Saturday, February 24, 2018

Down the Rabbit Trail: Connections between Music, High Histamine, Food Intolerances, Panic, Low Ferritin, Autism and Wonderland. The MTHFR Gene.

* I gave into my quirkier side with this post. My voice, when reading this, is slightly sarcastic with a tinge of humour at myself.*
Image from HERE

Living in my world is like Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) following the Rabbit down multiple crazy trails of connection. For the record, since I was little I have had a tendency to hate "Alice in Wonderland" and yet, many of the quotes are brilliant and tend to explain many aspects of my life. I see the irony. In my youth, I found Wonderland to be frustrating, yucky, disturbing and confusing. I wanted clear answers. I wished for happy endings tied up in a bow and set to music. But alas, I can relate to Alice and her journey in too many ways to write it off. It's a reluctant connection.

I realized in my mid twenties that this was because I already lived halfway in Wonderland myself. Being an undiagnosed Aspie and INFJ personality not yet discovered, I never fit in. I saw the world in weird ways that were normal to me but to others...well, let's just say I received many blank looks or derisive remarks about statements that seemed ordinary to me. I did not realize that I was the anomaly. I thought the world was weird.

This sentiment is expressed in this song; "I close my eyes, and I can see a world that's waiting up for me, that I call my own. Through the dark, through the door, through where no one's been before. But it feels like home. They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. They can say, they can say I've lost my mind. I don't care. I don't care. So call me crazy. We can live in a world that we design... 'cuz every night I lie in bed, The brightest colours fill my head. A million dreams are keeping me awake. I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see. A million dreams is all it's gonna take. Oh, a million dreams for the world we're gonna make." (*1)

The reason I craved solid, clear answers was because the sensory data and the way I processed was non linear. The outer world was often pure chaos. What was solid to others was wonky to my perceptions. I wanted happy endings because my inner world was often focused on the morose. Death, pain, conflict, and the existential crises' were my 'regular' mindsets from early ages. These all contributed to my craving for moments of bursting into song. Music healed me. It conveyed what I could not. I have always been verbal but being able to express what I felt outside of paper often was impossible...but then there was music. The light, fluffy and happy were a contrast to my normal mode of darkness. Or the music would comfort by confirming darkness too. As of writing the sentences above, the lyrics to Metallica's 'One' ran through my head. "Darkness imprisoning me. All I see is absolute horror. I can not live. I can not die. Trapped in myself. Body my holding cell."(*2) There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of death - this mindset of mine doesn't scare me anymore ( as it did in my youth) because it has been my constant companion. I think it gives me this sense of ability to live in the moment and be more empathetic and make choices that matter to me. But sometimes I wish I could live without thinking about it for one whole day. What bliss that would be!

This is why I like happy musicals and people innocently bursting out into song. It seems normal to me because that is what happens in my head. ALL THE TIME. It's like the movie 'Teen Beach,'  which my daughter is obsessed with, and the song, "I can't stop Singing." (*3) "I'm losing my mind!' 'I don't see your problem?' Everything I do, it rhymes? Here comes another line...We're trapped inside a musical...At least I'm here with you. I don't want to make it stop...Oh I can't stop singing. La la la la la ...."

My brain works best via connections. I see patterns that most people don't pick up on. My gut instinct just KNOWS based on these many subconscious and conscious details what the outcome will be for many relationships and situations. I have rarely been wrong... if ever, but I downplay this because people hate it. I don't think it's pompous because I am aware that I am extremely inferior in other areas of life. For instance physics blows my mind! I am intrigued by the subject of Physics because I never fully grasp it. Math is virtually impossible to me. Moving appropriately in the world is also something I will never be good at. So I think I can claim my main gifting without being egotistical. That's my running theory anyway.

Alas, I am less apt at making these connections as fast when it comes to myself. I will get there eventually but it takes quadruple the time it would (or more) than for any other outside forces in my life. For instance, the other day, two hours after eating tuna for lunch I started my trek down the rabbit hole...

It began when I was pleasantly reading a young adult fantasy novel. I was engrossed in the world of Norse myths with Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' pounding in my head (*4) when suddenly I was jolted out of Alfheim with a strong iron taste in my mouth. (It takes a lot for me to be taken out of a novel.) "Did I bite my tongue without knowing it? Nope, no blood...but the taste is so strong! No matter, I will just ignore it...Nope, I can't ignore it. Suddenly I feel weird. Like something is not quite right somewhere inside of me. My insides feel a little topsy turvy. My heart rate is up a bit...which is inducing panic. But the panic came AFTER the heart rate so I know that this is not a panic attack but a list of symptoms. Is there a connection between what I ate at lunch? I've got weird abdominal cramps all of a sudden. I feel dizzy and my heartbeat is in my ears. What could this be? I can't make it out. I am confused. I know! I'll call mother."

When I call my mother it is because my husband and bestie are unavailable or I don't want to bother them. Mom is next on the list. The problem with figuring out my own issues, is that I am the worst when it comes to processing my own bodily experiences, if I can not verbalize to someone what is going on. I need them to listen, then brainstorm with me, tell me what I already guessed because I am doubting my accuracy, or in worst case scenario tell me it is "normal." Normal being the operative word that I always attain to and never fully grasp. This is what I miss about therapy...among many other factors.

I called Mammitta and she told me sometimes that happens with low iron. She calmed me down a little but listening to my own voice jolted me into looking up tuna and iron taste after my call. I didn't think of doing this before even though this is EXACTLY what I would do for someone else. I would look for all the connections first, before giving answers. I found THIS (CLICK) article. It had all the symptoms I was experiencing. Perhaps I had a mini poisoning?

On and off through out that day I was fighting light symptoms and panic. Finally after midnight, I noticed my son's light was on, so I went in and discussed my panic with him. I know, not a thing most parents do, but it's normal in our house to verbalize everything to everyone. I told him that I was worried. Maybe it was my low iron? Maybe I needed to take iron and vitamin C? He told me to go do that right now, so I, being the rule follower in panic that I am, obeyed my son. We discussed life some more. He also mentioned that I should not be jogging on the treadmill with my levels. A mistake that I had been making that week. Turns out he was right. See HERE (CLICK) for more. To sum up, I should have listened to my Physiotherapist and only walked a maximum of thirty minutes a day. NO jogging or strenuous activity or muscle building was allowed. I was told this explicitly.
I sometimes hate my life.

This is not what a 'J type' go getter likes to hear. Chronic illness slows down my life and this has multiple lessons that are fantastic, but sometimes I want to SPRINT. I want to go at the speed that my default is on...fast mode. I am supposed to exercise with Tai Chi. My youngest loves it. He has slow processing and I think maybe Tai Chi feels like his pace. To me, it is PAINFUL. I have to tell myself, "Yes you are still working your body even though it feels like you are doing a snail's pace. This IS exercise." I just want to dance or jog. When I am on the treadmill I take it up to the maximum fast paced walking just before a jog. But I really, really want to jog. I also want to burn more calories and get rid of my pregnancy belly. "But we can't always get what we want, can we K?" Que the Rolling Stones (*5). (I talk to myself a lot. Apparently it's a sign of intelligence and not craziness. Ha ha.) "Not dying from a sudden stroke would be a good thing even if you do end up living with a slightly protruding gut. Priorities. Stop being vain..." and then I focus back on the Tai Chi until the next minute when I go through the conversation over again...That part, I think qualifies for insanity. Engaging in the same conversation over and over and expecting the same results... "It's not that easy being green, having to spend each day, the colour of the leaves, when I think it could be nicer being red, or gold or something much more colourful like that..."- Kermit the Frog or Frank Sinatra (*6)

(A side note...if you are a woman who experiences panic yet know you manage stress and anxiety well, you could be Anemic. Don't allow Doctors to ignore your exhaustion or unexplained panic. Get a Ferritin test. See HERE (CLICK).)

I went to bed shaking and finally fell into a panic induced sleep but woke up early to immediate dizziness, rapid heartbeat and abdominal discomfort. After another bout of panic to my hubby and multiple trips to the bathroom to pee (In non medical terms, this is caused by the kidney being triggered by hormones to release extra water storage. It tends to be the most common in Fibromyalgia but can happen to most chronic illness sufferers. My doctor explained it as an 'abnormal normal' response in these types of diseases when the body is inflamed or triggered by common illness, food intolerance's or sickness. 'Abnormal Normal' seems like an appropriate subtitle for my life.) I realized I did indeed have tuna poisoning.

But why did I have it and the rest of my family didn't? My brain snagged on to the DAO enzyme reference in the article above. I typed 'DAO enzyme' into my browser and of course, the bane of my existence popped up, AGAIN. And in my mind, the opening, jolly piano chords to Dolly's song strummed on Que, "Here you come again! Just when I'm about to make it work without you...And there go all my defences. Just leave it up to you and in a little while, You are messing up my mind and filling up my senses...Here you come again...Shaking me up so, and all I really know... Is here you come again- and here I go." (*7- I also wrote a post based on this song and chronic illness HERE. It's an ironically cheery song for such subject matter.) The freaking MTHFR gene. It appropriately sounds like a swear word.

Doctors are divided on the MTHFR gene. From my extensive reading and confirmation from both a Doctor and Naturopath who believe in it, I have one of the multiple mutation forms of MTHFR. It affects everything from leaky gut to depression to autism to chronic illness, low ferritin, low vitamin D, high histamines...the list goes on and on and on and on and on. I hate it as much as I do Lyme disease. Oh and guess what? There is a clear connection between Lyme and MTHFR too. Why do I hate both so much? Neither of them have definite cures or paths that are solid. The medical community is ignorant on both topics. The literature is vast and confusing at times or contrary on both conditions. The healing diets can be expensive and contradictory. Basically, they are Wonderland diseases. No solid answers. And I have them both. Or maybe they both are the same somehow and have me? Either way, they are both a part of my existence. Lucky me. "She's a killer queen, gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind. Anytime."- Queen (*8)

Anyway, THIS (click) article told me all I needed to know about my current condition. I was ecstatic as a person can be while being physically drowned in uncomfortable symptoms. When I find information that connects and rings with truth I get very excited. Even if I am sick in bed. I texted my bestie, hubby and mother to tell them all that the pieces fell into place. (Yea I am high maintenance like that. I expect those closest to me to read as much as I do and connect the dots euphorically.) Due to the diet I have had the last few days and then the tuna, I was overloaded with high histamine. Which explained why last night I felt like I was having a food allergy and why my skin erupted with boils on my stomach among all the other symptoms.

Armed with that information, it became easier to fight the panic. The panic made itself known at varied intervals because it was a biological response *due to food* and not a mental one *triggered by the brain first*, but knowing WHY made it easier to ride through it. It took me almost a complete 24 hour period from the first symptom to my final conclusions of WHY. In the old days of my life, I would have gone to the hospital in a panic the night before when I had trouble breathing and a rapid heartbeat. With time and more knowledge of why I am the way I am, I can luckily skip that step and come to my own rescue most of the time. My medical intervention after re checking the accuracy of my personal diagnosis was; rest, high levels of vitamin C, D and taking my iron, and eating a diet that would not trigger histamine. I would just have to wait out the rest of the symptoms since I seemed to be over the worst of it. I was impressed that before I even knew the information, somehow it seemed right to me the night before to take a large dose of vitamin C and an extra of my iron. That did end up aiding my sleep and regulating my body a bit. I like it when I actually listen well to my body's needs.

In certain areas of my life I am quite controlled. The rest is a rather "organized" chaos. I am sometimes Alice navigating Wonderland and at others I am Wonderland exploiting Alice. I feel this also shows up in slight ways when I write. Most of the time I go to my "J" fact orientated, 'tell it like it is' philosophy with some encouragement on the side. But sometimes, when I am sick enough to shut down my "J" or when I am in a frivolous mood, I write expressively or even poetically. I "show" more than I "tell." What a good writer is supposed to do apparently, but I often just prefer to blog like I talk to my husband (but with less details and expression.) In my drafts folder, I have a post on chore schedules and cleaning hacks, along with a descriptive story on a beautiful sensory day. I may not publish either of them, but it is likely that the "Chore" post will show up eventually over the sensory/poetic. Why is that? I actually enjoy 'shown' detailed writing, but I also appreciate straight forward tips and hacks or stories. I think, it is because inside of me the sensory is already exploited, so I try to re balance the force within? Perhaps? Regardless, I usually rely on music more than writing for that form of self expression. Music is my "show" of life. With that in mind, I will leave the songs on the bottom of this post to explain what I can't verbalize as accurately. What I love about my mind is that songs from 'Teen Beach' and 'Metallica'  can fit perfectly together within a topic. They shouldn't fit but they do! This particular talent of mine to fit dark with light, is something I delight wickedly in....or innocently in, depending...

"There's a house we can build, every room inside is filled. With things from far away. Special things I compile, each one there to make you smile. On a rainy day. They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. They can say, they can say, we've lost our minds. I don't care, I don't care if they call us crazy...run away to a world that we design...."(*1)
Two posts that I also specifically mention Wonderland are:
and 
Also see the Wonderland label for more posts along the quirky lines of self.

Side note; I was disappointed that AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' didn't show up in Thor ... seemed like an awesome opportunity but I was impressed the 'Immigrant song' showed up ;)
*1- A Million Dreams- Greatest Showman. My current fav. song because it feels like my life.




(*2) Metallica One. Click HERE.



(*3) Can't stop singing- Teen Beach




The Immigrant Song- Led Zeppelin (*4)
You Can't always get what you Want- The Rolling Stones ( *5)
Frank Sinatra- Bein' Green (*6)

(*7) Here you come again- Dolly Parton


(*8)  Killer Queen - Queen ( yea I know what it is about. Always assume I know the songs original meaning but also know I enjoy spinning music to my purpose. lol.)

Bonus song:) Wonderland:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Countdown to Valentines; Post Links. Celebrating the Love of Grandparents, Single hood and Togetherness, Country/Home, Marriage, Young Love, In Laws, Friendship, Self Love and Our Choices.


Two years ago, I wrote HERE, "Valentines day comes with mixed emotions for me. It used to be my favourite holiday as a teen. The cheesy mushiness of it mixed with pink and reds was my optimal experience. Plus, it involved happy, innocent crushes and wonderful gifts. I had a protected princess sort of experience in most of my teen hood...and whenever I didn't, I created imaginations in my mind. My inner character is sort of similar to Sara, the main character in the book 'A Little Princess' though I am not as kind. I often imagined the way I wanted life to go and if it was awful, I pretended most of it away. In sensory experiences, I made up a different scenario in my mind. Life was magical because I wished it to be in most regards.

As I grew up and have spent almost fourteen years in a marriage, I have realized that love comes in many stages. There have been Valentines that have broken my heart or when my husband and I had only feelings of apathy towards each other, but there have also been breathless highs full of euphoria and bliss together."

I still feel that way about Valentines. Here is a handy list of posts from my archives that celebrate all different sorts of love with a brief snippet below. The posts range from short ( a few paragraphs) to quite lengthy but you can pick and choose the posts that fit your circumstances the most. Many of these are some of my favourite posts. A few I re read and think, "Wow I wrote that? That's good advice...I should probably listen to myself again..." Ha ha...When I get in writer's mode or have something to say I am surprised that my normal non eloquent self in real life can express in writing what I wish to say! I hope you can also find an aha moment or two...;

1.) 32 Life Moments to Love- Valentines for Anyone (Single, Together ect.):

 http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/02/valentines-day-list-of-loves-for.html
"32 VALENTINES of LOVE: A List of Soulful Beauty: 1. Spicy cinnamon topped on a latte or steamer in the form of a heart. Suck out the spice in life. 2. Books. Glossy covered, worn paperback, tattered and cornered. A symbol of wisdom. 3. Words. Saturating our being. I have a ebullience for eloquence. A dalliance everyday into the assemblage of dulcet lyricism. 4. Petrichor. The smell of the earth after rain...."

2.) Celebrating The Love of Grandparents:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/01/roots-and-grandparents-grandpa-t.html "Instead of barking, the wolf-dog next door sends her howling songs to the moon. Smooth, raw, and haunting, her long held breath causes a stir within me. Glancing out the window I see beauty across the frozen landscape. The moon looks brighter with the backdrop of her sound and the prairies seem less tame. If I step out my front door will I experience the primal part of nature? Feelings of the sacred past connect to the gifted present. The possibility of the primal and tame merge into a song of mournful calling. A calling for friends, for a mate, for someone or something to answer. The creature begs the earth to offer back.
Growing up I listened to the gravely reverent voice of my Spanish/ Native grandfather discuss his hunts in the forest. Passion would seep in when he spoke about those who killed simply for the sake of the kill. Anger rose up as his chest heaved with displeasure. "Don't you ever rob the earth Missy of something you don't need. It's there for us to use but don't get greedy or make something suffer just to show your power." Excitement would take anger's place as he continued the dialogue of his hunt and the moment when he knew his gun was aimed to snuff out life instantly...ideally without any pain. His heart would break if he missed and had to put the suffering soul out of misery.  Patience overtook his stealthily pace in the forest. He would wait, his breath mingling with the crisp air, for the right moment. He viewed the beauty of creation as a sacred treasure. Grandpa would never say that a bear is brother enough to live with the human. He would say a bear is a brother of creatures who needs a healthy respect, to eat when necessary and to admire. Grandpa did not forget his place. He cultivated respect and used creation as a vessel to worship, to gain wisdom, to teach patience, to show beauty, to experience raw mystery and simple wonder. He taught to take only what is needed. Nature taught him virtue or perhaps his virtue gave grace to nature?..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/02/roots-grandma-t-coffee-cinnamon-vinegar.html "There is an aspect of home that can only be found in a smell. I am lucky that my memories associated with this are pleasant ones. The aroma of brewed coffee says, "You're safe, you're home, breath it in." The sharp tang of vinegar carries reminders of pickled beets canning and the changing season of fall. Cinnamon speaks of Thanksgiving and Comfort. Onions tell a tale of richness, satisfying nutrients, and a hearty hearth begging the question of what is under the silver lid. Since I have been five, Grandma T's house has always been less than a few blocks away. Currently, she lives in the front suite of my parents home. Each time I walk to that house I can smell the rich taste of home from the driveway tempting me to stop in and see what is cooking or baking, even if I can not eat it due to dietary needs, the smells alone are divine and a comfort to me. It takes a few minutes in her home to feel balanced again. I just need to breathe the air, say a quick hi to grandma, and go out the door feeling lighter than I was before...."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/02/roots-grandma-n-fresh-springtime-senses.html "Grandma is known for her blunt statements. She doesn't cushion her delivery but she also doesn't have any intention of hurting anyone. She simply tells it like she sees it, if she's asked. A trait I share. Upon seeing my husband's picture in the paper, my husband asked what she thought, and she unexpectedly remarked, "Wellllll, it's not your best picture." We cracked up. My husband came up to me later and whispered, "Now I know where you get it from and it's a brilliantly funny trait." In her basement there is a red Radio Flyer wagon crammed and overflowing with Little Golden books in original mint condition. Her washer is a 1979 Inglis and the dryer's label is completely worn off. My Grandmother is modern but not encumbered by modernity. She may have a computer area upstairs but she also has a brown 1964 built in Moffet stove. I love that about her. How she seems to flow seamlessly between tradition and the current now. I can't place her in any time...she just IS. I obtain a great sense of BEING from Grandma..."

3.) Savouring The Love of Country: 

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2015/01/a-heavy-dose-of-atmosphere.html 
"From season to season, the skies continue to inspire, enhance and remind me, both of how large I am in my world, and how very small. A blanket of stars is often the last sight I see in my window before I sleep. Upon waking it's the brilliance of drastic changes and possibilities reflected in the sky. The symbols of freedom, heritage and passionate, ever changing spirits. From dusk onward the moon starts it's hidden path into darkness. That moon, unapologetic, shows off it's full face to the world, nude and resplendent without shame. Paradoxically, the moon allows itself to shrink into dark shadows. It leaves an air of mystery as it slowly circles inward. It's cycle comforts, hides and brings to light. It has witnessed darkness and light, shadow and sight. Yet, it never fails to show up in any state. The moon is a brave part of nature. A instigator of tides and schedules, but also a spiritual nature that causes chaos and moods. The moon just IS. From century to century it has witnessed the love and hate. It has shone down on lovers in the darkness and crimes of the centuries. It has anchored the earth and contributed to weather. It is steady yet not. A magical guide that is explored and scientific. A paradox. A beacon..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-extreme-fluctuations-of-weather-and.html "The warmer days were still morose and moody. The land was still budding and the repressive brown ruled. Yet even with that, it was a 'Wuthering Heights' sort of beauty. The grey skies matched my spirit of energy. When the sun did brighten the sky it became a deep hue of blue that stretched beyond the scope of the eye and the land would buzz with signs of awakening. We were not yet at the stage of buzzing bees, although a few flies came out, but the precious stirrings of new beginnings were hopeful. Awakening is always a beauty to behold. And then it snowed. .."

4.) THE LOVE OF HOME (2 posts that are dear to my heart.);


http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2017/08/the-ordinary-magic-that-maybe-isnt-so.html "It was one of those rainy nights in which the fireplace flickered across the carpet. Bellies were satisfied with delicious morsels of fish seasoned with avocado oil, dill and lemon, and mashed potatoes perfected to creamy swirls of satisfaction. The window was washed with droplets of sacred water. Instead of creating rainbows of sunlight, the light catchers dripping from the window casings reflected murky gray. Outside the panes, the Gothic arch opening in the front wall framed the muted green tones of the outer world. Gnarled branches grew over the frame and two trees stood guard on either side of the arch, roots twisted and deep... "

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/04/home-making-challenging-travel.html
"Our culture has a bit of an obsession with travel. An element of education can happen through travel but I know many people who have travelled who have dis -ease with their lives, unfulfilled love,  and lack of rooted being. There is beauty in travel. There is beauty in rootedness. There are benefits and downsides to everything. To celebrate one over another or to think one is more educated is simple snobbery.

I am an intuitive. I also have sensory overload and other limitations. Thus my travelling days are probably small in number. I don't believe rootedness is the only way to BE but rootedness has given me my best shot at life. Just like, I am sure, travel would for others. Even though I have been to many places  that DID shape me, I find I am most educated through my rich imagination, my books and the people I choose to love...along with loving myself. I am educated by being in nature and that does not mean having to travel to find certain nature scenes. The world is full of wondrous beauty but I don't need to own all of it or be in all of it- to feel it. All it takes for me is to sit outside on my deck and smell the wild roses, see the grasses sway, hear the bees buzz and the frogs in the marsh croak...and I KNOW I am connected to each creature in a beautiful way. The earth is often an equal partner in community as people are...."



5.) Marriage and the Joy of Young Love:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2013/09/on-young-marriage-and-glee-love-love.html "Marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE, on circumstances, on support, on personality, on communication and dedication. Thank you GLEE for once again fighting for the underdog. Finally, I got to see my life choices promoted in a positive way. I'm sure something will go wrong on the show and young marriage won't happen. Already critics are critiquing, but it was beautifully done and I am grateful. My husband and I, we started young. We just knew when we met near the end of grade twelve in separate schools that we should travel together through the rest of life. Because of that bravery we bought some extra time and we got to fall in love, over and over again, through some extreme life changes. Choosing each other at 17, despite the grief almost everyone gave us, was worth the battle. In this life and into the next, we hope to keep rekindling that kindred love..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2015/02/glee-and-true-young-marriage-success.html  "..."As I mentioned in Part One, my husband and I knew at 17 that we were soul mates. It made no logical sense for us to wait until school was over or we were older, just for the sake of age, yet that is what people continually told us to do. Our support, which we needed desperately, was either pulled from under us, bossed and demanded from us, or hard-won. It was rare to have anyone with enough logic to see the love that we had and accept that even if it was a mistake, it was worth supporting love. Those who DID actually give support have stayed as a fixture in our lives and we deeply appreciate that accepting love. We did not want to waste a day. We were not being harmful to ourselves or abusive, yet we were treated like criminals at times because we were (and never have been) traditional, conservative, or followed society's protocols. My eyes teared up at the above conversation because it was one I never had... and really wished for. I just wanted someone to say, "Are any of us really ready for anything? Go and fight for your love." As I mentioned previously, marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE..."
6.) Learning to Love and Understand InLaws:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-many-faces-of-grief-losing-mother.html  "Mom and I started out with a bit of strife. In the first few years I did not understand it because all I could think about was wondering why I was not loved or accepted. As I grew into my own role of motherhood and especially after I had my youngest son, whom is so like my husband, I suddenly realized it wasn't me she was opposed to. It was that her youngest, her heart in many ways, had been  taken so young by another woman....and a woman who already was so different from anything she knew or had expected. As the years turned, we decided to make some efforts. We were vastly different in many ways. She took the personality test for us and was an ESFP- she said it was entirely accurate- she IS the entertainer with a big persona and I am an INFJ who is intensely private yet seems to give a lot of information away. I have mastered the art of seeming like I tell everything without telling important private reflections to most. We clashed in many ways. However, we were very similar when it came to being clumsy, sticking our foot in it, and saying outrageous statements. Once we started  becoming comfortable with this aspect we had a frank conversation. I simply said, "Mom, we don't have to be friends if that is not what you want. We don't even have to be close. But can we agree to be honest and just not try to people please each other?" She surprised me with, "Oh good grief, what a relief! It can be so exhausting trying to figure out what you want and I would LOVE it if you gave me the blunt honest side of yourself that I know you have." And she meant it. From that point on, we were fairly honest with each other and started to become friends ironically...."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2013/06/the-climate-change-in-differing.html
"...The concept of adaptability in families can be illustrated by the weather. People who have grown up in cold conditions have an easy going camaraderie with sub zero temperatures. There may be some healthy fear and a bit of risk involved but generally they adapt to their environment with little thought. There is comfort in the level of energy that has to be put out to survive because there is a knowing. That knowledge is based on understanding, and that understanding gives the innate ability to be generally safe to go about the normal. Take the same person and drop them into hot humidity and their ability to adapt is hampered by experience, time and ignorance. In just a few hours they could be de-hydrated in the hospital. As time goes by, if in the environment long enough, they learn some tricks, may have a little bit more room for personal normalcy and may even enjoy the change. But in general their first home, where risks are the least, and beauty can be experienced in full force because of the lack of misunderstanding/ mistakes, is the place where they can just truly be...."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/06/n-and-s-types-in-familial-relationships.html " I wish I could share this information appropriately with the relationships that long for healing in our lives but that do not understand the nuances, reasons and motivations behind many of the issues. I feel like understanding could foster the six ingredients of love. Perhaps our world would suffer less from mindless violence if we focused in on just a few people in our lives to give the six ingredients of love and if we would at least attempt to understand driving preferences, cognitive functions, perhaps we could change the course of history slowly with simple regard and general respect?..."


7.) Loving the Choices We Make In Life:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/09/the-choices-that-brought-me-to-life-i.html "These are all choices that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could implement as a child. I thought I would be a working woman with an epic love story but I did not want kids. I believed that University was the sign of success and that job security was the sign of a fruitful life. I valued education not realizing that really what I valued deep down was choice, freedom, responsibility and learning about diversity and choices. I didn't want to stay home and I certainly didn't want to ever entertain the idea that I may change my faith and go to hell. Turns out there is a lot in our place of freedom that can be done to make a living or Be.
Other choices and changes that brought us to this point:..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2017/11/30-of-some-of-my-best-decisions-in-30.html  "Due to a few people asking I am putting this post back up for awhile. These are MY considered best decisions. This list is PERSONAL. I don't believe it would be the same for anyone else nor should be.
Even if I say it was the best decision for me, I am NOT saying it may be the best decision for someone else. Nor judge their lives as lacking. These are simply the most fulfilling or rewarding 30 choices in 30 plus years that came into my mind. They are also not in any particular order of importance but these were all game changers for a better lived life in MY Story. This is a personal post so skip it unless you are interested to see what choices made someone else feel that their life was well lived;..."

8.) The Love of Friendship:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2015/05/into-realm-of-kindreds-and-best-friends.html  "Personality aside, I have given great thought to what makes our relationship different. There have been many times when I have felt guilt because other friendships, while amazing, could never attain what I have with her, and I know that sometimes that hidden hope is there for others. We all long for friendships that are strong, true and feel like family. She is more of my family than most of my family. I put her next in line after my husband and children. Her children are more than cousins. I can't duplicate that relationship with anyone else simply because it takes a lot of investment of time, explanation and communication..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2017/05/to-all-male-friends-and-peers-in-my.html "As my daughter gets older, I have been giving this more thought. She is now at the age where I started having crushes, "boyfriends" and soul friends whom were the opposite sex. And where I had no memories before, I am now being triggered and remembering events I have not thought about in years. I can honestly say, that looking back, I am so relieved. I can not even begin to explain my gratitude to all my friends, male and female, who accepted me for whom I was or enabled me to seem less disabled during times I needed to be so. I sometimes wish I could thank each one of them, but I know that would be weird and considered socially inappropriate..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2016/03/solitude-and-wisdom-of-beauty-during.html  "We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. " -John O'Donohue.  In this tangible life, there is both darkness in light. Both require surrender and awakening. An easier example of this analogy would be in friendship. "Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic...."



9.) Self Love and Being an Artist at LIVING:
http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2014/10/a-letter-to-my-younger-self-from-my.html  "You will have lost hope for most of your twenties even though they were some of the best family years of your life, giving birth and learning. Yours is a story still unfolding. There will still be pain and loss, but there is a lie out there that says life goes downhill after 18. Ages 3-6, 12- 14 and 20 to 27 were the toughest for you. During these times there was fear, there were lies that you believed regarding health, beauty and what matters...and even though you had the inclinations all along it was hard to believe it when the proof seemed to be all around. I am writing this letter to you, dear self today, to show you ten things that IMPROVED as you aged or changed your life for the better. Love Older Self..."

http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2013/03/the-artists-of-being-alive.html  "One life. We each have limited time. We need to own that. A choice. We have the gift of a choice to simply show up and allow the canvas of life to do the rest. If we fight too much we lose. If we let go too much we lose. Wake up to the beauty that is in you and around. WAKE UP; As soon as you make being alive your goal you lose the significant story line. Goals become something separate from YOU...just beyond reach. Living well is beyond goals, it is simply opening up to the life around you..." ( oh and then there was This post which was my first blog post on this site!:)


February 2018- May it be a month to celebrate or reflect upon all the different types of love in your life. Thank you for being part of the story.
With Gratitude:
To be Loved- Michael Buble

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"The Art of Living", Stoic Wisdom by Epictetus. Philosophy Regarding Generosity, Sex, Monogamy, Conformity, Culture, and Pursuing the Good.

~This post should probably have a mature content warning? Maybe? You have been warned. Explicit content talk.~


Living can be tough. There is definite death, illness, hardships and other moments mixed with beautiful, bountiful happiness and love. Philosopher Epictetus lived in 55 AD and many of his philosophies withstand the test of time. He lived by stoic principles. The book "The Art of Living" is an adaptation or new interpretation of his works by Sharon Lebell. It is an easy read, full of rich wealth and wisdom and a "classical manual on virtue, happiness, and effectiveness." The book itself belongs on every bookshelf for quick, meaningful guides to life's daily deeds. While I will cover quite a few quotes from the book, the book itself is still valuable to be attained and read over and over again. Obviously, like any philosophy, stoic philosophy is not for every circumstance. There are philosophies in this book that do not apply to my journey. Everyone must critically examine all world views. Philosophy is meant to be one of the greatest tools for logic. See THIS (click) quick introduction video from Crash Course for this understanding.

*All photos of quotes and quoted material in this post are taken from this book. I will cite the pages of the quotes I use.* 
   
BE WHOM YOU ARE:


"First, say to yourself what you would be: then do what you have to do." But do this within your own limitations and reason.  "It must be our business to act our given role as best as we possibly can and to refrain from complaining about it." (pg 24)



We each have a limited time on this earth. Some get the full one hundred years, while many get a shorter span of time. So how long can we truly afford to waste on what we don't wish to be? One of the keys to being ourselves is, as Epictetus promotes, "Recognizing what is truly our own." Knowing whom we are and what we naturally have to work with. Can you write? Then write. Do you work with your hands? Find ways to create in this way. Do you love to make food? Pursue moments that enable you to give in this way. "When you carry out your bath- do it to the best of your ability..." and so on with eating food or whatever it is we are doing in this moment. 

ENVY AND GRATITUDE:

"Is someone enjoying the privileges, opportunities, or honour you desire? If the advantages that person has secured are good, then delight in that person enjoying them. It is his or her time to prosper, If those advantages actually turn out to be bad, then don't be troubled that they didn't come your way. Remember: you will never earn the same rewards as others without employing the same methods and investment of time as they do. It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price. Those who "win" at something have no real advantage over you, because they had to pay the price for their reward. It is always our choice whether or not we wish to pay the price for life's rewards. And often it's best for us not to pay the price, for the price might be our integrity." (pg. 34.)

Too often we compare ourselves to other people's victories and sorrows. We don't realize that each person has a price. And each price is different for each personality. 

"How easily dazzled and deceived we are by eloquence, job title, degrees, high honours, fancy possessions, expensive clothing, or a suave demeanour. Don't make the mistake of assuming that celebrities, public figures, political leaders, the wealthy or people with great intellectual or artistic gifts are necessarily happy. To do so is to be bewildered by appearances and will only make you doubt yourself....Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self; for that does fall within your control. ( pg 26.)

Gratitude and the daily practice of it, enables us to live our best lives. So does perspective. When we have gratitude for what we have there is little room for envy. When we take a balanced perspective, without assumptions, we can control our own outcomes instead of focusing on others.


THE BODY/ ANCIENT FEMINISM:

"Those who are morally untrained spend an inordinate amount of time on their bodies. Carry out your animal functions incidentally. Your main attention should be given to the care and development of your reason. For through your reason, you are able to understand nature's loss." (pg. 69.)


"Females are especially burdened by the attention they receive for their pleasing appearance. From the time they are young, they are flattered by males or evaluated only in terms of their outward appearance. Unfortunately, this can make a woman feel suited only to give men pleasure, and her true inner gifts sadly atrophy. She may feel compelled to put great effort and time into enhancing her outer beauty and distorting her natural self to please others. Sadly, many people- both men and women- place all their emphasis on managing their physical appearance and the impression they make on others. Those who seek wisdom come to understand that even the world may reward us for wrong or superficial reasons, such as our physical appearance, the family we come from, and so on, what really matters is who we are inside and who we are becoming." (pg. 68.)

I love how Epictetus sounds like a feminist here. Seems like ancients struggled just as much with the same issues we do today..."nothing new under the sun" as Solomon speaks. There still is a large disparity between the way women's bodies are treated and men's. Luckily, some of that is changing but it is still an issue. Both men AND women need to take their collective and individual responsibility for this issue. .

"Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you merely your body?... Your will needn't be affected by an incident unless you let it. Remember this with everything that happens to you." (pg 35)

With chronic illness I have had to learn the lesson above over and over again. Unfortunately it never sticks for long. I get knocked down but then I get up again ( and now that song is in my head...) but it takes me awhile. I have to continually remind myself that my will is within my control no matter what happens around me.

SEX/ MONOGAMY in LONG TERM PARTNERSHIPS and GRACE AND FRANKIE:

Monogamy is not in vogue but it is a time tested road to fulfillment for many people. "Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual intercourse before you get married. This may sound prudish or old fashioned, but it is a time tested way by which we demonstrate respect for ourselves and others. Sex is not a game. It gives rise to very real enduring emotional and practical consequences. To ignore this is to debase yourself and to disregard the significance of human relationships. If, however, you know someone who has had casual sex, don't self righteously try to win them over to your own views. An active sex life within a framework of personal commitment augments the integrity of the people involved and is part of a flourishing life." (pg 57)

Sex is important but as the film with Barbara Streisand promotes, "The Mirror Has TWO Faces." Promiscuity is not fulfilling on a long term soul level, but the abstinence from sexual pleasure in a committed relationship also is not often fulfilling if both partners or spouses are able. "No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides."-Baruch Spinoza. My husband and I have had prolonged periods due to surgery, birth or injury when we could not come together regularly in the bedroom. In that, we found other ways to connect. Sex isn't everything. But when we can and ARE able to be together, sex is also an important aspect of our relationship.

I was watching the third season of "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix. (Minor Spoilers ahead.) I love the show because it is based on the friendship of two older women who are first enemies but thrown together when their husbands decide to leave them for each other. I can relate to the characters of both Grace and Frankie because Grace is uptight and Frankie is a free spirit. I have both within me. I like that the show addresses pleasure for older people (as the seasons progress Grace and Frankie develop dildos for older women.) I admire the beauty of relationships within the seasons and how generally sex isn't treated casually but often more as a decision to enhance life or to further a partnership. HOWEVER, I had a hard time with the ending of the third season because the two males who were in partnership with each other, decided to deal with their problems in their marriage, by the consideration of adding a third person to "spice up" their marriage. 

First off, if that is how you roll, that is fine by me. But if you are wanting a satisfying LONG TERM partnership, research has repeatedly shown that a long term relationship is usually enhanced by fidelity. It depends on what the relationship goals are. If a marriage is floundering- cheating or adding a third person in is NEVER the answer. The couple thought they were rekindled by seeing the other flirted with. What was truly happening at a basic psychological level, is that they were realizing what they had, by having it threatened. By seeing someone else flirt or take interest in their spouse, they renewed their gaze on each other. Their misguided therapist gave them advice to "have an open relationship" and cited that "most gay relationships end up this way."

Well, yes they will end up that way, if our culture continues with those expectations, portrayals in the media, and that becomes the normative advice therapists or professionals counsel in. I celebrate gay marriages/partnerships that have commitment. Open relationships are for those very few who can manage the commitment of not one BUT TWO or more other souls. Sex does involve the soul. Very few, if any, people can manage to respect two souls and know with intimate kindness the joy of what a committed relationship brings but still equally give to both people. 

Honestly, the counselor should have perceived that having basic gratitude and developing a sense of appreciation with open communication would have negated the need for a third party to bring this out in the first place. There are other ways to come to the same conclusion without complicating matters with yet another human being. Human beings are complicated. Maybe some people can give to more than one? For my own limitations, I know I certainly can not. My husband deserves and needs my full commitment and I need his. This is part of the foundation we build upon with other virtues like consideration, respect, meeting half way, equalization, finding our roles, commitment and humour ect.

We all long to be loved. How we go about this is entirely our decision. I believe in self pleasure as a means for the single and the lonely. But I believe this should be combined with responsibility. In a partnership I have different rules. I am not a fan of the porn market and could have many posts dedicated to this, however, I have also have seen some people enhanced by choices opposite of mine. In most cases, who am I to judge, as along as it does not involve children, the harming of others, exploitation or the elevation of the body over the spirit? Unfortunately, the previous statements are often found in most cases of pornography.

There are stages and ages of marriage/ partnership. Marriage/partnership is an active choice. It can be immensely fulfilling. It has been one of THE best decisions of my life. It has also been the most painful at times. But I also recognize it is not the ONLY decision to make for a fulfilled life. Many of my single friends prove this to be true. They have meaningful, insightful and productive lives. Some personalities have a propensity to partnership more than others. For myself, I have always desired from a young age to share my life vulnerably and intimately with one person...and to have few friendships otherwise to protect my time and space. That will not be everyone's choice. But since I CHOSE marriage, and since it is NOT an abusive situation ( to which I would give very different advice) I do believe in the sanctity of commitment.

Certain sacrifices are required for any situation in life. In a fulfilled marriage it is often important due to human jealousies, vulnerabilities and weakness, to respect and forgo the opportunity to connect on a sexual level with other people. "Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires or aversions. They are ill prepared to act effectively and nobly when unexpected challenges occur, as they inevitably will. Authentic freedom places demands on us. In discovering and comprehending our fundamental relations to one another and zestfully performing our duties, true freedom, which all people long for, is indeed possible." (pg 44)

What do you wish from a marriage or long term partnership? Most people wish for that one person to witness life with. To share their soul and whom understands them more than the rest of the world. To celebrate love and to weather tragedy. Well then, if that is what is wanted, there ARE going to be sacrifices. "Different people are made for different things. Just as certain capacities are required for success in a particular area, so too are certain sacrifices required. If you wish to become proficient in the art of living with wisdom, do you think that you can eat and drink to excess? DO you think you can continue to succumb to anger and your usual habits of frustration and unhappiness? NO. If true wisdom is your object and you are sincere, you will have to work on yourself. You will have to overcome many unhealthy cravings and knee- jerk reactions. You will have to reconsider whom you associate with. Are your friends and associates worthy people? Does their influence- their habits, values, and behaviour- elevate you or reinforce the slovenly habits from which you seek escape? The life of wisdom, like anything else, demands it's price. You may, in following it, be ridiculed, and even end up with the worst of everything in all parts of your public life, including your career, your social standing...Venture forth with your utmost effort. Make the necessary sacrifices that are the price for the worthies of goals; freedom, even mindedness and tranquility. If, however, upon honestly appraising your mettle, you are not fit or ready, free yourself from delusion and tread a different, more realistic road. (Pages 40 and 41)

Obviously if I watch (and love) most of Glee I believe in sexuality, preference and choice. But it actually doesn't matter what I believe. What matters is what you believe. We must always be committed to resolving our own ideals with what the current culture's ideals are. So what if we are the minority? So what if we fall into the majority? There are benefits and hardships in both. What is important is seeing the root issue, our desires and manifesting those with our ethics and actions. 

What I disliked about the therapists advice in Grace and Frankie, is that it's ultimate root reason was flawed. A third person won't give the partners a renewed spice in their relationship. The root issue is that they needed to recognize with gratitude what they had and choose to engage in the bedroom regularly. The third person was a flawed way to get to the same conclusion but with more damage in the end. It's not in human nature to share and it's rare for people to be able to honour two people with equality. Or to deal with the inevitable sorrows and insecurities that will come later after the deed was done. Was that person "better in the bedroom? ect." These questions often will arise because just like we have a nature to explore and "try out" many partners, we also have a nature to be "the only" to one significant person or to be in an "epic love story." Well, which one is it? You can't have both.

I understand I will attract critics for this point of view. Since I believe in self pleasure in some cases and love in many forms I will be a target for the conservative. Since I also believe in sanctity of commitment and saving sex for committed relationships I will be a target for the liberal. Again, these are just my thoughts and how I need to walk in the world. DO what you need to do that fits the core of whom you are. Just remember, "Those who pursue the higher life of wisdom, who seek to live by spiritual principles, must be prepared to be laughed and condemned. Many people who have progressively lowered their personal standards in an attempt to win social acceptance and life's comforts bitterly resent those of philosophical bent who refuse to compromise their spiritual ideals and who seek to better themselves. Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls. Be compassionate towards them and at the same time hold to what you know is good. When you begin your program of spiritual progress, chances are the people closest to you will deride or accuse you of arrogance.  If you allow the mean spirited opinions of others to make you waver in your purpose, you incur double shame." (pg.)

VULGARITY and CURRENT CULTURE (MRS. MAISEL and Other Preferences):

"Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you put into your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap." ( page 53)

I personally enjoy entertainment and have no guilt in what I pursue. However, I have had to ask myself lately if what I am consuming lines up with the inner light of whom I am and what I want to put out into the world. Sometimes I enjoy a good laugh (Jumanji 2017) or an epic whimsy of song and dance (The Greatest Showman 2017) or an inspiring film about the intricacies of family and the importance of kindness (Wonder 2017) but at other times I realize what I am watching does not suit whom I am. For instance, "The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel" has been receiving accolades and awards. As it should be for it's sets, costumes, music and design. I love that time period but I generally disliked the show. Why? First off, I don't like nudity even if it's to make a point, thrown into my shows. Nudity is natural but I'm a visual person and prefer to restrict the images in my mind. I was asked to give it another chance when I shut it off during the first episode. I was told the nudity was to make a point that was justified later so I watched the rest of the series.

Luckily, I listened to my judgment of not spending much of my time on it, and viewed on fast forward. I enjoyed some sequences and I liked the focus on women's issues and unfair treatment. But, for myself, I definitely did not enjoy the stand up comedy. First off, I don't tend to get humour the way most people do so it wasn't funny for me. The wit was there and I recognized it, like I did in Gilmore Girls. But so was the vulgarity. I understand the show was portraying that women got penalized for using vulgar language when men did not. But my question is "Why is vulgar language necessary at all?" 

My best friend can attest to the fact that I can be a potty mouth at times. I don't believe in bad words - only bad uses of them towards other people. So yes, words are subjective to me and based on circumstance. However, I also dislike hearing a phrase like, "My husband came home for a F  _ _ _." Really? If that is how you view engaging with your spouse, then it shows how cheap that act is for you. And in that case, she was angry because he cheated on her. But all the stand up comedy on the show seemed to be celebrating the vulgar. I get that it is showing the stark contrast to how that whole time period was expected to behave out in public or portray in the media, but does vulgarity give any more beauty to our culture as a whole?

Of course we need authenticity. Authenticity in language? YES! A resounding yes. We can use language freely as long as we are not harming another. But when we treat an entire subject matter with carelessness, our values will lower as well. That is what I took issue with as being a viewer and why I decided to watch on fast forward. I liked the costumes and some of the wit so I watched a few parts but I knew that my mind, personally, would only be bothered and lowered by the actual stand up. It's simply not for me.

In the case above, Mrs. Maisel's usage was more justified in her circumstance. She was angry and cheated upon and expected to conform to patriarchy so she was speaking out. But during most of the show, sex was treated as a vulgarity. While sex certainly can be incredibly vulgar, sex can also be a beautiful, connected, satisfying part of life. I guess I prefer to look wherever I can, for the beauty. "Try whenever possible, if you notice the conversation around you decaying into palaver, to see if you can subtly lead the conversation back to more constructive subjects. If, however, you find yourself among indifferent strangers, you can simply remain silent. Be of good humour and enjoy a good laugh when it is apt, but avoid the kind of unrestrained barroom laughter, that easily degenerates into vulgarity or malevolence. Laugh WITH, but never AT." (pg 52.) The people and stories used in most of the stand up comedy in this circumstance were being laughed AT and not WITH. If you love the Marvellous Mrs. Maisel and do not see it like I do, by all means enjoy it. There are many merits to the show and most of it is well crafted. Honour YOUR soul, not mine. My duty is to honour what my soul engages with. Another person may not be bothered at all or see merit where I do not.

"Popular perceptions, values, and ways of doing things are rarely the wisest. Many pervasive beliefs would not pass appropriate tests of rationality. Conventional thinking- it's means and ends- is essentially uncreative and uninteresting. Its job is to preserve the status quo for overly self defended individuals and institutions. On the other hand there is no inherent virtue in new ideas. Judge ideas and opportunities on the basis of whether they are life giving. Give your assent to that which promotes humanness, justice, beneficial growth, kindness, possibility and benefit to the human community. Examine things as they appear to your own mind; objectively consider what is said by others and then establish your OWN CONVICTIONS. Socially taught beliefs are frequently unreliable. So many of our beliefs have been acquired through accident and irresponsible or ignorant teaching. Many of these beliefs are so deeply ingrained that they are hidden from our own view. The commonplace sluggishness of the lives lived by the undisciplined is dangerously contagious, for we are often exposed to no alternative healthful way of living. Awaken and be vigilant. Take stock of your habits to preserve your higher standards." (pg. 83.)

THE PEOPLE WE CHOSE TO BE WITH AND SOCIAL MEDIA:

"Just because some people are nice to you doesn't mean you should spend time with them. Just because they seek you out and are interested in you or your affairs doesn't mean you should associate with them. Be selective about whom you take on as friends, colleagues and neighbours. All of these people can affect your destiny. The world is full of agreeable and talented folk. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. But remember that our moral influence is a two way street, and we should thus make sure by our own thoughts, words and deeds to be positive influence on those we deal with. The real test of personal excellence lies in the attention we give to the often neglected small details of our conduct."

People are just people, regardless of their wisdom, talent or social standing. The minute we see this is the minute we forgive both ourselves and others. We are affected by those around us and we only have so much time to invest in what is life giving and honouring of our specific paths.

"One of two things will happen when you socialize with others. You either become like your companions or you bring them over to your own ways. Just as when a dead coal contacts a live one either the first will extinguish the last or the last kindle the first. Great is the danger, so be circumspect on entering into personal associations, even and especially light hearted ones. Most of us do not possess sufficiently developed steadfastness to steer our companions to our own purpose so we end up being carried along by the crowd. Our own values and ideals become fuzzy and tainted, our resolve is destabilized. It is hard to resist when friends or associates start speaking brashly. Caught off guard ...we are swept away be social momentum..." (pg 98.)

In the age of social media, the point above is becoming more important. I could waste days in the comments section of many of my favourite articles and come out feeling yucky despite the goodness of what was said. I actively choose not to be on Facebook, not because it is inherently bad, but because I know the influence of what goes in the mind, comes out in varied ways. I need to protect my space as an avid consumer of information. 


"It is unrealistic to expect people to see you as you see yourself. If people reach conclusions based on false impressions, they are the ones hurt rather than you. Because it is they who are misguided. When someone interprets a true proposition as a false one, the propositions itself hurt only the person who holds the wrong view is deceived and thus damaged. Once you clearly understand this, you will be less likely to feel affronted by others, even if they revile you." (pg.71.)


WISDOM/ BOOKS/ And GROWTH:

"Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the Mind. They are very helpful but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents." (pg. 97.)

Obviously action follows internalization...or else dismissal. Internalizing is the first step, just like the first few weights will not show developed muscles, there are stages to everything. The importance is growth and continued perseverance to the next stage.

"Take care not to casually discuss matters that are of great importance to you with people who are not important to you. Your affairs will become drained of preciousness. You undercut your own purposes when you do this. This is especially dangerous when you are in the early stages of an undertaking. Other people feast like vultures on our ideas. They take it upon themselves to blithely interpret, judge and twist what matters most to you and your heart sinks. Let your ideas and plans incubate before you parade them in front of the naysayers and trivializers. Most people only know how to respond to an idea by pouncing on it's shortfalls rather than identifying it's potential merits. Practise self containment so that your enthusiasm won't be frittered away." ( pg.110.)

My husband and I continually made the mistake in our early years of announcing all of our thoughts and deeds. We didn't realize we could keep our thoughts to ourselves and still garner support for the important things. It was a tough lesson to learn. We still are verbal on spaces we create, like my blog for instance, but now we exercise forethought. The contents are specified mostly to the medium we are using. These considerations also protect our marriage.

"Your restless pursuit of wisdom postpones you actually possessing it. Quit chasing after tonics and new teachers. The latest fashionable sage or book or diet or belief doesn't move you in the flourishing life.YOU DO. Renounce externals once and for all. Practice self sufficiency. Don't remain a dependent, malleable patient. Become your own soul's doctor." (pg. 107.)

"Become your own soul's doctor." YES!!! If we do not look after our soul and body, who else will? We must become the charges of our own paths. Life happens, yet within that happening, we ARE.

"Why should we bother being good? To be good is to be happy; to be tranquil and worry free. When you actively engage in gradually refining yourself you retreat from your lazy ways of covering yourself or making excuses. Instead of feeling a persistent current of low level shame, you move forward by using the creative possibilities of THIS moment, your current situation. You begin to fully inhabit this moment, instead of seeking escape or wishing that what is going on were otherwise. You move THROUGH your life by being thoroughly IN it." (pg. 103.)

PURSUE THE GOOD and THE ART OF LIVING:

"Pursue the good ardently. But if your efforts fall short, accept the result and move on." (pg 104.)

I love how we are encouraged to pursue good but there is also a built in grace to moving on when we fall short. This negates the vicious cycle of shame we often can get caught up in. With shame, we dwell on the past. With shame we forget to live in the now. Yet mistakes will be inevitable as "to err is to be human." What is important is to try our best and keep growing. It's imperative that we "Caretake this moment." (pg 113.)

All the above quotes are just a few morsels of practical wisdom in the book, "The Art of Living." Obviously any additions were my personal tangents. I highly recommend the easy read to be artful in the pursuit of your own personal living. The link can be found on my library page.



"Give your best and always be kind." (pg. 113.)

                                                     
Song Choices: I decided to go to my more conservative, old country roots for this post's song choices. I love country songs from the 70's, 80's, and 90's...and a few from this current age. Especially the songs that tell stories of love, family or commitment. It was a sign to me at a young age that these concepts would be my personal choices. I was drawn to them and yearned for my own version of commitment and hard work within a family. THAT SAID, I also have used country songs in the past to celebrate being single, enjoying the good life of sensory bliss in moderation, and hearing a story within a song. My first choice is for ALL people- single, married, with families or on their own:

POST EDIT 2019: Grace and Frankie redeemed their storyline and almost retracted the advice in the new season. I was relieved. In the third season of Mrs Maisel I was asked to give it another chance. I enjoyed it. There was not gratuitous nudity nor was she as crass in her stand up. There was still language and mature themes but I found that I could enjoy the redeeming aspects and humour more.

Song choice for everyone: I hope you Dance- Leanne Womack 

Song choice for married/ partnered/ committed families: That's what it's all about- Brooks and Dunn
 

Song Choice for My husband: I Hope You're the End of My Story- Pistol Annies



American Idiot- Green Day