The magic mirror all around us

Mirrors are a source of magic and of peril, and they are all around us. There are the common looking glasses we use every day to make sure our hair is combed and there is no spinach stuck in our teeth. Random reflective surfaces display our own images back at us. We can also use people as mirrors, seeing ourselves in the feedback they share.

Feedback is helpful, and it’s useful to be able to see your own reflection, but mirrors can distort things. We’ve all seen funhouse mirrors that can make us look fatter or slimmer than we really are. It’s important to be careful when we use people as mirrors because they can cause similar distortions.

Much of the harm that comes about in this universe comes when people believe lies that other people have told them about themselves. I have been told various untrue things throughout the years, including the “fact” that I am uncoordinated. My dancing partners don’t agree, but this lie held me back for a long time. When you believe something, you give it power.

When used properly, you can learn a lot by using close friends to show you an accurate reflection. You have to understand that they filter everything through their own perspective, but people who know you really well can tell you things that you are too close to see. I’ve realized a number of very important truths in the few years due to the insight of friends. This has allowed me to get out of my own way and make progress. I could not have done that on my own, and I am grateful for what they have shown me.

I’ve also polished my own inner mirror to a bright shine. This is the most important mirror you have. Still yourself and look within. Does what you see there make sense with what you are being told? You need to listen deeply enough to get beyond the lies you may have internalized and find your own truth. This can be hard work, but ultimately you have to trust yourself and go beyond the chattering monkeys of your mind. You have the power to use mirrors for good. It is a powerful magic that is always waiting for you.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
262. Examine something that someone you know has told you about yourself. Is it a true reflection or a distortion of some kind? If it’s a distortion, think about why that might be–some people cannot see clearly enough themselves to give good feedback, while others are people that don’t belong in your life. Look in your inner mirror to find out which is which.

Leaps of faith

It hasn’t been the easiest week here. I started enthusiastically cleaning all the dust out of my apartment last week in an attempt to improve my allergies but apparently if you’re allergic to dust you shouldn’t do that without a mask. I didn’t know that, but my lungs did, and I kicked my asthma up quite a few notches. Thank heavens there’s treatment for that, and my lungs and I are resting on the couch and recovering. It’s been a bit of a scary week.

No one likes weeks like this, but you have to figure out ways to get through them–some version of stress happens to all of us on a regular basis. We scrape the car, the roof needs repairs, someone loses a job. Life happens and there doesn’t seem to be anyplace steady to walk. It can be difficult to function when stuff like this happens.

I have a variety of things I do. I always tell myself that things will get better because they have to. I have to believe this, and it seems that things always do improve. One of my close friends gave me a card which says “give thanks for the blessings which are already on their way”. I’ve got it up on my door so I see it every day. I remember this and live by it. I also listen to my friends in times like these. I may be standing in the middle of stormy seas with no lifeboat in sight, worrying about my health or other things going on, but they are standing on solid ground. They tell me that it will be okay. I believe them. It helps.

I’m a Zen girl, so I also have my meditation and other practices. The more things change, the more that is a constant in my life. I can meditate sitting still on the couch recovering from lung trauma. Lucky thing I am not a whirling dervish–they meditate in a spinning dance, and I haven’t got the air power for that right now, but I will. This too shall pass, and I’ll be back to dancing and regular stuff soon. And I’ll finish my cleaning with a mask on. Now I know.

I wasn’t sure whether to write my blog post on this or not. This is a blog about the pursuit of joy. I decided that I should because people sometimes think that joyful, positive people are in denial or that no stress enters our life. In general this is not at all true. It cannot be true. Stress happens. Life happens. It’s what you do with it that matters, and the people who have had the most stressful lives often end up with the most coping skills. It’s important to share them.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
253. What are you doing to deal with a stressful situation in your life? How can you make yourself feel a little better even in the middle of the turmoil? Remember this: It will get better. It has to.

Ready, set, play!

This week has been so full of writing and random goodness that I didn’t even realize the week had ended until I looked up and it was Monday. Temporal shifts like this can sometimes happen like this when you’re doing freelance work. I’m going to create another one right here and add Monday on to the end of last week so you get your weekly blog installment.

It’s important to appreciate all the random moments that come about. Collage them into your memory. Write about them on Facebook. Make yourself a journal. Tell a few blog readers. Whatever you do, appreciate the heck out of them and the universe is likely to send more your way.

I’ve had all sorts of work and fun in the last few weeks, but one of my most entertaining afternoons was spent creating collages with a close friend. We’ve been visiting art museums as a way to take the day off every week but it was time to get hands on. We grabbed some of the free magazines that are distributed around town and set to work with scissors and glue sticks.

There was no plan–we clipped images that appealed to us and eventually started arranging them on background pieces of paper until we finally started gluing things down. I gave a giraffe the space needle for a hat, and after that I could not resist finding some other fabulous headpieces for the animals I had cut out of the magazines. Everything developed from there. My friend ended up with a woman emerging from an egg and all sorts of movement of creatures throughout colorful space. Both creations were lovely and we didn’t need special training or expensive materials. Free magazines, glue sticks, scissors–I know we’ll have to do it again. We were even able to use some of the magazines we had ready for recycling. Good for the environment, great for the soul.

What other opportunities are lurking about for some creative play? I know I mean to find out, and I’ll have fun doing it. There is nothing to lose, and now I have some new artwork to decorate my fridge or office space. My inner child appreciates me hanging her creation up where I can see it as I work. I’m very glad to have her around.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
242. Have an art date with your inner child and a few friends. This is about fun, so don’t worry about making something perfect. Play with the materials and display what you’ve made.

Hallmark, heroes, and huzzah

Today is Mother’s Day. I think of my mother, who is no longer alive, and I miss her. I think of my sisters and cousins who are mothers, and I honor them. I think of my friends who are moms, and I appreciate them. Mothers are heroes, women who work hard to nurture children and to raise the next generation. They don’t get enough credit, and they should be appreciated every day for the incredibly important work they do, often while doing other work to bring income to their families. I’m sure they appreciate this special day—this greeting card holiday—but I think we need to appreciate them all the time and be grateful for what they have given and continue to give.

I also think of the village. The greater culture tells us that it “takes a village to raise a child” and I think this is true. It takes more than just your mom to do the mothering that we all need. Just as I believe that gender is a sliding scale and we all have masculine and feminine aspects to our personalities, I also believe that many of us nurture each other the way mothers nurture their children. I’m not trying to steal the thunder from this Hallmark holiday—mothers raising actual children deserve all the praise they get on this and any other day of the year. I’m simply appreciating the fact that we all have a role to play in helping to raise each other.

I’ve grown—and grown up—so much due to the counsel and loving guidance of friends. When I’m sick, I have people who check on me and offer me soup. Friends taught me to cook. Friends taught me to drive. Friends continue to teach me to love and value myself as I walk about this world. I value the “mothering” that they have brought to my life. I try to nurture others in kind, believing I have much to give without raising children of my own. I never wanted to raise children, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the village that continually educates and empowers those around me. Thank you to all of my many mothers. Though my own mother has passed away, she has left her mark, and you continue to make yours. I appreciate you all, every day.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
241. This year as you celebrate Mother’s Day, take a moment to appreciate all the loving energy coming to you from the many people in your life. Who are some of the people adding nurturing energy to your life?

Amigos, together

I am so tired this morning! My arms are aching. I need a nap. I had a rough weekend, and a wonderful weekend. It was very difficult because Seattle had uncharacteristic heat, and the renovations on my building meant that I couldn’t open the windows. My house mate also decided to move most of his stuff to the new apartment he found. We were moving in the midst of the heat. Saturday was warm and sticky, which is weird weather for the Pacific Northwest. I helped him to put up shelf paper, and the effort was enormous for both of us. Sunday we did the whole U-Haul thing, carting boxes and lifting furniture. It was very productive, but also exhausting.

We still had a lot of fun. The amazing thing about good friends is that you can have a really good time together even when you’re all stressed out. He had decided to move his stuff right away because he’s got company coming today, and the visitors are going to stay in the new place. The decision to move on Sunday was kind of a spur of the moment thing, but his friends all pitched in to help. We made up songs about moving and were singing as we carted things from one place to the other. We collapsed together and drank limeade afterwards. It’s good to know that you have people to help you through life’s stresses.

He’s going to help me to move when my time comes, and I know it’s going to be the same mixture of hard work and goofy shenanigans. I tried to bring that spirit of fun back to the apartment with me last night, and I packed a whole bunch more of my own boxes. It’s like Mary Poppins always says: “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” It’s much easier to get hard work done with music playing and a spirit of playfulness in the air. My friend and I are looking forward to a time later this summer when all this will be behind us and we’ll be drinking the limeade without the lifting. Until then, it’s great that we have each other.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

107. Who helps you through life’s stressful times? Celebrate that connection today by doing something fun with one of those people.

Have a cupcake

Today is my best friend’s birthday, and I wish I could be in North Carolina to celebrate with her. I know she’ll be having a great time, though. She usually does. That’s one of the many things I love about her.

Friends are one of the greatest joys in life, and friendships are one of the best learning experiences. My friendships have taught me that I’m a far better and more interesting person than I thought I was. They’ve also taught me how annoying I can be. Friends can more easily point out behaviors that might not suit a person to her best advantage without hurting feelings.

My friends have taught me how to maintain relationships, how to negotiate conflicts and how to celebrate milestones. They’ve introduced me to new music, new writers and new ideas. They’ve challenged my opinions. We’ve debated issues so that I understand where I stand more clearly. They are my advice and my support, and I am theirs. My friends help me to take risks and to grow as a person.

I look to my friends as role models. It’s great to know that there are companions to help you as you travel your path in this life. I can turn to my pals when I have a sticky situation, and often someone will have been through the very same thing. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and I can benefit from each person’s strengths and weaknesses. I have friends who are more assertive than I am, and I’m learning their ways. I’ve learned how to be more graceful from others. I’ve also learned about the ways I’m perceived in the world. One friend recently told me he likes me because I have a very hearty personality. Who knew? I guess he did.

I’ve learned more from Laurie than I could put in a blog entry, but we’ll be friends to the end, and I consider myself a very lucky person. We’ve both come so far since we met, and I know that our association has a lot to do with that. As she celebrates today, I want to send her a wish for many more joyful years. That’ll help everyone else, too, as she shares her positive energy wherever she goes. Happy birthday, Laurie! and Happy Earth Day to all!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

84. Spend some time with a friend today, whether in person or on the phone. Isn’t your friend amazing? Take a little time to appreciate the joys you share as people.