A recent birthday marking my 58th year has me introspective. Vanity has me aggravated when I view myself in most photographs or the reflection in a mirror, or on a glass doorway with just the right lighting or in my sunglasses laying on my chest as I try to see well enough to pen this post as I lay poolside in the sedate atmosphere I experience when we visit Thailand.
The laid back tropical environment and my desire to hone in on my opinions and the desire to improve my writing skills has moved me to author this post which is a different style than most. I set my goal to dial in my personal tenets, my outlook, my ideology, my convictions, my morals, my principal as I ramble on to you my reader. I want to define these tenets so that I can affirm them to guide me as I manage the remainder of my life. A desire to not feel angst at aging but wonderment of life. I’ve labeled them tenets, well, because, tenets is a cool word. So instead of trying to measure up to the likes of Socrates, the grand daddy of all philosophers, I’ll just be a tenet-er 😉
As a young girl my mother was irritated by many a dinner hour conversation where my father taught me the value of arguing either side of a debate topic. He’d pick a newspaper topic, political, religious, knowledge based, existence, reality and tell me to pick a side and discuss it, mom would see it as the two of us arguing. We saw it as our way of expressing our admiration and love for one another. Soon, dad would say okay now convince me on the opposite side and our discussion/argument would ensue on the same subject yet again. The great art of debate. Grateful is how I feel about these challenges. They were the beginnings of the formation of the philosophies I’m now finally “free” enough to try to dial in. For me. My life. The legacy I leave behind. The mark I make. The factors that will determine my #makeadifference with my time here on this realm. Idle time traveling allows the luxury of deep thought. (pictured below is Buddha Mountain Pattaya, one of the sites we visited during our stay at Jomtien Beach)
Facebook is a site I enjoy. (Ya, ya I hear about the evils of social media on the regular from the man I love and the media but I find it useful and fun!) I administer my personal page, my two business pages, my blog page, the chamber page and occasionally my original hometown on the mountain page. My personal profile lists my religious preference as “positivity goodness”. My own religion, named by me, a mindset I try to spread to all around me. As recent as yesterday my traveling companion inferred his aggravation by snarky tone of voice over my positive spin on everything. I certainly see life’s glass as not half full, not half empty, simply overflowing. I always focus on the bright side and argue the positive side of every negative set in front of me. This “religious practice” tends to be an irritant at the base of most “battles” the hubster and I have. I doubt I’m changing and I doubt he is either so I anticipate these battles to exist for the remainder of my life. It’s not just him either. Other family members and friends roll their eyes at me as I defend someone or something that is less than their expectations. I can justify anything, turn it around and around in the palm of my hand and find a shiny little part to appreciate. In some regards that criticism about something I pride myself on can hurt my feelings or make me angry, but alas it’s innate, I simply can’t help myself. As much as I might try to stifle it, my optimism is a strong part of my personality and one that serves me well. I don’t have much, if any, tolerance for pessimism and the realism of someone like my my husband can infuriate me while I am envious of it at the same time as it seems a much more pragmatic way to live life. I do get reinforcement as well from many about my “religious practice.” “We miss your smile”, “you just light up this place”, “I know better than to complain to you”, these are the words that feed my soul. Thanks to all of you who take note and feel I made a difference for you, for you is why I choose this practice. #makeadifference
Gratitude plays a major role in the Positivity Goodness faith. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time or follow me on social media you know that books by Rhonda Byrne and the theories behind Quantum Physics and the law of attraction are key to my optimism. As my dear sister reads this she will no doubt snicker and shake her head. In family discussions she’s commented that I always think I can imagine things to appear or disappear if I believe them hard enough. The best example she would give is when as a newly permitted driver, under her supervision, I punched a hole into the trunk of the family Ford LTD. We think I may have backed into the hitch on a pickup truck; if not the reverse happened but upon our return to the car after some shopping, there it was, the hole in the trunk. Trying to convince her that maybe it would magically be gone by the time we got home to tell my dad, she of course knew better because of her more practical, matter of fact perspective. My sweet younger brother would chime in about the babysitting episode when I left fried bologna cooking on the stove as he and I trekked to get the mail. I got sidetracked by opening the weekly correspondence from my mom’s dearest friend and we walked back into a grease fire. Grabbing the pan without thinking I dropped it to the floor because of the glowing red hot heat from the handle, promptly melting a hole in the flooring. Making matters worse I donned my oven mitt and put the pan under running water in the sink causing the flames to rear up and scorch the ceiling paint before I could think to reach for the salt shaker to snuff it out. 🙁 I craftily covered the floor burn with a throw rug while attempting to convince us both and trying to invoke the “gods of positivity” that our parents would never notice. Yes, as with all belief systems there are some portions of the doctrine that just don’t hold true. No matter how much I visualized it, I could not make either of those realities disappear. But alas. I got the hand me down of the LTD faster than I might have otherwise and mom got fresh flooring and paint for her kitchen. You see, the shiny part of negatives can always be found! Therefore, I will continue forward in this life practicing Positivity Goodness, with me always doing my part to create the most positive reality.
High on my tenets list you will also find the practice of making a difference for others, my family, my community, strangers, places where I spend time, the world in general. My mom was active in church and community throughout my life. I remember many visits to nursing homes to simply provide companionship and deliver some home baked treats to the residents. I remember and value that feel good in your heart sentiment that comes with kind acts. At my mom’s funeral I was overcome with the pride that came from the showering of compliments and kind words that friends and neighbors expressed about my mom’s unselfish giving. I commit to being mindful to stay on this path because I witnessed first hand the fruits of these labors that in the act of giving become burdenless. The gift of a happy nature can be received by making a genuine difference in this world.
Valuing the longevity of family and friends and the making of new ones falls amongst my keys to happiness. Relationships are crucial to a social nature and placing those dear to us as a high priority can only add to our happiness. Being part of a tribe historically proves its value. I have this dream of my own communal property. Manageable acres where I place the homes of all those I hold dearest. Far enough apart that we don’t all know every move the other makes but with a common area where we happily gather regularly for meals and music. That would produce the ultimate harmony in my life. I don’t give in much to quarreling. I have no strong need to be right or be in charge. Simple harmony where smiles rule, raised voices have no validity, to each his own but we can’t stand to be far from one another. That would be one phase of my nirvana. But alas I could not stay put for long as nomadic wandering also fills my soul. Teleportation could come in very handy for popping back and forth between spots to allow this nirvana as achievable. 😉
Society seems to be attempting to come to the consensus to give credit to the importance of not simply living life but experiencing it. We have created an overachieving world. A “keep up with the Jones’s” mentality spun out of control. Bigger homes, bigger cars, more toys, more clothes and on and on. Consumerism is the downfall of a simple life. Don’t get me wrong, I love an active to do list and certainly am at my worst when idle and I like my Ford F-150 when I’m on the mountain; a lot. I miss my ATV’s we sold on downsizing. Where is the balance? Hopefully I’ll know when I see it! My big house I’ve let go of, or at least I’m making that attempt. The struggle is to accept I do not have to have so that I can get to do all that I want to do. An opportunity like the one I have now to laze poolside soaking up the sun is not time lost. It’s time for the mind. I love to find and consume new information. A tidbit of info passed on by my hubby. a friend, the radio or television can send me on hours of researching, learning, gleaning new knowledge, certainly not a waste of time. I’m not talking about losing the virtue of a strong work ethic. I’m talking about finding the line where work is life. Growing up on my family farm I know my father worked hard. So did my mother. But yet if it was not just a trick of youth our work was our life and our life was our work. We did not want for much but yet we didn’t overdo our “haves” either. Finding that precise line of achieving, living life well is my goal. I don’t want to be a pauper. I just want to live more simply. I want to value the beauty of nature and life, it’s ups and downs. Every blade of grass, every grain of sand, the veins in a leaf, the colors of the sky, the aroma of the flowers, the beauty of a smile, the sadness that provokes outpouring from my heart. (Video below is from Nong Nooch Gardens near Pattaya where beauty of nature was exhibited exquisitely. A can’t miss when you plan your visit!)
I don’t want to worry about deadlines and goals and must haves. Yet I worry about the dictates of society and others perception of my “laziness”. If I’m not working and I’m able, there must be something lazy about me. Funny though, as I researched virtues as I pondered these tenets I found that Aristotle, the dictate of the 12 virtues for life did not include hard workers on his list. Biblically speaking the 7 virtues are not inclusive of laborious work either. Commercialism and consumerism are the most likely culprits. And again, I don’t think sustenance, a bed to lie in, creature comforts will magically appear without some work. I simply fear we have lost the value in working at our virtues rather than for…another new pair of shoes for example. My goal is to simplify my life to the point I insure I’m cultivating and honing these personal tenets, these virtues. I will commit this second half (ish) part of my life to the pure appreciation of nature, the gift of life itself. The wonder of our five senses and what they alone can afford us. I will pride myself on doing the best I can at honesty, loving, kindness, helping others, gratitude and loyalty. I’ll still be working to meet the obligations of life but I’m going to do my best to turn my focus on what life itself gifts back to me. I hope you’ll tag along and #comelivelifewithme
Additional Note to Self: (and you as well if these thoughts have not bored you;-)
The virtuous philosophies discussed above I feel confident in. I can safely say they are habits for me, they come naturally because of repetitive practice. Alas, I also feel it necessary to call myself out on a couple items that are just not second nature.
Generosity is amongst those items I am aware I need to cultivate and grow. There are seeds within me but the giving is not as impromptu as I would wish for. My honey is a natural at this. Our travel in the Philippines really brought this to my awareness. In a region where there is little to no expectation of tipping. He went above and beyond. He literally made the day and possibly the month of all the service personnel we encountered. On this same vacation, while in Thailand he did that pay it forward thing and bought beers and snacks for a nearby table that were a trio of deaf and non speaking young Thai men. He does this type of thing often, without hesitation or remorse, out of the blue and then there’s me. I’m always thinking on the stingy side. So frugal (aka cheap) that I squeak. While frugality can be a positive quality in the sense of not being frivolous I want it to quit interfering with my generosity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a tip earner in my life so I’m quite equitable in that regard and I believe in karma (a possible subject of depth for a future post) but I just want to be more generous, more freely giving to improve the lot of those around me. So, I will set it as a goal now and commit to staying more conscious of giving freely from my heart until it becomes a second nature habit.
Patience is a virtue. Gosh, now there’s a saying I’ve had thrown at me since I was a child. It’s certainly not the strongest asset I possess. I’m typically fairly good at patience with others, it’s patience with self that I lack. If I can’t open an envelope easily I’m frustrated. If I can’t untie a knot swiftly I’ll throw the thing away. Forget creating with my hands, my lack of patience constantly interferes. No matter how great the desire to accomplish or have something, if I can’t easily achieve it, my lack of patience stands up tall and proud and gets in my way. Excellence pleases me but half assed has to do more often than not because I simply run out of patience. If I didn’t settle I’d never get anything accomplished, my lack of calm perseverance would eliminate the possibility. Defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” is patience. Yep, that’s not me. The lack of this quality also leads me to be short and snippy to those closest to me who try to provide assistance. I believe lack of this discipline is a relative of self consciousness. If I’m not good at it naturally and I get impatient in the learning I get self conscious and boom I retaliate by being snippy, rude, short, out of line. I have a great desire to improve this quality…if I could just find the patience to stay at it! I bet it’s time for some affirmations 😉
I feel patience coming naturally to me now.
My capability for patience opens new doors of learning for me now.
It’s nearly Thanksgiving in the United States. Weather permitting, I will be gratefully gathering with family at our son’s in the mountains of Utah. May your fortune be something to be grateful for as we begin the holiday season.