What if there was no ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

I have a confession to make: I swear. Like, I swear – a lot. And recently, I’ve had to explain to my son that there are certain words adults can use that children should not. This all started because he asked, “Why do you say bad words?” I explained to him that words are just words. Some are adult-only words, and some are not. It’s not that I condone my eight-year-old cursing, but I also don’t subscribe to the good/bad mantra when it comes to using the word ‘fuck’. Especially when contextually warranted.

So, for example, when we stopped into Wal-Greens to get our flu shot, and he yelled that particular word at the top of his lungs, I wasn’t as shocked as the nurse who was doling out pain-by-needle. I simply said, “That, my friend, was a very adult word. However, given the circumstances, you get a pass.” (This could be why he’s never invited to church).

The fact is: I work daily to stop judging experiences as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ I learned to experience each activity as it is and accept that everything happens exactly the way it is suppose to happen. To continue, I feel I need to define what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. The truth is that no event is good, and no event is bad. As I mentioned, I work every day to not categorize such events and simply label an experience as “exactly as it should be” which is: Perfectly perfect

I’d like to pretend that this thought process is very ‘Zen of me’ when in fact, my ability to not judge an experience really comes from a place of survival. The by-product is a feeling of peace.

I’m sure someone somewhere would argue it should be the other way around, but that is just their way of judging my experience and well…another topic for another time.

The moral of the story, dear reader, is…Labeling experiences as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ keeps us stuck in judgment. Some people even use the labels as ways to define themselves. This is dangerous to one’s mental health and keeps us stuck in the past with no hope of enjoying today. My brother and my father died (fact); however, I am not the woman who lost her brother and father (label). Their death is not my story. It’s just a chapter in my life. My first and second marriages ended (fact) but I’m not a failure because my marriages failed (label). Being divorced does not define me as a person. You get the point, right?

It takes many opportunities in one’s life to realize there are lessons within every difficulty. That’s why I now recognize there are no good or bad experiences. Experiences are just that: Experiences. They are what they are. I think all of us could look back on situations we thought we would never survive and be thankful we learned to put them behind us.

I once heard an analogy that there’s a reason why your car windshield is bigger than your rearview mirror. Life is not designed to be lived by constantly checking the rearview mirror. It is intended to be viewed from the windshield as you move forward. Your windshield helps you to see all the paths in front of you, some of which are rockier than others…but still keeps you moving forward. So…go forth and prosper!

As always, here’s a fitting song for today. Are you judging yourself for things that were lessons? What, if any, ‘lessons’ did you survive? I’m always curious and love to hear from you.

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A Matter of Heart

“We have been told happiness is found in big houses, new cars, fashionable clothing, and full closets. As a result, we spend much of our lives pursuing possessions seeking this promised happiness in them. But fullness of life is not found in the things we possess.”Joshua Becker

May begins with a return to my heart’s calling. April was fun as I, tongue in cheek, shed my inner domestic goddess and became a bit more playful with you. I hope you enjoyed it. No worries, I will attempt to still be witty, but truthfully, I felt a bit distracted. Distracted because all those experiments with closets and cabinets and food choices didn’t really address the real reason I blog. The real reason I write is to help us all understand one basic thing:

We have too much clutter in our lives.

Too much physical clutter. Too much emotional clutter. Too much spiritual clutter. Too much social clutter. It’s distracting.

Just typing the words “too much” gives me the heeby-jeebies. It is all so overwhelming to me sometimes, I admit. When I start to feel suffocated by my clutter, I get centered and come back to my original pursuit: What really matters?

The Answer is People. People really matter. Relationships. Relationships really matter.

For too long, the good life has been defined by overbooked calendars and time commitments that, seemingly, allow us to believe that we are really important to our community and the world as a whole. But I’m telling you…you don’t need a crammed-packed calendar to make that a reality. You are already important to your community and the world as a whole. You’ve just simply defined community and world too broadly.

Trust me on this. Your ‘community’ is that network of friends you keep up with on Facebook…with whom you never really keep in touch. Your ‘whole world’? What about your children? Your spouse? Your parents? Your friend that sticks closer than a brother? Aren’t they really your whole world?

I joked to my husband last night: “No body loves me. My phone hasn’t rang for three whole days and I haven’t gotten a text in 24 hours.” I was joking, of course. People love me…but there are days I wonder if I stopped checking in on social media sites…would anyone wonder where I’d gone?

We should build relationships – not resumes, social networks and definitely not bigger houses for stuff. Relationships. When we focus on relationships and on those we love, lives are changed. Your life. Other’s lives. And change is good.

This week’s challenge:

Pick one person and write a real letter to them. Start out by saying “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I hope to change that…” and go on from there. You will have to buy a postage stamp in order to mail this letter. A postage stamp. You remember those, right?

May Challenge

There is no challenge this month, as this ends the 90-day closet clearing challenge I asked you to start back in March. How did it go?

A Life in Focus

Husband and I got our family photos taken this weekend.  It was so fun, since we have not had any photos since our 2010 wedding.  We dressed simply, we acted like ourselves, and we enjoyed each others company in the midst of the Missouri fields.  This relates substantially to what I’m about to tell you, because Life is a lot like photography.  In order to be a great photographer, one must realize that every focal point is an opportunity to capture something memorable; to see beauty in all things.  Each photo, whether of a field of purple flowers, a flock of colorful birds, or a snapshot of a homeless man under a bridge, can contribute to a point.

So, I’ve been thinking. (I know, you are probably extremely shocked by this fact.  Some days I wish I could be one of those people who could shut off my brain and watch a football game…) I recently read a great book which helped me evaluate my core values.  Studying management and leadership for the past seven years has given me a lot of opportunity to consider ‘core values’ as they relate to my work, but I never really considered mine in an organic sense.  Maybe ‘ambition’, ‘power’, ‘wealth’, ‘control’, and ‘progress’ would have been the words I would have used if you asked me to define my core values.  I mean, if I examined my life – I certainly could not disagree that those core values drove me to where I am today.  Except, this time, I was more gentle with myself…I prayed and sought the Truth in finding who I really am.  What I found surprised me.

I learned I am happiest when my activities and my actions center around the following:

  • Abundance
  • Fairness/Justice
  • Relationships
  • Learning

But the most surprising and the most predominant of all:  Contribution

Contribution.  Wow. I never really considered that I have always desired to make a contribution until I went through this study.  But, while others sought wealth, fame, or prestige…I simply wanted my actions to contribute to the betterment of the greater good.  In other words, I want to make sure when I die the headstone reads more than just my name, date of birth, and date of death.  I want to make a difference.

This means I and my lifestyle need to change (or improve…whichever….)  and that includes this blog.  I am seeking a more focused initiative – in life and in all that I do – so I can get to the root of my true happiess – the values I hold dear to my core.  My main areas of focus for the upcoming year include:

  • A simple lifestyle:  Not just the ‘En Vogue minimalism’, but a true commitment to simplicity.  This, I think, will help me to find my Source of peace and contentment.
  • Paying close attention to income/expenses.  The goal is to narrow the gap between the two (as it currently stands, expenses are winning)
  • Health and Abundance.  This means reducing my dependence on anything that does not contribute to being healthy and having true abundance (not always financial, by the way).

In relation, I’m hoping these focused areas will also make a contribution to YOU, my reader.  Each post has got to come back to one or all of those three points, or it’s just a creepy online diary.  I want this blog to contribute to making my life, my relationships, my community, and my world a better place but I also want it to contribute to YOUR life, YOUR relationships, YOUR community, and making YOUR world a better place.

So, welcome to “My Still Life”.  Grab some coffee or a nice cup of tea.  Snuggle up…and join me.

Best,

DJ