Sunday, March 28, 2010

choosing …

cup of tea“Thanks; I don’t drink. But I’ve brought my own tea.” (Big smile)

I’ve come to realize that making that statement of personal choice makes me feel strong and empowered. Any time that I make a statement or a choice that I feel is truly right for me at that moment—even if it’s contrary to what others may be doing—I feel that I’m standing within my more genuine self.

When I was younger, it was important to fit in with the “tribe” and be accepted. It’s probably a primal thing; at one time, being in a tribe provided safety, companionship, sharing, common bonds. One would assimilate into the operative norms of the tribe; to be cast out from it could mean danger, deprivation, loneliness, perhaps death.

So, like most of us, I adopted many of the behaviors of those around me. I adopted a sort of pseudo-self, one who went along with what most of my friends at the time did. I had 70s hair – like my friends. I got married shortly after high school – like my friends. In my 30s, I used to drink wine on occasion – like my friends.

Even decor-wise, I went along with the crowd for awhile. When I bought my home, the French Country look was big and really appealed to me, and so I painted the walls to look aged, used FC colors and patterns, bought FC accessories. It was all quite lovely; I enjoyed it, friends enjoyed it. It was pretty, comfortable, cozy.

After awhile, though, I realized that it wasn’t really me … and I painted the walls aqua, painted the trim crisp white, and added accents in chocolate and fresh green. I simplified accessories, made everything less busy and fussy, pared it all down. And I absolutely, totally love it. Simpler is better suited to my genuine self at this time.

As the years pass, I find myself releasing that pseudo-self more and asking my genuine self what it is that *I* like, what is it that *I* enjoy personally.

It’s pretty similar to when I was first divorced. I was so used to buying products and foods that we both agreed on as a couple (compromise is part of being a couple), that I had to consciously learn to buy products that I personally preferred because I didn’t have to share them with anyone else but my daughter.

I don’t abstain from alcohol for any moral or judgmental reason, for example. I have no problem with others drinking responsibly. Quite simply, I’ve just never really liked the way it affects me. I used to drink on occasion, but was never into it; I didn’t feel like me. My genuine self eventually realized that I just drank to be socially accepted in the crowd. My daughter used to laugh at me, though, because I’d nurse the same beer for an entire party – never fooled her!

I try to make more conscious decisions about my choices these days. What do *I* like? For beverages, I like tea. Preferably Yogi Tea Egyptian Licorice tea. Oh, sooooo good! If not that, then Good Earth Sweet & Spicy Tea. I’ve never tried chai tea, which seems to be quite popular. Being popular isn’t a reason for me to try things any longer, though. I love that my good friends all respect my choice to not drink alcohol. At a gathering recently, someone asked if I wanted a beer and my good buddy Chris told them, no, Rose drinks tea. Made me smile.

I find that I don’t follow the crowd like I used to, but try to find my own way more these days. I try to tap into my genuine self and define what is suitable for me. Hmmm … a nice cup of tea sounds so good right now …


Sunday, March 21, 2010

on acceptance …


“Receive what you are given.”

One of my yoga teachers, Peter, always had a way of saying things that resonated strongly with me. This was one of them, the idea of acceptance, of receiving both the good and the bad. I’ve meditated on this concept many, many times, unearthing its layers and meanings for my life. I use it several times a week to help guide me and my spirit with grace.

At my granddaughter’s softball game on Saturday, one of the parents complained to the coach that they’d only had one week to sell their fundraising items. The coach, of course, could do nothing about this, which the woman even acknowledged, but she went ahead and complained anyway. I thought it was pointless and felt that they were given a week; do the best that you can with it. And then contact the board and see how you can help next year to provide more time for fundraising. Complaining doesn’t change anything. The coach (who agreed with her) asked if anyone had had a chance to sell anything. My daughter said yes, she had. How much? he asked. “$180. And M (another mother) also sold $180.” Such a contrast: two mothers who received what they were given and moved with it in grace, doing what they could. Another mother who got aggravated and became immobilized in her aggravation as a result.

I’ve always said that if you become stuck in traffic, you have two choices: You can either get angry, honk your horn and yell at other drivers … or you can turn on the radio and sing. (Guess which one I am – lol!)

Yesterday morning, I had an appointment for my 2002 Civic’s 110,000 mile service. It has 132,000 miles but I couldn’t get the service (over $1000; timing belt and other major service) done previously when I was unemployed so I was happy I was finally going to get it done. As I headed out to my appointment, I immediately knew something was wrong: I had a flat. I drove the few houses back home and called the auto club. Problem :: solution. No getting angry or upset. Identify the problem; determine the solution. Receive what you are given. Deal with it. Get it handled. (I was immensely grateful that I didn’t get the flat when I was driving the 50 miles to my daughter’s home on a busy freeway. A grace.) A nice young man came out, replaced the flat with the temporary spare, I gave him a tip and went to the dealership.

At the dealership, we examined the tires and determined that I really needed to get all four tires replaced, but I could get by with doing two now and doing the other two at my next service. I also had a headlight that had been out for a month and needed to be replaced. Since it would be a few hours, I took the shuttle home. A couple of hours later, I got a call: the front brake rotors were below minimum and should be replaced. I could just replace the pads for now, though, and do the rotors at my next service. (Let me say here that I absolutely trust my service tech. He’s a great guy, I’ve known him for eight years and I trust him.) One of the suspension bushings was also broken and needed to be replaced. I knew the car had been riding really roughly and had meant to mention this when I brought the car in; now I knew why.

Even with a 5% discount on parts and service, the final total was $1800. I had all new belts, two new tires, new timing belt and tensioner, all new fluids, tire alignment, new headlight, new suspension bushing, new front brake pads … a complete service, head to toe, plus a very nice car wash to boot. It was more money than I’d planned for, but it is what it is. I haven’t had a car payment for six years and I plan on hanging on to my Civic while I save for a new one, so I need to have it well-maintained and safe to drive. I could complain and be upset at the expense, but it doesn’t change anything. I feel that I’m fortunate the tire went flat when it did, I’m fortunate the brakes are better, I’m fortunate the suspension is much better. Receive what you are given. I’ve been given an $1800 bill but I’ve also been given a safe, well-running car. Money well spent.


PS. Thank you to those of you who dropped me notes to check that I was OK since I hadn't posted in a couple of weeks. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness! The new job is an 11-hour day with commute, so it doesn't leave me the time I'd like for reading my favorite blogs and for writing. Hoping that something shifts so I can have a bit more time. Thanks!