Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ok so...

life is going to unravel exactly the way it is supposed to...God will handle it, without my hand reaching into the cookie jar. So why not just allow it? Why is it so scary to actually turn my will and life over to my Creator? Am I really that arrogant as to think that I can come up with better solutions? Or do I not trust in times of anticipation? The questions I need to ask: What is in my survival kit? What is in my spiritual tool kit? My survival kit involves the desire to manipulate or control my surroundings and closed hands. My spiritual tool kit contains prayer, meditation, gratitude, acceptance, my God box, and open hands. Yesterday I made the proclamation that God was going to do whatever the $%^& He wanted anyway, so I might as well surrender. I think I actually did. I surrendered and then I got to work, cleaning my sock drawer, where I found the money I had lost 6 months ago. Surrender + Action + Faith = Grace. The leaves are beginning to change on my favorite old oak tree that I can see as I sit here in front of the window in my apartment. I don't know how long I will be able to stay here, I haven't been able to pay rent. But I know that my Higher Power will guide me as long as I can give up my control, as long as I can just allow Grace to enter, to allow a little space in my head for the answers. So today I will finish this post, I will keep my appointment with someone at a local college who will give me some much needed career advice, I will open the study guide to the GRE exam and I will be

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Eyes Have It

The other day I day I drove past a hiker who had just emerged from a segment of the Appalachian Trail. For the briefest of moments I caught his eye, or he caught mine. I will never see this gentleman again, I don't even remember what he looked like, but I do remember connecting with him through that glance. Call me crazy (you won't be the first) but connection is possible, even for seconds, as we pass our fellow travelers on this journey we might call life. We hear that the eyes are the window to the soul or that some guy or gal caught your eye. There is something about looking someone directly in the eye (don't try this with dogs or just-released convicts however.) G.K. Chesterton said, "There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect." We consult our third eye, we create in our mind's eyes and we live in a visual culture, a culture that champions what can be seen, or what can be proved. Even what cannot be seen, has to be translated into a picture, a God with flowing white beard, Krishna with a flute or Buddha with a belly. We even relate our Selves with our eyes. Our ego, the "I" in English is a homonym of this gateway to the soul. In Italian, "I" or "Io" is found at the end of the word for eye, "occhio." Yes that argument is a little far reaching and no I am not going to hang out with Google translate all day to prove a point (is there a point at all?) There is the eye of the beholder, the eye of the tiger, or an eye for detail. We have a vision for our futures and we look back on our past. The ayes have it, "aye aye Captain," look that problem straight in the eye. So I looked, or rather glanced at that hiker, right in the eye, I connected for that moment with someone, who knows what would happen if I did that more in my daily life. What would it look like, if I, say looked at the cashier as I said thank you? Would it mean more than an automatic polite response? Or am I inviting trouble? As James Hetfield said, "It's all fun and games 'till someone loses an eye, then it's just fun you can't see." Made no sense? Well I will try to end this short essay with another quote by Wordsworth. "With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things." May your day be filled with harmony, joy and beautiful things. Take time to pay attention to the beauty and connect with another, after all, there is more to life than meets the eye.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Dog's Life

The Partnership for Animal Welfare defined temperament as "the general attitude a dog displays towards people and other animals; it is the combined inherited and acquired physical and mental traits that influence the dog's behavior." Temperament is hereditary, but behavior is the result of the upbringing and external situations in which the dog was exposed. While we might not be able to change the temperament of a dog, we can influence its behavior. I worked at an area Humane Society years ago and was able to observe the temperament testing that each new shelter dog had to undergo. Once the dog's natural drives were identified we were then able to work to amend the dog's behavior, to help him to unlearn reactions to situations, whether social or drive related. Dogs 4 Life, a training center, wrote that there are three social temperaments in dogs; social, neutral and unsocial. The social is just how it sounds, dog greets you with a nice friendly wag of the tail, perhaps a slurpy kiss. The unsocial reacts with either fight (aggression) or flight (hiding or fear). Now I know I am not a dog, and perhaps some might find it offensive to be compared to an animal (we are mammals, part of the animal kingdom whether we like it or not) but I think there is something here. What is my temperament versus my behavior. What is my ingrained response to the world, hereditary perhaps (you do know that this is the one post my parents will stumble upon), versus how I react to the world. If I can pinpoint that, say in my social response, maybe I can understand why fear is such a driving force for me today. I could consider my temperament to be that of an unsocial dog. And according to Dogs 4 Life, "The unsocial dog needs a program of counter-conditioning the fight/flight response, through classical conditioning and removing the reward for the aggression." When I am in fear, as I am now, stewing in my lack of earning potential, I either lash out at the world, blaming everyone else for my problems or I retreat into a cave, hiding and removing myself from life. I either want to throw a rock or step in front of a moving vehicle. I slip into the deep subconscious and react without thinking. What would be my counter-conditioning program? As an unsocial creature perhaps the answer is the end to self-imposed isolation. I don't suppose that anyone will drop treats in front of me as a counter conditioning tool, but I do get "rewards" each time I try a new behavior. For instance, when I ask for a help, something counter intuitive, I receive the reward, providing I ask from someone equipped to actually help. When I call about a job opening, working against my ingrained tendencies to run and hide, I am rewarded with the satisfaction of working outside of my comfort zone. Today I will attempt to react to fear in a new way, and like my dog who gets a biscuit when she sits, I will gain the satisfaction of moving beyond my temperament, my base fears. I still want the cookie though...I would be happy with shoes as well.