, but what you need to do is relax, let go, stop trying to control everything, and give it time.   You may need a little separation from those emotional issues, so take some time, let go and regroup.  Some things must run their course, and all your effort to force an earlier resolution will only add to your troubles.  Some plates need to be allowed to drop.  Some things are beyond your control, no matter how much effort you expend.

Once you are rested life won’t be such a nightmare.  You will be able to see things in a more realistic and focused  way.  Your anxiety and frustration won’t dominate every situation.  You will stop reacting to every wobble as if it is a terrible disaster.  You will have perspective, and renewed energy.

And I will be able to read this very good advice over and over again the next time I feel things are spinning out of control.


Home Sweet Home

I shoveled two inches of snow off my walk the day before we left for our time in paradise.  I came home to spring.

Daffodils, Magnolias, Red-buds, and other flowering tree were all in bloom.  I’ve been home a week, and white petals are falling and drifting like snow, and leaf buds are bursting in green. Winter is behind us.

Vacations give us a break from everyday concerns.  Personal conflicts are left behind, obligations set aside, commitments put on hold when we go on vacation, and we can focus on relaxation, fun, and just enjoying a worry free moment.

But we do have to come back to real life. While I was having fun in the sun, life went on, and those things left unresolved and unfinished were waiting. The demands of jobs and family, navigating though conflict, dealing with traffic, negotiating compromises, and coping  with frustration did not all magically disappear.  Dealing with hundreds of e-mails, getting caught up on social media, finding out just how necessary you are at your job because everything is falling apart without you (or not), cutting the lawn, feeding the pets, laundry, cooking, and catching up on the news, are just a few of the things being home again means.

While we were gone, our friends and family were dealing with difficulties.  We missed the water advisory and boil notices.  People got sick or injured, and some were hospitalized.  Legal items came up for review.  The stuff of life, relationships, and our modern world played out without us, and now we are back, and being swept along with the currents, including coming back to a tiny new granddaughter, Marlie Marie, born on St. Patrick’s day.

Vacation gives a break from the everyday, and is a time of rest and rejuvenation.  The trick of life is not to run away and escape our problems, but to seek out the rest and rejuvenation offered to us each day.  Comfortable routine provides a framework for keeping us on track and getting things accomplished.  The lesson of vacation is to take time to enjoy the peace and promise in a sunrise, and time to enjoy the beauty of the season, new life, and moments of love.  Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish a goal, take pride in accomplishing something difficult.  You can’t know everything, do everything, be perfect, so be forgiving of your own failings and those of others.  Stop trying to control every outcome.

Make time for yourself.   Breath.  Enjoy the magnificence of our world and the life around us.  Laugh, love, forgive.  Be at peace and bring that peace to all things.  And when it gets to much…take a little vacation.









Medicated, meditative, and decaffeinate and still I spend some nights searching for that which is lost, forgetting where I have to be next, and missing those important tests.  Buffeted by storms, and naked before the world, I struggle against every obstacle.  It is enough to make me miss the haunted mansion with rooms full of furniture of every time period and every style. The ghosts aren’t so bad, once you get to know and understand them, and I get to shop their furniture for my rooms (the ghosts are usually willing to share).

It could be nothing more than my worry over the problems of my grown children.  These problems are not my problems and I can’t solve nor prevent their problems, but I am still concerned for them, as I always have been.  Or it could be the misunderstanding at work over the dress code, where I volunteer, for no money.  It could be the uncertainty of trying to envision and create the next stage of my life, which is full retirement and about 18 months away.   It could be watching the news, full of hate, with violence entering into places we should feel safe, as in our churches, schools, parks and movie theaters.

I don’t think I am all that unusual.  The heightened anxiety of Americans is driven by international tensions as well as conflicts at home.

We worry about our privacy, our safety, and we don’t know how to protect ourselves.    This is not making us more thoughtful, and polite to each other. This heightened level of anxiety is making everyone suspicious, and trigger happy. Our schools treat our children as if they are all potential assassins, and lock downs are not just for prisons anymore, but something our children must cope with in their schools.   Those who prepare for the apocalypse, are preparing for themselves, not their neighbors.

We need to look out for each other.  Which means we need to get to know each other, and help each other before trouble strikes.

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