Safe Upon the Solid Rock

 

 

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Another of Edna’s poems to ponder and share. Though, honestly, there’s not much to ponder here.

To quote a lesser-known poet, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. (I jest. I actually do know Shakespeare penned that. But we’re getting away from the subject at hand. Which is to say, this poem is brief and witty.)

And it is here today because, yet again, Edna’s words have moved me and I want to share them.

How easy to find stability on solid rock. And yet, what else will you find there? True beauty lies in dreams and desires. These are often found perched on less-than-solid ground. Is instability a part of being creative? Of following dreams? I don’t know.

But if it is, I’m letting my feet sink into the sand where my shining palace stands.

It could collapse.

That beautiful place I’ve worked to build.

I could lose everything.

Or it could remain.

I could gain everything.

Best not to dwell too much but, instead, look upon the ugly houses I don’t want.

Then, I daresay, I will be willing to live surrounded by the glimmer of my dreams or sink with my shining palace.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Can we indulge in our creativity and follow our dreams while still keeping our feet on solid ground? When it comes to your dreams, are you willing to live with uncertainty?

 

 

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The Timing of Bad Things

 

 

Pine trees’ branches are pretty resilient. They bounce back amazingly well after the winter. But you still wonder, looking at them, if this is the season they will snap.

When there is already snow and a blizzard blows in, you think about the additional weight on branches that are already drooping.

But…

When spring arrives and there’s a blizzard, you think about how the soft, new pine needles (who were enjoying the warm sun) will deal with being encased in ice crystals.

We have a lot of little sayings about how awful it is to have something bad happen when things are already bad.

 

Kick you when you’re down

Rub salt in the wound

Add insult to injury

 

I guess you could say: When bad things have bad timing

But can we say: When bad things have good timing

???

I mean, what about when we’re happy? Healthy?

Is that when we’d prefer bad things to happen to us? Maybe we think we can manage easier if we’re not already distressed.

I get that. I do.

If we’re beaten down, we don’t have our footing never mind a good stance to do battle.

But, honestly, when things are going well, it’s still incredibly difficult. Just in a different way.

When you’re flying high, the fall is a lot longer and you hit the ground with a hell of a lot more force.

Just pondering the pine trees…

 

My random thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

When bad things come your way, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got your face planted in the dirt or you’re feelin’ groovy. The thing is to take care of yourself. Be well, my friends.

 

 

Excuse Me While I Get My Sh*t Together

 

 

Last week I discussed the awesome TEDx talk by Sarah Knight called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.

This past week, I’ve started a list. Note the word “started”…there is much more where this came from. (No, it’s not a ‘To Do’ list.)

It’s a budget of sorts. In other words, I’ve decided what I do and do not give a f*ck about.

And here is what I discovered:

 

Things I Give a F*ck About

(Things I need to give more time / energy / attention to)

  • My health
  • My family’s health
  • Spending time with my family
  • Getting “me” time
  • Self care
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Eating
  • Sleeping

Sound selfish? Good. It should. 🙂

 

Things I Do Not Give a F*ck About

(Things I need to give less time / energy / attention to)

  • What people think of me
  • TV shows I’m supposed to be watching because they are popular
  • People who don’t hear the word “no”
  • (Most) sports
  • Celebrities’ haircuts, dresses, shoes, handbags, relationships, pets…
  • Demands on my time and/or energy
  • Expectations about what I “should” be doing
  • Number of followers on [insert social media platform here]
  • Stats on my blog
  • What my neighbor thinks of my lawn

 

Now.

I have to stop giving a f*ck about these things in the form of time, energy, or money.

I have to stop stressing about these things.

I have to say NO to these things.

WITHOUT GUILT.

Some will be as easy as getting up, grabbing a marker, and crossing them off. *cough* Celebrities, sports, TV, blog stats… I already seriously don’t care about these things.

Others will be a difficult process of undoing who I am and recreating myself in the image of “What brings me joy.”

 

Now.

The real work begins.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

I’m going to take a bit to digest this information and attempt to free up some time and energy for the things I really want to do. The things that are important to me. The things that bring me joy.

I will probably be posting on here because this little Lemon Shark does bring me joy but I will not become obsessed with and/or stressed about what others think I should be doing. So… I’ll post when I want about what I want. 🙂

 

ICYMI, here’s the talk:

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
TEDx Talk by Sarah Knight

 

And here are the books:

 


Link: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

how to stop spending time you don’t have
with people you don’t like
doing things you don’t want to do

 

Link: Get Your Sh*t Together

how to stop worrying about what you should do
so you can finish what you need to do
and start doing what you want to do

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

 

 

I just saw this TEDx talk by Sarah Knight: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

Most of you have probably seen this or at least heard of it since it’s absurdly popular.

Knight is an internationally bestselling author and this TEDx talk has been viewed millions of times. But I live under a rock of responsibilities and obligations so I missed it.

As it turns out, that is fun and ironic because I needed to hear this woman tell me (yes, she was talking to me) how I can fix my current situation.

Some of the things she talks about are similar to what we stressed-out, unhappy people have heard before but it’s presented in Knight’s own, special way. Meaning…lots of swears. Kidding. (No, I’m not. But it is intelligent, insightful, and practical, too.) She has A PLAN. A simple one that, even in the midst of misery and overwhelm, we can manage:

1. Figure out what you don’t care about.

Are you ready for the mind-blowing next step???

2. Stop caring about it.

SAY NO to those things and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY for saying it. Free up time and energy to do things that bring you joy.

JOY! 🙂

 

I’m getting both her books. Now.

That’s the power Knight wields. (That was fun.)

Have a beautiful week, gentle readers. One full of joy.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
TEDx Talk by Sarah Knight

 

 

 

Check out Knight’s books… (And just look at those subtitles! Don’t you want to do those things?!)

Link: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

how to stop spending time you don’t have
with people you don’t like
doing things you don’t want to do

 

Link: Get Your Sh*t Together

how to stop worrying about what you should do
so you can finish what you need to do
and start doing what you want to do

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

 

 

 

 

Are You Dealing With Stress or Burnout? What’s the Difference?

 

 

I believe everyone has a certain amount of stress in his or her life. It could be a lot or a little. It could be brushed away or completely take us down. But it’s there. For everyone.

I found this amazing two-part series about stress and burnout. What is the difference? Why is it important to know the difference? What can you do about them?

It’s a must-read.

Whether you’re stressed/burned out or not, it’s a fascinating look at these two conditions. It’s eye-opening and informative. Really. Check it out, bookmark it, both, whatever…but do visit these pieces by Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s blog:

 

 

ETA: I just found two posts on Sally Cronin’s blog about stress. I had to add these. They deal with similar issues in a very different way, focusing on health. Symptoms of acute vs chronic stress, how to manage stress with diet (vitamins, minerals, foods), and much more. Please check these out.

 

The link between stress and your heart

Strategies and foods to relieve stress

 

 

photo: Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

 

My Candle Burns at Both Ends

 

 

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

I could dissect this poem, line by line, pondering its possible meanings with regard to Edna’s life and writing. But this is not a lit class, it’s a blog. So I won’t. Also, I don’t want to.

It’s here today because the words are speaking to me and I need to share them.

Right now, I choose to see this poem as a reminder.

To a person who is working too much, overwhelmed and exhausting herself, who knows she cannot keep this up much longer, who addresses those who support her as well as those who do not. In the end, regardless of this knowledge, she cannot help but say how lovely it all is.

I feel these words deeply.

Watch as I go down in flames and see how beautiful the fire is.

How goddamn beautiful.

Life is difficult and stressful and a strange beauty emerges in those moments. If we look. And when we find it, we need to share it. Shout it out to friends and foes.

There is beauty in the moments of madness.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Are you going through a difficult time? Have you taken on too much? Could you use a break? I’ve got nothing. Sorry. No tips. No fix. Just support, solidarity, and a little bit of poetry.

 

The Art of Saying “No”

 

 

Your friend asks if you would edit her essay. Your kid’s teacher asks if you would run the bake sale. Your boss asks if you would stay late.

What do you do?

When you can’t take on one more thing? When your plate is overflowing? When you simply don’t want to?

Has anyone here mastered the art of saying “No”?

You in the orange shirt.

“Um…open your mouth and say the word ‘no’.”

Hmm. Interesting.

*pushes button*

*person in orange shirt drops through trap door*

Anyone else?

Good. Now that we’re all on the same proverbial page, let’s talk.

 

Some will say it varies. It depends on who is asking and what they’re asking. I’ll allow this line of reasoning. To a point. This is part of the issue.

I mean, really, if your boss asks you nicely (or not-so-nicely) to stay late, most people say, “Sure, you wretched piece of…” or probably just, “Sure.” Some people, like me for instance, say, “Of course! Not a problem!” Then those people, like me for instance, wonder what just happened.

If a friend wants help with a project, most people will probably help but they’ll be honest about what kind of time they have to offer. After all, their friend will understand. Some people, like me for instance, will sigh internally and not speak up about my lack of time and tell them to send it (if they haven’t already sent it because they know I’ll say yes).

It’s easier to say no to the bake sale request. Or so it would seem. But then some people, let’s say…um…me for example, begin thinking about the last time they assisted in any of their son’s school activities. Then, when they can’t remember (because it was like 7 months ago), say, “Absolutely!”

These answers come from negative emotions such as obligation or worry (employer), fear of upsetting someone (friend), and guilt (school).

For one who has not mastered the art of saying no, or even taken classes in it, this can be problematic regardless of the circumstances.

And for one who feels guilty or obligated or in some way responsible for making everyone happy, saying no to demands on your time can be damn near impossible. This is what I lovingly call The Yes Mess.

I want to scream. I want to scream loudly, “Hell, no! Are you kidding?! I couldn’t fit another thing into my schedule if I wanted to! I’m not a robot! Aaaahhhhh!” Or something like that. Instead, I say, “Sure! No problem!”

It is a problem.

I feel like this is linked to self-worth. By neglecting myself for others, I’m basically saying that other people’s projects, assignments, happiness, work, time, etc. are more important than my own. In other words, other people are more important than I am.

They’re not.

I need to remember that.

Instead of immediately saying yes to everything, I am making myself a promise to say, “Probably.” Or “I think so.” I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even close to a “no” but it’s as close as I can realistically get at the moment. Baby steps. Plus, this might make it easier to come back and say that I can’t.

If I’ve already agreed to something, that is even more difficult for me. I don’t want to let people down so I run myself into the ground making sure I do it. Or I let it slip through one of the numerous cracks in my life and feel horribly guilty.

So. If I say yes, I am giving myself permission to say, “I thought I could fit this in my schedule but I just can’t right now.”

I am not exaggerating when I say this stuff stresses me out, hurts my health, and keeps me up at night.

My health and well-being (and that of my family) must come before any demands on my time.

That’s really the end of that. Let’s see how this goes.

 

 

Have you mastered the art of saying “no”? If not, why? If so, how do you do it?

 

What Am I Searching For?

 

On a walk yesterday, I had my phone out snapping pictures of new plants poking out of the earth and fresh, green leaves sprouting from dead-looking brown branches.

ThoughtBubbleI was also moving leaves with my feet to find rocks for my children. They love rocks. Actually, so do I. Rocks are awesome—all different shapes, sizes, colors. Some sparkle with mica, some glisten with quartz. Plus, they feel nice in your pocket. They’re grounding.

So there I was, stopped on my little walk, when an older gentleman in jogging pants came walking up to me. “Are you searching for something?” He looked a bit like he was approaching a badger.

I smiled as brightly as I could, “Just enjoying the spring weather and looking for pretty rocks for my kids.”

He shifted, clearly uncomfortable. Then just stood there.

“Oh,” he finally managed. Then he shook his head and started walking again, saying “okay…” as he got up some speed.

Am I searching for something? Yes. The energy and clarity I get from walking. And gifts from nature for my children.

But, clearly, I need to get some of those workout clothes I was thinking of buying last season.

 

Searching for Spring

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.