Thursday Therapy: a compelling narrative for your misery

Screenshot

“The task, for each person, is to figure out what they are, and then heed that call instead of resisting it.

This is a radical and humbling way of thinking about psychology. It means that what you think you want from life probably isn’t what life wants from you. And it means that living meaningfully is almost certainly going to screw with your plans, forcing you out of comfort and certainty, and into suffering and the unknown.

What does matter most? Don’t expect Hollis to tell you. “I will not rehearse the usual list of what matters most, namely: friends and family, love, honour, good work, reputation,” he writes.

But he does drop hints. At any major juncture in life, Hollis argues, we should ask: “Does this path, this choice, make me larger or smaller?”

Every choice, writes Hollis, demonstrating again his splendid refusal to be upbeat for the sake of it, represents a kind of death. So “when we get to junctures like that, we had better choose the dying that enlarges rather than the one that keeps us stuck”.

And anyway, who says that “happiness” – that shallow, elusive, rather narcissistic notion – is the best measure of a life in any case? Hollis quotes Rainer Maria Rilke: “The purpose of life is to be defeated by ever greater things.”

_______________________________

Cartoon: Bob Mankoff

Excerpts from the article Misery, failure, death and a slap in the face. Great advice for life from James Hollis


Sunday Morning: never pray to be at peace in belief

4404284129_d5ff0b0693_o

“I should never pray to be at peace in my belief. I should pray only that my anxiety be given peaceful outlets, that I might be the means to a peace that I myself do not feel.”

 

-Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

Photo: Hartwig HKD


Saturday Sunflowers


DSC00168

It’s that sunflower time of the year at Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton.
Cloudy weather this time.
Some post-peak droopiness to the sunflowers, which adds to their charm.
Lots of people though.
Overflow parking.
We used to have the place to ourselves.
Especially in 2012 when the 100 degree days scorched the fields and there were no sunflowers at all.
But news stories and social media have made this place go viral.
Oh well.
I guess it’s a good thing that people get so excited about sunflowers.
The field makes me feel like I’m in a Monet painting.

Our non-professional photos from today:

DSC_0058


DSC00172

 

DSC00176

Some professional photos from this past week that I’ve come across on Facebook:

cassius sunflower:

bunting sunflower

 

 

finch sunflower

 


Violin (and violinist) lost and found

violin

“The violin, known as the Ames Stradivarius, was made in Italy in 1734 by Antonio Stradivari and is one of several hundred Stradivarius instruments known to exist…Renowned violinist Roman Totenberg left his beloved Stradivarius in his office while greeting well-wishers after a concert in 1980. When he returned, it was gone…’This loss for my father was… like losing an arm…To have it come back, three years after he died, to us, it’s like having him come alive again.”

A stolen Stradivarious is found after 35 years. This calls for Bach’s Chaconne is my immediate thought. I find it on Spotify and push play.

It was written while Bach was grieving the death of his wife. He also lost both parents by age nine, and twin infant children when he was 28. There is no other piece of music I am aware of that in 17 minutes tells you the story of life.

Taking you through every valley, detour, loss, celebration, and pinnacle. It’s all here.

Thoughts turn to my own violin. Almost completely neglected for 30 years. It’s a Stradivarius copy, made in 1976. I recall what I quoted this past Monday:

EXPLORE WHAT ONCE MOVED YOU MOST:
What fired your imagination in the past, aroused your curiosity and passion? Those energies are still there, waiting for release and affirmation.

For most of my adult life I wished I had played cello instead of violin during my childhood. I was only adequate at best at the violin. I took a brief stab at cello lessons about 14 years ago, but then got pregnant and didn’t get back to it.

Suddenly I recall my 10 year old self being chosen by the violin in fifth grade. I came home from school and simply said, “I will play the violin” and that was that.

Seven years ago my youngest daughter, who was then four, while I was playing a recording of Jaqueline du Pre’s performance of the Elgar cello concerto, walked up to me and said, “I will play cello someday.” Now she does.

At the time I was struck by this coincidence: Jacqueline du Pre did the same thing at that age; she heard a recording of cello and announced to her mother she would play the cello. I overlooked the comparison to myself as a child. I don’t know why the violin chose me but it surely did.

So today I am doubly glad: a Stradivarius lost 35 years ago is found and my child violinist self lost 30 years ago is found and finally affirmed.

 

 

 

 


Monday Morning Inspiration: 21 ways to consider what matters most

Pho art

I’ll just leave these here. Jungian analyst James Hollis posted these on Facebook recently.  Pretty much everything one needs for sound mental health in a nutshell. Seemingly so simple but not. One could spend days/weeks pondering any one of them. #7 is a good place to start. #16 is necessary for any parent of older children. #19 is what has been on my mind a lot lately.

1. THE CHOICE IS YOURS:
Realize that your life is something you choose every day, whether you are paying attention or not. And that it is now time to pay attention.

2. TIME TO GROW UP:
Grow Up. Growing up means that we truly take responsibility for our lives, for how they are turning out, and stop expecting others to make those decisions for us.

3. LET GO OF THE OLD:
Pay attention to how much of your daily behavior is in service to old anxiety management systems that, once necessary, now bind you to a disempowering past.

4. RECOVER PERSONAL AUTHORITY:
Recover personal authority: what is true for you, really, and now find the courage to live that truth.

5. SEEK TO MAKE AMENDS:
Ask others where you have injured them, where they see you limiting yourself, and vow to change those behaviors.

6. STEP OUT FROM UNDER THE PARENTAL SHADE:
Consider where you are still carrying, or compensating for, the unlived life of your Mother, the unlived life of your Father.

7. VOW TO GET UNSTUCK:
Reflect on where you are stuck, and what old fear is keeping you stuck.

8. COME BACK TO YOUR TASK:
Identify what task you need to address, the flight from which will diminish your life.

9. CHOOSE THE PATH OF ENLARGEMENT:
Ask of any important life choice: does this path enlarge me or diminish me—and act on your conclusion.

10. WHAT GIFT HAVE YOU BEEN WITHHOLDING FROM THE WORLD:
What wishes to come into the world through you, and only your fears keep you from serving it?

11. SEE THE OLD SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS:
Notice the patterns which keep showing up in your intimate relationships, and from whence do they arise in your history?

12. WHAT IS THE BIGGER PICTURE FOR YOU?
Where do you stand in relationship to what is larger than you, that which asks more of you?

13. CHOOSE MEANING OVER HAPPINESS:
A life of happiness is transient; the search for meaning is life-long.

14. HONOR, FINALLY, WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND:
What parts of yourself did you leave behind, perhaps necessarily then, but which cry out for your recovery of them, for your honoring of them?

15. EXORCISE THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST WHICH BIND YOU:
What old guilts or shames inhibit you today, and how can you grow larger than their inhibiting powers?

16. FREE YOUR CHILDREN FROM YOU:
Free your children from your own unlived life, your expectations that they ratify your values, and release them as you wished released from the expectations of your parents.

17. BESTOW LOVE ON THE UNLOVEABLE PARTS OF YOU:
Accept that fact that we all are flawed, which does not mean that we are not worthy of love, of respect, and of the power to redo our lives.

18. HONOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DUTY AND CALLING:
Know the difference between work and vocation, that one is a duty and one is a calling, and that in the end, a calling is more important than anything.

19. EXPLORE WHAT ONCE MOVED YOU MOST:
What fired your imagination in the past, aroused your curiosity and passion? Those energies are still there, waiting for release and affirmation.

20. SIEZE PERMISSION TO BE WHO YOU REALLY ARE:
Where are you still looking for permission to live your life, and who do you think will give it to you today?

21. LIVE THE EXAMINED LIFE:
Keep asking “what matters most,” lest you be living someone else’s life, or simply staying on automatic pilot.

________________________________________

The artwork in the photo is by my friend Beth Drennan. Evidence that #10 is one she can cross of the list. She’s nailed that one.


Sunday Morning: God is like a pipe bomb

“You thought God was an architect, now you know
He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow
And everything you built that’s all for show goes up in flames
In 24 frames”

Isbell on the meaning of the song:

…that’s why it’s the chorus — I felt like that was the most insightful line in the song. It’s about having control and assuming that you have control over the things that go on in your life … and you know, you really don’t. You don’t have any kind of control ultimately. Things are just going to happen as they will. And I think your best option sometimes is just to react, rather than try to plan everything out in advance.

 

Interview excerpt from StereoGum

Here is another good interview with him, from the New York Times


Saturday Soundtrack: Keeping it together with Andrew Bryant

 

Today’s tasks were made easier with Andrew Bryant’s blue collar anthems as the soundtrack for the day.

I’ve always had this fear that every song I write might be the last. I’ve always been scared I will lose it or something. I used to consider my musical ability to be magical. I never thought of what I did as work, but as something I was given from some power out there. But now I know that’s not at all what it is. I know now this is something that I’ve learned to do over many years, and that my abilities grow depending on the amount of work I put into it. And that’s what I’ve learned: you have to treat your art like work, not magic. I used to treat it like magic, but now I treat it more like work. And I hope to keep working at it for a long time.

[…]

I was born 34 years ago in Oxford, Mississippi, to a sawmill father and a church piano playing mother. One taught me how to work and the other how to sing, and I try to do both as much as possible. Maybe the work isn’t as backbreaking as it was for me when I was younger and maybe the songs have changed, but I learned a lot in those day about what it takes to keep going, to not give up. I learned how to sing when my soul was down. Now I find that I just can’t quit.


T.G.I.F!

opus dance

 

Source: Berkeley Breathed


Wednesday Noon: a small opening in the day


snoopy

 

Your abysmal fatigue.
Is it causing your cognitive drift?
Or is it cognitive surplus?

Is the root cause of your emotional anemia
good distress?
Or bad distress?
Is there really a difference?
The grocery stores seem to think so.

No matter.
Snoopy says Happiness is a good long nap .
The noon bell has you headed for your car.
A small opening in the day.
Calgon can’t take you away from today’s cray cray,
but this little car nap will take you far.

 

 

Photo: mennyfox55


Sunday Morning: time off from all forms of worthiness

10076497074_604cf93250_z

“The rest of the Shepherd who makes you lay down in green pastures is not about time off from work, it’s about time off from all forms of worthiness. Resting in the sacred is a blessed break from the “You deserve a break today” deep-fried culture of the self-obsessed. Sacred rest is a break from the am-I-productive-enough, lovable enough, safe enough, thin enough, rich enough, strong enough-worthiness system we live under. The sacred rest that is yours never comes from being worthy. It never comes through adopting the right kind and the right amount and the right quality of spiritual practices (although if those bring you a sense of well-being then by all means don’t set them aside). The rest that is yours and mine comes from the promise of the Gospel: that Jesus came to save sinners, that Jesus came to heal and love and save the sin-sick and the over-functioning, that Jesus came to give rest to the weary, and the restless, to give rest to harried housewives and overworked social workers and mildly depressed executives.”

– Nadia Bolz-Weber

Photo: Nicolas Raymond


 Page 7 of 26  « First  ... « 5  6  7  8  9 » ...  Last »