Thursday, October 27, 2016

It is What It Is and It Ain't What it Ain't - Revisited

One of the mantras Donna and I have had for this last year is the phrase from Donna's cousin Alice "It is what it is and it ain't what in ain't." When I originally wrote this post in June 2015 I could never have imagined what the next year would hold.  I could not imagine my father suddenly dying. I could not imagine that it is over a year and  I still don't have a full time job but I do have two part-time ones that I love.  I could not imagine I would be back at Food Lion for over a year.

Turtle sunning itself on a rock
in the Japanese garden at Maymont,
one of my favorite places here in Richmond
I also could not have imagined how much I love living in Richmond; how at home I feel here.  I could not have imagined the number of people I have had the pleasure to meet over the past year.  That I learned that I love teaching Google Docs and Logic as much as I love teaching theology.  I also could not imagine teaching Philosophy at Bryant & Stratton and Diversity of Judaism and World Religions for a Reform Jewish Congregation, Or Ami. Last night a friend asked me how I like teaching and my immediate response was "I love it!"  I do, I do not have enough words to express how privileged I feel to get to do this work and to be paid to do something I love.

It is not always easy to accept that things are the way they are and that sometimes we can't change them. Most of all it is so hard to remember that no amount of wishing will let us go back in time and make different choices.  I couldn't change my father dying or even that my job search was going to take so long.  Learning to accept that I am not in control of many many things, and despite all the messages that everything is in our lives for a reason of our own making, I know that is false.  All too often both blessings and sorrows come into our lives uninvited, all that we control is how well we will accept them and what we are going to do now.  Have I done this perfectly? Am I model of grace, acceptance and peace of all things in my life?  Oh no, not by a long shot.  I still find myself wishing and wanting things to be different.  On my best days, I remind myself "It is what it is and it ain't what it ain't" and get on with the work of the day.  So I offer this post again to reflect on how we accept the events and circumstances of our lives and move forward because of those events and also in spite of them.  It reminds me of this quote from Florida Scott Maxwell, "You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly posses all you have been and are fierce with reality." 

How are you questing to become "fierce with reality?"

June, 2015

This expression comes from Donna's cousin Alice Gormus who frequently posts it to her Facebook page. I always chuckle when I see it.  Yet the other day I realized how much profound truth it contains.  Things are what they are and no amount of wishing or dreaming will make it different. That doesn't mean we can't act or that we should be passive recipients of whatever happens to us. It is however about seeing things as they are and dealing with them as they are rather than hoping they were different or denying what is in front of us. 
It really hit me this week as I have been battling an intense war within myself that are all about the "could have" "should have" etc.  Yes I do struggle with procrastination or as I like to say it "I need the fire of the deadline."  It is how I work and no amount of shaming and no amount of "if you had just started this earlier" has changed it (shocking I know).  It finally hit me that saying to someone who is faced with a situation that maybe you fully believe they should have worked on sooner the single worst thing you can say is "Well if you had just started sooner" or "Why didn't you do that earlier?" I say that is the worst thing one can say because there is nothing that can be done with that.  Do you have a time machine or time turner like in Harry Potter?  I can't go back in time and change it, all I can do is move forward from now.  
Yet I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words "Well why didn't you do that sooner or start that sooner or if you had just started sooner..."  It is not helpful - trust me if it was then I would be the poster child for those words.  All it feels like is that someone is taking salt and rubbing it into already sore spots.  Maybe I should have, maybe I could have but I will tell you what I know right now, I can't change that now.  I also can't tell you how much time I waste doing battle with the "I should have, could have," voices in my head.  It also has a corollary "well if you had only...." and the "well why didn't you ...." and the "you should have..." - none of them helpful.  I waste a ton of time second and third guessing my decisions and actions.  This can lead to an endless downward cycle that does lead to paralysis and sometimes passivity in response to a situation that requires decision making and action.  It is certainly not motivating or inspiring.  It is adding shame and discouragement in a moment that may already be stressful. 
There may be a time to reflect back and think about  what could have been done differently but the time for that is not in the midst of the situation.  In the midst of the situation what is needed is what is going on right now and the helpful questions and statements are "What do you need" and "Can I help."  We live in the present - we can neither change the past and we can't predict for certain the future.  All we have is now.
So thank you Alice for the reminder that it is what it is and it ain't what it ain't.  Now to keep putting one foot in front of the other making the best decisions I can staying in the present moment. 
So speaking of that I am in the midst of moving to Richmond, VA.  The blog may quiet down for a little bit as we are working on finding and settling into a place to live and I am looking for a job. All thoughts and prayers welcome! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Life Goals

I know it has been a long time since I have posted.  Writing has not been easy this past year and I am hoping to ease back into it.  I would also encourage you to check out my About and Consulting pages as I have made some updates.  My plan is to do more regular posting!

The photo below appeared on a friend's Facebook page. I liked it but thought it could use a little refining.  One thing I have learned, particularly over the last year, is that life rules are complicated and paradoxical.  No money alone cannot buy happiness but the lack of it, the scarcity of it, can be destructive.  A long term relationship is not everything and a good one is a very good thing.  All of these needed a bit more, more nuance.

So here is my version and I am sure it may change again.  My re-writing comes from some very hard lessons and some incredibly beautiful and joyful ones.  

1) Make enough money that you can thrive.

2) If you choose to have a partner, know yourself, make sure that partner is your best friend and your lover.  Make sure they love you for who you are that you can love them that way in return. Finally find a person who will stick by you year after year and keep laughing.  If you do not find this person, that is ok because you are enough.  Never settle - it will only make both of you miserable.

3) Collect wonderful memories and some painful ones.  The painful ones will remind you of the hard lessons you have learned along the way.

4) Respect yourself and embrace the recognition that comes from colleagues, friends, family and strangers. Be the best you that you can be.

5) Make your parents proud of who you are by being your best self, and as Richard Bach says "sharing respect and joy in one another's lives."  If your family of origin cannot do that, then create a family of choice that puts respect and joy at the center.  Forgive your parents knowing that most likely they did the best they could.

6) Get as much learning, knowledge and wisdom as you can -  there is always more to know.

7) Pursue a career that utilizes your best skills, never accept work that compromises your ethics and integrity, get out of toxic work environments even if they share your commitment to social justice (justice begins at home); never accept being paid less than you are worth (volunteer your time to those organizations -  jobs are meant to pay you so you can accomplish #1),  Know that you are called unto life not just a job.

So what would be your Life Goals?