Truth downtrodden, not dead

If I were to look at the world from a teen’s perspective, life is pretty black and white. It’s either hot or it’s cold. It’s good or it’s bad. It is right or it is wrong. Despite the backdrop of this simplicity, life is pretty complicated as emotions swell beyond the youngster’s comprehension.

As we grow older and our emotions stabilize, truth takes on shade. Grey areas emerge. Shadows lurk behind the meaning of things. And we grow accustomed to truth’s dimming shine. Our indignation weakens as adult life distracts us. We are lulled into a quiet sleep, fact-checking less, digesting garbage without thought and passing on recycled beliefs we’ve stopped questioning.

During some moments in history, the light switches back on. Our eyelids peel back, our backs straighten. We start paying attention with an intensity long forgotten in those high school hallways of yesteryear.

Now is one of those moments. When truth is on the witness stand. When what is said is scrutinized more closely. When the litmus test of reality races to the forefront.

Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-25 um 11.47.02Time magazine put three words and a question mark on its front cover this week.

Is truth dead?

The very fact that the editors pose the question tells me it is not. If we truly lived in a post-fact world, we would have no mind to engage in the inquiry.

In Trump’s attempt at weakening what is real, at his outright inability to withstand truth’s might, at his blaming and slandering and pouting and thrashing comes truth’s ultimate power. He is inadvertently strengthening the very thing he cannot stand: groups who disagree with him.

You cannot fight against forces stronger than you. No tower so high, no wife so beautiful, no pocket so deep, no office so revered will ever make an honest man out of a liar. A cheater. A profane example of human impotence.

The truth may be downtrodden, but it lives on. We are ever vigilant now. The tempest is gathering its gale force winds. The greatest revenge is our own success.

The truth will prevail. And so will we.

 

Listening to the Whispers of Time

The Universe is an ever-expanding, timeless place. Yet we act as if time were real, measuring out our lives in coffee spoons as the late T.S. Eliot liked to say. We also act as if the things that happen have an infinite meaning, pressed in indelible ink on the pages of our life’s script. A negative comment, a weirdish interaction, a conflict with a co-worker — we often give too much weight to the one thing that is not working, instead of focusing on all the things that do.

Recently, I took a walk in the woods, as I often do, to sort out life’s complications. I began the journey by making a mental list of all the things that were going well. One-half hour into my walk, I realized I hadn’t stopped listing the good in my life. Why, then, do we spend 90% of our time on the 10% that is broken?

It has to do with our brains. We are hard-wired to focus on the threatening things — real or imagined — to secure our existence. If you were to believe the media today, you might even think that the world is about to end if we don’t pay attention to all the dangers lurking just beneath the surface of virtually everything with which we come into contact.

The premise of this blog — and my life’s work — is that it is possible to have a more positive relationship with the clock. But since time doesn’t really exist, we need to treat it as an imaginary friend who can still have a great deal of influence on how we do things. Every once in a while we need to do a time audit by looking at how we have spent the last year, for instance. Doing taxes is a fine exercise in revisiting the time we have spent and the things we have done within that framework. What made us happy (do more of that)? What made us cringe (avoid it, if possible)? Who entered our lives at the most amazing moment (say a prayer of gratitude)? Who left (and we were glad)? How do we wish to spend this year?

Listening to the whispers of time is instructive. Watching a child, plant or animal grow is a fine example of time’s sweet nothings pressed close to our ears. Seeing clients, friends or material items move beyond us illustrates the endless heartbeat of the Universe. Nothing ever stays the same.

So why on Earth should we?

 

Life On Purpose

The transcience of life is never more apparent to me than when I learn of someone’s passing. Whether at their own hand (news which I have heard far too often lately) or at the hand of Fate, death is a reminder that our personal bank account of time is limited.

How much of our time is spent doing things that aren’t serving us, or worse, are actually harming us? How little time do we spend focused on the people, places and passions that really turn us on?

I’m not saying your life has to be one peak experience after another. We’d tire out quickly if we didn’t have some down time between all that luscious intensity. What I am saying is life on purpose is a lot more satisfying than aimless wandering into the “I have no idea what I want and I don’t care to find out” approach to your days.

It is upsetting to think people feel they have no other way out of their troubles than to exit this world voluntarily. There is always a way out ~ inside of life. You needn’t jump outside it to find the solution.

Repeat after me: You are not your circumstances. You have instrinsic value no matter where you are right now. Circumstances change. You can too, if you wish.

If you are reading this and feel a sense of helplessness, know that you aren’t alone. We all struggle sometimes. We are meant to help each other in this world, to raise each other up to our truest potential, to celebrate exactly who we are and to take pleasure in participating fully in all experience.

If our lives are the culmination of our choices, what do you need to do to change yours? Ah yes. Make different choices.

Now you’re talkin’…

The Stressful Pursuit of Relaxation

It was an investment. It really was. Husband and I braved one of trickiest times at Aldi – the lawn furniture sale that went live at 8 a.m. this morning.

For you non-German readers, you may not know what that means. It involves manuveuring large aluminum chairs, tables and chaise lounges in impossibly small spaces with more customers than products. Think Tickle-Me-Elmo at Walmart on Christmas Eve.

We’d been pushing off the purchase of lawn furniture for years. Going on our fourth summer in our now-not-so-new house, we arose at the crack of dawn, sent the children off to the school bus stop, and drove, grim-lipped and in silence, to the nearest Aldi.

The result? My foot got run over by several shopping carts, my thumb got smashed at the check-out line (only once), and we got every piece we were looking for.

Here’s the visual. And yes, both of those carts are mine. Along with the very, very large and unwieldy table-in-a-box stacked behind everything else.

Pretty comical, right? This store takes the artificial scarcity approach. They literally sell out of their seasonal items every Monday and Thursday. And I wouldn’t have done it, except Husband looks so cute in his apron.

And we needed somewhere to sit. In relaxation. Until the next seasonal sale with items we’ve put off buying until we have no alternative.

New Study Finds Multitasking Women More Stressed than Men

as retrieved from http://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com

According to a new Michigan State University study headed by sociology professor Barbara Schneider, women are still considered more adept at multitasking than men, yet are also more stressed as a result. Compared to the 38.9 hours per week that men multitask, women shoulder more responsibility at home with a whopping 48.3 hours spent on getting multiple things done. While men experienced multitasking as more ‘pleasurable’, it had the opposite effect on women.

Why?

First, consider the  cultural norm. It’s expected that women get more done. So as we plow through our day (literally), we perceive things as not going fast enough. It is my guess that women suffer far greater stress due to the expectation of multitasking. Women are time-crunching warriors. To their detriment.

Second, research has shown women spend more time taking care of everyone else but themselves. A recent Forbes article reported on a study by the Captivate Network that states men are 25% more likely to take personal time throughout the work day, 35% more likely to take mini timeouts (yeah, you power of slowers!) and 7% more likely to take a walk than women.

The study also shows an imbalance in household chores. Women do more laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning than men.

So how can we introduce more slow? Women: listen up.

  • It’s time to ratchet down the expectation on yourselves that it has to get all done. Who said so?
  •  The sky will not fall if you leave some chores undone. If it really bothers you, delegate. Chances are there are other highly capable people in the house who can do it instead.
  • Take more timeouts. Please. A burned out worker is a useless one.
  • Take care of yourselves. That means taking a lunch away from your desk, saying ‘no’ and being smart about your resources, which is YOU! In fact, you are your best resource.

What slow moment will you allow yourself today?

WATERFALLS © Robert Bialota | Dreamstime.com

Recessionary Health Benefits

WATERFALLS © Robert Bialota | Dreamstime.com

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, the recession has had a lot of people reviewing their habits and turning toward a healthier lifestyle.

Forty-seven percent of workers report they have been packing a lunch more often to eat healthier or help save money. As for smoking, 44 percent of workers who smoke said they are more likely to quit smoking given today’s economic conditions. In addition, one-in-five said that they have decreased the number of times they smoke during the work day (21 percent) or actually quit altogether (20 percent).

The CareerBuilder survey was conducted among more than 4,400 workers between May 18 and June 3, 2010.

The downside I have seen is that people are taking less time to eat lunch. Instead of resting, many people are utilizing their lunch hour to run around like a mad person. While I agree with the 10% that opted to walk on their lunch break, 16% chose to work through it.

Nearly one-third (32 percent) report they take less than a half hour for lunch, while 5 percent take less than 15 minutes. Ten percent never take a lunch break! Nearly one-in-five (18 percent) typically don’t leave their desks during their lunch break and eat in their workspace 5 days a week.

So while people are smoking less, they are taking fewer breaks as well. The ultimate health benefit to scaling back is when we realize the only way to sustain our energy throughout the day is to take a reasonable amount of time to slow down.

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Planning the Space in Between

spaceLauree Ostrofsky wrote a brilliant post about negative space. The Japanese call it ‘ma’, the space between things. She asks what one would do if we planned the things between activities. What would our day look like if we only planned the down time instead of the fillers of time we usually dictate? She asks

“What would today’s calendar entry look like if you only listed the time between activities instead of the activities themselves? How would it change how you view your time?”

What would you do if you had a day of nothingness? Would you disappear? Or would your true self emerge?