Ubuntu

November 21st: Ubuntu

So, if you have no idea what that word means, you are not alone. Pardon me while this gets a little bit weird, won’t you?

I woke up this morning, and as I was standing there, groggy and bleary eyed, trying to gather the things to make coffee, I noticed that the word “ubuntu” was repeating itself over and over in my head. Not only was it repeating itself, but I could see it, spelled out, in my mind. I did not have the first clue what that word meant, or even if it was a word at all.

So, I got my coffee going and I did what anybody would do when they want to find something out- I googled it. “What is ubuntu?” I typed out. Much to my disappointment, I learned that it was some kind of computer operating system or something. I scrolled for a bit, thought it over, and tried again- “meaning of the word ubuntu”.

And there it was. Apparently, it’s a South African word that means a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity. From what I gather, it is something like…I cannot be happy when I am making someone else unhappy. I cannot truly be happy in the presence of suffering. I am one piece of the collective whole…my actions matter. It is the quality of being human, expressing warmth. It is the divine spark of goodness inherent within each being.

So…that’s kinda weird, right? Not the concept, the concept is amazing. I mean the fact that this word found its way into my head this morning. I wondered if perhaps it was part of a meditation I’d done in the past, but I tried searching for it and couldn’t get an answer. Either way, it’s pretty obscure. And pretty cool.

Especially when I tell you this: Last night, I stopped by the store to grab a rotisserie chicken and on my way in, a homeless man outside stopped me. “Can you help me out with some food?” He asked. I paused, surprised. Normally I’m asked for money, so this was different. “What kind of food?” I asked. “I don’t know…maybe some bread and lunch meat?”

So, I didn’t hesitate. I was happy to do it. Normally, I wouldn’t even talk about something like this because, to me, announcing a nice thing you’ve done just takes all of the good out of it. I’m only bringing it up because it fits into all of this. Cam and I went into the store and we had a ball. We got bread, roast turkey, a hot chicken quarter from the deli (plus my rotisserie chicken, of course). We got brownies, mayo, mustard…just a bunch of stuff for this guy.

At the end, when I paid for it, I got a little twinge. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m trying to save money, it’s the holidays, I’ve been spending too much…but nevertheless, I felt good when I handed him the bag. Cam asked why I was smiling, and I said “Because it makes me feel good. No one should have to go hungry.”

I allowed myself to worry a little as I fell asleep last night, though. I need to be more responsible, etc., etc.

This morning, I woke up with this word in my head. I think it was a sign that I did exactly what I was supposed to do, to be honest. I think it had more than one meaning, honestly, but for now, let’s stick to this one.

When I logged into my bank account this morning, I saw that a check for a few hundred dollars had been deposited into my account. Imagine that.

There are forces at work in our lives that are far bigger than we are. So many things, both seen and unseen, that move us along our paths. When someone asks for help, give it if you are able. You and I are both part of the collective whole…what we do matters. It matters more than we might ever grasp on this plane of existence. Believe that all will be well, that all things work out as they are meant to and be one of the helpers. Never entertain doubt that your efforts are wasted or unwise. I have a feeling they mean a great deal.

Whack-a-Mole

November 19th: Life is But a Game of Whack-a-Mole

If you are anything at all like me, you will understand the title of this post.

Look, I didn’t make the rules, I’m just over here trying to deal with life the best I can, stay grateful, nurture my spirituality, do things that feed my soul, give my love and my time to the young people I did most of the work creating, meditate daily, and share the little nuggets of “wisdom” I’ve gleaned with whoever wants to read it.

Also, I have to eat, work, sleep, and do the drudgery of a 50’s housewife without any Valium at all and no husband to deal with…so I guess that’s kind of a win?

My point is, and I swear that I do have one, there are pieces missing from that list. “How can that be?” you might wonder, “There are already so very many things on that list for one small person in one short day!”

Yeah, you’re right! There is! That’s what I’m getting at- While I’ve been over here trying to be a super mom and a kick-ass employee who also has this crazy spiritual side of her going on, I haven’t exercised in like…seriously, I don’t even know. I don’t count walking my dog because that’s really for her, and she stops to sniff things way more than we are walking, so…

Also, my house, which is always pretty gnarly, has really been suffering lately. I got the laundry kind of under control, but I don’t know when I cleaned the bathroom last. I finally washed my sheets today, and I flat out refuse to tell you how long its been since that last happened. Mostly because I can’t remember. The dishes get done regularly, yet there are always more. My car is so dirty right now that if I run out of windshield wiper fluid, I don’t think I’ll be able to drive.

Basically, whatever I am excelling at, you can bet your ass that there are just as many things that are being left undone. Add my ADHD to the mix, and it’s just a confusing half-finished project of a life. Also, I have no idea where my keys are and I’ve been missing one shoe for so long, I think maybe I just need to throw its mate away. So that’s my life, in a nutshell. A big-ass whack-a-mole life.

Today, if you relate to anything I’ve just said…first of all, I’m sorry. I’m sorry it’s like this, and I don’t know how to fix it, BUT! Take heart! I think it’s like this for everyone, whether they talk about it or not. I’m sure it’s a spectrum, and some of us are a bit more harried than others, but it’s okay! We are all just children stumbling around in these adult bodies with credit cards and secret feelings of inadequacy. This is as normal as it gets, folks. Maintaining balance is a myth. So relax. Just pick up the mallet and hit the mole that’s closest and call it a day. And if no one has told you lately, I think you’re doing a pretty good job.

Time

November 18th: Time

There is something incredibly liberating about being a single woman in her forties. I’m not just saying that so you won’t feel sorry for me, either- I mean it!

I spent the better part of my life chained to my addiction problems, convinced I had time, I had time, I had time to fix all of it. Prior to that, I was a kid with trauma I didn’t even recognize as such, starved for approval and acceptance and wanting to be loved…and if I couldn’t be loved, I at least wanted to be cool, to fit in.

When I finally got clean, I signed myself right up for a whole new set of directions for how to live my life in a 12-step program, and that worked really well for me…until it didn’t anymore. At a certain point, I got very strong, and very clear that, for me, rehashing my past and confirming over and over again that I was an addict was no longer healing me but keeping me stuck. I know that this is not the case for everyone, but we are talking about me right now, and this is not up for debate. (This is another wonderful thing about being who I am today- boundaries)

I set myself free at the beginning of the year and decided I would figure out my life on my own because I trusted myself to be capable of that. What I discovered about myself in the following months were some incredible things. I discovered that focusing on who I am today rather than who I was five years ago made me capable of forgiving myself in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. I discovered that I am not doomed to repeat history, that I have healed. And I discovered that I spent an awful lot of time trying to reach goals that I didn’t even really want.

Now, how crazy is that? To work your tail off to get to a place you don’t even particularly want to be? Not that there was anything wrong with those places, mind you, but they weren’t for me- maybe they were close to what I wanted, but they weren’t what I really wanted. Why in the world would anyone want to live that way?

Well, the answer is pretty simple, and I think we all do this. I aimed for other things because I didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that I was capable of achieving the things I truly wanted. The minute this really sank in, I decided I wasn’t going to live that way anymore.

Because I just do not have time. I am 44 years old, and the time for meandering is gone. This is IT. This is the first time in my life when I have both the means and the wisdom to go after my dreams with a real chance of succeeding. And if I don’t? Well, at least I will know that I gave it a shot. That will be enough for me. Had I gone after all these smaller, secondary things; I’d just be wondering ‘what if?’ I am not the kind of person who would take that in stride.

So, what is so great about being a single woman in her forties, you want to know? I am blessed to have a keen awareness of time these days. I know that I do not have forever. None of us have forever, but when you are very young, you truly have no sense of your own mortality, and maybe that’s how it should be. But I do now. And it drives me to take more risks, to do bigger things, to not worry so much about how I look or what other people think. I am more concerned with how I feel and what I think, and that is a wonderful thing.

Today, if you are reading this, I want you to understand that every minute of every day is a precious gift. Stop wasting it. You do not have time to hate yourself, or time to squander on lesser dreams. This is it! This is your life, happening right now. Go for the things you truly want, reach for the life that you envision that seems so far beyond your reach- because you have no idea what you are capable of until you try. Don’t count yourself out before you’ve ever taken a shot. Don’t wait. Start right now.

Rest

November 17th: Rest

I pushed myself really, really hard yesterday. In addition to running all over town to pick up everything for Cam’s party, I had to wrap presents, make gift bags, bake macaroni and cheese, load the car and help Camryn get dressed and ready. And that was all before the party even started!

Being a mom is always my favorite thing- always. But being a mom on a birthday party day is stressful! Worrying about who will show up, trying to make it a good time, being in charge of a bunch of kids. Plus, I skated my buns off. So, by the time it was over, I was wiped out. I don’t spend a lot of time doing very busy, social things. It…drains me. A lot.

So, I went to bed very, very early last night. Of course, I woke up very, very early, too. I made my coffee and had an excellent cup, and then I thought “you know what? I’m not done sleeping yet.” So, I filled up my travel mug for later, and I did something I almost never do- I went back to bed.

And that is pretty much how my day has gone. Up, coffee, eat some leftover cake, go back to bed. Up, let Camryn in from her dad’s house, eat some leftover sandwiches, go back to bed. I finished a book and started another one. I checked on Cam, who slept for about three hours herself this afternoon.

I finally took a bath around dark, left to go to the store one time, and meditated just before sitting down to write this. I did not accomplish much today, not in the traditional sense, I guess. But I did rest. And that is not the easiest thing to allow yourself to do when there are a million other, seemingly more important things to be done. I needed it. I can’t begrudge myself this little thing that my body and spirit asked me to do for myself.

Today, or whatever is left of it…I hope that if you are tired, worn out, drained, that you can allow yourself to rest. Go to bed early or watch something trashy on TV. Take a hot bath, read a good book. The dishes can wait, trust me. They’ll still be there in the morning. Give yourself a little break. Goodnight.

Thoughts

November 16th: Thoughts

I do not know how anyone else’s mind works. I am only just now, at my age, beginning to understand the way mine works. I am pretty confident, though, that we all generally, at the very bottom of it all, want the same things: To love & be loved, to feel safe, to be healthy, free of worry, and to be peaceful and happy. That might look starkly different from person to person, but the desires are the same.

The biggest obstacle that stands between me and all of those things are not any of the things that make the most sense. I am not unlovable or incapable of giving love, I am not in any imminent danger, not sick, not plagued with problems. The things that give me trouble more than anything else are my own thoughts.

As I said, I don’t know how your mind works. But mine is pretty extra. I love my mind, don’t get me wrong- I am funny and imaginative and I have a knack for knowing how to coax a smile from a child or soften an angry heart. I love that about myself. I can also drive myself up the wall with fantastic scenarios that will never happen, assumptions that are dead wrong, and just plain rude remarks towards my own self, when I know I am doing the best I can. Who needs that?

Not me! Part of the reason I meditate (as I’ve mentioned a billion times before) is to slow the frantic pace of my thoughts, and to recognize when my thoughts are unkind and untrue. Most of the time it works great. When the stakes of the day are a bit higher, though, so is my anxiety, and therefore, my thoughts are a bit harder to deal with.

The thing is…I always end up doing what needs to be done. I always pull it off, whatever it might be. Looking back on my life, whatever the occasion was, I can’t think of one I didn’t rise to. Perhaps there have been some, but the point is, I can’t remember them if there were, so…it must not have been that important, right? All the stress and worry I put myself through was and is for nothing.

Today, whatever you have on your plate, remember, you can handle it. If your thoughts are being unkind and untrue, let them know that you see that and that you won’t be taking that shit on right now. Worry and stress do nothing but rob you of the joy of living, and you deserve to enjoy your life. So, make your best effort and know that is the most anyone can ever expect of you. And when your thoughts get a little sideways, remember YOU are in the driver’s seat, and you know what you are doing. If that doesn’t work, just turn up the music until you can’t hear yourself think. That works, too.

Cheat Post

November 15th: Cheat Post

I promised myself I would write one post per day for one year. Well, this counts, right? I am dead ass tired and have little to contribute tonight.

My advice for the day? Be as kind as you can. Put your cart back. Say thank you. Give big hugs. Love yourself because you are super cute and adorable. Drink some water. Floss more. Go to bed early.

Oh, and if you have any library books, take them back. Those fines are no joke these days.

Goodnight kids. I’ll have something brilliant tomorrow. Maybe.